We’ve been missionaries in Argentina for 18 months now.
We moved here thinking it would be long-term, otherwise we wouldn’t have brought all our stuff. We thought we’d be here for two years minimum, five or ten if God enabled and opened the door. About six months after we got here it became clear that we probably wouldn’t be retiring here. About a year in, I was beginning to wonder if we’d make it another year at all.
The cost of missions has been high for our family. We never counted on how much it would affect our health, our marriage, our kids, even our faith. Our time on the overseas mission field has rocked us to the core. As someone said to us recently, “Everything seems to happen to you guys.” Mostly we are just thankful we are still alive and our family and faith is still intact. Those are the truly important things. And as Tony’s uncle encouraged us recently as we were passing through Bahia Blanca, “God made the institution of the family first, then the church.”
Here’s a great piece on the reality of how missions can and does affect marriages. I could’ve written this. But I didn’t. I’m glad to know we’re not the only ones.
If you’ve been following our story over the past year and a half or two, you know all we’ve been doing. What I haven’t gone too much into depth about here or in our newsletters (if you signed up for those) is how it has affected us.
We have lost our health, sometimes I wonder if permanently, and we have both at different times experienced a crisis of faith and family that shook us both to the core. I don’t feel it necessary to get into the nitty-gritty here – and by God’s grace are doing well now – but know one thing: missions is hard.
We feel privileged to have been able to serve the Lord and the lost and the church here for a year and a half, but it seems clear that the Lord is now directing us to return to the States for the sake of our family. What does it profit to gain many souls but lose our marriage or our kids, our family – the most precious thing God has given us here on earth? Giving out so much has burned us out. This has been ten years of illness and evangelism and trial and adventure packed into a mere year and a half. We need to take time out and care for us now. Priorities must be: God, family, others – in that order. They must.
It’s been a really hard decision in some ways, but a really easy one in others. Hard in that this is not what we had planned. Easy in that Yes, let’s leave, I don’t want to die or lose a child or our marriage, thanks. We started on the same page, but somewhere along the line all our experiences here began to affect us all differently. Tony would like to stay here, but the rest of us are ready to go. I do not believe the Lord would lead us to continue down a road we are all not in agreement upon. He does not guide that way. A house divided can not stand.
We’ve talked and prayed, shared and received counsel and lots of prayer, and we’ve made the decision to move back. Our plan is to wrap things up, pack only the necessary things, and give everything else away as the LORD leads, hopefully by the end of March, 6-8 weeks away. We do hope to be able to sell the van since it would cover our entire move back, but aside from that, are happy if we could bless others with many of our earthly belongings. We know He can use even this time to reach others.
We have learned so many things here. That God is faithful, He is Good, and He never fails. He always provides and has never left us alone. We don’t have to worry about the future, and we are trusting Him. He led us here, but He has every right to lead us somewhere else, and at any time. He reserves the right to redirect our paths. We don’t follow a call, but a Person. The need doesn’t necessarily equate the call. As I’ve said before, perhaps not here, but that I don’t necessarily feel the call to martyrdom. I believe I am of much more use to God and my husband and children (and others) alive rather than dead, at least for now. And I know that His plan is always the best, better than our own. Our idea was to stay for years, but His idea seems to be different. And that’s okay. We have grappled deeply with this, but we are now feeling peace about our decision.
We are very pleased that we were able to do almost everything we set out to do. It wasn’t a failure at all, we did it. We left it all, we came in faith, God blew our minds, people heard, some got saved, and many were blessed. And we didn’t do it alone, so many people helped and were a part of it. It is just as much their mission as ours. I know God will reward them as well. We are thankful to have been a small part of what God is doing here in Patagonia. The work is His, not ours. He will continue it, and He can bring others to water the seeds we, by God’s grace, scattered.
He is God of All, and no matter where we are, we still follow and obey Him.
There is so much more I could say, but for now that’s all. Thank you for following along with us and for being a part.
Grace and Peace.