Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wrapped Up

If you are here to read more about Pennies for Pencils, scroll to the next post or CLICK HERE.

By the time I arrived at the airport Sunday morning (Aug. 22), I think I was as calm as I had ever been before a flight. Remember a long time ago that I thought God and I had a deal. I would do anything He asked, follow Him anywhere, as long as it didn't require flying or public speaking.

Um, yeah. Just forget I ever admitted that and move on. And learn from my mistake. Don't EVER try to make a deal like that because you are SO going to end up doing what you said you would never do. Anyway...

Being totally calm before a flight isn't like me, though I think I hide it pretty well (or maybe not). I didn't even cry when I walked away from my guys at the airport. That was a first. Of course I was still a little nervous about the trip, but I was so excited and just ready to be back in Guatemala, if only for a few days and the two days leading up to the trip really brought a lot of calm and comfort to my very anxious self.

Both flights were smooth and I am still thanking God for that. After the drama that took place on flights during the December and May trips, I NEEDED uneventful travel this time. I loved getting so many text messages and emails while I was literally waiting for takeoff from friends praying specifically for that...uneventful travel.

Once in Guatemala, Naomi from Rehoboth picked me up and we spent a while shopping in the city before heading to Parramos. It was a great travel day. Naomi and I seemed to click instantly (until then we had only spoken by phone and through emails). It was just a wonderful day. There was no reason not to be calm; no reason to fear. I haven't been afraid to be in Guatemala since my first two weeks fostering in 2007.

But then came the night.

In a place much different than Antigua.

And I didn't even have a home in a gated community with 24 hour guards or a hotel with 24 hour staff to run to.

It all started at 8:30 when we had to walk the dog.

It hit me that we were the only two North Americans in town. It didn't matter that the police station was just a block away. If anything were to happen, it is likely that no one nearby would help us, not even the police.

I was fairly certain that a middle of the street attack was imminent. But again, I think I hid it well while casually mentioning that I thought walking around outside at night in this part of Guatemala was not the safest thing to do. I was nervous and extremely cautious, but not in a panic. Yet.

Until we got back inside and Naomi went bed.

I shuffled into the guest room and climbed into bed becoming instantly paralyzed with fear. What was I thinking? Had I really been asking God to give me a glimpse into what life will look like for my family when living in Guatemala? Had I truly believed that I could do THIS? Live outside of a gated community, close to the people we are serving, not in a luxury vacation type home? Did I really always ask Him to lead me into situations that would force me to rely only on Him? I never once questioned being in Guatemala or even in Guatemala alone, but I did question the decision I made to step out of my comfort zone of staying in touristy Antigua so that I could see what this type of missionary living (the type that I believe is right for our family) looked like and the decision I made to fore go having a personal driver with me all day every day to avoid a great deal of expenses. Whenever we live wherever we are going to be living, we will not be returning to luxury every night and we will not constantly have a driver and translator with us. Until now, we have taken mission trips. I wanted to forget that I was on a mission trip and see what real life would look like.

I didn't like what I was seeing because it terrified me.

Go figure. Me. Scared. To the point of panic.

What to do in a situation like this? Pray and reach for your Bible, of course.

So of course that is NOT what I did.

No, I just sat there in the middle of my fear, unable to move, as the fear took over and began to breed the most horrible thoughts and worst scenarios imaginable.

The gate at the bottom of the stairs would not keep someone out, nor would the locked front door. And forget the lock on my bedroom door. What purpose would it serve? I didn't even have a roof to jump off of as a last attempt escape from the gang of people I knew were going to break in at any minute. Once I had thought of every thing horrible that was going to happen, I grabbed my journal and in handwriting that is so shaky it is almost not legible wrote:

"...The anxiety, this intense fear has returned. I am afraid to stay here in Parramos, outside of my comfort zone. Afraid of being one of only two gringo(a?)s in this town. Afraid of the crime that grips this country. Afraid of violence. Afraid of what tomorrow holds. Afraid for my life. But mostly I am afraid of being afraid and what it means is happening to me again..."

Finally. It took a while, but the last sentence made sense. I realized what was happening so I continued to write:

"God did not create this fear in me. God, help me trample over it. I know you hear my cry..."

Still trembling and wondering how I was going to make it through the night, my mind raced back to just the day before and the picture that had been painted in my mind...

"Blankets...His arms...wrapped up...holding you tightly...peek out over the are safe."

As clearly as I recalled Angela speaking those words, that still, small voice came through to calm the storm.

"Don't you know who you are? You are My child. No matter what happens in this life, you are safe. I already know the rest of your story. Believe Me. Trust Me. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. You can do this. You will do this. And I will never leave your side."

I am so thankful that He never fails to meet me in all of my messy brokenness. Any kind of fear is wrong. Never have I given into it so much that it has kept me from doing something I knew I should do, but I do allow it to consume too much of my mind. Too much of my life. But after so many years of fear, it felt like something began to change that night. I wasn't sure exactly what, but I did know that no amount of fear would keep me away from that place (Guatemala) or whatever it is we have to do there. For as long as I can remember fear has been one of the enemy's biggest footholds in my life. It took me this long to realize it and there would be no better time than this trip to lay that burden down.

As always, I felt almost crazy for being so fearful. We all know that Guatemala is not the safest country in the world, but it certainly isn't the most dangerous. There was no reason for me to have such intense fear, but it was helpful to hear the next morning that I'm normal. Apparently a lot of people go through this. It just isn't talked about often. Yes, I was being irrational, but we all have our own battles and this irrational fear thing is one of mine.

Obviously I made it through the night. I popped in my ear buds and hit shuffle all. I'm convinced that He has fun playing with my shuffle settings. The first song could not have been more fitting (and I do not think it was a coincidence). I'll post it below or HERE if you're reading on Facebook (just because I'm a music fanatic and I think everyone else wants to hear the music I love). And as crazy as it may it sound, I curled up with my Bible and fell asleep. I sleep best in Guatemala. That night was no different. I woke up the next morning still holding on to my Bible, smiling at the thought that He was there, keeping watch all night. I had prayed that He would show up in a big way and make His presence powerfully known during this trip. So far, He was on it.

It was time to get to work and I couldn't wait to get to our families in Pueblo Nuevo. First stop...waiting for a chicken bus...

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