Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. --Luke 1:57 (NKJV)
I've now had the experience of telling several people of our plans to move to Nicaragua this coming August and seen their responses enough to figure it might be helpful to have our testimony of how God has lead us to the scary adventurous cusp of an international move all written down. So here goes...
Back before marrying my charming, inspiring, hard working (but I digress!) husband nearly 5 years ago (has it been that long?! But what a fun time we've had!), I remember sitting down at his dining room table and discussing our vision for our future together. And being amazed how well our dreams lined up.
Ever since I began studying Spanish in high school, it came remarkably easily to me compared to other students. I just loved the musical lilt of the language and the way my brain seemed to shift into high gear to understand and speak in this second tongue while maintaining a rapid pace of conversation. I had spent some time in the Dominican Republic and Honduras learning to love the Latin American way of life with it's slower pace of life, priority of relationships over time, and warm social (and thermal!) atmosphere. I also had my heart broken by the poverty I saw -- and how many mission trippers wanted to offer a 'quick fix' by sprinkling dollars around. That really only seemed to make matters worse as it encouraged kids to stay out of school to beg and gave them a "you owe me" mentality.
Lucas had always wanted to live abroad and do missions work. He has an amazing work ethic as well as some pretty astounding technical skills and absolutely no fear about home renovations (or much else for that matter!). We prayed about it and it really seemed that God was placing Central America on our hearts. Our desire is to do economic development work that creates jobs for to keep the educated populace (whose dream is often "the good life" in the US) in Nicaragua. We desire to "seek another's wealth rather than our own" (1 Cor 10:24).
So, OK. We had this high-minded dream. But would anything ever come of it? We really didn't know for quite a while. But we began to move in that direction.
We married; had kids; lived our lives even while waiting on the Lord. Lucas began to investigate technology work that could be done over the Internet and transitioning his career in that direction. We hit upon "Drupal" as a good technology platform to start with. But Lucas needed more experience with that than he was able to give himself after work in a house with small children and lots of home improvement projects.
So we prayed, "When God?" and his answer came. I had never had such a strong impression in answer to prayer as what came: Luke 1:57 -- "Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son." We still didn't have a great answer to 'when' but were so encouraged that "He who began a good work in us would be faithful to bring it to completion" (Phil 1:6)
We continued our search for what God might have for us by researching the different countries in Latin America and placing it before God as to where specifically he might call us. Lucas had a strong pull to Central America and the Caribbean so we limited our search to those countries. Nicaragua was by far the safest as well as the second poorest in the whole western hemisphere (second only to Haiti). The town of Leon, in a flat area near the Pacific ocean, has a colonial charm, a university (hence educated students) and is about the right size (150,000) so we made that our 'for instance' for a while. I did began to doubt that being the right place because it is quite warm. After a lot of prayer however, we have become convinced that this is where God is calling us. And once I was sure it was God's call and not my preference that should lead; I was much better able to place my own comfort in God's hands to care for as He sees best.
There still remained the very large obstacle of Lucas' job. He applied for several positions in several different locations as we looked at moving for a year or two within the US for him to gain experience. Oh, and God is so kind! He gave Lucas a job in St. Louis, where my parents live! So we packed up and moved for Lucas' one year contract job.
Oh, but for anyone who knows my husband, it will come as no surprise that he gained the knowledge he needed before that year was up. He began to grow a bit bored and looked around for something else. But this time, being able to work from home (and thus, being able to move that home to another country) was a priority. A short term contract which wanted to work through Lucas having his own company came our way. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't see a great reason to leave his nice stable long-term contract for a shorter term situation; but Lucas kept wanting to discuss it. So we decided to ask for a really high rate, which would compensate for the higher risk associated with being short term and needing to find something else. Lo and behold, they agreed to the rate. So, well, we jumped.
Lucas started his own business even though I was thinking that step might come later. And when that short term contract came to an end? Well I took my worry to the Lord for two weeks and we lived off the money saved while he was making that high rate and God brought another long term contract after that! He is SOO good to us! Even in giving that on-the-edge-of-our-seats waiting season in which it really would NOT be OK if God didn't come through, He was good. How else would I have been able to really learn to TRUST and obey? Even in the things that matter so much?
Oh, and that starting our own business? Turned out to be a pretty good idea as it'll help us get our long term visas in Nicaragua! Icing on the cake from our abundantly providing Lord!
What's next?? Well we're still on-the-edge-of-our-seats as we plan to sell most of our belongings and move our family including three preschoolers down to Nicaragua come August when our lease is up here in St Louis. Oh, and hoping our house up in IL will sell by then too. So join us in prayer about that 'next' thing? We'd sure appreciate it!! And I'll keep you posted on how our Great God comes through ... even if it isn't what I'm hoping for :)