I have read that around 50 percent of missionaries do not go back to the field after their first term. Sound shocking? I had always wondered, why go through the trouble of raising money, learning a language, getting settled in another country, and starting a church only to leave after 2, 3, or 4 years? I know that some of this is due to sickness or other difficulties, but much of it is due to being discouraged. And, although this statistic may sound shocking I now personally understand why this is the case.
After working hard for 4 years, I was very excited about our furlough. I knew that traveling and homeschooling at the same time would be a bit crazy, but still, we were going “home” for a year! During this year our children finally “learned” English, got close to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, ate new things, and got to travel around the U.S. It was amazing to have an automatic garage opener, have trash trucks come by and pick up the trash while we slept, and did I mention a dishwasher! That year went by real fast.
Finally the countdown to return to Bolivia was on. People kept saying: “I bet you all just can’t wait to get back!” To be extremely honest, I wasn’t for sure if I was excited about going back. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the Bolivian people, or want to see their lives changed, or see how much the Lord was blessing. It was more the feeling of “I know what I’m going back to,” that made me hesitant, and that thought was scary. Maybe it was because I knew now how it felt to miss family, birthdays, Christmas; maybe it was because I didn’t want to have to share my husband again, or maybe it was having to watch my children cry because once again we had to say goodbye.
Finally, the countdown was over and before we knew it, we were on the plane flying back to Cochabamba, Bolivia. In our first two weeks back my oldest daughter got shingles, our 2 yr old son got chicken pox, and our youngest daughter burnt her leg badly on a motorcycle. At this point, I was wondering “Lord, are you sure you want us back in Bolivia?” But with everything that I was feeling and experiencing a verse rang loud and clear to me:
Matthew 19:29-“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
What a convicting verse! The Lord knows the things that I miss and the sacrifices that my family makes. But, when I think about the sacrifice that God gave us and He promises to bless me above and beyond that, what an amazing God we serve! The Lord does want us in Bolivia and He promised to bless my family and I an hundredfold! I decided to take a look at the blessings that the Lord was already giving us, instead of dwelling on the negative.
1. Our friends allowed us to stay in their beautiful apartment free of charge while we looked for a house to rent. I don’t know how or what I would have done if I had 3 sick children in a hotel during this time.
2. We had a group visiting us at the same time. They so graciously helped us, brought us suitcases full of fun things, and prayed for us.
3. Knowing that the Lord does not give us more than we can handle. Through this experience I have been able to give friends advice and encouragement for going back to their field.
We are now 2 years into our second term and I cannot emphasize enough how thankful I am that the Lord allowed us to come back to Bolivia. A wise friend told me that I would be surprised that on this term how Bolivia would feel more like home, and oh how true that has been. Just another way the Lord is blessing us an hundredfold!