International Ministries

Going Barefoot

March 8, 2009 Journal
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Have you ever had a day with constant interruptions?  A trip that didn’t go as planned?  Have you ever been involved in a ministry that took an unexpected turn?  You had to decide if you could be flexible, or if you were going to freak out because nothing was turning out like you’d hoped it would?  Some friends of ours in Scottsdale, AZ came up with a phrase for days like this:  If the shoe doesn’t fit, go barefoot!  Doesn’t that just make you smile?  It made me realize that I didn’t have to be detoured from the path.  It just meant that I might require a bit more ingenuity and open-mindedness to arrive at the destination God had in store for me.

Traveling Barefoot

In January we had planned a trip to CA to attend our Annual Missionary Retreat with our ABC colleagues that work in Northern Baja.  We were going to drive the 1000 miles to the border because that was less expensive than buying four plane tickets.  But our truck developed a mechanical problem that involved ordering parts from the U.S.  It was not going to be fixed in time. (Still isn’t fixed at this date either!)  So we decided to try a new airlines that flies from La Paz to Tijuana.  Instead of three days, we were at the border in two hours.  And had the grand experience of taking a taxi to the border, walking across, and then boarding the trolley to Santee.  A barefoot experience.

Trusting Barefoot

Our kids’ passports were due to expire in April.  We had planned to renew them through the consulate in Cabo San Lucas, 2.5 hours south of us in La Paz.  But then, this office closed for an undetermined amount of time.  So this meant scrambling to get them renewed while we were in CA at expedited fees.  We made the necessary appointments and turned in all the documentation.  A day later, we realized that there was a 50% chance that our kids’ pictures might have gotten mixed up.  Nothing we could do about it now!  I had to give my anxiety to God and trust, because if their passports came back wrong, it would mean staying an extra 7-10 days in the states.  Surely there would be some purpose in that?  (Ian thought it might be to watch the Superbowl on his grandparents’ 62 inch LCD TV!)  So I prepared myself to relax and enjoy an extended stay if necessary.  Well, the passports came back correctly.  A relief!  But I learned a lot about letting go (again) of things I couldn’t control.  A barefoot experience.

Emotionally Barefoot

This trip also involved two visits to two universities that Ian is considering for this fall.  Hard to believe we’ll soon have a college freshman.  We were all able to visit the school in CA.  However, we could only afford for Ian and his dad to fly to the one in TX.  I’m the homeschool mom, the paper-pusher, the question-asker, the detail person in our family.  Again, I had to trust not only God, but also my husband and Ian.  I didn’t have any pair of shoes that fit this new reality in my life—getting ready to send my firstborn to college!  Again, another barefoot experience.  (Ian has decided to attend LeTourneau University in Longview, TX to study mechanical engineering.)

Theologically Barefoot

At the beginning of February, David and 10 leaders from La Paz attended a continuing education conference in Mexicali led by ABC Special Interest Missionary Stan Slade.  The study was focused on the book of Revelation.  If you’ve ever had the opportunity to take a class or workshop with Stan, you’ll discover that he uses innovative methods to study the Bible.  Approaches that stimulate the mind and stretch preconceptions—and imagine this with Revelation no less!  For the Baptist pastors that attended, this was like trying on brand new Nikes after only wearing flip-flops.  Questions flew back and forth.  Dialogue was stimulating.  And at the end of the week, everyone agreed that it had been an excellent study.  A barefoot experience.

Spiritually Barefoot

In mid-February, Crossroads had three couples visit from the Houston, Texas area.  Last summer, two of these couples had attended Crossroads while on vacation.  One of the men had been given a powerful vision by God of an alabaster jar that tipped on its side, pouring oil throughout the church.  When he asked God what this meant, God said, “This church is going to grow into a ministry of healing.”  Those two couples shared this with David and me before leaving, and then continued to pray for Crossroads and our ministry.  Once back in TX, they invited a third couple to join them.  Then, God told them to come back and visit us again.  They really had no idea why, but we welcomed them with open arms.  Have you ever met people that you instantly connected with?  People of God who entered your life in such a deep, meaningful way that you were forever changed?  This is what happened to us with these six people.  They prayed and visioned with us concerning our ministry in La Paz, the vision God has for Crossroads, and what God is unfolding in Southern Baja.  We believe strongly that God is causing a revival in La Paz.  An outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will spread up and down the entire peninsula.  This is new territory for us:  opening ourselves more and more to God’s leading and renewal through his Spirit.  A barefoot experience.

Moving Barefoot

Our family is 4 months away from leaving on our year of U.S. assignment.  We will spend part of the summer in AZ and then head to MA for the rest of the year.  We are in the process of preparing Crossroads for our departure, of making sure the Theological School is in a healthy place to operate without David’s leadership, of filling out financial aid forms for Ian’s college, of looking for a high school for Aaron to attend 10th grade, of praying about a house to rent in MA, of pulling out boxes to pack up our entire house, of making sure we are healthy as we say our goodbyes.  The Baptist Convention of Southern Baja has invited us to come back for a third term and we have said yes.  So many new paths and choices on the horizon.  But we walk by faith, not by sight.  Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfect of our faith.  And if the shoes don’t fit, we just go barefoot.  Letting each surprise take us more and more into the center of God’s will.

Love and Grace from La Paz,
David and Joyce