As I sat down in the familiar barber’s chair and looked around at Marine Corps memorabilia I heard a welcoming question from a voice I haven’t heard in quite sometime, “done for the day?” I thought for a second as I have tried to make sure I honestly answer casual questions instead of reactively giving a nonthoughtful response: checked emails, scheduled future meetings, balanced the checkbook, worked more on my bible study, and prayed with my wife. “Yep!” I responded. “Where are you working these days?” My old barber (not old in age, rather old in reference to how long it’s been since he’s seen my noggin) remembered me and my countless stories of looking for work, leaving the Marines, getting a contracting job in Iraq, and leaving for Pennsylvania on another job. Suddenly I was perplexed. My answer to that question is no longer “normal” in regards to the world’s standards. I recalled lessons taught by missionaries from missions school, “ there is no longer a distinction between work, ministry, education, and home life. It is all integrated.”
As Missy and I look forward to next July when we will be able to finally start serving the people of Guatemala full time and begin integrating into the communities of Linda Vista and Villa Nueva, we are realizing that our “work” has already begun. Everything we do that advances us towards the mission God has called us to in Guatemala is now our “work.” We discussed the other day what our schedules might look like once we are set up in Guatemala. Our daily routines will be dictated by the schedules of the people and society. We aren’t quite sure yet when Guatemala “wakes up” and everyone gets going. We do know that outdoor activities pretty much stop at sundown because it’s generally not safe to be out after dark. We are just now starting to get a glimpse of the many things that will be fighting for our time once we come home at night, after working in the community. Our first year will be more focused on starting and building relationships than it will be initiating programs and recruiting help. These relationships and the time we will spend learning the Guatemalan culture are foundational to our ministry because we are going there to help them in a relevant and effective way to enhance their lives, not just start and run a successful program. We also are placing emphasis on staying connected to you: our friends, family, and ministry partners. We don’t want to go to Guatemala and send back the occasional report or photo, but we want to “bridge the gap” and get people intimately involved with the people we are serving. This means being intentional about answering emails, writing blogs and newsletters, processing photos and video clips, and even making phone calls and Skyping with everyone!
As we prepare to make it home in the next few days, we are quite excited to visit with everyone. Our schedule is filling up and we are realizing that our lives have become more relationship based than ever before. Our calendar is filling up very quickly and the majority of our time while we are home will be time spent with all of you! We are truly blessed to have so many loving friends and family members who want to spend time with us before we leave. Since we are leaving, we are doing our best to establish ways of communicating with everyone once we are in Guatemala; I even showed my mom how to use Skype just the other day! Our biggest concern about moving to Guatemala is losing contact with everyone. We love and cherish you all and hope that our relationships with you will not be negatively affected by our move.
If you’ve talked to either of us recently, you’ve already heard about the “fun” we have to look forward to as we will be sorting through what remains of our belongings to see what we will be fitting into our 2 suitcases each in January, what Servants will be bringing down to us when we finish language school in Antigua (thanks in advance to the July team!), and what we will be leaving behind or getting rid of. This conundrum pales in comparison to the headache of acquiring our visas once we get to Guatemala! I won’t bore you with the details in this post, but you wouldn’t believe what we’ve already gone through…and rumor has it that we have it easy compared to missionaries in other countries!
We are excited for our upcoming SARF meeting, since we have had to Skype in our last couple meetings and will not be physically present for one over the next two years! We are also scheduling time to meet with pastors and we already have two tentative dates to speak at churches. Missy mentioned in a previous post about how we are realizing some of the things we will miss once we are gone, I think this list will grow exponentially over the next month.
This is the work we are embracing, the kind I had a taste of in the Marines. We don’t have a 9-5, but a 24/7. Everything we do, everywhere we go, everyone we talk to is fully integrated as an aspect of our lives and what the regular world would call “work”. It all has equal significance and consequence. It is all related to the Kingdom of God and how we choose to live in it on a moment-by-moment basis. I’m finally realizing what it means to be a missionary: to live a life intentionally for Christ. Whether it is abroad or at home, we have a choice to answer the call God has placed upon each and every one of us.