I traveled to Argentina in 2008…just after graduating from college. I wasn’t sure what God had for me next, but I felt a clear calling to be in Argentina for the summer.
When I left, I thought we were going to be working with orphans, doing Bible studies with Argentina believers, learning how to share the gospel and disciple others, volunteering at a local church and at a local Christian school. And we did, in part.
We spent two afternoons at the orphanage and on another occasion, had the older orphans over to our house to play soccer and other games and to eat. The orphanage was a wonderful home led by a sweet couple that devoted their lives to the kids.
We did attend Bible studies with church members. We did have an adventure in the city of Buenos Aires selling literature and sharing the gospel. I did learn how to disciple, not in the way I thought, though (more about that in a minute). And we did volunteer at the church…I swept their half dirt, half tiled floor (they added tiles as they could afford them), cleaned their bathrooms, washed dishes, and helped participate in skits. I was able to spend time with the teens at the Christian school, schooling the guys in soccer (just kidding), going out for lunch with the girls, being there to hear their struggles after they listened to a testimony of a teammate.
But most of my time was spent in our house, washing dishes, cleaning floors and bathrooms, taking out trash, cooking 2+ meals a day for large groups of people, shopping, and talking. Talking, talking, talking. Many of my teammates from the US had difficult pasts. Very difficult. And many of them hadn’t taken the time to grieve and to pray and to ask God for healing. So unlike we were expecting, much of the summer was spent with our Argentine leaders…praying, learning to sit in silence with God for hours, crying with teammates over past trauma, celebrating as they learned to leave it behind.
So I did learn to disciple…through the amazing example of my Argentine leaders, Martin and Marisol, I learned to disciple. Maybe I was not discipling Argentines, like I was expecting, but I learned so much. I didn’t see it at the time. I came home wondering if being “mom” that summer had been worth my time.
I loved Argentina. It’s in my blood now…Spanish speakers who I meet even say I speak like an Argentine. I drink mate (their tea) every day still. I am teaching my kids with an Argentine accent. But the trip wasn’t what I expecting. I came home wondering; wondering if I had used my time wisely. Wondering what was next. Should I go back to Argentina to work with the orphans this time? Should I look for long-term missions?
What came next were graduate school, teaching college math, and tutoring math. And along with tutoring was the opportunity to start a Bible study. Many of my students from tutoring came to Bible study. And I had the opportunity to disciple! I was able to use those skills learned in Argentina! That’s when stuff started to make sense. I wondered why I had gone, I wondered why Argentina was in my heart and yet I had to be in the USA for the time. And then through tutoring, I met my husband. I now see why God had me stay in the States!
God taught me a lot while there…a lot about my pride, He reminded me of sins against my parents that I had not confessed. He showed me how to disciple others, how being a mom is valuable…cooking food, shopping and just being in the kitchen to talk can reach the hearts of many! He taught me how I can love Argentina and the rest of Central and South America via instilling that love in my kids and supporting Compassion kids. I would love to go back, but for now I am enjoying my time of being a stay-at-home mom in the States. Who knows what God has in store?
So I would just encourage you—if you have gone through something in life that didn’t look like you expected, God had a purpose! He is at work. I love Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it in the day of Jesus Christ,” (NKJV).