I never knew living in solidarity with the poor meant being locked away from them for weeks! I think about what St. Paul must have felt when he was imprisoned: his ministries were halted by the authorities and he was unable to share the Good News as he planned. However St. Paul did not sit idle during his confinement.
“I certainly didn’t plan for a worldwide pandemic to happen in my first year back in the field,” I shared with her. “None of us knew that this would happen,” she said. “But the Lord knew. And He still called you.” She encouraged me to sit with that, not as a reason to either stay or go, but rather to really give everything back to the Lord and seek Him in each situation.
Some days I feel like I’m not doing much—I have this vision of getting up in front of the congregation, preaching the Gospel from my heart to a church full of people and playing guitar while leading beautiful hymns. Then reality hits: I don’t speak Spanish that well, and I can’t play the guitar. This missionary life has been a lesson in putting what little I have at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, even my weakness.
The first night was interesting for sure. The nights still got down to the 40s and, without heat, we were a little chilly. There were a bunch of noises, too, to feed our imaginations: some weird squealing (which we think now is a nighthawk), a rooster who must be jet lagged too as he started at 2am, and then stray dogs barking for what seemed like hours at a time. We were rattled by the initial shock of being in such a different place. The next morning, the reading was from Mark 4 where Jesus calmed the storm and I felt like the Lord was speaking to me when he said, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:40)
I burst into tears. Perhaps one of the hardest things about being a missionary is seeing that, in spite of our efforts to live in solidarity with the poor, there exists a world of difference in the opportunities available to us and to them. Try as I might, I’ll never truly understand the plight of the poor.
We’re in a large port city off the Amazon River called Iquitos. One of the poorest areas that we’ve been visiting often is called Belén. I just learned that Belén is the Spanish word for Bethlehem. That realization was so profound to me because we have encountered Jesus in His poor and lowly stable every time we’ve gone to this Bethlehem.