Well, we’ve made it through language school and have been back in Texas for a few weeks now. We have transitioned back from Buses and Taxis to commuting in our own vehicles, from daily school schedules and studying to setting our own schedule visiting churches, friends, family and supporters.
We will soon be making our final move to Reynosa and will begin settling our family into our new home. There will be a lot to do learning the difference between Costa Rican and Mexican Spanish and culture, along with all that needs to be learned and done when moving to a new city. After a period of time, our team at Isaiah 55 will begin folding us into the work of the mission, incorporating us into staff meetings and planning sessions before establishing our responsibilities and setting our ministry goals. The coming weeks and months will be filled, once again, with many transitions for our family.
Thinking back over our time in Costa Rica, it is easy for me to see that the Lord was teaching us so much more than language. The week before we left, I was walking home from the store with my son when I was stopped by a young, shirtless man covered in tattoos. He nearly passed me by but then turned and greeted me, “Pura Vida!” to which I responded. He asked if I spoke Spanish and I replied that I was learning. He told me he was homeless and asked if I had any money to spare. Our interaction was simple but as I reach into my pocket for some change he said, “Gracias por entenderme.” (Thank you for understanding me.) I wish I could say now that I had the presence of mind in that moment to say something deep, spiritual and evangelistic to him but I just didn’t have the words. We said goodbye and moved on but his words stuck with me.
I don’t know what had occurred in that man’s life that caused him to respond in that way but it was clear that just being able to communicate was a blessing to him. As I reflect on his words two things occur to me. The first is that our newly minted ability to speak and understand Spanish is a direct gift from God. We worked hard this past year in language school, but we know that without His grace and mercy and His calling on our lives to do this we would be able to accomplish nothing.
The second thing is that for ministry, relationship is the most important thing we can offer others. God’s kingdom is built on his Church and his Church is built on relationships. In the coming years, whatever we manage to give to others through our work on the mission field, be it food, education, income or shelter, all of it falls second to the giving of ourselves to others in relationship and ultimately leading them into a relationship with Jesus Christ.