Saturday, May 31, 2014

Switching Gears...and Continents

This conversation: 

"Er...if we don't end up going to Cuba, we're going to look really stupid for that last blog post"
"Yes...oh gosh, yes we will. I shouldn't have posted it. Why did we post it? Oh it too late to delete it? Did anyone really read it?" 

This conversation has happened many times over the last eight months, and it began about twenty minutes after I hit publish on my last post. But I didn't delete it, and I didn't take it back because...

We just feel so confident of what God is calling us to do.

But also completely unsure.

So, as far as social media has been concerned, we've kept pretty tight lipped because our list of questions continued to grow longer than our list of what we knew. I would have been giving you months and months of We Still Have No Clue What The Heck Is Happening Or What In The World We Are Doing posts. Which would have been rad. 

"Oh, the Wheeler's? The ones who aaaaalways are talking and neeeeever doing?"

You guys! Would you say that?! 
Because quite honestly, that's what goes through my mind. I'm convinced it's what everyone says while they're falling asleep at night. Because you know...Mike and I carry such clout in your lives.
Good Lord.
Why are we so prideful? Why do I think it matters so much? 
We are certainly a work in progress.
And THIS, this whole thing...this missions thing, it's been quite a process as well.

By the end of last year we had been in contact with two separate missions organizations who are either already working in Cuba or who are trying to get into Cuba. With both organizations it seemed at first to be an open door but as we tried to move forward, nothing happened. There were some really clear and obvious "no's" and some "well...maybes?" but ultimately, each door was closed for us.
We were discouraged, but the whispering in our hearts would not be silenced so we continued to pray about how to move forward. We began wondering if Cuba was even the right direction?

Perhaps God just wanted our hearts to be willing ... so we waited.

I need to interject here that w a i t i n g is not something I'm good at. Fight it as I may, I am a product of our instant gratification culture.
I want a plan, and I want to execute that plan. Now. Like right now.

God is changing that in me (thankfully) but my gosh...I'm a difficult task and through showing His patience with me, He is granting me the patience I need. He's cool like that.

About six weeks ago, we had a meeting with a gentleman named Scott with Ibero American Ministries. We did not initiate this meeting; we were simply invited to attend as our church has been looking at different international organizations and ministries and how we could potentially partner with them. 
The day before the meeting I asked Mike, "What do you expect from tomorrow's meeting."
He replied, "Nothing. Not one single thing. Every meeting we've had has resulted in nothing. Every door we've felt was opening has closed. Honestly, I'm tired of meetings and I don't know why we've been invited to go tomorrow." (See? Discouraged.)
So, off we went to this meeting where we expected absolutely nothing to happen.
Looking back I wonder, maybe that's a really good place to be? That place where you're just "done" and are finished trying to do things your way, or the way you think they should be done; because when that's where you are, when you get out of the way, that's when God can get to doing His thing His way.
At that meeting Scott explained that IAM's mission is to raise up local leaders, who plant churches and provide humanitarian services to those around them; to be friends with their neighbors and to show them Christ's love in action on a daily basis. The ultimate goal is having genuine relationships that reveal God's glory and draw people to Him.
Oh...I love it!
When Scott found out we were at the meeting because we had a heart for missions, he excitedly told us about all the opportunities and then explained a bit about their internship program. IAM's internships serve many purposes, but one of the main ones, from the intern's perspective, is to help determine if missions is actually the direction you are meant to head in. The program is short term - from 3-12 months or so - and allows interns to get some experience, pray, and decide if international missions are what one is supposed to do with their life.

Scott said he'd send us the intern application and manual.
And then he did. That. very. afternoon.

To say we were surprised would be a complete understatement.  We were caught completely off guard. Mike kept saying, "Wait...what? What just happened?"
Having faced only closed doors to this point, a path to begin walking down was beginning to take shape and we couldn't believe it.
Not only did Scott take us seriously, but he took. us. seriously.

That following week we Skyped with Doug, a missionary with IAM living in Santiago, Chile, asking him all sorts of questions about what an IAM internship would look like for our family and what IAM does and what we could do for IAM. When we finished the call we were in total disbelief - could this be what we'd been waiting for? We spent a few days praying and seeking wisdom from those we trust most, and the next weekend Mike filled out our internship application and we purchased Rosetta Stone in faith that we were headed in the right direction.

Last night, at a potluck to meet Ricky and Tracie, some of IAM's missionaries living Santiago, Scott said, "Oh yeah, by the's official. You've been accepted into the internship."

And just like that, we're preparing to go to Chile.

The list of what we don't know is much longer than the list of what we do know; which I'm sort of realizing is God's way. 

But, for those of you who are curious, here is what we know. And I'm being serious...this is all that we know.

* God has opened the door through IAM and we are excited to step through it.
* Mike and I are planning to go to Chile with our church at the end of October for a vision trip. During this trip we will visit IAM's church plants in Santiago as well as in surrounding areas. The purpose of this trip is to help our church see what the needs are, how we can meet them, what kind of teams we can send out, and (this is probably only on my agenda) to help determine where Mike and I will fit in.

There are the graphic details for you.

I have ideas and assumptions about how the trip in October will affect our family, but again, I'm realizing I shouldn't think I've got it all figured out or put God into any box because He just doesn't seem to be confined by what I put together. 
At some point we'll have a definite time frame of when we will go with the kids, for how long, exactly what city we'll be living in, how much support we need to raise and what ministry we'll be assisting with. 
While not having any of those details rightthissecond is a little difficult for me, I also see the beauty in it. I'm being forced to follow Jesus, forced to let Him be the one who's calling the shots, forced to acknowledge I have no clue what's going on...
It's good for me. 
I need Jesus so so much. He has so much to give, and I'm so thankful to receive because I am simply empty and wasted without Him. 

Mike and I are thankful to have a direction to be moving in and a sketchy plan to follow, and ultimately, honored to be able to give Christ all the glory and credit. We would love it if you would pray with us over these next few months as we work on getting all the details squared away. We are confident that if this is what God has in mind for our family, everything will fall into place as it should, but walking in that place of faith requires a lot of...well, faith, and knowing that there are people praying for us helps us to stay grounded.

"And those who know your name put their trust in you, 
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you." 
Psalm 9:10