So our team plan was to stay in the village until August before coming out for supplies. I was excited to spend four uninterrupted months there, living with Juliana, Wellington, Lorena and Isadora in the Neno village, making friends and starting to learn a new language and way of life. But God had a better plan.
He gave me exactly five wonderful weeks in the village which is now my home, full of new experiences, restful sleep, team-building, personal growth, budding friendships, eager culture and language teachers (of all ages), and overflowing joy. What an amazing feeling to finally be among the people for whom I have prayed for a couple of years, learning their names and family connections while sitting on low wooden benches in their kitchen-buildings.
I am falling in love.
So if the village is such an incredible place, what would drag me away from it so quickly?
Another less serious issue (although it looks worse) developed on my legs. Obviously, I wouldn’t have wanted a second skin condition, but since it had to happen, at least it was simultaneous, so I could really get “my money’s worth” out of the dermatologist visit.
And just for extra fun, two boils (who did not consent to being photographed).
I have already been to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with a secondary infection and ordered a number of blood tests to figure out what allergies and bacteria are causing all of this. In the meantime, she prescribed an antibiotic, anti-allergy medication, topical cream and spray, which I am using in conjunction with as many natural remedies as possible. Indigenous areas apparently are home to many “superbugs” (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) so I want to take advantage of being in the city to fight this on every possible front.
You may ask, “How is that God’s better plan?” Honestly, I have no idea. It doesn’t seem better, logically. I am not learning the language and culture better, despite the audio recordings and dozens of pages of notes I collected in the village. I’m certainly not feeling or looking or performing better.
You should have seen me waste 20 minutes on Tuesday, attempting to thread a needle to drain my blisters, using only my non-inflamed fingers. After realizing it wasn’t gonna happen, I went next door to ask another missionary to do me a “big favor”. She laughed sympathetically at the simple request, gladly threading and sterilizing my needle, while her husband took a picture of my infections to post on a prayer group. The base missionary families have all offered wonderful support, inviting me over for lunch (main meal here) every day, and giving me rides since walking any distance results in agonizing pain later.
Even though this is not what I wanted or planned for, I am convinced that God meant what He said in Romans 8:28, 29b – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
I love God and am called by Him, and He is using this setback for my good and to make me more like Jesus, to shine His light more brightly among the Neno and love them more deeply. That does sound like a pretty good plan after all.
Many favorite Bible verses are coming alive in new ways recently. Paul wrote from prison, in Philippians 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”
May Jesus Christ be magnified in my body also, whether by life, or by death (no imminent danger, don’t worry) or by disgusting and painful tropical skin conditions.
Will you help me fight this battle on the most crucial front of all, through prayer?
Please pray that I will:
- Magnify and worship Jesus in every moment
- Count it all joy (James 1:2-4)
- Endure hardness as a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
- Handle this patiently, keeping my eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)
- Use wisdom and common sense in taking care of myself
- Respond well to medication and natural remedies
- Discover the underlying allergies and causes
- Recover sufficiently to return to the village as soon as possible
As you pray, please don’t worry or feel sorry for me, because, all things considered, it could be lots worse. Other missionaries I know have faced malaria, chronic illnesses, tribal wars, tapir attacks, and expulsion from the people groups they had grown to love. Compared to those things, my situation really is not the end of the world.
Nonetheless, the slowness of one-handed typing is driving me crazy, so I will close with a couple questions to ponder.
What circumstances in your life today are causing frustration, pain, fear, or major inconvenience? Do you believe that God, in His wisdom and love, is allowing these temporary difficulties or setbacks for your good? Will you trust that He is still in control and that He has a better plan than yours?