I would like to take you all on a journey that has taken us over 16 months. Hopefully, I can make it a little shorter for you all.
On October 12, 2005 when the president made his "DECREE" which brought about the expulsion of most missionaries from the jungle areas, our lives changed drastically. I wouldn't want anyone to think we were destroyed or devastated by this. We understand that God calls the shots. We still don't know why He allowed this ,but we may never understand this side of Glory, and that is OK.
Prudence does not allow me to share all the things that have happened since, but ,slowly the Lord has allowed us to see that the jungle is closed to us. Most likely it will remain closed until there is a change of government here. Some thing no one expects in the near future. This became evidently clear about 6 months ago. Once again, I cant share the details.
We had hoped that we might be able to return after a year or so, but after some expensive legal work, it seemed obvious that was not to be the case for us.
We also tried bringing Indians out to live here in town with us to help with the translation of the Old Testament, for when translating God's Word, it must be done carefully and checked by a native speaker to avoid possible heresy. But even the Indians in our region are no longer able to travel freely or safely.
At that point it became obvious to us that to continue to stay in the hopes of working with the tribe was not viable. So, what then?
After many months of prayer, fasting, and seeking counsel, we began to search out what might be next for us. First we looked around and considered options for ministry here in Venezuela.
We would be the first to say that God is still working here and except for the persecution of the Indian churches and the expulsion of the North American missionaries working with them, there has still been freedom to work here. Having said that it is also true that no new Religious Visas have been given to N. Americans since the infamous speech made by Pat Robertson around two years ago. Although some missionaries have been able to renew their Visas.
We began searching for areas to work. After my husband visited a tribe in Panama, we agreed that to learn a fourth language fluently at this point is highly unlikely. We also realize that we aren't as young as we were and the physical demands of tribal work in the early stages are enormous.
Building a house,(Clearing jungle, cutting down trees, making adobe bricks, making planks with a chain saw, gathering leaves for a roof, etc) carrying water, firewood, doing laundry in the river, cooking over a fire, clearing and preparing an airstrip, travel and accommodations are very rustic. But we liked it!!!
However, we need to admit we would be more productive at this time in a less isolated area.
After 20 years here, we began looking around. There are many opportunities here. My husband has been asked to take over two different works, but we felt that there were Venezuelan men prepared to do this and sure enough , they did take those positions and are doing well.
We contemplated beginning a new work which is no easy task. But have had no leading as to where to do so. Also, knowing that our stateside furlough was coming up this June, we did not feel that we should begin a new work as it would not be ready to be left so soon. And we do need a furlough. After all we have been through, we need some time to re-group and revive ourselves as a family.
My husband has been teaching in 3 Bible Institutes and doing a lot of Leadership training and conferences. We have not been idle, but we have not been content. We know this is not what we are to do long term.
We have felt like we were headed towards a waterfall and are not sure what is below.
Much like this waterfall on the Caura River, the main obstacle one has to overcome on the way to our village a canoe trip of roughly 10 days depending on the season and how much you need to portage,
So then the question...Do we leave Venezuela? Is there something else or somewhere else for us?
TO BE CONTINUED....