Tag Archives: ministry

Leaving a Legado

In January New Tribes Mission in Brazil (MNTB) hosts a field conference for its missionaries. This week is always a highlight of our year, as brazilian missionaries gather for a week of meetings, fellowship, and of course, “futebol” (soccer)… ’til all hours of the night. 🙂
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img_1143I treasured it all up as best as I could–
the dear ladies who gave me these tribal treasures and soap made from exotic fruits,
to see not 1 blue macaw in the wild, but 16!!
our boys translating for those who don’t know Portuguese, chatting in the gazebo, seed pod-swords,a coworker asking Miles to take their family pic,former students lending Jack their bike, Jude saying Brazilian food is the best food ever,
sitting on the couch of a couple who sat on our couch for premarital counseling, now married and deciding which tribe they will go,
all the stories from the field…

This year’s theme was “Legado” {Legacy}. The focus was on what kind of legacy are we leaving; what kind of legacy do we want to leave. {I’ll tell ya. I’ve been thinking long and hard at this. And I fear that the kind of legacy I want to leave doesn’t always match up with the kind of legacy I’m actually leaving. SO, I’m gonna do some more thinking and praying bout that and talk more today about the kind of legacy that has been left for me. Mmk? 🙂 }

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A special surprise was when Andy’s parents were honored for their 41 years of service in Brazil. They are in the process of moving to serve at the NTM Headquarters in the US. Their leaving is certainly bittersweet–Bitter because of all those who will miss them. Sweet because of all those they have impacted in their 41 years here.

Andy’s grandparents moved to Brazil in the 60’s, with their 7 kids {their pic above on the screen}. His dad grew up in a riverboat on the Amazon river until he went back to the US for Bible School, met his wife, and they moved to Brazil in the 70’s, where Andy was born and lived until he went back to the US for college, we met, and now here we are.

{Andy giving an update on Peniel}
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{Our little (and giant!) MK’s singing their song}
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I don’t think I ever realized the legacy we’ve been left— more valuable than gold, more secure than any trust fund– the conviction that there is no hope apart from Jesus, perseverance to be a part of making Him known where He is not, and faith that He is absolutely worth it all, even our very lives. The stories they have to tell…… {are cRaZy!!} but testify to how faithful God has been through it all.img_1084

But it’s not just Andy’s family. We sit behind all the white hairs and it’s humbling. People who have done this for 30+ years with no fanfare. Just faithful servants who have kept their hands to the plow. Even when the path is harder and rockier than they had hoped. Some of them are in more pain than we can imagine (and they will ever tell). Yet. FOR THE JOY they endure hardship. We have got a lot to learn from them.

And it’s not just the white haired-missionaries. But when there’s talk about legacy, I think about my parents….
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My parents have been by our side for birthdays and surgeries. They have come to our rescue when we needed a date night or our laundry folded. They have planned family vacations and silly-string wars. They have not only listened to their grandsons talk for hours about fishing and minecraft, but they have even taken fly-fishing lessons to teach our kids how to tie their own flies and played minecraft with our kids. They flew down to be with us and write emails when they can’t.

It’s hard to condense the legacy they are leaving into words, but here’s a few…
Affirmation— The other day our kids got off the phone and said “I like talking with them. They’re so warm and comforting. And they only say things to compliment.” That’s high praise from a 12 year old boy!! It’s the truth! Just scroll down the comments and you will see.
Belonging— It’s a big thing to be welcomed home, regardless of whether or not you have colicky babies or jet-lagged teenagers, and however long you’ve been away. But it’s what they do. Dad fires up the furnace and mom makes your favorite pie.
Faith— How many times have I called and heard “we were just praying for you.” People often ask me how my parents feel about us being missionaries. I’m sure it doesn’t “feel” good, but I’m thankful for their example of faith, that God is good and He can be trusted… even with our kids.
Joy/Gratitude— (Both, because I don’t know that you can have one without the other). I never realized how much my mom says one phrase until our kids picked up on it. Whether we’re headed to the store or just sat down at the table together, she’ll say “Oh, yeah!” But it’s not just circumstantial. Their joy is a matter is of perspective– looking for grace and celebrating it.
Love— I don’t know how they do it. They have beared all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things. Not just when we’re love-able. In spite of our multitude of sins and offenses, they have given us the greatest gift of all– Love.dsc_0309

I don’t know if their photo will ever be on a projector (although it should!) I don’t know if they’ll ever be recognized for all their years of faithful service (atleast on this side of heaven). But I have no doubt that one day they will hear those words “well done, good and faithful servant,” because the legacy they are leaving is that whether you’re a mechanic or a cook or retired or a missionary, what is important is in all you do, you do it for the glory of God.

Me, Myself, and I {cannot do this alone}

You know those people who somehow turn drinking coffee on your porch into your own mini-motivational speech/private sermon/counseling sesh. And chances are high that they will say something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
My friend Sylvia is like that.
For one, she speaks English. And there’s not many around here who do, so boy are her surprise visits a treat! But also, she raised 2 boys in a tribe, moved home to take care of her dying parents, and was surprised by a 3rd son after her oldest were in college. She oozes grace and wisdom, which is just evidence that she has been schooled in the presence of our Lord. So, it doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of, I drop it all when she stops by.

Three months later, I’m still thinking about our conversation.

