I have never:
- Tasted pumpkin spice anything
- Had a professional pedicure or manicure
- Gone to Starbucks, except by invitation
- Colored my hair
- Worn designer clothes or shoes
- Gone paint balling, geocaching, or wielded a light saber
- Understood Mexican food names on menus (except taco and fajita)
- Seen many movies “everyone” has
- Learned American slang
Don’t feel sorry for me!
I’ve lived overseas for thirty-two years, following the Lord’s plan for my life. I’ve worked closely with my husband and children. I’ve been able to do things I never dared to dream about, and I want to share them with you.
I didn’t get to do these things because I was rich or famous. Indeed, most of our experiences were added blessings because God put us in this place and ordered our steps. We did amazing trips in Europe—tent camping and eating sandwiches. Still . . . we got to do them.
First I’ll share the material things, then the spiritual.
- Our family has traveled in: Spain, France, Leichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy (a few hours in drifiting snow and pouring rain), and Luxembourg. My husband and I went to England a year ago.
- We live in a storybook village in the Basque region of Spain.
- We enjoy some of the freshest, healthiest, and most delicious food on the planet.
- Native Basque and Spanish people are friendly and helpful.
- We’ve visited two of the great art museums of the world: the Prado in Madrid, and El Escorial, not too far outside of Madrid.
It’s hard work to live as we do. My husband collects wood pallets and discarded wood in order to heat our house. He spends much time cutting it up. We use our wood stove at least nine months a year—this year more.
Our food is made “from scratch,” so food preparation takes much more time than in the U.S.—yet much less time than countries where people need to soak their vegetables first and bake all their own bread.
Don’t feel sorry for us!
Our church takes much time and effort, especially on my husband’s part. All of our people are “new” Christians (or non-Christians). It takes time and energy to disciple and train and to deal with all the baggage from a former, sinful lifestyle. Between the two of us, we do it all, including cleaning the church. We want our people to become faithful and helpers, but it is a long, hard process.
Don’t feel sorry for us.
The people here in Spain are friendly. They are accepting and kind. The great majority of people in Spain doesn't want to talk about spiritual things. If you mention God, they leave. God does not factor in their interest.
So we work hard. We disciple those who are willing, encourage the weak, and share the gospel with those who will listen. We also do mass evangelism through gospel tracts—methodically placed in every mailbox in our target area. People do read them, and several of our church members today came to Christ later, after reading our tracts.
Don’t feel sorry for us when we act like fish out of water. Don’t feel sorry for us that our life experience has been foreign. We need no pity, and we don’t have regrets.
Not too long ago, we were in the U.S. for a short visit. We went out with my parents to a Chinese restaurant that they enjoy. The Chinese waiter asked me a question, and my response came out in Spanish. The young man just stood there, while I explained, “I’m sorry; we just came back from overseas, and I forgot what language I was in.” Meanwhile, a few Hispanic people at a nearby table overheard, and they were laughing at me. It was embarrassing—and very funny!
Don’t feel sorry for me when I forget where I am. Don’t feel sorry for me when I can’t find the word in English. Don’t pity me when I’m disoriented . . . in my own country.
I have lived the best life. I’ve followed the Lord. I’ve been involved in full-time ministry. I’ve had two wonderful kids and an amazing husband. My life is complete, satisfying, brimming full.
The next time you sip your pumpkin spice latte or get your nails done, think of your missionary women all over the world. Pray for us, but don’t pity us.
Someday, we just might do it with you!
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).