Thursday, March 19, 2009

Called Out

Most people who call themselves missionaries feel a calling on their lives. I always wanted to be a helper of people. I listened well. I was smart and could figure things out. After I stopped drinking in 1976, I wanted to help others dig themselves out of the quagmire. I took a drug and alcohol counseling course and began my work with teenagers toward the end of that year. I worked in that capacity for 12 years, eventually counseling adults as well. I didn't feel it was a "calling" from God.

It took June several weeks to get me to visit the mission. I had just slowed my life to a snail's pace, we were building a house and to tell the truth, I didn't want to get sucked into helping. Sounds crass from a Christian I suppose, but at the time I was more of a bench-warmer Christian. I went to the study, found it exhilarating and went home. Each time June would ask me to visit the mission the next day. Finally I said, "If I go tomorrow, will you leave me alone?" She agreed.

The mission is at a "y" on the long trans peninsular highway of Baja California. Going straight on the road sends you south, taking the "y" sends you to a popular tourist attraction called La Bufadora. The mission is visible just as you make the turn. Our homes were 1/2 way to the "Buf" as we called it.

I drove in to the mission in the morning around noon. The place was a beehive of activity. Dozens of Americans were there and more than 100 indigenous people were milling around. June walked me past some new construction to a building at the end of the property. The first big room was where they held services for the locals at around 1. Then she showed me a couple of small classrooms, a closet full of school supplies, a tiny kitchen and an area at the back where volunteers were hard at work filling paper bags with "dispensas". These were gifts of food for those who attended services. Everyone said hello.I knew many from Bible study. There was an area for used clothing as well. I was impressed by the scope of the operation. Not tempted mind you, just impressed. Walking back out of the building, June turned left to open a closet door. Inside was a tall American woman, a medical exam table and some shelves with medicines on it. June called that tiny room "the clinic".

Irene seemed like such a nice lady. She had one person sitting on the exam table and a line of people outside. Without asking, she handed me some 3 x 5 cards and told me to take names. I did as I was told. The Spanish I was learning helped tremendously. I truly enjoyed it and was hooked. That was not my called out moment however. That came later on as I continued to work at the clinic.

Our first baby was a little guy named David. He was a failure to thrive baby who was 9 months old and weighed 7 lbs. Irene was caring for him, but they had a family emergency and had to leave suddenly. I felt inadequate to care for him. I agreed because Irene had no where else to turn. The little guy never even smiled. Instead of a week, we had him 3. He slept in a baby carrier in the bathtub in our trailer. He went where we went. The whole community was invested in him and I fell in love.

Roger and I were also part of a local theater group and were in rehearsals for a play at the time. David was support staff. At one of the rehearsals, I was playing with him and his little eyes lit up. He broke into the most beautiful smile! I cried. I knew why I was in Mexico. Below is a picture of David when he was about 9 years old.

I lnew I was called to serve, but I questioned God about this. I had been a mom since I was 16. I thought it was time to take care of me. Yet after David I couldn't wait for the next baby to come along. I hungered. We began to feast on the word as I continued to work at the clinic. We took a 10 year-old whose father had beaten her from head to toe with electrical wire. Then we took another baby.

I can't tell you that when God calls you out you will hear an audible voice. I didn't. You can get wonderful spiritual feelings and desires that make you feel
as if you've been called. I knew when David smiled that I was there to do God's work. Taking care of him or any other child wasn't the job. Spreading the Good News of Jesus was the job. Taking care of children was our avenue for that. We didn't take kids away from families, we worked to restore them and build them in the Lord. I was called out, I felt it and that calling stood the test of time.

Perhaps I was called before I went to the clinic. Maybe the clinic was the conduit. I remember telling the Lord in early 1998, prostrate on the floor with my husband that I would serve him however he saw fit. I guess when you do something like that you have to be as a boy scout and be prepared. God prepared me by giving me the Spanish language as my own. Before the time we took David, people were asking me where in Mexico I was born. God also prepared me by allowing me to learn a lot about medicine while working in the clinic. He also gave me a love for the indigenous (mostly Oaxacan) peoples who lived there.

I'm tired now and having a little trouble with my breathing the last couple of days. I feel compelled to continue this journey for you. I also feel compelled to tell you that if you are not a believer, I am willing to talk to you as are other competent Christian bloggers. Don't be afraid to ask us questions. I can't give out their names or e-mails because this is a public blog, but I will place my e-mail address at the bottom of this post.

I pray for all of you daily, even those whose names I do not know. I know that a few of you are having problems or facing surgery. Be blessed today,


Robin said...

Hi Penny! Good to see you again.

just me said...

What a beautiful entry.

Carolyn said...

Penny, coulit be that God was calling you when Roger first suggested that trip to see his camper on the Mexican beach?! Oh, I am so thankful you are telling us your story some more. Those children are precious! It made me smile to see them. I haven't figured out yet what God is calling me to do- or maybe I have, but feel like my family is not a "real" mission. I know better, but sometimes, I wish I could do something different. Something a little more spicey ;-) I know I am where I am supposed to be right now, and if He has something different, He will let me know. I do love hearing about you though. What a roller coaster life you have had, but in your heart, I'll bet you wouldn't change one thing. Neither would I. I would like to add my name to anyone who would like to ask anything about what a Christian is, Christianity and how to become one. Please Penny, is anyone responds, feel free to pass them along to me via e mail or my blog. God Bless!! Thank you.

natalie said...

Dear Penny,
what a beautiful story it is!
thank you!
Please keep commenting in my journal!
Your energy adn your faith inspire me!
do you know Bill?
And how about Johnny? you would like both!
he is;

Lisa said...

This is so interesting to hear how God called you and used you in this capacity to help these families, these people and these children. I am enjoying hearing about it because I ponder something on my heart and am prayerfully waiting to see what the Lord will have me to do... but sometimes we can wait too long and the opportunity to serve passes. Other times, we know beyond a doubt we are doing right what we are supposed to be doing. Thank you so much for sharing. This is a good thing to share Penny, especially with those who are Christians. I like what you said about how you didn't want to go LOL and your response ... LOL will you then leave me alone... LOL but God knew He had something just right for you. Lovely story... a thank you for sharing part of your life with us.
Lisa in KY