Well, we’re still in Puerto Peñasco, at the top of the Sea of Cortez (but not for much longer). *We* thought we’d be heading south in early November (when we left the boat in mid-May we actually planned to be back in mid-October). Between boat prep, lots of small jobs that didn’t go so smoothly, broken bolts, delays in solar panel installation, and the routine engine maintenance that turned into unexpected fuel injector pump and lift pump replacements to the tune of almost $3k, we just haven’t been able to leave.
We’ve been trying to figure out exactly why God still has us here. What’s the benefit in our delay? We have missionaries waiting for us further south in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
A couple of weeks ago, our missionary friends in La Paz reached out to us. They have an annual retreat in mid-January for all the members of their missions agency in the area. The leaders for the youth group can no longer attend. They actually asked us last April if we would consider leading the youth, but we told them we couldn’t as we’d be far south by that point. Hahaha! After some brief discussions and prayer, we’ve decided this is exactly why (at least one of the reasons) that God chose to keep us around here for so long. The retreat is less than a quarter mile from the marina we stayed at in late 2016/early 2017. We’ll be able to stay on our boat while serving the missionary families (specifically the teens) at the retreat at the nearby hotel. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing we strive to do for missionaries. We’re so excited to serve these families! The kids are looking forward to being with “old” friends again.
Since we were waiting on the new engine parts, we decided to visit our friends in Phoenix for Caleb’s 14th birthday. I’m so glad we did! We attended Bethany Bible Church with our friends, and we were reminded that we aren’t the only ones that experience a change of plans. Two thousand years ago, a young girl named Mary was betrothed to one of the best men in town (I’m making an assumption here because God would want only the best in an adopted father for His Son). Mary had her whole life ahead of her and I’m sure she had made some plans of her own. Then one day, an angel comes and tells her she will have a baby, but not just any baby, God’s Son. Wow, talk about
And Joseph, he’s engaged to marry the most thoughtful, caring and beautiful girl in Nazareth (again, making an assumption here). He’s building a house for them (Jewish custom). And then he finds out that Mary is pregnant and he knows it’s not his child. Mary has some unbelievable story about an angel. All of his plans and expectations are gone. But then an angel comes to him too. Joseph decides to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, and become the earthly father to the Son of God!
If this wasn’t enough change, just before Mary reaches the end of her pregnancy, they find out that they must travel to Bethlehem for a census. That’s 100 miles away! I think it would be easy at this point to call out to God and say, “ Uh, remember us? We thought this was going to be easy when we said yes. What’s going on?!”
Now Mary knows she won’t get to have the baby at home, surrounded by her mother, sisters, midwives. She’ll be in a strange town. But Mary goes into labor before they even arrive! Joseph goes door to door, possibly even carrying Mary, begging for a place to stay. They’re finally offered an area in the stable, next to the animals. And no one is there to help. Jesus, the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born in a barn! Not what we would expect at all, but absolutely part of God’s plan. Jesus came to the world to be available to all people. From the shepherds to the Magi and everyone in between. Jesus is the Savior for all!
God’s plans never changed. This was all part of His plan, prophesied many years before. Sometimes it takes major events for our plans to line up with God’s plans. And just because it’s God’s plan, it doesn’t mean it will be easy.
We’ll still get to head south eventually and spend time with the other missionaries we are looking forward to meeting in person. We’re trusting that God knows better than we. God hasn’t failed us yet. We all could benefit from a little more faith and trust, and this is exactly how we build it, one step at a time along the path He sets before us.
Side note: If you haven’t watched the movie The Nativity Story, I recommend it this Christmas season. Yes, some theatrical liberties were taken, but I felt it gave me a better sense of the struggles and realities of Jesus’ birth so long ago.