I am not sure how to start this blog post, but the picture helps to set the stage. We have been busily preparing for our mission to Ecuador, which would have began late in December. Yep, that’s right, we are not going to Ecuador or anywhere for a while.
As we began this life changing time of our life in Foreign missions almost 4 years we had just come through what was one of the most difficult periods of our life, the Divorce of my brother and the downturn in the economy. I had been working hard for so long, just trying to get ahead, then I would be able to spend more time with my family The two came at just the right time to put us in a real financial crunch, going from buying one house and trying to purchase a second to not purchasing the second one and moving out of the first house and out to my parent’s house so we could try to finish remodeling on our house and sell it, then buckle down, live in a camp trailer, live simply, and get out of debt. *
In the midst of this time at random I “Google”d “Catholic Lay Missionary” found FMC, Re-discovered our call to and desire to become missionaries. If you have followed our blog for awhile you probably know it was a crazy journey to full-time missionary work. Here is our first blog post describing the beginning of our missionary journey. From there you can skim the other blog posts, the challenges we faced, but God’s faithfulness is displayed in those posts!
“Ecuador no more” ??? Why?? The easy answer: debt. When we first decided on missions we said, “we won’t go unless we are debt free” but some how we got caught up in our “call” to evangelize and go:
CCC 863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth.
Many of you will expect that we have been able to mostly keep up on our debts, but the answer is “no”. We had assumed and prayed for God to perform miracles and that our debts would be gone. So we went through the training and kept thinking God would do something or I would be able to get job in missions. Missions takes all of you, so it was easy to put it out of your mind, especially when serving those who are so poor, you just want to give more to help them. **
Then every time we were stateside, I would work and when we had a little extra some emergency would come up…….
We have wrestled with our conscience for 3 years and know the call of God is important, but that God is also the God of Justice and by not paying we are not being just. Should all of this have been unexpected? No. But it can be easy to be blinded by what we think “God” wants us to do. Did God do amazing things in our lives in the last 4 years? Yes, His mercy is amazing. Does God want us to serve Him radically? Yes?
We have had some wonderful counsel and encouragement and so…we cannot go. We are sorry to those we promised the next two years of our life, we are sorry to be such a poor witness to Christianity. We are sorry to our benefactors and we pray we have not scandalized anyone*** and if we have we pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness and theirs as well.
We pray that we will be able to return to Foreign missions sooner rather than later, but to delay to pay would be the same pattern of how we got our debt, by not practicing deferred gratification.
* It is a challenge to be such a large family, we have had medical bills, bought tools, made bad decisions. We have never lived luxuriously. We just did not trust God for our needs and thought we needed things we did not.
** We can live off about half of what we did before and we are satisfied. It is easier to have lived with the truly poor and see what they do without and then through the love of Christ to want to live in solidarity with them, by living with less. We have learned so much from the poor, like there is always something to share.
*** If you have been our benefactor you should know we have not spent any of your money on our debts, only for Mission expenses, ie. Food, shelter, ministry, food for the poor, etc. We have survived a great part on our own earned funds. If you have recently donated, those funds will remain in our mission account (we cannot take them out) unless we use them for a mission trip or donate them to another missionary, which we plan to give them to Abigail for her missionary work in Mexico starting in January.