As a little girl I always enjoyed the times when missionaries came to our little town church and shared about their ministry to the people God had impressed upon their hearts. Carolyn, Rich and Margie, Bryon, the Baumanns and many more people made a difference in my life even if they did not realize it at the time. To be honest those where favorite times to go to church up until my relationship with god became a personal relationship not just an expected relationship, which was when I was 14. 14 was also the age of that I went on my first ministry trip. That trip to Ecuador, South America opened my eyes to not only the utter poverty of places beyond my little bubble of North Central Wisconsin, where I had grown up, but also the complete joy one can have when they worship their Lord and Savior.
It was during that trip and the transition back to my life in the states(even if I had only been in S.A.) for a few weeks) that I realized that I wanted the same joy that I saw others have. I NEEDED that. I needed a personal relationship with Jesus.
So started my journey. A journey that has been interesting, challenging, exciting, difficult and amazing. A journey I would not change because of where it has brought me. It has brought me closer and nearer to my Savior.
Since that pivotal point in my life, I knew I wanted to be in ministry. For years I was convinced missions only happened overseas. Then I went to New Tribes Bible Institute where I sat in the midst of missionaries who served all over the whole but also in their neighborhoods, wherever God put them they served. Even with those personal examples I still wanted to be part of missions overseas. Very soon before graduation from New Tribes a health scare was the start of a 9 year health battle, and the medical bills that went with the health issues. I soon realized as a college grad with no insurance and lots of medical bills that my hope to be overseas would no longer be an option, at least not anytime soon. So I grew up fast, got a job with benefits and coasted through life for the next several years.
It seemed that every time I made a sliver of moment towards paying my bills something would happen(car break down, new tires etc) and I would be 10 steps behind. This. Happened. Every. Single. Time. To say that I would get discouraged, depressed, sad, and frustrated would not be a lie. Not only was I not able to seem to get rid of the bills I also couldn't seem to get healthier. Nearly three years ago I was handed a medical hammer and nail that seemed to seal the coffin of hopes and dreams of being in full time ministry. Okay, I know that sounds dramatic but let me be completely real hear for you. In the midst of relief in having answers came dismay at thinking that for sure I would not be able to work overseas and most likely because of the expense and detail it took I would not be able to afford or function in full time ministry in any capacity. Yes, this was part reality but mostly fear, lack of understanding and satan working to take me out. The diagnosis of Celiac blew my life apart and forced me to start rebuilding it piece by piece. Food really does affect pretty much every aspect of life. There is hardly any point in life that food is not part of that.
I went through, and am still going through the process of the transition of a gluten free diet, among other food restrictions but then when I was starting to get used to the change in my life I realized that some symptoms I thought were just from not being healthy where actually neuro-muscular issues and most likely something that is genetically handed down to me. Again, I am in the process of adjusting to what is needed to be healthy and safe. Again, I thought that this would keep me from ministry beyond working through the church as much as I could, which I have been doing faithfully since I came home from college. These years have been amazing and a great blessing in my life. These years have included working with teens, mission trips to British Columbia, Colorado, Nassau Bahamas, and South America, Hmong youth club, taking a Perspectives World Movement class, training and planning a Perspectives class and being involved with many great Bible studies.
Despite going through these amazing experiences there was a part of me that felt like I was not anchored. For example, I have struggled with only a Associates in Biblical studies degree, I struggled with finding jobs that where stable and healthy(an issue I am currently dealing with). I have dabbled with school, different careers and feeling like I was just treading water and "getting by" in life.
This is what I was telling a dear friend recently during a delicious lunch and visit when we were discussing my life. She asked me what would I like to do in life if there were no limits in life. I answered quickly and easily that I would love to be in ministry and to be a wife and mother. She encouraged me to pursue ministry and gave me an idea of where I could start with that dream. It didn't take me long, a few day really, to decide to take a leap and give it a try. I filled out an application of interest with Pioneers Missions and also inquired with another mission(of which I have not heard back from) Surprisingly I heard back from Pioneers within 24 hours and they set me up with a phone interview with a wonderful woman named Kim. My interview with Kim was amazing. Going into the interview my top concerns and hesitations were my health and bills. My concerns about my health were calmed when she told me that within Pioneers there are a few people with Celiac who are serving successfully, one of them being her close friend, someone she told me she will put me in contact with and that even the HQ chef is Celiac(!, we then talked about the bills that I am still faithfully working on paying off. She assured me that she had seen God work in amazing ways to wipe away bills and reminded me that God is bigger than my health or my bills.
This is getting to be a long post(sorry-I just have a lot to tell tonight:)) So I will get to the point....drum roll, please...............I have been approved to continue on with canidating with Pioneers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This means that I have the Formal Application to submit and have several references completed. I was also invited to attend a week long Pioneers Orientation(Celiac chef=GF food=I can eat there!) in Orlando, Florida sometime this year(I have a few dates to chose from). At this orientation I will be interviewed in person, learn more about Pioneers, the organization and what it means to be part of Pioneers. At that time I will know if I am accepted as a missionary with Pioneers.
This has all happened in a WEEK! Wow, how things can quickly change and in ways that I thought were long impossible. It was a great reminder that God works in the impossible and beyond our finite minds. He is bigger than the challenges you and I face in life.
In closing, will you pray with me and for me in the following, as I delve into this new chapter in life?
1. His provision on a minute by minute and day to day basis.(see prayer request#3)
2. God's faithfulness in the times we feel like we are treading water and the times things are going well.
3. For the people He puts in our lives to spur us on, to speak truth and to encourage us.
4. The clarity and peace He has shown me in the last several weeks about some difficult decisions I have made.
5. For the sunshine and warmth, the promise of new life.
1. That I continue to seek God's will in this opportunity
2. That as I work on the extensive application I will be able to communicate thoroughly and answer the questions to the best of my ability.
3. That I am able to find a second job or a more stable and suitable full time job since in the the last several weeks my hours were cut from 40 to 25 or less each week. Not only do I want need to pay for everyday life, I also want to get rid of my bills as soon as possible and I also need to save for the week of orientation with Pioneers and the ticket to get there. Have I mentioned that God timing that I can't fathom based on the fact that my job is less than it has been and He is giving me this ministry opportunity?
4. That I continue to trust Him in ALL things, every day.
5. Clarity in this time in my life, that I am able to, along with Pioneers discern if and where I would be a good fit in the ministry.
Dear friends, thank you for reading this to the end I know it was long and thank you for your prayers.
In closing I am going to share a portion of scripture that has been precious to me for so long and is always true even when we do not see or feel it.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.