On this day last year, I remember stepping out of the airport into the bright Salvadoran sun. I remember blinking my eyes, looking around, and feeling shell-shocked. I remember turning to my friend who picked us up from the airport and saying, “I can’t believe we actually went through with it!”
That was a year ago today. The best thing that I can compare our first year in El Salvador to is my first roller coaster ride. I made the choice to get on it, not knowing what to expect. The twists and turns were terrifying, yet thrilling at the same time. And that’s what it’s like to cross-cultures.
To be honest, this year has been really rough. We have missed our families terrribly, and I have particularly missed my friendships and my freedom. These are losses that we have felt acutely. Things have been foreign, and confusing, and frustrating. We’ve battled language barriers, culture shock, depression, and fear. Our kids have cried themselves to sleep some nights, been angry, and felt alone. We have been sick…really sick. With Dengue fever, strange allergies, and terrible stomach illnesses. We have felt lost, and inadequate, and totally unsuited for this job. Yes, it’s been rough…possibly even the most difficult year of our lives.
But it’s been worth it.
Some people may go through their whole life wondering, “would I really do it?” …” would I really obey God if He asked me to put it all on the line?” And we can say yes we would. Is it easy? No. Is it fun? Not always. Is it what we want to do every day? Absolutely not. But we are obeying God. It’s a struggle and it’s so hard sometimes. I wish some days that I could skirt around His call on my life. I wish I could throw in the towel, give up, go home. I wish I could say this just isn’t my thing, and maybe He’s got the wrong girl in this job.
But still our family has made the choice to obey. As a result, we have seen some amazing things. We’ve been able to feed those who are hungry, cradle those who are orphaned, and guide those who are lost. Some people may live their whole life and never get to do that. I thank God today that He has given us the chance to be Him to the people of El Salvador. We are often a messed up, human representation of Him, but still He uses us. We are working for Him, but also with Him. And it’s incredible to live like this…I can’t even describe it.
Now we are heading into year two and we’re really starting to get the hang of things! El Salvador is starting to feel more like home, and what a beautiful home it is, filled with many beautiful people whom we now count as friends. We are so thankful that God has led us into this life, and we are especially grateful for those of you whom God has led to partner with us. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving. Thank you for coming here to work with us this past year. Thank you for making the hard choice to obey God even when it costs you something. We need you and we appreciate you!
So as we step into year two I feel a sense of anticipation, and a sense of excitement. It’s like your second roller coaster ride where you have an idea of what to expect. You might be scared, you might even throw up, but you can’t wait to experience the ride.