My favorite birthday present is also an extremely accurate portrayal of the state of my heart two months in. Two places, two homes, two callings and purposes. Old and new. Two feelings about most things, every single day. If you read December's blog post you may have noticed that it was SUPER BORING. There were photos and a run down of the activities of the month, but not much else on the page. I still can't fully put into words where my heart was a month ago. Just a week after Christmas in a new country far from home and tradition and family and normal, I didn't know how I felt or should feel. I didn't have interesting things to say about what The Lord was teaching us. I was merely surviving as the realities of life here settled in.
This second month has brought on the feelings. So so so many feelings. High and lows, joys and sorrows. It has also brought us closer to Jesus, because feeling your feelings is a good way to find yourself falling at His feet.
Not long after the beginning of this new year I lost one of my very best friends.
Maggie Pickering, an amazing 29 year old mommy of 4, who loved her husband and her kids more than anything, expect for Jesus. Maggie had a heart condition that can develop during or after pregnancy. Just as she seemed to be getting better she passed away. This news tore me apart. Maggie and I have lived hundreds of miles away from each other for at least half of our friendship, but she was the kind of person that I never wanted to loose touch with. However, losing her anyway while so very far away on this island made me feel helpless. I wanted to go, or do, and try. I knew I couldn't fix it or make it better, I just felt so STUCK. It wasn't God's plan for me to go to her celebration of life, and thats ok. God has been mending my heart. He has brought me peace through watching Maggie's husband honor her and love her and cling to God. He has reminded me over and over again that because of the hope of salvation I WILL see Maggie again. And he has reminded me that salvation-hope is exactly why I'm on this island anyway.
It was such blessing that one week later my family came to visit! I needed something to focus on and I love spending time with them! They came because that week I turned *coughcough* 30! I was actually pretty stoked about it. I feel like I'm in the grown up club now! It was fun celebrating here and with them. I missed my brother (he couldn't make it down), and having him and his wife would have been the only thing that could have made my birthday better.
Saying good-bye at the airport was REALLY hard (why is it so much harder when you are not the one leaving? Ok, leaving is hard too. Good-byes are just hard.) so afterwards we took the kids to the playground to wave at the plane as it took off! What, most playgrounds aren't right beside an airport tarmac? Oh yeah, I guess thats just here lol. It may make it harder to hear each other, but it's actually really fun to see the planes come and go!
While my family was here, Aaron had the opportunity to preach and share his story at our church!
He did such a great job! I was a very proud wife :) Afterwards one man came up and told Aaron that he really related to his story. He told Aaron that because of Aaron's story he wants to keep coming to our church! God does awesome things when we obey Him.
We have begun making new friends and connections, particularly within our church. I'm loving these sweet people!
Making good friends is very important to us. Many of the people at our church (including the family on the right) are students and will eventually be leaving the island. We are trying to love well anyway, to keep our hearts open and not guarded, so we can make the most of the time we have together! Please continue to pray for strong relationships to develop for each of us!
This month has been an adjustment to new roles and identities. God answered my 8 year prayer to be at stay-at-home mom! But now we don't have jobs that require getting dressed up or being on time. We have no small groups to lead or host, no youth group to serve at, no small groups to visit and share plans with. We have wide-open schedules! We are never in a hurry. And I think we may be going a little bit crazy lol.
However, any time we thought about starting ministry we felt both excited and completely overwhelmed (there's the two feelings thing again, some major "pair of ducks" paradoxes for all our fellow MTI alum). We have connections here from previous trips, and the wonderful Graysons who have been so helpful! But starting a ministry from scratch is still a daunting task. So we prayed. We avoided, we tried things, felt discouraged, felt hopeful and then we prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more. We asked for courage and boldness and direction. We asked for open doors and clarity.
We have shared our heart for ministry here with any person that will listen. Cashiers at the grocery store, artisans at the craft shops, even people we start conversations with while eating or playing. Blonde hair and fair skin does not scream "locals" lol Most Kittitians assume we are students at the Vet or Medical school. When we get to say "No, we are missionaries" its a great way for conversations to get started. So far these conversations have not opened any doors, but they have showed us once again the interest in and need for Celebrate Recovery here.
(Aaron talked to this guy while we waited on our food at the food court. They bonded over a basketball t-shirt and before we left this man had shared with Aaron about his time in prison and his own struggle with addiction)
Today Aaron and I sat down together to map out a plan.
We asked our friends to keep the kids, we drove to a coffee shop, pulled out our notebook and pens and started jotting things down. Before we knew it God started opening up doors! Aaron found out that he has permission to go to the Juvenile Detention Center every Saturday for an hour to do ministry with the teenagers! We started planning how to integrate Celebrate Recovery into our time there. We had a meeting set up for us with the superintendent of the prison for this coming Monday! We had a friend volunteer to ask about how we can connect at the psych ward at the hospital (where addicts go to detox).
When we were trying to think about ministry in our own strength we were completely overwhelmed. When we asked God to do it is His strength He began to hand us opportunities.
I lift my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
God has brought this verse to my mind several times over the last few days. When I was in high school we sang a song at youth group that was based on these verses. As the melody floats through my mind it brings me peace to be reminded that our help is coming from the Lord. The God who made these mountains that we see from our porch, who made the oceans we swim in and the creatures that we see crawling or swinging around. The Lord who made each of you, and us, and the people of St Kitts. HE is the one helping us with every feeling, every obstacle, and every opportunity.
Praise God for all HE has planned in this incredible country, our new home!
If you would like to financially be a part of what God is doing in St. Kitts please Click Here and sign up for a reoccurring donation! We have not reached 100% of our monthly support and we will be updating our budget next month now that we know what our actual financial needs are. We are so blessed by one-time givers so that we are covered for our monthly shortage for a time, however we would like to reserve those funds for ministry cost and large or unexpected needs. To reach our goal we still need $300 in monthly support! Any amount that you can contribute on a monthly basis will make a huge impact in our ability to stay in St Kitts and do ministry here!!
Thank you and blessings,