Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Encouragement From God

This year our annual "Mennonite Missionaries in Central America Retreat" was at Jaguar Creek, Belize. 

Jaguar Creek Retreat is a rustic set of cabanas in the middle of the jungle, beside a shallow stream. 

Our beds were covered with mosquito netting, which I would have been thankful for if I hadn't gotten my feet all tangled up in it and brought it crashing down on my head the first night.

There were many nice places to sit and relax.

We saw a  huge Guanacaste tree with octopus-like roots.

This is the dining room with a palapa thatched roof.

This was our meeting room.  

Amos Stoltzfus from EMM spoke to us about learning to "work from a place of rest".  He based his lectures on the book by Tony Horsfall. Amos shared lots of insightful thoughts.  The most vivid for me was the concept that we need to leave margins around our busy-ness.  We need to allow for time for accidental encounters with people.  Jesus left a margin of time around his journey through Samaria.  Because he was available, he was able to speak into the life of the "Woman at the Well" (John 11).    

Full schedules also make us feel stressed out..  I know that is true for me.   It would be wise to plan my day with spaces (margins) between the "HAVE TOs".  
Last week I went to visit someone in the hospital.  There was another person visiting when I arrived.  She asked if I could give her a ride home (she lives 20 minutes south).  I said I would gladly give her a ride, thinking about the margin of time I had planned, thankfully.   Then just after I dropped her off I noticed  another woman on the side of the road.  She is the mother of one of our Deaf Church members. Waving to get me to stop, she asked, "Please can you give me a ride?  My car is broken."  She lives 20 minutes the other way (!) I was glad I had a bit of flexibility with my schedule. If I hadn't left the time margins, I would still have been willing to drive both women, but would have been feeling stressed out about being late for cooking dinner.  If we don't work from a place of rest, we are working from a place of stress.  Doing that too much really ruins my witness.

Each day after Amos' input session, we had some time to talk about the "issues" and prayer needs in our lives. Some of the missionaries were just starting.  They wondered what shape their mission work would take. One couple will end their 22 years of mission work next month. They wonder if God wants them to stay in the US or return to Latin America to do something else. Many were asking questions about the future. Sulmi shared that she will go to high school this fall.  She will be the only deaf person in the school.  She will have a new interpreter.  She wonders if she will have any friends, if she will understand the classes, and if the interpreter will understand her.  It seemed to me that lots of people in our group had these invisible question marks floating about their heads. I did, too.

Specifically, I wonder if Nathanael and Spring will be able to raise all of their funds to come.  I wonder if another person that I think God has tapped will come to interpret for Morine in August.  I wonder who will help with our children's ministry after Kathy and Chelsea return home.  

Every morning we had an hour of quiet time.  When I sat down at the picnic table near the road... I saw this image and received this reassurance from God:

Nancy, you see this road?  You see the light along the path?  That's my light.  I will be with you wherever you go.  Did you notice that you cannot see the road beyond the bend?  Don't worry, I am already there. Once you approach the bend you will see to the next bend. What does the road look like there?  Will there be rough patches, muddy spots?  For sure, there will be but I will be with you.  I will walk with you and shine my light on the way you should go.

Leaning on God, letting him direct my ways, trusting him in the rough patches, this is how to find rest in God, true rest for the journey.

Here are some more photos from the retreat that I want to share:
Yelsi and Sulmi.  Yelsi is 20.  She came to take care of the Metcalf children.  Sulmi (15) enjoyed being with Yelsi.

Drew, Cindy and Isaiah Metcalf.  They are counseling children and staff in orphanages and children's homes.

This is Amos Stoltzfus bouncing Moses Metcalf on his leg.  I remember my grandfather doing that.  Actually I had forgotten but when I saw Amos do that it jogged a good memory.  How nice :-)

 Here we are...the whole gang.

We said good bye to Sheila Yoder at the airport.  I am so thankful she came to interpret for me, but I am mostly thankful to have had the chance to catch up with this dear old friend.  Thank you for coming!


  1. This is a lovely post, Nancy. Thanks for the update, beautiful photos, and the reminder for us all to have "margins!"