6,000 Miles and the Lessons of Presence.

 From mid-June till almost the end of August our little family spent over 140 hours in a mini-van together, traveling 6,000 miles through fourteen states and even up into Canada.  We slept in cabins, cheap hotels, trailers, apartments, farmhouses and urban neighborhoods.  Three days before our scheduled departure date, we still had no money to go.  But we keep re-learning that trustful obedience always precedes provision.  Just in time, a check came to us from a couple we do not recall meeting, covering the amount anticipated we would need.  And as we drove, the generous hands of many filled our tank, offered the use of their washing machine or fed us a warm meal. 

We began the trip excited to tell people about our vision to serve the thirsty, but already exhausted on many levels.   Could we handle more blank stares or perplexed comments about what it means to go out as a “missionary”? Could we go where sometimes there were open arms and other times drilling questions?  Could we set up gatherings where we knew from experience many would be called, but few would come?  Could we tell the stories again and again, each time with the same enthusiasm?  Could we love and serve with no reserve, resolved to place all our hope in the One who does not disappoint?

The reality is that none of these questions will go away when we move to Puebla, Mexico in ten months.  They actually are mirrors to our own faltering hearts and as a Puritan prayer reads, “It is a good day when Thou givest me a glimpse of myself.”  Helping bring water to the thirsty in Mexico, this we know is too large of a task for one small family.  We are simply joining what God is already doing, for He has made a place holder for Himself already in every culture. We know that when you enter deep humanitarian and spiritual issues you agree to enter a journey with others that at times has great pinnacles of transformation but at most times are simply ordinary and faithful days.  

But we go because our God is a traveling God, bent on being with His people among them and as one of them.  He knew this was the only way to launch a rescue mission.  Presence transcends language and cultural traditions; it’s the definitive language of humanity. 

And that’s why we traveled all these miles this summer.  Sitting evening after evening with a man whose wife has left him for a time, filling his quiet walls with the squeal of children again. Listening to the story of a man who came out of atheism and into Christ only to find that on his first mission trip to Mexico he could miraculously understand the foreign words of a peanut farmer longing to come to Jesus.  Holding the newborn baby of a couple who served 8 hard years in Russian, now called to shine light in a forgotten Niagara Falls neighborhood.

Running with our own children up the edges of waterfalls to lie with them in the grass under the stars, loving who they are now.  Receiving the anointing oil placed upon our foreheads by a band of women who are sure that God cannot be kept in safe and tidy boxes.  Sharing a simple taco lunch with a retired Pastor who lost his first wife to cancer and with pensive eyes told us that everything you can know about God is “proved” not only in joy, but also in suffering.  Eating picnics with my father with whom Parkinson’s is making him seem so much less than what I remember about him; it was time to grieve the new reality without doubting the power of God to heal.  Walking the streets of Chicago and telling our children that their stories began in that arch at Moody Bible Institute when a short boy eyed a tall girl and they set out together to change the world. 

And there is more, so much more to the places and about the people with whom we found ourselves with. The funny thing is after all those miles–in spite of all the beds, the van repair, the stolen GPS, the ER visit, the destroyed cell phones and the screaming 2 year-old– we came home with rested souls. 

You see God is not always there in the form we want to see, but He is there in the form of human touch and presence.  A face book message or endless “show and tell” postings cannot begin to put flesh on this truth. A text cannot stare in the eyes of another.  A blog post, as much as I love the written word, cannot hear. An email is not multi-dimensional.  A Skype meeting cannot experience beauty together and even a phone call cannot stretch out a hand.

Only physical presence can give true access to the heart.  In John 15, Jesus called us friends.  He shifted from commandments to the presence, from the assignment to the relationship.  I think He was urging us not to neglect presence with each other, no matter the cost.  For only we, indwelt by the Spirit of the living God working from His favor and with Him, are Christ to one another in human form.  

So we keep writing to you about preparing to go to Mexico, not because we believe any longer that we can change the world.  We’ve tried.  Boy, have I tried.  But it is too big, too broken, and too complex.  We are not enough for that and the Maker, the Storyteller, He’s got it all in His hands.  No, we are going because He beckoned us to follow Him there and where He leads, we’ll follow.  We are willing to give the gift of presence.  My new Spanish teacher tells me we must be crazy. Maybe we are, but we want to witness more of His Great Rescue Plan.  Don’t you?

Each of us, we are a player in the larger world whether we receive that truth, or not.  I tell our boys that our lives, and namely our trust and obedience, has a “domino effect” on the lives around us and into the generations.  And I tell them that the Great Storyteller has been writing each of our stories to equip us to play a significant role in the now and into the days that lay far beyond our own.  Those of you who support us with your sacrificial prayers and finances, your stories intersect with ours.  This is more precious to us that you probably know for you make our strand stronger and longer.  Someday we’ll see the full glory of the beauty He is weaving.  And some of you, He wants to weave our threads together.  If you are sensing this, join our team!  

Our monthly support level is now at 78%!  We are praying and waiting for 25 more partners to join with us at $50 a month or 50 more at $25 a month.  You can go HERE to sign up for automatic electronic monthly giving if you wish, or send your check HERE.

We know we all live busy North American lives, but if our names come to mind while you are sitting at a red light or tossing in a load of laundry, then please pray for us.

  • Pray for the full increase of our monthly support to flow in.
  • Pray for Ben as he attends training in well drilling and pump maintenance at Living Water International in Houston 9/17-10/2.
  • Pray for Angela  and the group of women she’ll speak to in Texas on 9/27 and then as  both Ben and Angela meet with small groups in Texas.
  • Pray for Larsen and Angela as they study Spanish at the local state college.
  • Pray for the demands of homeschooling three children, language learning, support-raising and further training.
  • Pray for rest and stillness.  Pray for laughter and protection.
  • Pray for provision. Pray for odd jobs for Ben to help make ends meet.
  • Pray for our neighbors (Casey, Stephen, Joshua and Hannah and their parents) that their names might be written in the Lambs Book of Life. Our boys are longing for this!
  • Pray we receive and live out ALL the benefits of our salvation.

Thank you for your prayers and continued love and support! 

 You are abundantly blessed and highly favored.  You’ve been delivered from darkness and transferred into light.  You’ve been saved from yourself and Christ is your righteousness. You are part of an eternal Kingdom.  You are redeemed, forgiven and qualified.  He calls you His beloved one.  

Grace and Peace,

Angela (and Ben, Larsen (12), Anders (6) and Kiersta (3) too!) 

2 Replies to “6,000 Miles and the Lessons of Presence.”

  1. Here it is October and we still have some of those lovely blueberries stuffed into our freezer. Many nights when “sissy” ( Aunt Elisabeth) needs to take her med’s after her foot surgery’s, I grab a cup or so of the frozen blue marbles and make a quick smoothie to help the medicine go down. Sweet treat along with sweet memories.

  2. Oh, Anders, you make my mouth water! I used to go pick “huckleberries” every year growing up, and I’ll have to admit I probably put more in my tummy than in my bucket. I LOVE them! Can’t wait to get a hug from you!

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