Calling.  Confirmation.  Preparation.  Arrival.  Reality Check!  This is the universal reality of every missionary’s journey.

My calling to missions came at age 16, and my calling to Culiacán in April 2015.  A missionary’s initial calling always falls somewhere between “Wow!” and “What?!?”  Mine was no exception.  “Really, God?  That’s awesome!  … but Culiacán???”

Then comes that intense phase of praying and seeking God’s will.  Did I really hear right?  That phase of my journey was filled with amazing answered prayers.  It was a faith-building time of wonder as God laid all the details before me and lined them up perfectly.

Preparation.  Fund-raising.  Logistics.  YUCK!  Throughout that time, God showered me with miracles and blessings and grew me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be grown!  I truly felt ready for the adventure ahead.

Arrival: that highly anticipated moment you’ve dreamed of for so long!  After months (or years) of preparation, the arduous hard work, prayers, and tears, you just know that everything is going to be in place and ready to go when you arrive.  Let the dream begin!

This is what we’re all secretly expecting… (left image)

 … and this is what we find.  (right image)

That was my arrival in Culiacán – the romantic arrival at the airport, reuniting with people I’d come to know and love, riding through town, picturing the ministry and changed lives… followed by our arrival at a tiny, empty apartment.  My new home.

The first week, I was overwhelmed with logistical details – waiting for the broken-down moving truck, grocery shopping with no car and no way to cook, fixing the apartment, hooking up internet and utilities…  Not the romantic scene I had pictured.

Our second week brought more order.  I got back to work with my online teaching job.  Sammy and I got settled into our tiny, but comfortable apartment.  We established a routine at church, made a few new friends, and talked with the pastor.

Sammy sought out a little guy that couldn’t walk as we ministered to the rest of the kids.

Then, BAM!  Week 3 brought the first tastes of ministry.  Through my sharing in the women’s meetings, many ladies have caught the vision of Celebrate Recovery.  While the program will not be starting for quite some time yet, God is opening doors for me to minister to ladies individually who could likely become my women’s ministry team once the program starts.  Our first visit to the breakfast club in La Invasion de la Esperanza, (translated, The Invasion of Hope – what an awesome name!), has opened doors for me to take over the children’s teaching ministry and to potentially take Celebrate Recovery to the moms.  My participation in the church’s Preaching and Evangelism training class is also producing fruit, opening doors for me to begin preaching in the women’s groups at the church.

The pot pictured above was a seed Sammy planted the day we went to La Invasion de la Esperanza.  On the fourth day, we found this:

1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted the seed… but God made it grow.”

As tiny as it may be, Sammy’s seed has sprouted!  During those first 3 days, I had my doubts, but God brought life out of that tiny seed.  In the same way, I had doubts during my first 3 weeks here in Culiacán, but God has caused all of the tiny seeds I’ve been planting to sprout.  1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted the seed… but God made it grow.”

Please pray with me that God will continue to grow all of these tiny seeds – the moms and children of La Invasion de la Esperanza, the women of my church, and the beginnings of Celebrate Recovery at Capilla Calvario Culiacán – and begin to bring that beautiful harvest I’ve been dreaming of for so long.