Cheer Each Other On

Guatemala 2013 401

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:24-25

My Guatemala story would be incomplete if I failed to talk about the importance of cheering each other on toward love and good deeds – especially when it comes to marriage.

My initial leap of faith decision to go to Guatemala would not have happened had it not been for my wife.  Let me explain.

Two years before my initial trip to Guatemala, my wife and I were planning to go to Nairobi, Kenya on a mission trip with a group from our church.  We saved and raised money to go on this trip.  We got our shots.  We purchased our airline tickets, and we made our final deposits for the trip.  As we finalized our preparations for the trip, something wasn’t quite right.  My wife’s health was beginning to deteriorate.  We visited her doctor, and we tried to make some adjustments.  But it wasn’t enough.  Four weeks before the trip, we made the difficult decision to cancel our plans.  It was one of the toughest decisions we have ever had to make.  We didn’t have travel insurance.  We couldn’t get our money back, and we were missing out on a “dream” mission trip to serve the poorest of the poor in the slums of Nairobi.  I remember feeling lonely and defeated.  Would we ever be able to go on an international mission trip again?  More importantly, would my wife’s health improve?

Without going into detail, things got worse before they got better.  Leanne ended up in the hospital in September just weeks after we would have come back from Kenya.  It was clear that being in Nairobi at this time would not have been a good idea for us.  Leanne’s recovery was slow but steady.  She was released from the hospital in early October, and she began the process of healing.

Throughout the healing process, we continued our desire to serve others.  We launched our H.O.P.E. group (Helping Other People Everywhere) serving the local community with other families.  This has filled much of our desire to serve others, but there was still an itch begging to be scratched.  We still desired to serve internationally.

Fast forward to last spring, our youth pastor asked if I would go on the high school summer mission trip to Guatemala as a chaperone.  I can’t tell you how much I struggled with this decision.  How could I “risk” leaving my wife and son home alone while I traveled to Guatemala with our daughter?  I prayed.  I sought godly council from friends and family.  And I wrestled through a lot of fear and doubt.  In the midst of this, my biggest cheerleader kept encouraging me to go.  Leanne said go over and over again.  She knew it would be hard, but she knew it was the right thing to do.  She kept cheering.  She kept spurring me on toward love and good deeds.

You know the story.  I ended up going to Guatemala in 2012, and the trip rocked my world.

Upon my arrival home, I had so many stories to share.  I indicated my desire to go back again.  And Leanne listened to my stories – a little jealous about my experiences and a lot more interested in going overseas for missions.  Our family talked and prayed about going somewhere together as a family in 2013.  We kept coming back to Guatemala.

This decision gave me an opportunity to be the cheerleader.  Leanne was a little concerned about the language barrier that went with being in a strange place.  As the week went along, I tried to encourage Leanne, and I prayed she would connect with the people of Xenacoj as we ministered together.  It was amazing to watch her fear and frustration transform into enthusiasm and excitement.  I will always remember our last day in Xenacoj.  Leanne was in tears – good tears.  She didn’t want to leave yet.  Xenacoj had captured her.

Our reentry back into life in the United States has gone relatively smoothly.  Yet we’ve been left with a huge desire in our heart for serving the people of Guatemala.  And so our story continues to evolve.  It’s our turn to cheer you on.  While we prepare for another trip to Guatemala at some point, we want to encourage you.  We want to spur you on toward love and good deeds.  Maybe it’s in your office.  Maybe it’s in your neighborhood.  Maybe it’s overseas.  Maybe with us in Guatemala.

How will you share love and good deeds with others today?

Who is your biggest cheerleader?  Who do you need to encourage today?

What are you being encouraged to pursue?