“Why is no one living here?” I asked.
“Because it’s hard work on the mission, and nobody wants to do it.” My mom answered.
“Then I’m going to be a missionary here,” I replied with the absolute certainty of a 13-year old girl.
(The house in Paraguay where my mom grew up. The structure on the left has bedrooms and a living room, and on the right is the kitchen, pantry, and eating area)
Back in 1986, ten months after my precious daddy passed away from cancer, my mom took my three brothers and I to Paraguay to visit her parents who were missionaries among a tribal people group called the Enxet. It’s where she grew up and these were her people, and by extension, mine. At least that’s how I felt walking through the village with her.
(My brothers and I with Emilio, the first convert in the village, and his wife)
I was raised in the Great White North, that wonderful country Canada, so flying down to tropical Paraguay was a shock to my system. To a degree anyway. I had grown up hearing stories about my grandparent’s mission work. For a young girl, it was a mix of fantasy and awe. From around the age of five, when I trusted in Christ as my Saviour, I “knew” I would be a missionary. It was during that visit that I spoke those words to her, as she gave us a tour of the house next to the village where she grew up.
During my teen years I went on a couple of short term mission trips, first to Mexico and then Hong Kong. During my trip to Hong Kong, we took many little side trips into China (Hong Kong still belonged to the UK at that time). During one of those side trips to Guangzhou, I was certain God was “calling” me to Asia as a missionary. I was excited, because it seemed to me that God was indeed affirming me as a future missionary.
After high school I went to Florida to attend a missionary training Bible College. During my years there, I had the opportunity to go on more short term mission trips all around the world, including Venezuela, Israel, and Mongolia. I also met my future husband, and together we were going to serve the Lord together. By that time, I “felt” my call had changed to serve in Africa with Bill. During our years with the organization we met under, we indeed tried to go to Africa a few times, but were always denied for various reasons. Maybe it just wasn’t our time.
We left that organization, and entered into a 15-year period of having babies, raising our family, Bill working at Chick-fil-A, homeschooling and serving in our local church in various capacities. We were even able to visit my brother and his family who were serving with New Tribes Mission in Guinea, West Africa. Not only were we serving the missionaries for a week during their field conference, we were also checking out the field as a possible place to serve. We loved our time there.
(Bill and I with the MKs (Missionary kids) we worked with in Guinea, Africa)
We eventually got ourselves out of debt and moved our family to Canada to begin our training with New Tribes Mission, and in my mind, we were headed to West Africa.
So it kind of threw me when a couple of months into our training, Bill says we should pray and think about going to Paraguay. I’m sorry, what? I was pretty sure we had been on the same page of going to West Africa. I did NOT want to think about going anywhere else. I resented Bill even bringing up another country. But being the wise man that he is, he just asked me to pray about it. And I did.
My prayer was not necessarily that I would know beyond a shadow of doubt where He wanted us to go. My prayer was that I wanted to know God more, and I wanted to be faithful and submissive to Bill, even if I didn’t like it. I wanted God to change my heart, and to accept joyfully His will for me.
It took some time, but eventually my heart did change and I became excited about going to Paraguay. During my time of praying about it, I told my mom about what was going on and she told me what I said to her back in 1986. While I remember going to the mission house, I have absolutely no recollection of that conversation. Needless to say, I was floored.
Isn’t it like our God to remind me of what HE put in my heart all those years ago? And even though we took a circuitous route to Paraguay, we are on our way to serving there, in whatever capacity He wants us to serve. He continues to call us, me to HIM. Not a place, but a Person. Jesus Christ. Whom we want to make known in Paraguay.
*Many people have asked us why we're going to Paraguay, and how we came to that decision. This series will highlight some of that process.