10 Years on the Field!

September 11, 2005 – We said “see you later” to our precious friends and family in the States! Two days later we began a beautiful new chapter in our lives labeled, “Argentina”!

airport 2015airport usa

On September 13, 2005 we arrived in our new home, Buenos Aires, Argentina! There have been many ups and downs during the past 10 years, but I would not trade them for any other life! God is so good to us, more than we deserve. God is faithful to stretch us and give us His grace in the trials. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

September 2005

September 2005

As we have gone through trials, moments of uncertainty and seen many other missionaries come and go, only by God’s grace are we still here! This is not just a story of God’s faithfulness in our lives; it is the story of God’s hand at work in many lives, during many years prior to arriving on the field – our sending pastor, Travis Smith, who was (and still is) our #1 cheerleader, our supporting churches who help us financially and in prayer, as well as our family and friends who respect and even admire God’s calling on our lives to serve Him in a far-away place. Thank you to each one who has had a a part in not just our getting to the field, but also to remain faithful to our calling.

2015

2015

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Borrowed Gifts

giftFourteen years ago, God graciously chose to give me a gift—the gift of motherhood. When I found out about that gift, I diligently prepared to receive it. I sought counsel from other mothers, read recommended books on the subject, and did what I knew to prepare myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Of course, every mother will tell you that you can never be fully prepared for that moment you lay your eyes on that miracle that had been growing inside you the past nine months.

I was not raised in a Christian home, so I was even more compelled to study what Scripture has to say on motherhood.  As I read, studied, meditated, and prayed, I was more and more convinced that our children are gifts from our loving Heavenly Father, lent to us for only a short time to teach and train for His honor and glory.  Children are our little disciples and Jesus is our ultimate example of a disciple maker. He spent virtually all of his time with his disciples, patiently teaching them on their maturity level, explaining more thoroughly when they asked questions, and leading by example.  Toward the end of their time together, he let them go out on their own, allowing them to make mistakes, but being there to comfort and to help them get up again when they fell.

The Lord blessed my husband and me with one gift after another, three in four years to be exact! As our little stair steps grew, I had the joy of staying home with them, reading to them, playing with them, and often letting them “help” me shop, garden, cook, and clean. Of course, we had our good days and not-so-good days. I often felt like a broken record, repeating instructions over and over.  However, as we stayed consistent in our discipline, our days were filled with more joy than distress, more order than chaos.

j libros 4.2000

As the time came for our oldest to begin school, choosing to homeschool was only a natural extension of what we had already been doing–memorizing Scripture, finger painting, reading Bible stories, playing with blocks, listening to music, observing nature, and just constantly conversing.  (Socially, our children had each other and their church friends to play with, and honestly, I would much rather that my young disciple learn his manners and vocabulary from his mother than from another fellow heathen!)

mariposa 2006

The early school years are filled with so many exciting discoveries, “What sound does the snake make? What does cornmeal feel like in my hands? How many things can I find around the house that begin with the ‘letter of the day’? If I have three cookies and I give one away, how many do I have left?”

Later, we move on to more formal schooling, putting letters together to make words, learning our math facts, books of the Bible, and how civilization began. In all of these subjects, God is the central focus, because I remember that my purpose is to teach and train our three borrowed gifts for His honor and glory.

k-5 2005

Only by God’s grace have we come this far!  When I accepted the gift of motherhood, and later the challenge of homeschooling, little did I know that my oldest would have severe dyslexia and need intense personal tutoring. But, oh the joy when he finally learned his alphabet, then to sound out words, and now to read entire books on his own!  Little did I know how we would discover how special God made him — how even though he had such difficulty reading letters from left to right, he could perfectly read the little black dots called musical notes and become a talented pianist!  There is an indescribable joy in achieving these victories together with your children!

piano

Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, says in 3 John verse 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Even more important than reading, writing, and arithmetic, is the mission of disciple making. Spiritual character training supersedes academics because “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).  As a disciple maker, my goal is to raise children who will be useful servants for the Kingdom of God. To me, that means they must not only be educated in the basic school subjects, but also know how to manage a home, work with tools, minister in their local church, love their neighbor, and love God most of all.

It is this aspect of mothering that really keeps me on my toes! Every day the Holy Spirit reminds me that I cannot expect my disciples to learn to love God if they do not see that love manifested in my own life. My own devotional life is not an option. I must be continually studying, learning, and growing in my own Christian walk if I expect the same of my pupils.

“They need an unwavering, internal moral and spiritual compass that will help them weather today’s storms and tomorrow’s and will guide them for the rest of their lives. They also need to see what real faith looks like when lived day in, day out; so they will have a pattern to follow.

The process of providing such gifts to my children is what I’ve come to think of as the ministry of motherhood. I believe it’s central to the calling of anyone God has privileged to bring children into this world.

If you are a mother, it’s your ministry too.”

~Sally Clarkson, The Ministry of Motherhood

Only a few more years, and my full-time job as homeschooling mother will be over. In this career, my future holds no “Teacher of the Year” awards, promotions, nor salary raises.  The greatest reward for me would be to accomplish my stated objective: that my children would leave home, entering the world willing and fully prepared to serve God.  That is how I say “thank you” to my Heavenly Father for the three precious gifts He has loaned me.

