Jeremiah 29:11-13

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Traveling Mercies

     Returning to Piedras Negras yesterday, I had a long time to think.  My day started early after a restless night.  Tossing and turning in my big comfy bed in my perfectly cooled house, I wrestled with a couple of things which had lain on my heart for weeks and still felt no better about when I finally got up to finish packing for my trip to Mexico.  I was groggy and bleary-eyed, emotionally struggling as I often am before one of my trips here, somewhat tearful and yet excited to be finally leaving, looking forward to seeing my team again as well as the beautiful children here with whom I am so in love. I made a concious effort to shelve those heartfelt burdens and instead to open my heart to what lay ahead...
   My flight was smooth and uneventful, arriving early in San Antonio and leaving me time to wait for my shuttle at the airport.  I was too excited to nap, although I probably should have, and I half-heartedly nibbled at a sandwich and drank a little water while surfing facebook and killing a couple of hours.  My shuttle driver arrived promptly at 1:30 and introduced himself to me as Gilbert from Eagle Pass Tours. The 10- passenger van had seen better days.  I asked if I could ride up front to keep my motion sickness at bay and he very kindly made room for me, although I think he was a little surprised by my request.  I soon realized that we wouldn't be going straight to Eagle Pass; it was a 10-passenger van for a reason. For the next hour and a half we zig-zagged all over San Antonio, picking up passenger after passenger until we were completely full. I was the only gringa in the van.  My motion sickness had completely consumed me by this point--the air conditioning barely worked and I huddled in front of my one vent, trying to keep from tossing my cookies.  Gilbert entertained me by telling me about his daughter, his peacock farm, his job, his grown son, his separation from his wife and other tidbits of his life. It was a very long, but interesting ride to Eagle Pass.
    As we drove the two and a half hours to our destination, I leaned my head against the window and watched the stark, flat Texas landscape pass by mile after mile.  Harsh and dusty, the fence-enclosed land is full of scrubby brush and gnarled, low-growing trees.  The sky seems higher than usual to a girl accustomed to green rolling hills, and the clouds are like a child's drawing, fluffy white against a robin's egg blue.  Occasionally, you see a huge ranch with imposing gates and you can't help but wonder who would choose to live in such a relentlessly hard place.  Hot, dry and unforgiving.
    We finally arrived and I have never been so happy to get out of a vehicle.  I helped a young mom and her three babies disembark and waited with them in some welcome shade on the porch of Eagle Pass Tours.  She was also en route to Mexico to meet up with her husband.  I couldn't imagine traveling by myself with three little ones (ages 3, 2 and 8 months) and a huge suitcase in tow, but Ruth was very calm and patient.  The babies had been perfectly quiet and sweet during the three and a half hours we were crammed in the van.  I was amazed. It made me remember traveling with my small children by myself years ago and being so thankful for portable DVD players and kid's music on the CD player to keep them entertained.  For goodness sake, we are so unbelievably spoiled in so many ways.  God enjoys showing this to me these days, especially when preparing me for these trips.
     Tex and Marissa finally arrived to pick me up after having sat for a half hour in line to cross the border into the US.  We made a stop at Walmart to load up on groceries and then came across the border without incident.  It was awesome to see Katt and Hallie (our interns from last summer) and meet the new interns, Andrew, Shelby, Lizz and her boyfriend Zack.  We had a delicious dinner of grilled chicken salad and enjoyed some wonderful fellowship, which is a staple of these Mexico missions.  I very gratefully showered off the dust of my travels and fell quickly into a dreamless sleep, thankful for my safe arrival and eagerly anticipating my first full day back in Mexico.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Captured Fireflies; Captured Moments

     Sweet summer.  Full and ripe and sultry like a basket of juicy peaches just waiting to be eaten, the nectar running down your chin in all its luscious stickiness.  No other season takes me back so fully to my childhood as does summer.  I treasure the moments as they come and go like the fireflies that appear so fleetingly in my yard at dusk... I wish I could capture them in glass jars, like I did when I was a girl, so sure that I could read by their light in my bedroom in the dark.  Captured fireflies; captured moments.
     Fresh cut grass.  Gardenias.  Cantaloupe. Smells of my childhood that always remind me of those long, lazy summers that seemed to last forever... those days when we were out of school from Memorial Day until Labor Day.  Lots of time for riding bikes and building tree forts, for going to the beach or the lake and hanging out at the city pool with all your friends.  Lots of time to unwind and just be a kid.  Wonderful and magical times.  It was okay to have sunburned cheeks and tangled hair and dirty bare feet, to stay up way past your bedtime and play hide-and-seek in your backyard and the neighbor's backyard, too.  Even the chiggers and the mosquito bites didn't seem to be all that bad.  It was worth it just to be able to run and play outside in the hot summer night, fall into bed with the attic fan pulling the night air over you from the open window by your bed and then sleep the sound and deep slumber of childhood.
     So far this summer has been pretty wonderful, too.  I am so blessed to have this time off and so fortunate to be able to spend time with my children in the summertime.  Our trip to Seagrove this year was especially magical in a beautiful beach house with perfect weather, delicious food, and good company.  Nothing better on earth than that.  Now, I'm looking forward to going back to Mexico and spending some hot summer days with my sweet little amigos, working at our little school in Nava and teaching Bible school in the evenings.  God sure has blessed me a lot.  I'm quite sure I don't deserve it, but I thank Him for each precious moment, summer or otherwise, that He allows me to have.  I do not take them for granted any longer, although I know I once did.  Now, He just keeps making me aware of my blessings in new ways everyday, sometimes with a gentle nudge and other times with a strong push. I am reminded lately of James when he tells us that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."