In the 80’s, her and her husband went through New Tribes’ training in Brazil. My in-laws were on staff at their Language/Culture Program. So, they knew my husband as a kid… which has to be crazy when she watches our boys (who are the same age as her “surprise”) at play. They moved to the Yanomami and learned the language in order to tell the people about Jesus. When her parents became ill and there was no one to take care of them, they left the tribe. Both of her parents have passed away. And now, she and her husband are praying about returning to the tribe to continue the work. We were talking about what it would be like for her youngest son to leave all his friends and familiar and make the move.
I asked her: “What was the hardest part of living in a remote village?”
Her reply shocked me: “Myself.”

I mean, I expected her to say something like snakes.. spiders.. darkness.. loneliness.. sickness.. isolation.. raising 2 boys among an unreached people group…
But myself?! Wow.
She went on to say, “Sure there were hardships, but by far the biggest struggle was myself. Wanting to be filled with faith rather than fear. Trying so hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude rather than complaint…” Just wow.

I think the simple honesty and vulnerability of her reply is what makes it all so deeply profound.
What happens when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that, no matter what a popular opinion says, I am not enough

“Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.  

Tell me, by thy mercy, O Lord, my God, what Thou art to me. ‘Say to my soul, I am your salvation.’
So speak that I may hear. Behold, the ears of my heart are before thee, O Lord; open them and
‘say to my soul, I am your salvation.'” 
 | St. Augustine

Snakes.. scorpions.. spiders.. darkness.. loneliness.. sickness.. isolation.. raising 3 boys far from family and familiar… are some difficult realities we have had to face. But, Sylvia’s right. That’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is I cannot face this alone {myself}. Daily I have to take my thoughts captive–more of Him, less of me. If I could keep in perspective the grandeur and power and presence of our God, the rest…well, it’s all miniscule. It’s not the depth of the waters we’re trudging through that matters as much as the power of the Hand we’re holding onto.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.
Isaiah 26.3

Oh, that we may find our rest in You, O God.
Say to my soul that You are my salvation.
Say to my soul that You are enough.
Amen.

Ode to White Hairs

 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship. | 2 Timothy 4.5

I don’t believe it was coincidence that I wanted to get to one of Prof. André’s classes all semester and just wasn’t able to until the last one. I also don’t think it just so happened that it was the day he was finishing up the book of 2 Timothy. Because when we came to those words: endure hardship, the Bible did its living and active thing and I have been mulling over that phrase ever since.

We had just celebrated our first year living overseas milestone. Quite honestly, our 3-year commitment to serve in Brazil was starting to seem like much longer than what we could endure. When I’m feeling good, it’s a no-brainer why we’re here. To know your husband is doing what he absolutely loves and most definitely was made to do is a beautiful thing. To watch your kids interact with this other language and culture with such curiosity and determination is simply incredible. But, when sickness seemingly comes out of nowhere, it makes it really hard to do much more than stick near a bathroom and wonder why in the world the Lord brought us so very far from the doctors I know and trust (and can understand). Sometimes when the path gets rocky, we need to know this is still the way.

So, I write.
I am not here to share anyone else’s story. Whether or not to leave the field is a decision between the missionary and God. We’ve only been here a year and have come up with some pretty good reasons. It’s not easy.

However.
I sat in that class my husband was teaching in order to prepare Brazilian missionaries who would be moving into remote regions to learn the language, to share the Good News, to plant a church, to raise up missionaries, to go into all the world. And thought…of course it’s not going to be easy! When is anything worth anything easy!

We didn’t come here because we thought it would be easy.
We didn’t come here because we had the idea this would be a better life for us.
We didn’t come here because we were looking for an adventure (although we figured it would be).
We came because we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. In essence, we asked God to loosen our grip and open our hands. And well…here we are!

I’m not saying we’re here for the rest of our life. Only the Lord knows that. I just didn’t know how much I needed this confirmation for right now. But, the Lord did. So, He spoke: endure hardship. These words have been like a light to my path. Confirmation to keep going. keep walking. keep enduring.

Does it make sense that God sent us here and 6 months later I started struggling with health? Not really. One day, I am sure we will look back at it all and laugh. For now, I want to be one of those who can look at the days to come and laugh. Because we never know what tomorrow holds. But I know that if I didn’t feel my weaknesses, I wouldn’t be able to know as fully the power of God who holds us all. And see all the ways…

The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength. | 2 Timothy 4.17

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Last week we were a part of New Tribes Brazil Mission Conference (MNTB). I am still trying to unpack all that impacted me during our time together. For one, it was so very humbling to sit behind all those white hairs. People who have done this for 30+ years with no fanfare. Just faithful servants who keep their hands on the plow. Even when the path is harder and rockier than they had hoped.

2015-01-16 13.04.08What a joy it was to meet once unreached people who are now missionaries to their own people! This is because of those dear white-haired saints. This is the fruit of their labor. This is because of their faithful plugging away–often without “likes” or recognition. Some of them are in more pain than we can imagine (and they will ever tell). Yet. FOR THE JOY they endure hardship. We have got a lot to learn from them.

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We feel our weaknesses more than ever. But, we just want to be faithful–Brazil or not. Sick or not. White hairs or not–and to see the power of God shine through it all.

P.S. Forgive the quality of pictures–working with a phone that has been dropped more times than it can handle. Still just trying to capture the memory. 🙂