The pictures are about a year apart, but they are part of the same story.
On the left, Linda, Jeremy, and Bekah in the cab of our old, 4-wheel drive pick-up… Christmas, 1976… pulling a small trailer with all of our earthly possessions… from Laredo, TX to Guadalajara, JAL., Mexico.
Jeremy started kindergarten just as Greg and Linda started language school. A few weeks later, Bekah became our interpreter, largely due to la Señora Teresa, who cared for her while we went to school. Maybe we should have stayed home with la Señora Teresa.
One year later, we headed south toward the Mexico-Guatemala border. We were spared unloading and repacking our stuff by carrying a Guatemalan soldier with us to the other side of their country—to insure we didn’t try to sell any contraband along the way.
We finally made it to the border of El Salvador. YAY…! Immigration officers promptly tore up the pretty, official-looking visas we had paid for at the Salvadoran consulate in Guadalajara. Then, with my basic Mexican Spanish, I answered their questions incorrectly. “Are you in transit?.” I confidently replied, “Yes!” The next question was, “What is your destination?” Still confidently, I said, “the capital city, San Salvador.”
Since the question about being in transit was really asking if we were passing through the country or planning to stay, I had just contradicted myself. Now we received the full treatment… off-load everything to be inspected and then reload… with no help of course. We were rewarded with a 30 day tourist visa to stay in El Salvador.
We arrived in San Salvador beyond exhausted, disoriented, and wondering how we were ever going to be able to stay in the country. The differences in accent and vocabulary set us back six months. With the outbreak of the civil war a few months after our arrival, the question changed from “how to stay” to “should we stay.”
We were not well received by Salvadoran officials. No one thanked us for our sacrifices. No one cared about how alone or scared we were. Our first two Christmases were so small… and so very far away from family.
Yes, maybe we were a little crazy. We took some risks we shouldn’t have. We definitely should have been better prepared. But our motivation wasn’t crazy.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Joh 20:21
A few years earlier, we had embraced the Christmas story. Jesus came into a hostile world with fewer possessions than we had. He gave himself over to a horrible, undeserved death… because he loved us. When Linda and I read Jesus’ words to his disciples after his resurrection, we assumed “even so I am sending you” meant us, too.
I keep hearing "not everyone is meant to be an ambassador for Christ in hard, faraway places." True… but l have a sneaking suspicion… a whole lot more are staying home out of disobedience than for lack of being “called.”
The Christmas story needs more legs… why not yours?
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6