January 30, 2014


“I want to move back.”

We were on the plane from Atlanta to Guatemala City after Christmas vacation. My heart was breaking as all I could think about was that our families would not see Jocelyn for another five months. Forever in baby time.

I knew it was still too early to make our decision. I was too emotional; to do so then would have been hasty. Collin kept saying he trusted God to speak through someone, or he would just get a feeling about what we should do. But I figured me bursting out on the plane probably wasn't the sign he was looking for.

We have been talking through the entire month of January about what to do. We have gone back and forth, weighing our options of staying one more year here or moving back to the US. 

Wow, there are so many emotions that go into a decision like this.

We realized that we would feel guilty if we left Guatemala. We would feel guilty about leaving jobs in a high turnover year, leaving friends we really love, leaving students we have built relationships with, leaving two year visas with one year left on them. Would it be fair to move back now after all Guatemala and IAS has given to us? Have we really given that much back?

No matter what we chose to do, we would probably feel guilty. Our friends here told us they were praying to the Guatemalan God, (“in Spanish so He could understand, of course.”) And I am pretty sure there were a few grandmas (both ours and Jocelyn’s) praying we would decide to move back to the US. (Those prayers were in English I think.)

I personally struggled with not letting circumstances make our decision. I will admit that this year has been different for me, being a stay-at-home-mom in a different culture. I feel a little more isolated, not being at work every day with our friends. Things about living here start to wear on me now more than before, (but my attitude is probably due to a lack of sleep, not something I can blame Guatemala for.) I didn't want to make our decision based on "easier" circumstances. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we should expect life to be easy.

I mentioned before that I believe God leads and speaks through the desires of our hearts. No, I do not believe we get every little thing we want in life. (I have always wanted to be three inches shorter and have cuter toes, but I know that’s never going to happen.) But if we are praying for our desires of “what” and “where” to be aligned with God’s will, I thinks it’s okay to follow where those desires lead.

And underneath all of the different emotions, reasoning, and pros and cons, we simply desire to move back.

How we told our families. Needless to say they were ecstatic.

And we are excited. New beginnings are exciting, and all the talk and planning and dreaming is really fun, a great bonding experience as a couple.

But we are also deeply saddened. I have no way to describe it except to say that my heart feels really heavy right now. Even as I write this I feel a deep pit of grief in my stomach. As we tell our friends here, my heart breaks just as much as when we had to say goodbye to family at Christmas. I am realizing now that it would never be easy to say goodbye, not even if we did stay one more year. (Chris Brown, "Never the Right Time to Say Goodbye" is currently playing in my head.) We are leaving the place we started our marriage and family, we are leaving friends, jobs, and an indescribably beautiful country. I know it’s just one ramification of our decision. Saying hello to something new also means we have to say goodbye to something else. And that “something else” has become very dear to our hearts. 

And again we are humbled. We would not be completely honest with you if we didn't mention the mini shot to our pride this is for us. When we first moved we didn't know how long we would be here. Would it be one year, five years, ten? Would we be “lifers?” And we aren't. Three years might seem like a long time to live in a different country for some, but believe me, it is not long at all.

And I would not be completely honest with you if I didn't tell you that before moving here I thought I could tough it out away from family. I thought Christmases and summers would be enough. But as much as I hate to admit it, having Jocelyn does change that for me. 

Finally, we are a tiny bit nervous, as this decision requires a leap of faith. For some reason, one that I am unable to explain, (nor will I try,) both Collin and I have Chicago on our brains. That is all I can really say, because that is all I really know right now. I am assuming the Lord will reveal more to us when necessary. But our leap of faith involves moving to this city not really knowing why (or how,) and beginning the process of job and home hunting, cell phone and insurance buying, blah, blah, blah, “first-world-problems.” :)

But we wanted to let you know our final decision. And we wanted to explain ourselves so that you can hopefully understand the complexity of this decision.

Thank you to those who have been praying for us through this month. Please keep praying. And thank you to our friends here who responded with the oh-so-sweet words "I understand." 

Now, I will say that it was definitely revealed through this process how Collin and I make decisions differently from each other. I am an “I see it, I like it, I choose it” kind of person. (Kind of like how after three months I knew I wanted to marry Collin.) Collin is more of an “I research, I weigh the options, I take my time” kind of person. (Don’t worry, he was right there with me at the altar two years later.) But I am thankful again for a teammate to balance me out and to work together with in this process.

The night we got back to our apartment after Christmas vacation, I finally asked Collin what he was thinking about moving back or staying. I was extra curious after bursting out my wishes to him on the plane to Guatemala.

He looked at me with a straight face and said, “If God can speak through an ass, He can speak through you too.”

Grace and Peace,

ps. I was too shocked into laughter to have time to be offended by the above comment.
pss. See Numbers 22:21-39