Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do" Pt. 1

In these next few posts I wish to share a bit about my time in Mexico. The title comes from a song the Lord brought close to my heart during my stay there. Snippets of "Praise to the Lord" would run through my head at various times, but I could never remember exactly what song it was the words were from. During the end of my stay, I was introduced to Fernando Ortega's beautiful version of it, and I was surprised to discover several additional verses of the old hymn that I was not familiar with. In looking up the entire song today, I was blessed to find that many of the stanzas described so aptly the beautiful lessons God brought to my heart during my 2 1/2 months away from home.

My trip started out about 3:00am on December 3rd when my parents and one brave sister drove me the 90 minutes to the airport. I felt brain-dead as I climbed on my 6:18 flight. Whether it was a combination of excitement, drinking coffee too late, or a heart full of a wonderful sermon I heard that evening, it kept me tossing and turning the precious 4 hours I had in my bed. :-) In picking between a greater degree of brain-deadness, or a sore neck from trying to sleep during my flight, I chose the sore neck. :-) One last Starbucks perked me up a tad during my Colorado layover, and phone calls back home and texting friends kept my brain from shutting down completely.

I arrived in El Paso, TX shortly after 1:00, and was met an hour later by the family I was to live with for the next 2 months. We drove around El Paso for the next four hours doing last minute shopping, and then prepared to cross the border. Around 5:00 the unthinkable happened. Sparing you all the nitty gritty details, we got in a car accident. For any of you who have driven in El Paso, you can maybe understand when I say the driving was crazy. Our vehicle was completely fine, but the other vehicle totaled. We still stand in awe that no one sustained even minor injuries.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.

After many hours of waiting to get insurance papers filled out, etc., we finally crossed the border late that evening. We had several hours to drive yet that night, everyone was exhausted, and amidst various other factors, my visa paperwork was not taken care of properly. This was the cause of much worry on many sides, but the Lord was once again faithful, and we saw Him work out the details in an encouraging way.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!

We spent the evening with a sweet family in Cuautemoc, and I enjoyed my last shower for awhile. The unfamiliar and strange surroundings were
starting to overwhelm me a bit, but thankfully, that did not last long. Before long, my adventuresome spirit returned, and it was with much anticipation we hit the road again with a truck full of groceries, a tank full of gas, and a ten hour drive ahead of us. The small truck with it's bed full of supplies proved a challenge with the seven passengers, but we managed ok. :-) Hey, it was Mexico. ;-)

After several hundred miles, bumps enough to turn any dairy in our stomachs into sour cream, we arrived in Guagueyvo, Chihuahua, MX at sunset. The rugged mountains glowed in rich hues, and small fires were seen dotting the hill-sides. I was introduced to my little rock-walled room, and shortly after nightfall, we retired and fell into exhausted sleep....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home Again

Home. Wow. After 2 1/2 months of travel, hundreds and hundreds of miles either driven or flown, new cultures experienced and understood, times of re-connecting with old friends, making many new dear ones along with countless memories, it's hard to exactly say where home is. If the age-old saying is true, "home is where the heart is," I have several. I'm sure many of you can relate.

And yet, when the traveling is through, the excitement past, and the memories made, there's nothing quite like stepping into your own front door along-side of the closest relations the Lord gives. Family. Though I've only been in WI for three days now, I've already had the chance to savor snuggles with my little siblings and kitty, early morning with my Lord in front of a toasty heater, outdoor activities with my siblings and Dad, and sharing Mexican memories and food with all my family. Life is precious. Family is precious. I'm not taking any of that for granted.

The front door in this picture is what I saw every day during my time in Mexico. Though there are no mountains here, the piles of snow sometimes try to deceive me otherwise. The journey from sun-tan to frost-bite in a matter of a few days has been interesting, but it's been fun. :-) Flip-flop withdrawal has got to be the worst. :-)

Anyway, all humor aside, I've been blessed. From the rugged, sometimes lonely mountains of Guagueyvo, to the fellowship filled weeks in Samachique, MX and North Carolina, God has been there. He's been there when questions, uncertainties, and painful questions have been almost too much to bear. He's been there during interesting cultural and culinary
experiences in dirty and dark adobe huts with primitive, lost, hurting Indian people. He's been there watching over me during dangerous situations. He's been there during happy times. Times when tears would pour down my face from laughing so hard. Times of singing, rejoicing, teasing, and watching a dear friend walk down the aisle into a new season of life. Times of quiet reflection as I've sought His face. Through the countless emotions and experiences of this trip, God was already there. He has blessed me beyond words, His daily presence being the greatest treasure.

You'll have to grant me patience as I once again try and pick up this blog. Things may be sporadic as I re-adjust and evaluate my goals for this next season in life. I will do my best though! I feel I have lots to share, it's just going to take time to unravel it all and put it into words.

Until then.... :-)