“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I haven’t read Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities since I cast away the polyester uniform skirt of high school, but I woke up this morning thinking about its famous opening line. Because, my dear friends, this season of language school qualifies for both monikers.
It’s the best of times. We are making lifelong friendships with incredible people who are following Jesus’ call to the nations. There’s an adventure waiting every time we step outside of our gate. What new expression will we learn? What breakthrough are we going to have in our ability to communicate? What is the Lord going to do today with the offering we are lifting up? The language and culture are opening up before us. Day by day, we grow and learn to love it more. There are small victories, like hanging a picture up on the wall to add warmth to your living space, finding great recipes for the unusual fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, or having an intelligible chat with a Tico neighbor. Then there’s the incredible love and support from people back in the states. Phone calls and letters that are like physical embraces. A monthly contribution statement testifying the sacrificial giving to this work that the Lord is doing through our family, like shouts of encouragement and blessing from across the miles. This experience is humbling and amazing.
It’s the worst of times. Language learning reduces doctors, teachers, and pastors alike into stuttering toddlers. All those cute mistakes our kids made in English don’t feel as amusing when we utter them in Spanish for the 40th time as well-educated grown ups. Tears spring up unlooked-for in classes from time to time. And the term “culture shock” isn’t an exaggeration. In their first week here, one family lost all their shoes set out 10 feet behind their wrought iron gate to someone’s ingenuity with a fish-hook and line. One sweetheart in the preschool is still trying to hold back the tears each morning as she lets go of her parent’s hand. We were regularly shorted change by taxi drivers until we thought to ask our teacher about the way things should work. While we are making this our home, at times everything here can feel very foreign. There are potholes to be avoided in our emotional adjustment that are just as real as those we step around on the sidewalk. And sometimes, as hard as you try to walk carefully, you twist an ankle anyway and find yourself hobbling through the week.
As the hands and feet of a community of people investing into God’s heart for the nations, we need your prayers. The increase of work involved with our 2nd trimester feels somewhat like a pressure cooker. The opportunity to expand our fluency is exciting, but the hours of effort involved in pressing through the learning process can be heavy. Several of us, our family included, are also still raising monthly support for this ministry that the Lord has called us to. We would be honored if you would consider yourself invited to join with us in a financial way. You can find our family’s giving information <here>.
It grieved my heart when our neighbors hacked their flowering bushes to the ground mid-bloom back in October. But this girl from the prairie didn’t know then, that in a month, the plants would spring back up in better shape and bloom more abundantly. As missionaries in language school, we are in a season of pruning. We press on, looking forward to the flowers and fruit that The Vine has planned for our branches.
Spirit lead me
where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters,
wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper
than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my savior. Hillsong United: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)