I’m missing Ensenada today. We’ve been back in Colorado for over six months now, and most days, it feels right. But not today.
Most readers know our story, how we said, “yes” to God, and the seemingly ridiculous idea of moving our family of seven to Mexico for six months. How we reduced our personal belongings, put stuff in storage, and leased out our home. We quit jobs, left family and friends, wiped away some tears, and drove off leaving Colorado – and even the U.S. – in the rearview mirror for three months – short of the minimum of five to six months we expected to be gone, thank you to Covid-19.
I know, CoronaVirus has interrupted the whole world. We aren’t the only ones with crushed expectations. And I suppose my current melancholy mood isn’t even over the virus or the sudden and total change of plans. It’s something deeper, that neither Mindy (who shares in this mood today) or I can really put our fingers on.
I thought I was holding it together today, through the melancholy, and then a friend showed up – another missionary who was “home” in Colorado when Covid hit. He and his family have not been able to return to their work in Thailand since, and likely for months more. I say “work” – but that’s their home. Their real home. The subtle crack in the voice and the moisture at the corner of the eye betrayed the heartbreak of not being home. I realized in that moment that I wasn’t holding it together.
Changing the world…
My first experience as a missionary was over eighteen years ago. I was in my mid-twenties, footloose and fancy free, had a well paying job, and a loose collection of ideals that I called “faith” that accompanied a genuine belief and trust in the God of the Bible, through Jesus. A trip to Mexico to build a house for a family, in my mind at that time, was how I could be a part of changing the world. Many things did change on that trip to Tijuana. A family received a home. I met the woman I would marry later that same year (that’s Mindy, if you missed the connection!). And, I discovered that “changing the world” starts with a change of heart.
It took me several years to begin to understand what that change of heart really is. To try and express it, this change of heart is being moved with compassion (as was Jesus in various places in the Gospels), laying down your life for others (1 John 3:16), and the directive to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19) – all underscored by our identity as sons and daughters of the God of the Bible.
You may notice, there’s no requirement to go somewhere else, necessarily. But to many of us who have gone out into the nations, coming “home” is returning to that which is most familiar, but leaving that place where God has moved us the most. Ensenada is that place for me. For us.
Attempting to break the mood, I am grateful for the many, abundant, over-the-top blessings we’ve received this year. The very fact that we were able to go to Mexico is astonishing. Upon our return, God has provided for our every need. Not once have we been without necessities or some basic comforts. We are blessed to have a great circle of family, friends and community.
C.S Lewis, in the Narnia series, alludes to God through the character of Aslan, a fierce lion! Lucy, a young girl, asks about Aslan, “Is he safe?” “Of course he’s not safe!”, comes the reply. “But, he’s good.”
Such is my walk with God this year. Saying “yes” to go on this adventure wasn’t the safest option. With the whole tumult of this year, we’ve had our expectations crushed on several occasions, and we’ve cried more than a few tears. But, He’s good. We know that He is. We can show you that He is. Forgive me, though, if I want to return to the place where He moved me the most.