In our initial training so many years ago, we are told to live out our lives as a witness. I've always admired St. Frances who said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.’ The way we live speaks so much louder than our actual words. I try to do that, but sometimes I let life get in the way. I unintentionally ignore my neighbor. I get frustrated at someone in traffic and respond in a way that is not appealing. I say things that I wouldn't want my children hearing or repeating. No, I am not perfect. I don’t think any of us are.
There are those times, though, when something does shine through; where you do make a difference; where you do exemplify the gospel through living your life well.
I got a glimpse of this in action this month. It happened during a time of prayer. Actually it began before that. I was preparing breakfast and I received a message on WhatsApp. "Hola" (Hello) was all it said and no name was associated with it, so I was suspicious. Then I noticed that the number was from Peru and I thought that maybe it was someone I knew from our time there, so I asked “who is this?”. I was not prepared for what followed.
The message was from a former neighbor. We knew him during the time we lived in Huancayo. He is now 14 years old, but when we lived next door to him, he was around 5 or 6 years old. He used to come over and play with Sarah at our house. We always fixed a snack for the kids and had backyard play time together.
In the subsequent messages, he told me how he was hoping for a better life and how hard it was for his family now - his younger brother and his mother. A few years ago, his mother took the kids and fled from the father due to the abuse. We had suspected that was happening all those years ago, but the system in Peru is not in favor of interfering in family violence cases and there was nothing we could do. There was physical and emotional abuse and oppression. His mom was not permitted to earn an education because the father said she couldn't. They now live in a small one room apartment with her working at whatever she can find.
He told me how much it had meant those many years ago to play at our house with Sarah. His words were "I felt safe. I knew that you cared". It struck me that all these years later this young man took the time to contact me. I know that during that time many years ago, I probably did not say anything intelligible to him in Spanish! It was our first year on the field and we were still working hard to learn the language. In fact, I probably didn't say a lot to him at all, as he was busy playing and running around the house. The thing that I did do is live out the gospel for him. He saw a glimpse of the Kingdom in our family and it was something that he liked. He saw kindness and ‘love your neighbor’ acted out daily.
During our text chat I was able to counsel him some and to pray for him. I now have a chance to stay in touch and in some way continue what God started in him almost 10 years ago. We have texted back and forth quite a lot over the past month. Who knew that my Whatsapp texting app on my phone would become such a link between worlds?! Josue has started asking me deeper questions about faith and life. He’s open and he’s seeking and he needs someone who feels safe and will talk to him. So, I’m here, on Whatsapp on my cell phone, connecting to Peru and to Josue and a relationship that was started 10 years ago over toys and games and cookies and juice. ~Billy
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
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! 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 via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!