As I wrote about in our last blog update this first month at SOM has been a great time of learning in the classroom. However, we are also being taught lessons outside of the classroom; specifically we are learning lessons on adjustment and perspective changes. There have been definite times of struggle but as ALWAYS God has been completely faithful and worked everything for “the good of those who love Him.”
I knew moving away from home was going to take some adjustment on my part. Dylan was prepared for the move as he has been away from home a lot with his different military deployments. I, on the other hand, have lived in PA my entire life. As much as I knew this would be a change for me I did not expect it to be as hard as it has been. I thought I was prepared for missing people but I never realized exactly how much this was going to hit me. There are so any things we miss, such as seeing our brothers and sisters at church on Fridays and Sundays, popping over to a friend’s house to play cards, visiting our families, meeting with friends for lunch at our favorite restaurant (Oh how we miss Chipotle!!), and knowing that when things got tough our friends and family were right there for us. Even the simple little things that you take for granted and could never imagine that other places in the world don’t have like potato rolls, utz pretzels, and chocolate ice cream at dairy queen…I know, it’s craziness to me too! Especially since there is a dairy queen on EVERY corner! When we first got here I kept asking Dylan “what kind of place you have brought me too??” 😛
It has also been very hard for not being there for our friends and family when things got tough, such as when we missed Dylan’s grandfather’s funeral or not being with our closest friends. Thankfully, phone calls and text messages are still possible until we leave the country. We realize that this is a stepping stone getting us ready for some of the disconnect we will feel once we are in Guatemala. Though it’s TREMENDOUSLY hard some days we realize this is all part of the journey and we thank God for this period of transition and adjustment.
This time has also been one of perspective changes for both of us. We realized early on that our cottage had some unwanted guests (cockroaches) but we figured “hey, we’re in the south and we know this is part of it besides we’re gonna have to deal with them in Guatemala so now is a good time to learn.” Well we didn’t realize exactly how BAD the problem was. We brought it up to the missionaries that run this facility and we were assured they were not the kind of roaches that get in your food and that this is just a part of living in the south, so we just kept trying to deal with them. We realize now that they didn’t know how bad our situation was. We were tormented by these things day and night for weeks until one night my biggest fear that I have had since childhood came true; Dylan woke up to one crawling in our bed (that’s right…in our bed!!! Under the sheets and all!!). We both had enough at that point but we were told again there was nothing we could do and “it’s just part of living in Texas.” We prayed constantly and tried everything we could to try to get rid of them. In talking with some other missionaries here (who grew up in south Texas and lived in Guatemala) we found out that this is not normal and they aren’t even this bad in Guatemala. They advised us to talk to the director of the school.
We tried to deal with it for another week until one night we found them in our cabinets. It was like we came under attack that night. In a period of less than 12 hours we had 13 roaches in our house. We hardly slept at all that night because they were in our bedroom too. This was on top of the fact that we really hadn’t slept well since the night we had one in our bed. The next morning we knew we just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I remember during our prayer time that morning begging God to please hear our prayers and help us. We were both completely worn down by the lack of sleep and we were spending so much time filling in cracks in the walls, setting up traps, spraying the apartment, and cleaning insanely in an effort to keep them away. We were getting to the point where it was affecting our ability to function with our training as well. I kept hearing the lies whispered in my ear “you should just go home, you’re not cut out for this, you’re a fool to even think that you can handle this, you’ve been praying and God hasn’t come through maybe God is trying to show you this isn’t what He wants you to do, you can’t handle missing your friends and family and dealing with cockroaches here and you’re only in Texas what do you think is going to happen once you get to Guatemala…it’s best you realized this now.” Being worn down from lack of sleep and everything else I actually started thinking, “maybe this is right maybe I should just go home.” Praise God, I now have learned enough through the wonderful teachings of both of our pastors to know that I needed to share thoughts like this with Dylan. He quickly reminded me of the truths that God has continually shown us, that this IS what He wants for us, that He will be with us ALWAYS regardless of our circumstances, and how I had just said earlier that week that quitting is NOT an option NO matter what.
Later that day after much prayer and discussion together we realized that the best thing for us to do was to go talk to the director of the school and see what other options we had. After we explained our situation he quickly apologized to us, he had heard we were having a problem but he didn’t realize it was this bad. He got us moved right away to another cottage. We could not pack fast enough (although we did it thoroughly to be sure there we no roaches in our stuff) we were just thankful to be out of our old apartment.
We have been in our new cottage for 4 weeks now and have only seen a few roaches (most of which were dead). PRAISE THE LORD!!! A few days after our move during my devotional time God showed me Psalm 34:4: I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. I am so thankful for this reminder that the Lord did hear my prayers and in HIS perfect timing delivered me.
Turns out the missionaries who run the facility didn’t realize how bad it really was and ended up having to bomb our old apartment. They are still trying to figure out why that particular cottage has such a problem. It certainly has nothing to do with the level of care that goes into this facility as NLAI works hard to make this place as welcoming as possible and none of the other cottages have anything above the “normal occasional cockroaches.”
While this experience was very trying and difficult at the time it has taught us quite a few lessons. We now know what an unacceptable level of roaches in your house looks like. We also know that we will be VERY careful about the apartment we rent in Guatemala because we don’t want to get stuck in a lease with an apartment that is full of roaches. This situation has also given us a new perspective on things. No matter what challenges we have faced since this trial we still look at each other and say “Well, at least there are no cockroaches in our bed” and every morning over breakfast when we talk about the things we are thankful for that day “no cockroaches in the house” ALWAYS makes the top 5 on our list. See, life is all about perspective! 😀