Amy

Don’t Let this Pain be Wasted

A neighbor dropped by the house with her daughter. That’s when I first felt it, and I’ve never been the same since.  As I bent down to give the little girl a hug, an incredible pain shot through my back all the way to my toes – an intense pain that would barely allow me to straighten myself up again.  After several visits to various doctors, an orthopedic spine specialist told me it was a lower back disorder.  “I’m sending you to 10 sessions of physical therapy, and then you should be fine,” was his prognosis on recovery.  That was 15 months ago.  Today, I am still in physical therapy, medicated, and seeing assorted specialists.

While I was bed-ridden those first four weeks, I knew I had to keep the right perspective.  I was no stranger to bed rest or to pain.  I had actually had prolonged experiences with both in the past.  Those were some of the sweetest times of communion with my Savior, but they were also miserable times of boxing matches with the Lord when I did not respond correctly.  Since I was aware of the danger of not taking my thoughts captive in this critical moment, my constant prayer during that initial month was, “Dear Lord, don’t let this pain be wasted. Use it to conform me to your image. Use it to teach me how to be content.”

I must admit though, one grows weary of being confined to bed, not being able to cook and clean for your family, and having to miss out on church and ministry opportunities.  In our young church plant on the foreign mission field, new believers were unsure as to how to minister to the pastor’s family, and obviously, we had no family nearby to help out. However, instead of focusing on myself and the negatives, I intentionally redirected my focus to pray – for my family, our church family, our ministry, unsaved neighbors, and many other things I didn’t always take enough time to pray for before.  I began to see God work through those prayers and in my own life as well.

During this time, a sweet friend, someone I consider a spiritual “mom,” was praying for my complete healing.  If she were one of the four friends who lowered the paralytic through the roof for Jesus to heal him, then I know God would have healed me just by seeing her faith.  She often encouraged me and assured me that she was praying for my healing. I thanked her, and inside I added, “Yes, Lord, please send healing and relief from this pain, but only when you’re done with whatever you’re teaching me first!”

After several months, the pain became manageable, and I was living a limited, but somewhat “normal” life again. However, I began to miss those tender times of communion with the Lord.  The irony of it was that when there was a flare-up that would send me back to the starting point, I found I wasn’t emotionally or spiritually prepared for the set back!  The Lord would invariably keep me down for a week or two at a time, until I was back to where He wanted me to be.

Abiding in Christ About a year into this journey, the Lord revealed the target area where I needed to trust Him more.  As I was reading through the Gospels, a verse I had never really noticed before seemed to jump off the page at me. (Isn’t that a wonderful thing about God’s living Word?) “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31). Our Lord wants us to rest when necessary.  He wants us to maintain a healthy balance between rest and work. I now see that I often found my worth in my productivity level, and not my position in Christ. When I discussed with my husband what I was learning, he lovingly pointed out, “In your mind, if you’re not in motion, then life is not worth living.”

As Andrew Murray illustrates in his classic work, Abide in Christ, as a mere branch, we are totally dependent on the vine for sustenance, and our purpose is not to live for ourselves, but to bear fruit for the vine.  We must live in constant communion with Christ in order to receive the necessary nutrients to be able to fulfill our God-given purpose – to glorify God with the fruit we bear. This truth is so simple, yet so life-changing!  God is not so much concerned about how active or busy we are, as He is with our union with Him.

My chronic back pain seems so trivial when I think of friends who are battling a terminal illness, have buried a parent or a child, or are facing a major financial difficulty.  God has different purposes for the trials He allows His children to face. Sometimes it may be to get our attention and force us to go in a different direction.  Sometimes He wants to remind us that our strength is in Him. Maybe His purpose is to cause us to thirst for Him more. Many times, God uses our suffering to give us even greater opportunities for ministry. At other times, the Lord brings trials in order to bring us back to our first love, because we have become careless in our relationship and have taken success and blessings for granted. There’s nothing like being stripped of all your physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to force you to recognize that Christ is your all-in-all.  I honestly do not know when or if God will finally bring an end to my physical pain.  I do know—now—that I will rather glory and take pleasure in my infirmities, so that I may truly know the power of Christ at work in my life (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). No matter what kind of suffering the Lord may bring into your life, don’t let your pain be wasted.  Allow the Lord to use it to transform you and fulfill His purposes for you.

-Amy 


James’ Grandpa’s Funeral – Answered Prayer!

God gave James and his family beautiful weather for the graveside service to bury his grandfather on Monday. Our all-powerful God, who controls all things, held off the snow! There were between 80 and 100 people at the service, many of whom were unsaved family and business contacts from the Sedona area.

God also gave James clarity as he shared of the eternal hope in Jesus Christ. He thoroughly presented the Gospel and one lady indicated that she trusted Christ that day!

Thank you for praying. To God be the glory!

Update on James’ Grandfather

Please forgive me for not posting an update earlier.

Early Wednesday morning (2/11), James’ grandfather went home to be with the Lord. He slipped into eternity quietly, surrounded by family who loved him dearly. They asked James to preach the service, so he flew out of Buenos Aires that same night. The Lord gave him a safe trip there, and provided for him along the way.

Sunday afternoon (2/15) is the viewing at a funeral home. Then, Monday is the graveside service in Sedona, Arizona. There will be many unsaved family and friends there, so please pray that James is able to clearly present the Gospel to them, as well as comfort the saved. It is forecasted to snow that afternoon. Please pray that will not be a hindrance.

Amy and the children are holding down the fort in Argentina. Please pray for their safety there.