Web site: www.danvanzoest.com
Nicaragua Christian Academy web site: www.nca.edu.ni/
Dear Family and Friends,
Good to “talk” with you again tonight. I’m not sure if you truly know what a comfort our “email community” is to us. Dan will often say, “Lisa, five people stopped me in the halls at church and they know exactly what is going on in our lives.” We are both amazed at how attentive people have been to our journey and how supported we are in prayer. You inspire us and encourage us in our own prayer life.
I will be very honest with you. These past couple of weeks have been very difficult. Difficult for so many reasons - leaving a home connected with so many wonderful memories, mentally and physically exhausting to pack up a household, our children have been more emotional these past couple weeks, tearful conversations with neighbors and friends. But, once again we saw how God was there in the midst of it all. The night before we needed to be out of the house, I collapsed on the air mattress mentally and physically exhausted. I knew I still had hours of work left to do, but it was 10 pm and I just wanted to go to sleep. Condemning thoughts went through my head - “if only you were better at organizing a move” and “you should have done more weeks ago to prepare for this”. It is amazing how paralyzing these thoughts can be. Once again, I cried out in my heart to God, “I can’t do this. I need your strength. Lord, would you help me.” A few minutes later, the thought crossed my mind, “Lisa, do you remember what you said to Will tonight?” A couple hours before, Will had told me he was scared and could not get to sleep. I talked with him about how we have a choice between listening to God’s promises or listening to Satan’s lies. We recalled some of God’s promises, prayed, and he seemed more settled. Now God was reminding me of this principle. I was instantly reenergized - as I always am after I hear from Him - and went on to clean a bathroom, vacuum, and do some more packing.
God intervened a second time a couple of days ago. I was not able to sleep last Saturday night because my mind was reeling with the details of September: my Dad and Mom’s 40th anniversary this month; Rebekah’s 9th birthday on the 17th; small group dinner planning for Iowa and Michigan; unpacking and finding all of our stuff and trying to assimilate things into Dad and Mom’s home; planning for home schooling; preparing to leave – details of figuring out how we get furniture, beds for our family, kitchen supplies, etc. soon after we get to Nicaragua; Doctors and Dentist appointments; the list goes on. I thought it would help me get to sleep if I would write down several possibilities for planning an anniversary party for my parents including inviting people to a local restaurant to celebrate. However, I knew this would involve making many phone calls and this idea too became overwhelming. Again, I cried out to God saying, “Lord, would you show me what to do?” I went to bed that night just saying to Him, “I give this to you and I will trust you with this.” The next morning my Mom said that they didn’t want a party but wanted to go out to dinner with us. A couple of days later, my aunt called and said that she would like to plan a get together with my Dad’s siblings to celebrate my parent’s anniversary at the same restaurant I had thought of on Saturday night. He’s so amazing.
For many years of my life, I took comfort in the words of Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” But, I would stop there. However, around 12 years ago, I began to understand what the next verses are talking about. And then, by God’s grace I’ve been learning how to live them. God’s words in verses 12 – 14 are, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” God was saying this in a physical sense to Israel and Judah. But, I believe that He is also saying this to us today in a spiritual sense. I know what it is like to try to live “Christian” in my own strength – it is captivity. It is a captivity to guilt for things I’ve done wrong and seem to keep doing wrong, a sense that I am never doing enough, I get stuck in the mud of bitterness and unforgiveness which disables me spiritually, I get the idea that it is up to me to make ministry happen, and there is always a worry that I am disappointing people and most of all disappointing God. However, over the past 12 years, I am growing in an incredible freedom that involves living with a surrendered heart, having a continuous conversation with God and asking for help, trusting Him with just the next step, seeking Him passionately through His word, responding to His conviction not with guilt but by being intentional in changing my reactions to people and events (with His empowering), and choosing to live before Him as my One and Only audience. I am amazed at the difference. I think that it is this abundant life that He has in mind for us which is why He says that His burden is light. He is still in the business of bringing His children back from captivity. All we need to do is to “call upon Him and come and pray to Him.” And He will listen to us, be found by us, and bring us back.
1) Dan and his friend, Rob who flew in from CA worked on delivering our furniture and possessions to many different locations last week. We are thankful that they did not injure their backs and for the time that they could spend together. It was such a gift to have Rob with us as he could work consistently with Dan all throughout those three days to load and unload and reload. And I delighted in the times when I just heard them laughing and enjoying their friendship.
2) For the many other friends who helped us with the move by helping us pack, clean, provided meals, and loaded the truck. It was so helpful to me to have people around as tasks drain me, but people energize me. We are so blessed with loving and supportive friends!
3) For my parents who are giving us a place to stay and are accommodating much of our stuff. Please pray for God to calm their hearts as they anticipate us moving.
Their address is 18863 I. Ave; Wellsburg, IA; 50680 and phone is 641-869-3611. Our email is the same and our cell is 319-210-2671. Would you consider sending them a 40th anniversary card to help us celebrate this month? Their anniversary is actually today, the 6th, but we will be celebrating it on the 12th. Thank you so much!
1) Please do pray for a clear vision of what needs to happen this month, for details to fall into place, and for us to know what to focus on and what to let go. And for me as a home schooling Mom right now – just to be available to the kids mentally and to be aware of what they need and to know how to respond. My time with them this past week for school has been the highlight of my week, even with it’s challenges.
2) Please continue to pray for our kids. We have had several tearful times this week – Rebekah is really missing her school friends and the things she used to do at school. It is also difficult for both of them to live in constant transition.
3) My parents live in a rural area and have a different internet system than we have been used to. In addition, our cell phone is not always reliable either. This is causing difficulty for us in our communication and is another adjustment and stress. Please pray for us to lean into these challenges with God’s strength, knowing that learning how to adjust to difficulties and challenges is part of His work of preparing us for the mission field.
4) For energy and rest. We are finding ourselves tired with limited time to rest physically and mentally. Our prayer is that we would recognize the opportunities God does give us to rest and to cooperate with Him by resting.
Thank you again for your prayers.
Peace to you,
Lisa (for Dan, Rebekah, and Will)