God is good. He really is. I wish I believed it and lived it more than I actually do.
After our prayer request last week, a lot of help came in. We can now pay next month's rent and eat! This is good news.
We want to thank everyone that has (ever) sent support. We wish we had more time to write personal emails and thank yous, but we just don't. It's a struggle just to keep up with this blog as it is. Our system is not stream-lined for that much correspondence, and even if it were, we wouldn't have the time to write dozens of personal mails - although sometimes we try. That's one of the reasons we started this blog - you can get news to 100 people by writing just one post. It's a relief to us and very conducive to our life here. Life is hard and busy and unpredicable in the third world. I wish you knew how much. Most days I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above water. You must fight, fight, fight for the smallest things.
Yesterday, for example, we took our car - which is now broken and leaking radiator and power steering fluid (how we didn't blow up or break down on the way home from Bariloche, only God knows) - to several auto parts stores downtown. We can't get the part we need. They just don't sell it here in Neuquen, nor perhaps in all of Argentina. We can probably get it in Chile, though, they told us. You can get just about anything in Chile, lots of port cities and all. Or mail order from the U.S.
Well, okay, then. We'll just hop on over to Chile and get right on that. And, I'm sure people mail order radiators from States all the time around here. [UPDATE: As I was writing this, Tony called to say that that's what he ended up having to do: order one from the States. $650. The power steering part, fortunately, we were able to adapt from a Ford Bronco for use in our Econoline.]
Life is definately not easy here.
But, we are learning that you don't necesarrily need a car to do missions. And Jesus never said life would be easy. For getting around, there are things like bikes, borrowed cars, bummed rides from friends, and walking. When you hear stories of families that used to ride their bikes to church, for years, their toddler falling asleep on the handlbars as they rode 5km one way on a Sunday morning... well, it just puts things into perspective for you. That same family, after I burst into tears at church several Sundays ago over our problems, immediately invited us to their house for lunch, fed us, encouraged us, laughed with us, then sent us home with bags of fresh vegetables, eggs, and fruit. When the dad pulled out his wallet to hand me a hundred dollars (I'm guessing a tenth of his monthly salary), I burst into tears again. I refused to take it. How could I? If you could have seen their humble home...
And you know what he said me?
You have to take this. I feel in my heart that I want to give this to you. If you don't take it you are denying me an opportunity to bless you, to obey God. Growing up we were taught that a gift is a gift, when someone gives you a gift you are to graciously accept it and just say Thank You.
I took it from his hands through my tears and said Thank You, and that I wouldn't tell Tony until I got in the car, or he would make me give it back. In the car I pulled the money out of my pocket to show him, and teared up again. I think I cried the whole way home.
It's so humbling to be on the receiving end. But as we were driving home (back before we realized the radiator was leaking), I realized that these are good lessons for us. We came here to evangelize and to help the poor, to do anything God asks us to do. How must the poor - the really poor - feel to receive from others? From us? It's good for us to know how it feels to be in need, really desperately in need, to have nothing but prayers to God on High for miracles.
A few days later our friends, another missionary couple here, came over bearing gifts: peanut butter and a jar of molasses! They had discovered these hidden treasures of happiness in a health food store downtown. I don't know which I was more happy about, the peanut butter and molasses (that I can use to make homemade pancake syrup, at last!) or the financial gift that was also inside the bag.
Sometimes it's hard to trust God, sometimes it's just hard. I don't want to trust God, I don't want to need Him, I want to do it all myself.
These weeks have been weeks that I have longed more for heaven than for life here on this earth. Heaven: where there is no need, no trial, no suffering, or hurt, or sin - where everyone already has Christ and we don't have to sacrifice to tell anyone else about Him. But, we're not there yet. Not yet.
We are here.