Someday I'll want to remember the craziness that was our life in this season. This season of juggling six unique kiddos and multiple ministries. Of people in and out of our home for Bible studies, discipleship, music practice and many meals! This season of gladness for God's goodness and sorrow for our shortcomings. Of wondering, "Are we making a difference ... should be doing more ... and/or when should we be doing less?" Of gratitude for what we have (and often guilt for what we have.) This season of seeing God's faithfulness and seeking His sustaining grace.
Life and ministry are beautiful, and they are hard. It's not always that any one thing is hard but that the pace and pressure of going and being and doing and receiving sometimes seems to careen out of control. Fulfilling and frustrating, exhilarating and exhausting, wonderful and wearisome - on any given day, all of these are true. Let's take today (Saturday) for an example.
1. I rose early and made breakfast smoothies.
2. I snuggled a sleepy Silas and gave him a bottle.
3. I woke up Isabel for her brigada training.
4. Pedro drove Isabel downtown to brigada.
5. Pedro and I met with the president of the junta de vecinos to discuss church plant rental of sede.
6. We went to Lider (grocery store) to purchase lunch and dinner supplies, and withdraw cash for sede rental.
7. Pedro had a leadership meeting with fellow missionaries via Skype.
8. I drove the boys downtown to basketball and Silas fell asleep in the car.
9. I drove home with sleeping Silas but received a call from Isabel to return downtown for pick up from brigada.
10. I picked up Isabel, dropped her at home and picked up Eva to go to the airport.
11. We collected our new missionary colleague Jenn Taylor at the airport and drove home.
12. Pedro retrieved the boys from basketball and brought them home.
13. Pedro drove back downtown to pick up Richard who asked to borrow our kitchen to prepare a Bolivian meal for Sunday.
14. Felipe arrived unexpectedly to help Richard with meal preparations.
15. I took Jenn to connect with missionary colleagues and a realtor to see a potential apartment.
16. Pedro grilled out and prepared dinner for our family and guests (11 people total) in our absence.
17. We came home to set the table, eat dinner, and wash dishes.
18. I contacted the owner of an apartment to finalize details for our missionary Thanksgiving retreat.
19. I communicated via WhatsApp with one of the attendees regarding Thanksgiving menu details.
20. I gave Silas his bath and bedtime bottle and snuggled him to sleep.
21. I had a discussion with another child regarding an earlier discipline issue.
22. Meal preparations (including lengthy meat pounding) continued downstairs to a late hour.
23. Pedro drove Richard and Felipe home (to return the next day at 8:30 AM and continue preparations.)
24. I wrote an e-mail update to share prayer requests with our partners.
25. Eva asked to stay up late because her guppy fish was giving birth.
26. Pedro and I went to bed around midnight.
27. We ended our day to the sound of one neighbor singing loud karaoke and another loudly yelling. :)
So I look at this list and I ask myself, "What did we accomplish in ministry today?" I am reminded that oftentimes ministry doesn't fit into the neat little boxes we wish it would. But I know that today we ministered to our church family by following through on the appointment made earlier in the week and procuring an answer for our meeting place. I believe we ministered to our children by facilitating the activities that round out their home education and provide healthy physical and social outlets for them. I trust we ministered to our new missionary colleague by preparing a comfortable place for her to stay and welcoming her to Iquique and coordinating an apartment visit as she looks forward to returning permanently. I hope we ministered to Richard, a foreigner new to Iquique with no real home to call his own, by providing a place to fulfill a heartfelt desire and welcome his friends on his birthday. I also hope that by following through on details for the Thanksgiving retreat, we are ministering to our extended missionary colleagues and that by writing a prayer update we are ministering to our supporting churches and stateside friends.
Most of all, I hope that we pleased God with our attitudes, actions and intentions. Ultimately He is the One we seek to serve each crazy day! I thank God for our family and the ways we are stretched and growing in this season. For our girls, who shuffle bedrooms whenever overnight guests some to stay. For our boys, who pitch in to move furniture inside and outside when we unexpectedly host church or 35 people for a birthday meal. Most of all, for my husband who does anything and everything from preparing sermons to preparing meals whenever and wherever needed. I am also extremely grateful for our missionary colleagues who stand in for family and embrace our children as their own grandchildren to teach and mentor in this stage of life. For every challenge, there is an equal and greater blessing. And so I am thankful for this season, craziness and all.