Back in March, Missy and I were forced to move out of our house for about 5 days. It was the result of a string of fires in Guatemala that hit us a bit closer to home than usual. As we are in the tail end of the dry season here, there tends to be a spike in fires as many things catch fire quickly and the increased heat makes homes more susceptible to burning. Additionally, farmers are preparing their land by burning of old shrubbery and sometimes just a slight change in wind sets a controlled burn into an uncontrollable blaze.
Some of you may have heard about the tragic story about a children’s home where over 40 teenage girls died in a fire. If you haven’t, you can read an article here about it. The orphanage is about 45 minutes away from where we live. Not too long afterwards, one of the families we serve lost their house due to a fire started in their home by faulty wiring. If you are currently a mySARF member, you can read the details by following this link.
So, what does this have to do with us? Well, the following Friday after all of this happened we were trying to finish up some things at home to head over to the Smith’s house for our regular bible study when I heard a strange noise coming from outside. I thought it was a vehicle passing by. The dog came to my window and was jumping up and down excitedly. I then realized the sound didn’t go away, as happens when a noisy vehicle passes and as I stepped closer to the window, a gentleman started yelling that our house was on fire!
I ran outside to see that the cables entering our power box from the street were on fire. The flickering lights in the house now made more sense. I scrambled to figure out what was going on and what to do. I quickly ran inside and turned off all of the circuit breakers and then the fire went out. I called the electric company and reported the incident and they sent someone within the hour. We had to cancel our bible study, wait for the repairmen, and figure out what to do next. Since it was Friday afternoon, we would have to wait until Monday to start the process of getting a new electric meter, which they told us would take 72 hours after ordering it. This incident really helped put things into perspective for us in regards to what it means to be impoverished and live within an unreliable system.
We were very fortunate to have been able to salvage our refrigerated and frozen goods by “moving in” to our ministry’s team house. But how many families do we know that don’t have this luxury? The family that recently lost EVERYTHING had been taken in by the church. This family of 5 living in 1 small room together until they can get another house built. Even if we did not have another house to move into, we could have stayed at a hotel until our power came back on. Most people here do not have that luxury.
We learned what it is like to live in an unpredictable environment. First, we were stressed by not being completely “settled” as we were living out of suitcases. Even though our house was but 2 blocks away, it’s a pain when you realize you didn’t grab everything you needed and have to go back to get more MULTIPLE times. We were living in a strange house with no internet connection, which made doing the administrative end of our job hard and we had to focus on only taking care of the priorities in the moment. Our immediate future was seemingly at the mercy of others as we had to rely upon what the electric company told us in regards to when we would have electricity again. Did I happen to mention we just had work done on the plumbing at the team house, so the availability of water was reliant upon the off/on system of the city water and not the usual reserve tank? We had to leave behind our belongings and our comfortable house. We were displaced. We were also concerned about someone possibly breaking into our house since it was sitting alone and without power (if a house is sitting unoccupied, it becomes a target). Our focus turned from thriving to just surviving.
However, this experience, although short lived and not as extreme as one might think by simply reading the story, put things into great perspective for us. We had to depend upon God more than our circumstances. We had to rely upon our strong marriage to be able to trust one another and comfort one another through the difficulties instead of fighting about silly things caused by stress. We had to trust in God’s goodness and love for us and realize that everything that He allows to happen to us is for our good.
We’ve now been back in our house for several weeks, with electricity, and we’re so happy! Although this was a difficult time it gave us a different perspective on things which helps us better relate in our ministry. Sometimes God just needs to shake things up a little to help you better understand the work He calls you to do.