This is Part Seven of a blog series. You can read the previous parts by clicking below:
We returned to Brazil for our “next season” in August of 2012. And guess what? Those first years that we spent mostly in “sowing in tears” really did turn into a season of “reaping with joy”! (See Psalm 126:5-6) Not that it was without difficulties, especially being kicked out of the house we were renting right after we had renewed the lease and fixed it up! But as I always said, when we were doing well in our marriage and family life was good, we could face anything together. And this time, we had learned an important lesson about unity and we were growing. Blessed trials that force us to grow!
During the months we spent in the States, we felt the Lord confirm that our ministry focus in Brazil was to be family, and we began to see the Lord opening doors for us to minister in this specific capacity. We also felt His grace upon us in equipping us in ways we had not previously experienced in order to fulfill this calling. He also put us in a church where we began to build meaningful relationships, which was just huge! And in my mind, we had two years. Just two years! And then... life could go back to how it used to be. I didn't spend a lot of time dreaming about this fact or dwelling on it, but it was there, way in the back of my mind. Actually, if I stopped to think about it, I would remind myself that we had never decided to be DONE with Brazil in two years. We had merely decided that two years would be a good time for a visit to the States to reconnect with family and friends, and then reevaluate prayerfully our next step.
Well, in Feb of 2014, I discovered I was pregnant with our sixth child (Annaliese), and due in October. Since our two years would be up in August, I figured it would work out pretty well to go back to America to have her there, just like we did with Olivia. Good timing! But it wasn't long before we had to face the facts: we just didn't have the finances to make a trip back to America. And that was that! This was pretty hard for me to face. Not just because of my personal desires to see my loved ones and for the children also to reconnect with America, but because of fear. After the way Olivia's birth had gone, I was dealing with fear. And for those of you that don't know, Brazil has some of the worst birth statistics in the world, which didn't help allay my fears. It took me a couple of months to work through these fears in prayer. Even Fabio couldn't fully understand my struggle, so it was mostly fought out in my prayer closet.
And guess what? Surprise, surprise – the Lord came through again! Slowly, surely, he gave me PEACE. He spoke to me like this: “In the case of Olivia's birth, I took care of you by taking you to America and providing for all that you needed there. But it was still I that took care of you! And I will be the one to take care of you this time, whether you are in Brazil or wherever else in the world you happen to be!” I was learning to trust Him, in one more facet. And besides, once I realized we wouldn't be able to go home, I was sure that at least my mom would come to be with me. She had been with me with all my babies, and that was a very comforting thought. And then, that hope was dashed too! She would not be able to come. Ah! My heart wanted to scream! And yet, I knew the Lord was teaching me to rely only on Him. All of those circumstances that we don't get to choose, all those things that war against our own will and desires – they are all things that God wants to use in transforming us into His image, if we are willing! I wanted to be willing. And, long story short, the Lord surely went above and beyond in caring for me and our family during the birth (details here), and even sent us a missionary-midwife from the USA that we had never met before! She was such a blessing and a kindred spirit!
While I was pregnant, a missionary from Chile visited our church and shared about the ministry there among the mountain peoples. What impressed me so much was how much she said she LOVED the people there! She was actually back to Brazil for medical treatment, but couldn't wait to return to Chile and the people that she loved so much. And I started to ask myself, “Did I love Brazil like that?” I had a vague inkling that the Lord would keep us here until I was able to love that deeply the people of Brazil... and after the first couple years of mostly inner turmoil and struggle, I was beginning to feel that genuine love blossoming in my heart.
So.... here we are nearing the end of 2015. It has been over a year since Annaliese was welcomed into our world, and just now in December we finished off our sixth year in Brazil. Most of our children have now spent more time in Brazil than they spent in America. They are officially “third culture kids” - which can have both benefits and challenges. They are not really fully from here OR there. They are different. And that is okay.
As for me, I still long for my home, and most of all my loved ones. But I can honestly say that I have come to love Brazil, and I know that when we are no longer here, I will feel the same longings for our loved ones here!
And the best part? I see that through these years, the Lord has been patiently teaching me what it really means to not only say, but truly believe that this world is not my home! And I can honestly say that I long like never before for my heavenly home! The cry of my heart is to KNOW Him, and to be transformed into His image. I feel like I am beginning to grasp just how short this life really is – am I making it count for eternity? THEN we will have comfort that this world knows nothing about! No pain! No tears! And forever to enjoy His presence fully, and also to fellowship with those loved ones I wish I had more time with on this earth.
And until then? What is really important?