It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. In the time I was away, I did a few small things like traveling southward a wee bit. My travels took me all the way to Paraguay where I had the amazing opportunity to partner with some of the greatest missionaries in the world. No, I don’t know all missionaries in the world and therefore my opinion might be a bit unjustified, but trust me on this one.
Where Faith and “Crazy” Collide:
On February 15th, my dear friends, Peter and Evi sent me a message. This is what it said:
“Hi Jamie! Blessings!! Evi and I have you on our heart! We wanted to invite you to come visit us next month… does that sound crazy?”
Of course it sounds crazy I thought! You want me there next month!? Sometimes I’m very practical and other times I throw caution to the wind and go for it. On February 16th, after a little bit of prayer and a lot of reckless abandon, I sent the following message:
“Okay so…. drum roll please…. I’m gonna come to Paraguay!!”
I know. As I’m writing this, I wish my reply had been slightly more epic or poetic or something, but that’s all I’ve got. And with that, I set my heart and faith on getting to Paraguay and I had just 1 month to see God make it happen.
My goal: raise $4,200.00.
$2,200 – airfare, visa, travel, insurance, housing and food
$2,000 – expenses for outreaches to five indigenous communities
Now, I have seen money come in over the years and I have learned that no matter where I start at, God is ALWAYS faithful to bring in whatever is needed to accomplish His plan. And this time would be no different.
After two weeks, I contacted my church. They had received some donations on my behalf over the past few months and were holding those until I needed them. I had no idea how much money they had for me. The initial discussion indicated around $2,000. I was overjoyed as this would cover almost all of my expenses and then we would just need to see about $2,000 more come in for the outreaches.
Then the check was delivered. I opened it expecting $2,000 and was blown away to see the check was not for $2,000, but for $3,700!! Almost the full amount needed for the trip and outreaches! I can’t begin to describe my joy at seeing God’s faithfulness! I totally expected it, but I definitely had a few nights spent telling God that I didn’t know how, but I knew He would. And He did! What’s even more powerful is that the donations received at my church were monthly to a certain degree and the check was made out for donations from September – January. I didn’t even know I was going to Paraguay until February and the money that was needed was already within my reach. God had met my need before I knew about it.
Now I still needed roughly $400 and before I knew it that money was in my hands. In the course of five days, I received donations to cover the entire trip and outreaches and then the money kept coming. I received $800 above and beyond the cost of everything!! I’m so thankful that I serve a God who not only provides, but exceeds my expectations EVERY TIME! (The extra funds will go towards my summer trip to Asia – which is a huge help in paying that off!)
Insert mini-sermon here:
GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL. It may come down to the wire from time to time and it may look absolutely impossible, but that I believe, is where God does some of His best work. If you’re standing in faith and holding out for God to work a miracle in your life, keep standing. He’s working, and in His way, He’s going to do something that exceeds your expectations and gives Him all the glory.
Long, Okay “Short” Awaited Arrival:
After 4 weeks of planning, (what can I say, sometimes spontaneous trips are the best) 3 flights and roughly 20 hours of travel, I finally set foot in Asuncion, Paraguay on March 17th. I was greeted by the familiar British accent of my dear friend, Peter Ratcliffe and his precious little 7 year-old auburn-haired angel, Rebecca. I hadn’t seen the Ratcliffes in nearly 3+ years and in this moment it felt as though no time had passed at all. I love how true friendships can withstand time and distance. I was overjoyed to see these two, but couldn’t wait to get to their house where I could wrap my arms around Peter’s beloved wife and my dear friend, Evi, as well as their other children. This reunion was long overdue!
After loading all of my luggage and suitcases full of gifts for the Ratcliffes, we were off on the two-hour drive from Asuncion (the capital) to Sapucai and the Casa de Ratcliffe or what I would soon discover was named the “Cottage of My Dreams”.
As we traveled with windows rolled down, (because the a/c doesn’t work) Peter and Rebecca brought me up to speed on the overview of what they were doing in Paraguay and what I could expect in the outreaches we had planned for the next week. Before I knew it, we pulled up to this quaint little casa set in a tropical paradise. Luscious fruit trees surrounded us and the smell of gorgeous flowers welcomed me in. And this paradise could never truly belong to the Ratcliffes if there weren’t at least a few animals roaming around. Chickens, hamsters and parrots were easily spotted along with “Simba” the kitten, “Smokey” the puppy and two beautiful horses who found their place among the Ratcliffe family.
Finally, I stepped out of the car and flung myself into the arms of each of the remaining Ratcliffes; Emily, Joy, Daniel and then my precious Evi! I can’t really describe the feeling – but it was sort of like finding something you value but didn’t even realize was missing. Then came little Joseph. He was born in Paraguay and so I hadn’t had the privilege of meeting him yet. And boy was it a privilege. He is by far the cutest thing I have ever seen, but more about him later. Then I met little baby Naomi the most recent addition to the family.
And with that, I found myself surrounded by people I truly cherished and while I really had no idea what was in store for the next 10 days, I knew in my heart I was exactly where I needed to be.
First picture is me with the Ratcliffe ladies (all except baby Naomi). Left to right is Emily, Evi, me, Rebecca and Joy.
Second picture is Rebecca and Joy introducing me to their hamsters.
***Be sure to check back over the next few weeks as I put pen to paper, so to speak, to share about the days that followed my arrival to Paraguay. I promise, you won’t regret it!