As I reflected on this past couple of years, I found myself coming back to one word: acceptance. I have had to learn to accept things I do not like or cannot change in order to move forward.
When I was newly wed and in Bible college I remember planning my weekly menu so my husband and I could go grocery shopping when he returned from work. My menus were along the lines of beef stew, chicken and rice, and broccoli casseroles, with all the added vegetables and desserts, because that was what I had eaten at home with Mom and Dad. Well, imagine my utter surprise when my husband said we had ten dollars left of the paycheck for groceries! What about my stew beef and my chicken? I had to learn to accept that things were going to be different now that I was out of my parents’ house and POOR!
That was just the beginning.
Coming to Brazil was a tremendous adventure at first, especially for someone like me who loves excitement and surprise. However, a human, material sacrifice comes with leaving your homeland, your family, and the things that you were accustomed to having. I soon learned that there were things I was going to have to accept as part of the sacrifice we had made to become global workers.
I have learned to accept that there are going to be worms in my cheese, weevils in my flour, and dirt in my meat. I have learned to accept that everything will be covered with flies and that tarantulas will greet me in the morning, along with my little gray frogs. I have learned to accept that evenings will be spent picking lice out of my kid’s hair. I have learned to accept that rats will continue holding their nightly convention inside my couch and chew holes in everything I own. I have learned to accept that my clothes will remain on a clothesline for days on end until the rain stops. I have learned to accept that in order to home school and run a house and Bible studies and Sunday school and dinners, I will not have much time to myself.
I have learned to accept that my neighbor is going to climb the ladder against her wall and peek over at me. I have learned to accept that from the time I get up to the time I go to bed, people will be clapping their hands at my gate wanting something from me. I have learned to accept that some of the people I love here will die. I have learned to accept that for the rest of my life here in Brazil I will be learning to accept things every day as I grow and change as a global worker.
No one can teach you this in college, because every field is different, every family is different, every global worker is different. Nevertheless, acceptance is something that is going to either make you sink or swim.
Daniel is such a great example to me. Once he purposed in his heart, he stuck by it; years later, when he was staring at the teeth of those lions, he did not waver. He had already accepted that God was the One ruling his life, and he willingly gave himself over to let God control his life, even if it meant physical death.
Do I have bad days? Yes. Sometimes I even feel like slugging the next person that speaks Portuguese to me or the next kid that asks me for money. Sometimes when I am in the middle of a language lesson and the future subjunctive of some verb will not come into my mind, I feel like throwing my Bible and my lesson down and crying. Sometimes when it is time for school and the dishes are not done yet, and I am running late because someone came by for medicine, I feel like I must be the worst mother on the planet. But who is it that feeds all those condemning thoughts to me? The devil! More than anything else, he wants to discourage me—and he is so mean that he will even discourage me for being discouraged!
As I look back and reflect on our new church and all the families that have come in (and out) of its doors, I know that I have to learn to accept that some people are not going to like what they hear. Yet we will go forward—but none of this can happen unless I am willing to accept that life is 100% different on the field. And I must accept that God’s will can be accomplished only if I am willing to be pliable in the Potter’s hands.