School – for everyone in our home. It is Christmastime. Preparing for the birth of our Savior. The Mercado is alive with a complete sector of Christmas decorations, music, and incense. Handmade mangers and nativity sets! The big box stores don’t hold a candle to this full sensory experience!
Calamity! Volcanic eruptions! Earthquakes! Realizing that the time frame from October to December is not three months, but, in fact only two months. Furthermore, realizing that this “small error” in timing was actually going to mean possible homelessness for my family of four the week of Christmas and all of the time after that.
Ok, a bit dramatic. I know. But, the whole scenario played out in my mind as I pictured my family (dog included) camped out around a park bench with our so cleverly decorated Christmas Tree sapling in it’s ceramic pot sitting near by. What a horrible mistake I had made! A mathematical error that was going to have some tremendous effects on my little family whom were just starting to adjust to our new life.
Homeless. Park bench. In a foreign country. Still learning Spanish. Flashed across my mind.
I prayed, God, please guide me. Please forgive my arrogance. This mistake is all mine. Please do not make my family suffer for this.
I began looking at available properties in the area. The only places that we could afford were unfurnished and quite frankly, scary.
Again, I prayed. Lord, show me. Lord, guide my steps.
So, I started looking for furniture on a local Antiguan Facebook page. You have to love “el Face” (it is not called Facebook here). I actually found some second hand living and dining furniture that another missionary couple had for sale. It was gently used and the price looked affordable. I mean, if we found a place, we would need furniture, right?
So, I called to set up an appointment to see it. The drive over was interesting…
Shane was reticent. “Why are we looking for furniture?”
“We don’t even have a place to live! We are going to have to set this furniture up in the park!”
“We are going to have to move this stuff multiple times before we get to Jalapa!”
“Just come with me, Shane.”, I said. “I don’t know why, but, we are supposed to go talk to them!”, I pleaded.
So, we get there. Super sweet couple. We began talking and they shared with us that they were being called from medical mission in Guatemala to the states to help with youth ministry there. Wow. God is awesome. Big changes for them.
Well, for us all, really.
As we talked, we asked about their apartment. If it was available for rent because we were needing a place and theirs seemed really nice in a nice neighborhood.
Nothing awkward there. Not even a little bit.
Surprisingly, they found none of it slightly uncomfortable. They reassured us that the apartment was indeed for rent and that the owner lived close. They called her and immediately her grandson said he could meet us there. Well, ok.
As we waited, they asked when we needed the apartment. I told them the 19th of December around noon . He started laughing.
Visions of park benches next to a decorated potted Christmas Tree sapling came to mind. Not funny.
But, I asked when they were returning to the states to maybe piece together what was so funny about the 19th of December. He replied with one of the biggest smiles ever- the 19th of December at midnight was when their flight was scheduled to leave Guatemala City.
Then, I found the humor of the whole situation right there.
As the owner’s grandson walked in, we realized that we had already met him. He was a member of the praise band at our church!! I was already in full belly laugh at this point. Pretty sure we all were. God is good. In ALL things.
My “huge” error of time. My mathematical mistake. Well, neither were erroneous, but indeed the divine provision of God. For both that sweet missionary couple taking steps to return to the states and for my little family just taking our first steps in this Guatemalan calling.
It wasn’t about anything that I had done- but, about everything that He is doing! Is that not always the case? We try to take it all into our own hands. To worry in the details that may not always come together perfectly until the final second. We must wait. For God. In exactly the perfect moment for His perfect plan.
So, to wrap up this awesome Christmas story we were given, we did not spend Christmas Night (or any other) on a park bench. We only moved that furniture once. We were able to love on a special couple as they said their goodbyes to Guatemala, for now. What a wonderful blessing. What a wonderful example of His faithfulness- even when we think we have messed it up, royally. He stands firm in control of ALL things. Imperfect things. Imperfect people. With PERFECT Timing.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May His joy and faithfulness resound in your lives!