2014: A Year of Healing
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Julie and I were making wedding plans. We were in seminary, and the big news was about Y2K. Still in school, we wondered what the future would bring after we finished our degrees.
In August 2000, Julie and I were married. We were both so excited about beginning a joint future together. A few months later, we embarked on one of the longest possible drives on Earth. We drove for a period of 70 days, crossing 13 countries to arrive in Paraguay, exhausted but excited to begin our lives as full-time missionaries.
As I look back, I realize just how much we were able to enjoy and do as a family over this past decade:
Between 2002 and 2010, we helped pioneer and direct what was, until recently, the only Christian radio station in southern Paraguay. Today the station is self-supportive and under national leadership, and is now launching into television.
Between 2002 and 2012:
· Dozens of teams served in construction, teaching, and training. Classrooms and churches were built, and the people here were empowered by these teams.
· Resources were delivered to ministries and leaders. The largest purchase was the transmitter for the radio station.
· Young people were hosted for short- and long-term internships, and now serve in missions locally and internationally.
· Dozens of motorcycles were delivered to national pastors and leaders across the country.
· An interdenominational prayer breakfast was started. Pastors come to enjoy good food, to fellowship, and to pray together.
Between 2004 and 2011, we helped establish the Paraguay Children of Promise, a child sponsorship program. Today, more than 100 kids in various locations in Paraguay and Argentina are benefited. Julie had been training Sandra who, one year before the accident, took on leadership of the program.
Between 2007 and 2010, we had the privilege of building our own home with help from friends, an inheritance, and a mortgage.
Between 2009 and 2013, we began ICCI, a training and discipleship center. I stepped down as director after the accident. Five students who began at ICCI will soon graduate from a sister Bible-training school.
Between 2011 and 2013, we became interim pastors at a local church. We were asked to help transition the church after a painful past. Today, a congregation of more than 200 is moving forward, strong under the leadership of their new pastors.
Between 2002 and 2012, I learned to love one woman, who brought out the best in me, who made me a husband and a father, and who inspired me to dream and never quit. I treasure the life we had and thank God for allowing me 12 incredible years with Julie.
Between 2005 and 2012, I learned to love and care for my first son. This boy gave me tremendous joy to his very last hours on this earth. His inquisitive spirit is a legacy that spurs me into a new chapter every day since the accident.
Between 2010 and 2011, Julie and I went through the adoption process to become the proud parents of Esther Anahi, who brought so much joy into our lives.
Since 2011, I have had the privilege of being the father of the cutest little blonde, who gives me kisses and hugs every single day. She is a reminder that life continues, and that love exists.
Since 2012, my sister Nila has blessed us with her presence. She has become like a mother to Anahi, and has accompanied me in my darkest moments. I am excited for her upcoming wedding on February 28, 2015.
Every day since that very dark morning in April 2012, I have been picking up the pieces and gradually crawling out of the deep pain. Healing is slowly happening, joy is returning, and I am beginning to dream and hope about a pleasant and exciting future.
As I look back on 2014, I can see that it was a year of healing. I intentionally retreated, taking a sabbatical season to rest, explore, be present in Anahi's life, and ask some life-changing questions. I stepped away from all major activities to focus on my inner life, and on letting the rhythms of life determine my pace. Getting to this point, even just acknowledging the need to carve out space, has been a slow process, but it’s a process that's probably saved my life.
My hope is that future newsletters will reflect more and more new plans, new activities that I hope will spring out of the new life and restoration that I am experiencing.