Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finishing Furlough

It's impossible to summarize in few words the experiences and lessons learned on furlough; or the memories crammed into our time in the USA.

One year literally flew by, yet in its twelve months we lived at least twice that much! I wrote less and less even as life filled up more and more. Family times were sweetest, but very precious as well were the visits with churches and friends without whose prayers and support and encouragement and love we could not possibly do what we do.

It was a year in which we were grateful to be close to extended family, but in which our extended family struggled. From the death of my grandmother to the waywardness of a child to the loss of a job to the uncertainties of the future, the unknown loomed over us and the known sometimes broke our hearts.

In between were gorgeous moments, bright memories of laughter and learning and loving.

We were blessed with so many rich experiences. From field trips to museums and old-time villages and the capital of our country, to watching Jonah played out in live musical theater to the amazement of the young and old members of our family alike. There were mother-daughter breakfasts and sister visits and of course our anniversary getaway which was unforgettable.

Ironically, it was with a sense of deja vu that the year drew to a close. As we gathered with family in Florida for our Garcia reunion, Pedro's grandmother and also his uncle were hospitalized for serious health conditions. We were thankful that by God's providence we were nearby and able to spend some time with them, but reminded again of the fragility of life this side of heaven.

And then even that fragility shattered the last morning of family vacation with a phone call from Chile, informing us of the suicide death of our colleagues' 21-year old daughter. 

We closed out the year with many tears but not without hope. We later heard that even through the death of Belen, souls were saved. Young people who had not previously given God a thought spilled out of our church building, its patio and filled the sidewalk down the street at the services in her memory where the gospel of Jesus Christ was boldly proclaimed.

As we finished furlough, we were reminded of exactly why God has given us this marvelous privilege of being His servants and of the tremendous need that remains in Iquique, Chile. We were blessed anew by the outpouring of love and compassion of His people in the United States. Our own supporting churches, having never met our colleagues nor their daughter but out of love and concern for them and commitment to the work of the ministry, offered prayer and encouragement and financial gifts toward this need.

Why did we go on furlough? It was for this very reason, to remind and be reminded that we are one Body, one Church, one amazing Family of God that works together for His purposes around the world. It was to savor the sweetness of our own families and see them as God's gift representing His greater family, one day to be be finally and forever united around His glorious throne!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Miss you all so very much but I am equally "proud" of the ministry that God has given to you. Love and kisses!
Mom C