Who stretches your mind?
Who shares your tears?
Who rebukes you?
Who coaches you?
Who protects you?
Who plays with you?
Who seeks God with you?
Who listens to you and encourages your dreams?
These questions are from the book A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald. The names that make up the answers to these questions constitute your inner circle group of friends and mentors – your Happy Few. This has been quite possibly the number one most difficult issue for us since leaving the USA for the mission field… the change/ loss of our Happy Few. Back in Texas, I didn’t even have to think about the answers to these questions. Their names were a part of my everyday life. These people were so interconnected to my soul that they were as important as breathing for me. When I had a bad day, I knew exactly who to call. When I felt like I couldn’t find the answers, when I needed to go have fun, when I needed to bounce a difficult situation off of someone else’s brain… I knew exactly who the right people were for these tasks. They were the Happy Few. They were the people who showed up when I was sick and took care of my kids and husband. They were the
people who surrounded me when a perceived injustice was afoot. They were the friends who knew, just by looking at my face, exactly what I was thinking and exactly what I needed at the moment. They were also the people who were there when we struggled with saying goodbye to life in the USA and setting out into the unknown of Peru.
Since our move into full-time missions and a life outside the USA, our Happy Few has slowly changed. Not that they aren’t still dear friends, but they are now 3000+ miles away and the physical distance makes life “different”. When we are back in the
USA, we can count on having our Happy Few around us. When we’re home, they are right there to listen, to play, to laugh, to
share. They are the people who could always be found sitting on my porch. When we are home, we sit on someone else’s porch now, but the love and the friendship is still rich.
It has been difficult to live life without our Happy Few. We have tried to find people in our new culture who could be our “Peruvian happy few”, but relationships of any sort come slowly here and really true, deep relationships (the kind we knew in the States) are almost non-existent in a culture with such deep-rooted distrust and self-preservation survival issues. Sometimes we think that we are close to finding that special someone who can fill the shoes and be the answer to one of the roles of the Happy Few, but then we feel the distance again and we realize that we are possibly as close as
we will ever be able to get to most people here. We will forever be the gringos or the missionaries or the foreigners, even though we live here and have assimilated into the community and work side-by-side. Many have even told us that they trust us more than they trust their other neighbors or friends. But there is still an invisible wall… We will forever be more ‘north american’ than‘peruvian’ no matter how much we try, and perhaps this plays a major part in our “Happy Few”.
Today, our ‘new, long distance Happy Few’ looks a little different than it did a few years ago. We have a dear friend that has been an important accountability partner and listening ear to us. He calls regularly to check up on us, to encourage us, to spur us on, and to pray with us. He is responsible for our entire ministry today, as it was him who held our feet to the fire and pushed us to take an important step to open the first part of the ministry here. There is another friend from back home who regularly sends us mail (REAL mail with stamps and handwritten notes!) and encourages us. Within the past year, I have been blessed with three female relationships that have been such a breath of fresh air for me. One is physically here and we meet weekly for coffee and much-needed ‘girl-talk’ time. The two others are long-distance friends who have begun to share life with me via Skype, email, and Facebook. The beauty of these relationships is made in the transparency and the depth at which we can share, laugh, and cry together.
I thank God for my new Happy Few, for my old Happy Few, and for the future personalities that I know he will place in my path. I encourage you to recognize how blessed you are if you have a Happy Few and to tell them so today. They
are truly a gift from God! Life
without a Happy Few is rough… find a few with whom you can walk the path
My husband built a large campfire tonight. The temperature is dropping toward freezing and the frost will be heavy
tonight in the Peruvian Andes. A big campfire is a fun diversion, and also a necessary heat source in our rural home.
As the evening grew later, my daughter filled the dog bowls. The sound of the dog chow hitting the metal bowls was just too much for Luna, our yellow lab. For the past hour, Luna has been cowering on the porch in fear of the campfire that we have
in the courtyard tonight. But, at the sound of food hitting her bowl, the previously fearful, trembling Luna bounded through the yard and through the fire to get to the food. If we were social or animal behavioral scientists, we could conclude one of three
things here… A) Luna is starving, or B) Purina Dog Chow is incredible, or C) Luna is crazy. Well, I can promise you that Luna is NOT starving, as is evidenced by the fact that she has quite the tubby figure and is often nicknamed “Gorda” (Fatty) by our neighbors. So that leaves us with option B or C. And the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of both. To Luna, Purina Dog Chow is absolutely fabulous. And, Luna is a little crazy. Truth be told, food is Luna’s passion, and she stops at just about
nothing (not even fire!) to get to it.
I was thinking about this as I watched the campfire tonight. What will we do for our passions? Luna was fearful of the fire. It was threatening to her. But for food? Even fire couldn’t stop her. This reminded me of our initial calling to the mission field.
There was fear… fear of the unknown, fear of possible failure, fear of giving up everything back home, fear of leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar, fear of going to a country that had only recently ended 20 years of terrorism and civil war. Our families and friends back home had fears for us and our safety. But our calling was so strong! Our passion fueled us. The
fears could not hold us back. We surged forward toward the passion that called us. Some called us crazy, too, like Luna. Many thought we were being unreasonable and irresponsible. But that passion… that was too strong. We couldn’t ignore it. Nothing could stop us from that drive to push forward.
We continue to be drawn and fueled by a passion and a calling. It is something so strong that our fears of the unknown, the “what ifs”, the possibility of failure, the perceived threats – those just aren’t strong enough to hold us back. When passion and calling take over, there is an unstoppable force that wells up inside and drives you forward. It’s an indescribable, inexplicable power and desire that comes from deep within and calls us… Through the fire, toward the prize.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!