Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for your prayers for us this week! The inspections on our home have come back clear and our home is officially SOLD! We are thankful for our realtor, Rick Hernandez, who has done an awesome job of taking care of us and promoting our home to buyers.
Last night we shared our story at a small group dinner about how God called us to Nicaragua. It has been a four year journey with many mountains and valleys. It is difficult to summarize this story in only a few minutes, but I thought I would now share a part of this story that we may not have completely shared before.
The first question people will often ask us when we tell them that we are going to Nicaragua is, "How do your kids feel about this?" This is a very valid question. And it speaks to a passionate argument I had at one time with God and with Dan about this calling. I would say to both of them, "This will not be good for our kids. I do not think it is right to drag them to the mission field. I did this kind of thing as a single person and I was fine with that. I'm fine if we do this after we retire. But, not now." The interesting thing is that God used our kids to confirm this direction and to soften my heart to the idea of going to the mission field in Nicaragua. I will tell you the story of how this happened:
During the spring of 2006, a few different things were happening. We had withdrawn from pursuing ministry with FamilyLife the previous fall; a Christian counseling agency had asked me to consider going back to my career as a therapist after 7 years of enjoying time at home with our kids; Rebekah was graduating from a kindergarten program and would need to transition to another school for first grade; and Will would be starting kindergarten. Through a number of circumstances, God had also brought home schooling to my attention and I was curious about it. It felt as if I were at a crossroads. I began praying that God would show me whether His desire was for me to return to a career or to continue discipling our kids and educating them at home full-time. During a week in March, my prayers became much more passionate, knowing that deadlines were approaching. I remember one morning crying out to God and asking Him to show me what to do. I opened up the Beth Moore study I was doing, and the first verse I was to look up was Deuteronomy 6:6 - 9. Verses 6 & 7 read, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." A peace settled in my heart as I read these verses and I knew God was giving me the answer. He confirmed this direction in a number of ways over the next months and in the fall, Rebekah and I embarked on our new educational adventure (Will attended the kindergarten that year and I home schooled him for 1st grade).
Included in our home school curriculum were books from the "Christian Heros: Then and Now" series which are biographies of men and women who have served on the mission field and in full-time Christian service. We read these books as a family right before the kids go to bed because all of us enjoy them so much. During this time, Will started to say things like, "A missionary's life is dangerous and exciting." After rolling this around in his mind for awhile, Will said, "I want to be a missionary, doctor, and scientist." He would imagine scenarios where he would be bandaging someone's leg while talking with them about Jesus. To this day, Will confidently says that this is what he will be when he grows up. During the same time Will was announcing his dream to be a missionary, Rebekah began writing up "defotions" on the computer which consisted of some teaching about Jesus, her own personal experience with Him, and a prayer that led the reader through asking Christ to be Savior and Lord of their lives. She then printed her "defotion" off and insisted that we go to a local park to hand them out to families that were playing at the park. I remember suggesting that she lay them on a bench so that people could pick them up if they wanted to, but my shy little girl walked around that park confidently handing her writings to the people there. This scene touches me still.
This particular year I was also looking for a place to serve at a church that we had started to attend. After looking into a number of different things and feeling no peace, I prayed one morning, "Lord, I know what I used to do in ministry, but that does not seem to be what you are leading me to do now. Would you show me what you want me to do?" A week later Mary Kay called and asked me if I would consider doing Missions Moments which involved teaching Rebekah's Sunday School class about China and a missionary family who serves there. This too, was a part of God's work in softening my heart as I got to know this amazing missionary family with five boys and learned more about what it looks like to be a family on the mission field.
So, one afternoon I was just staring into space when God spoke to me saying, "Lisa, this calling is not just about you and Dan or for you and Dan. It is also about and for your children." It was this day that I began to turn the corner, recognizing that God was up to so much more than I was aware of. I finally understood that we were not dragging our kids to the mission field - God was calling us as a family. Since that time, God has shown me through the testimony of other missionaries and their children that growing up on the mission field offers lots of unique opportunities, shapes their world view, exposes them to poverty and injustice which leads to a sense of compassion for others, and impacts their walk with God as a result of needing to live daily with a greater level of dependence upon Him.
I am so thankful for God's patient way with us - gently leading us to a better understanding of what He is doing and how He is inviting us to join Him in what He is doing. He still speaks in a whisper and when I slow my life down long enough to listen, I hear Him speak. And it is quite often when He speaks through the mouths of babes.
When people ask about how our kids are doing right now, my answer is the following: They continue to embrace the greater vision of moving to and serving in Nicaragua. And they express excitement about this. However, it is our chaotic and unpredictable life during this season of leaving our home and raising support that is at times unsettling for them. I see them as being weary at times with all the travel and living in four different places these past few weeks. And yet, they seem to be growing closer to each other and still find ways just to be kids.
Rebekah and Will both have a blog which is not yet linked to our blog (This is on Dan's list, but will need to wait for now). Rebekah's is www.rvanzoest.blogspot.com and she gave me permission to post her devotions on her blog for you to read. And Will's is www.wvanzoest.blogspot.com. They would love to hear from you!
Update on prayer requests from last week:
1) As mentioned, our house is sold, but prayers for protection of our home and firmness in the buyer's commitment is appreciated.
2) We enjoyed a small group dinner last night and have 4 more to go this week. We are so thankful for this experience - helps us so much to build relationships with people and it is a very sweet time. Praising God for the hosts who step into and experience this process with us - our first dinner, we had tornados in several places around town a ½ hour before the dinner; our second dinner, the husband felt ill and the grill did not work until 10 minutes prior to the dinner. Today, before our next dinner, I lost part of a filing and part of my tooth. J Please pray for protection for us, our hosts, and dinner guests this week!
3) As far as our kids' education goes, I have arranged with Isaac Newton for the kids to participate in hot lunch with their class in addition to the recess after lunch one day a week to help them maintain connections with their friends during the time we are still here. I've also talked with a Home School Supervising teacher this week who has offered to meet with me for accountability and support.
4) The kids are at my parent's house for a few days while we attend our dinners. They are having fun with my sister and my parents. We will go to my parent's house on Friday to spend time with my family for a couple of days. Prayers for rest - especially for Dan.
5) On Aug. 27, we close on our home and will move in with my parents. Would you pray for me this month in relationship to packing/getting rid of our things. This has never been easy for me and is very overwhelming - it is a process of grieving the loss of "stuff" and recalling the memories that are attached to it.
Praising Him for . . .
1) A jump in our percent of support pledged - from 45% to 53%
2) A house sold just in time
3) My Dad and Sister's continued health and recovery. Dan's mom has returned to work after shoulder surgery and seems to be doing well.
4) Two churches who are considering supporting us (one meets Aug. 20, the other this coming Sunday to decide)
5) The kids and I were close to being in a car accident last week - praise God for protection!
Thanks again for your faithful prayers!
Lisa for Dan, Rebekah, and Will