It’s April 1. Some call it April Fools Day, but around our house it is fast becoming the Day of Decision. Last year, we used the April 1st deadline to decide whether to spend a year in Nicaragua. This year, it was the same day, and the same question. Do we spend a(nother) year here? Or go back to the States?
A while back, we started a “pros” list on a whiteboard in our kitchen. We listed three columns — Nicaragua, Maryland, and Maine — one for each of the places we’ve lived as a family. Then we each took a different colored marker and, over the course of several weeks, added positive things about them all. There were no negatives allowed, so under the Maryland column one of the girls wrote “less crappy bathrooms” (where we can actually flush the toilet paper). 😉
This wasn’t your typical pros and cons list. Instead, we wanted to focus on the great aspects about each location, in order to help us feel good about wherever God might decide to have us land next.
And then we prayed. And worried. And theorized. And rationalized. And questioned. And cried. And doubted. And talked, a lot, about what God wanted us to do.
If we took God out of the picture, the answer would have been easier. But if we had taken God out of the picture, we wouldn’t be here to begin with.
Instead we kept asking him to give us solid reasons to return to the States. Sure, we have fabulous friends and family there, plus a house we love, but those were there even before we left. We were feeling the pull toward several key areas of service here in Nicaragua, and wondered whether there were similarly strong needs for us back home. But nothing ever really materialized.
Perhaps the one thing calling us back was an opportunity placed in front of our oldest daughter just last week. She found out she was accepted into a biomedical sciences magnet program for high school, to begin in August. We were given five days to let the school know if she would attend. Cue more praying, wondering, doubting, and talking.
Throughout that week, some questioned our “selfishness” in wanting to stay in Nicaragua instead of letting our daughter return to attend such a highly acclaimed program. I guess that’s ironic because although I care about myself
a little way too much most of the time, “selfish” is probably the last word I would ever use to describe our time here… and while that program is amazing, so is what we’re living right now. In four years, she’ll be off to college and whatever “magnet program” she decides to enter. Four years. That’s all we have left! And we want to make the most of it together.
So we asked God to show us that our time in Nicaragua was complete, that there was nothing left for us here, and that it was time to return home. We asked him to show us what was next, wherever it was.
He gave us those answers — and we’ll talk more about those in the coming weeks — but they all require us to stay here longer.
And that is hard.
We love the people we have met here and all the projects in which we’ve become involved, but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t challenging to live here. (I’ve written enough about those struggles over the past eight months that you know what I mean.) Indeed, my flesh cries out for easy, even as my soul knows there’s something more, something better.
I remember a computer software teacher once telling me: “What is the easiest for you is likely not the best for others.” She was referring to the common mistake of creating web sites and software in the simplest, least time consuming fashion, in order to get the job finished. But, she warned, that often leads to confusion and more work for the people who must try to navigate our sites and use our apps. I’ve thought about that advice often since then, perhaps just as much in terms of my life as my professional work.
What is easiest for me isn’t likely to be the best for my family, my community, and my Savior.
Huh. Guess that means we’re staying a bit longer…
We will be in Maryland for three weeks, followed by another three weeks in Maine. Then, we’ll return to Nicaragua in early August, so the girls can start their second year of school here. Those six weeks will be super busy, as we try to tie up loose ends at home and also tell people about what’s next.
And that is… we plan to start a new project here upon our return. That will be the topic of my next post. I’m going to have to work myself up for that one because it involves us doing something we’ve never done before. Sure, we’ve helped with service projects and different sorts of ministries, but we’ve never started one ourselves, as a family. And we certainly haven’t ever really tried to raise money to support an ongoing project. We’ve done building campaigns, and raised money for specific mission trips, but a whole ministry? Where we are depending on friends, family, churches, and strangers to part with their hard earned cash on a regular basis to support a monthly project in a developing country thousands of miles away?
really hard impossible.
And yet, it’s what we are being asked to do. So, we press on…
Next: Our call
Note: This was originally posted on my personal blog in April of 2013.