We have now been in South America for nearly two months! And you have been wondering if I forgot about the blog! Tearing apart a homestead, selling everything, and moving our family to another continent has been a momentous undertaking, not easily done without the help of God, family and friends.
We did indeed sell our homestead and most things on it, including most of the edible plants and trees. It was hard work, but we met interesting people and new friends in the process. We were so busy it was hard to find time to work through the sadness of dismantling all the work of the previous three and a half years, and leave. But seeing God’s hand at work, bringing about the sale of our property for an unlikely amount, gave us energy and anticipation for the future, knowing He was orchestrating it.
After moving to town to live in my parents’ efficiency apartment temporarily, and closing on July 30, our focus turned to obtaining and preparing a 20’ shipping container. Our greenhouse did not sell for what we were hoping to get, so we decided to ship that along with our solar power system, windmill, and some other belongings which I mentioned in my last post. Preparing the container and the paperwork for it turned out to be a much larger job than anticipated. Every single item or package had to be accounted for. We worked late into the night, and all night at times to get it done.
After our container was sent to port in Jacksonville, we headed north for last visits with friends and family, and to attend Anabaptist Orchestra Camp in Indiana one last time before leaving. We arrived home with four days left to wrap everything up and finish packing for the big move to South America.
We flew from Miami on Friday night, September 11, overloaded with way too much luggage and carry-ons. How on earth do you move a family with only two suitcases each? Impossible, at least for us. Others had joined us in praying that the customs officials would be merciful and not confiscate any of our belongings, as they have been known to do. The Lord mercifully answered our prayer and when we arrived early the next morning, the customs agents seemed to get a kick out of us, even calling us the “Ingalls Family” when we explained what we were coming to do. They didn’t confiscate or even fuss about any of our stuff, and we were out on the street loading everything into taxis before we knew it. What a blessing!
The first month we stayed at a mission guest house in the city, working on our immigration paperwork. It had a beautiful enclosed yard and plenty of room for the children to safely play. We were comfortable and in a location where it was easy to get things we needed. We hadn’t planned to stay there as long, but as we were told to expect, things kept coming up that needed to be changed or done differently.
While waiting on immigration paperwork to be completed, we took several small trips to nearby towns, visiting Christian children’s homes, small organic farms, historic landmarks, sites of ancient civilizations, breathtakingly beautiful wonders of God’s creation, and new friends and contacts. While in the city we shopped for things to set up our new homestead that are harder to get in the country, and sent most of our luggage and new purchases ahead of us by bus or cargo truck. We spent much needed family time together, regrouping and working through some things following the intensely busy months preceding our move.
One day we went to a market that sells lots of plants, and purchased a garden…over 40 small herbs and edible plants that will give us a good start on our new homestead. We’ve also been collecting seeds and starts of other edible perennials and plants that we had worked with in Florida from ECHO, which we can’t wait to put in the ground. When we first arrived here at the guest house, the children were so excited to find moringa and chaya, and we’ve enjoyed learning to know Jason’s family here at the mission guest house. Jason is a previous intern at ECHO, whom Silver Oak and I learned to know at last year’s annual ECHO conference. We keep being amazed how God has orchestrated contacts who have proven to be important links to our progress here. Even our forgetfulness or mistakes have brought about divine appointments which have been for good.
One challenge so far has been the language barrier. I am grateful that as a child I dreamed of learning Spanish, motivating me to study it three years in high school, and then use it on a summer mission trip and several years working with Mexican migrants in Florida. It has been over twenty years since I have used it much and it is very rusty, but the longer we are here, the more comes back. The rest of the family is practicing and learning it as fast as they can, making new friends and learning a different culture.
In spite of the language barrier, we’ve had opportunities to make simple explanations about our trust in Jesus with a few taxi drivers and others, as well as sing songs together in a beautiful old cathedral in a Jesuit Mission town, for hostal (hotel) owners, by breathtaking waterfalls, and at other places. People here are very friendly and often ask why we are here and if all of the children are ours, which gives us good opportunity to interact and connect with people. We’ve connected with a few English speaking German Mennonites from colonies and some that have come out of the old colonies, as well as JWs and Mormons. The three oldest girls played a few instrumental hymns for the children at the last children’s home, and for a few others, which seemed to bless them. Music is a powerful language that crosses cultural and language barriers.
Our immigration paperwork is now completed and we are waiting to receive our two-year visas. I will try to update you on our progress as we work toward preparing for a new homestead. There have been some tough times when we felt discouraged, but we are always reminded how the Lord has orchestrated everything so far, and we know He will continue to provide and direct. Our job is to be faithful with what He has for us to do right now, and that brings great peace. We appreciate your prayers for safety, wisdom, and God’s anointing wherever we go. We miss family and friends, and we pray for you as well.
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Note: My appreciation to Silver Oak for editing and critiquing this post.