(For parts 1-6, click here and scroll down.)
When Kevin first saw the magazine advertisement for joining a mission team, I agreed to look into it. I acted like I was open to the idea, thinking that it would never really happen. But time had passed, phone calls had been made, meetings had taken place, visits had been made......and it looked like this "thing" that I thought could never happen - might happen.
And I had to come face to face with my real feelings about all of this. And my real feelings were: I didn't want to do it. I had a vision of my life turning out a certain way. It wasn't anything super specific. Just a normal life. Normal. Not foreign, or far away, or insecure. As I think back now, it seemed like I was pretty set on having a cute house. Preferably a white house, with green shutters and maybe even a green roof. It's embarrassing to me now to admit how concerned I was with a house, but I was. I didn't want to live far away from our families. I didn't want to experience another culture. I didn't want to have an insecure financial future. I didn't want to be a missionary.
But, it seemed like God wanted this of me. I didn't grow up using the term "call" in relation to what a person does. Like - "God called me to the mission field". I still don't know if I believe that God gives some kind of special call or urging to missionaries. I believe that he has a job for each one of us - something that he specifically asks us to do. And it seemed like he was specifically asking us, our family, to move to Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Why did that particular magazine ad attract Kevin's attention? Why not some article about keeping foster kids, or attending a worship seminar? Was God working through that magazine? In my Community Bible Study that year, we were studying Romans. When we studied chapter 4 about the faith of Abraham, there was a paragraph in our study guide that went something like this, "Abraham showed tremendous faith by going where God wanted him to go. By faith he took his family to a land that God would show him. Is God asking you to step out in faith and go to a new place?" As I read those words, my heart just burned inside my chest. There was an article about Brazil in the newspaper, a report about Brazil on the radio. It seemed like God was trying to tell us something.
Or was it just a coincidence? I couldn't find a single scripture that would encourage me to say "no" to this opportunity. I would have a hard time saying "NO" to God if he was asking me to do something. But was this really God talking to us?
Remember Gideon and the fleece? Well, I kind of threw out some fleece. In one of my prayers, I specifically prayed, "God, if this is really you, if this is really what you are asking me to do, then please send some people to encourage me. Because hardly anyone is giving me any encouragement to do this." I was specifically thinking of my friends, who whenever I mentioned it, tried to help me think of ways to get out of doing it, or said things that scared me, or let me know that they would never do something like that. I prayed this prayer out loud with Kevin one night. Guess what happened? The next 4 or 5 people that I talked to about Brazil had something encouraging to say. The same friends who before were negative, all of a sudden said something positive and encouraging. One girl, I specifically remember, just stared at me and said "You've just got to step out in faith." She had never, ever said anything like that to me before.
OK, OK. So maybe that was a "God" thing and maybe it was just a coincidence. So I prayed again, "God if this is really you, then you have to work out the financial details." Moving a family of 6 (at the time) to Brazil was not a small financial undertaking. A while later, we received a large donation. While this donation didn't cover all we would need, it was a HUGE head start and something that we had never expected or asked for. OK, OK, another "God" thing.
It seemed that God was asking something of me. And I would not tell him "no". But my heart wasn't in it. I was trying, but I was scared. Scared to break out of my "normality", and do something different and unexpected. Scared to go far away, leave our families, take our kids to a foreign culture....
One weekend, Kevin and I took a little mini trip to Jackson, Mississippi to spend some time together, just the two of us, to pray and talk about what to do. At the end of that trip, I remember sitting on his lap and just crying as I prayed to God and told him that I knew He was asking me to do this, but that I didn't want to. So, I just asked again, "God, you know how I feel about all of this, so if this is really from you, then you will have to change my heart." At that point, I quit worrying about "wanting" or "not wanting". I just tried to trust that if God wanted this from me, then he would prepare me in every way to do it.
He would take care of the money, of our kids, and of my dreams and desires.
I guess you know, since I am now in Brazil, that He did take care of all of that, and more. When, months and months later, we moved away from our Mississippi town, and eventually got on a plane bound for Brazil, I had a peace that is unexplainable. And I was excited.