Saturday, July 3, 2010

How and Why (More for Me than Anyone Else)

It seems silly to be so sad about tonight, but one of my favorite things ever is fireworks.  Yes, the big, heart thumping fireworks, that almost take your phyiscal breath away when you are close enough.  When we lived in Holland, we were just a block from where the best viewing place was. Such a great location!

Since we moved to camp, we haven't been able to experience them.  We always have a camp running on the 4th of July.  So, tonight seemed just as good as any to rehearse how and why we are here.  Because I need to remember.  And I had a couple people ask me in the last few weeks about our story.  The story of how we got to camp, how we knew what God wanted for us. So here goes.   Grab something yummy to drink because this might take a while!

When I was about 10, God spoke very specifically to me and told me He wanted me in foreign missions.  I know that as certainly as I know anything.  And as I grew up, He began opening doors and directing my path towards Latin America.  When I as 14, I was able to spend a month in Bolivia, then when I was 15, I spent 2 weeks in Honduras.  At 17 I was in Mexico for a week.  I began learning Spanish and the best way I can explain it was that God caused the desires of my heart to be His.

All through college I knew I was heading south.  I did my student teaching at  MK school in Bolivia.  And all the while, this crazy guy kept following me around!  He had his work cut out for him, but after about a year of never leaving, he convinced me he was in love with me:)  We talked a lot about missions, my call being so clear.  He never had such a clear call, but was very open to going.  He had a love for the Latin America people and it was something we could see ourselves doing.

And so began the prayer we've prayed ever since, "Lord, show us the next step."  Simple as that.  While we sorta had an end goal in mind, we didn't have a clue what that would look like except that it would mean Spanish in Latin America.  We didn't have a country or a people group, or a particular ministry.  Just a place and a prayer.

We got married 3 weeks after we graduated from Spring Arbor and we moved to Holland, MI with $500 and a car.  No jobs, no plan other than to be in a place where there were lots of Latinos.  And God showed us the next step.  We found a fantastic church where we both grew a lot.  We both ended up teaching a Christian school there, Noah teaching Spanish and Bible and I was teaching History.  And we continued to pray, "show us the next step"  One summer that included running a ESL day camp for Latino kids in the community.  Another summer it took us to Costa Rica. 

 And in Costa Rica, we studied Spanish, and prayed, 'Lord confirm this Latin American desire, and please show us what that will look like."  And one day, when we were trying to not be tourists, and managed to get lost in the mountains, God began to grow this idea of camping in our hearts.  At that point, we didn't know if there was anyone doing anything like that in Latin America, but we started to look and found LAM.

Ok, so we have always prayed "Show us the next step" and we have always tried to make the most of the waiting.  We have worked at things that we could while being in the US, tried to take classes, be part of ministry that would be helpful later, tried to get as prepared as we could.   So the summer of '06 we came as summer staff.  Noah was a programmer and I worked with some of the college aged kids.  I had counseled here in college, so on a whim I sent an email to the guy in charge of summer staffing, asking  there was anything that a married couple could help with for the summer.  At that point we didn't have any kids. And as it turned out, there was.

As the summer wore on, we realized we would need more than just a summer here and there of experience.  So we started talking to people and heard through the grapevine that camp was needing another programer.  We then started to talk with Paul Gardner, the director and he wanted us to continue to pray and to talk with him.  By the end of the summer, we were pretty sure this is what God wanted.  We went through the process and in November were accepted by the board.  We started the support raising process  and then in September of the next year we moved here.

And now we are in the process of support raising again to move on to Honduras.  And that story is really just more of the same. Praying for just that next step, practicing, exploring, trying things and seeing where they will lead.

I have had people ask me how did we find a "job" fit us.  Somewhere along the line, we learned we liked people.  And discipleship.  And evangelism.  And outdoors.  And being goofy.  And a whole lot of other things.  We have a desire to come along side the church and help with all of that.  Camp for us is a fantastic way to see that happen.  It's such a unique environment, where people can come away from the everyday and really focus on what God is saying to them. 

We realized that the things we loved, the things that we got really excited about was what God has made us to do for Him.   For us that is working with people, especially Spanish speakers, being in a discipleship relationship, sharing the Gospel.  Camping just fits us, in a way not much else does.  God uses it all!  Don't think that just because you are a plumber or a secretary or an engineer God won't use that for ministry!

Someone recently asked me how to make a rational decision to follow God's direction.  I am not sure that it ever seems totally rational.  I know people in our lives thought we were a bit nuts doing some of the things we did.  But I really believe that God will show us the next step.  He always has.  I think a lot of times, He wants us to start moving in some sort of direction.  Anywhere, just starting looking at places that interests you.   The idea that when we are faithful in the small things, God will bless us with bigger things is true here.  Be faithful in your day to day. 

And just because you aren't in ministry doesn't mean you aren't in ministry.  There is no calling higher or more holy.  It's just as important to mop floors and fix doors to the glory of God as it is to preach the Gospel from the pulpit.  There is no hierarchy of Christian service.  It's all about being obedient to what God is calling you.  If that means some sort of ministry, that's fantastic, and it might also being working in an office and raising a family to impact the world for him, one kid at a time. 

 God has answered our prayer of one step at a time.  It wasn't a flash of lighting, but we have come to a the same sense of peace on so many of these big decisions.

Ok, now I feel a bit better about missing the fireworks tonight.  Sometimes you just need to remember.  Thanks for listening.


  1. Sometimes we need to remember that our story is part of the bigger Story. (with a capital S). Pastor Mark has been preaching a series on how things in life are marked with a stamp of a story... and knowing in our hearts whether that story is ours, or whether it's part of the bigger story.. God's story. Friend, your life, and your testament is part of His story. You are a testament to the faithfulness of Him. we love you both very much! and seriously, the pic of you and Noah on Ron's lap. I laughed outloud! :) I remember that night. ;)

  2. thanks for sharing your story! we've been praying for you guys!

  3. Thanks Jen! And yes, it's that photo a stitch? We have a couple of them and they just make me smile! Ron is so much a part of who we are as a couple! 2 years of premarital counseling will do that! And he married us...miss him

    Rebecca! Thanks so much! It means a whole lot! How are you guys doing these days? Hanging in there?

  4. Thanks for sharing this, Liz...

  5. your welcome Megan! Hope all is well with you!


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