This month on the blog I have been introducing you to some amazing people who are stepping out of their comfort zones to answer a calling on their life. They have felt promptings, they couldn't ignore, to live a life of love. For the final blog in The Call to Love series, I'd like to introduce you to Mandy. For the past 10 years she and her family have lived in Guatemala fostering children & teens, supporting vulnerable women, launching businesses with foster girls; establishing support partners with ministries; and leading short term mission teams. What started as a one month exposure trip, led to a life changing commitment to serve children and women in need in Guatemala. With a strong desire and conviction to serve, the Wilsons followed God’s calling and are working at James Project of Latin America (JPLA) in Monjas, Jalapa and after a three year legal battle have adopted their youngest daughter.
Here is Mandy, in her own words...
My life is not regular. So far from it, that it actually now has become my regular and normal. Waking up to squawking chickens and barking dogs littering my dusty dirt road and the smell of smouldering garbage is all too regular. My name is Mandy Wilson and I am a crappy missionary. I've never read my bible cover to cover, I like drinking red wine and I occasionally swear under my breath at annoying drunk men who try to grope me as I walk by. I am the team coordinator at the James Project of Latin America. I am responsible for leading short term mission teams from across North America at the project and surrounding community. I try to help without hurting an already broken world.
I have learned more by being quiet and observing.
I have learned that works and projects are always trumped by relationships.
I love learning Spanish (even though I sound like a 3 yr old) and I love sharing life with people from different cultures. I think we can learn a lot from each other. And if you haven't noticed, I like talking... a lot!
In 2009 after hearing a challenging talk given by Gary Haugen, my husband and I decided to scrap our 10th anniversary backpacking - epic trip of a lifetime - to Europe to pack up our 3, 5 and 7 yr old and take a one month missions trip to the middle of buttnuffing nowhere to serve at a catholic orphanage. I hated every day of it.
But that one month... turned into the last ten years, and a new little daughter.
To say we felt called would be a farce, ( the calling came later and very slowly ) but to say that we were challenged in the way we were already living and knew there was more to do, more ways to help, was what spurred feelings into action.
I felt so completely useless.
I couldn't communicate or drive a stick shift. Washing clothes was a chore (like I mean sore arms, wrinkly hands and 2 hours just to wash one change of clothes for my family), preparing food was all together different and we were sick ALL THE TIME. Many times we had no power or water and it was the first time in my life I completely needed to trust God.... for EVERYTHING. I played nurse, dental assistant, breastfeeding expert, hygiene consultant and teacher for hairstyling in that first year and didn't have a flippin clue that anything I was doing made an actual difference. Just because I was a gringa I guess somehow that qualified me. Really, I was scared to death inside and just showed up to help where I could, with what I did know,.... (and just for the record it's not a lot)
It's easy in 'Christian language' to throw the term ministry around. Funny how we can make things become "our little ministry" but really it's how Jesus calls us to live. I think loving others does not require a degree, a skill or a title. It is what we do, it is who we are. Loving others is messy and difficult. I learned the hard way when we fostered 4 teenage sisters from an orphanage. I spent more time on my knees in those 2 1/2 years begging God for wisdom and strength to love one more day. It really is a beautiful thing because it wasn't my love, but His through me.
Being obedient does not mean being comfortable. What if I told you that you would receive the most incredible prize for stepping out of comfort and loving others? Would you do it? What if I told you that your heart would be split open and broken in more ways than you thought humanly possible but still chose to love and that you might not ever see fruits of your labour. Would you still do it? The point is, where is your heart in loving . Are you stepping out to love only to receive a worldly badge or are you looking for the applause of heaven? It's messy, it's hard and it's uncomfortable but if you are especially a Jesus follower, that's what He calls us to do so do it!
If you are at all prompted to support the work the Wilson family is doing in Guatemala,
please join me and click here to make an online donation today.
To learn more about the work that the Wilsons are doing in Guatemala check out this video.
(You may want to grab a box of kleenex first)