This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share with my church, Faith Community Church in Alliston, about my upcoming move to Guatemala. I had wanted to tape it and post it here, but somehow the sound didn’t get recorded! What can you do?
Instead, I’ve posted a transcript of what I said — the only thing you’re missing out on is when the tears start and I blame it on allergies 🙂
You can also click HERE to see a handout that was given out at church. In it, I describe more of the spiritual aspects of my role as a birth attendant.
The presentation was interview-style with my Pastor.
Hi, I’m Stephanie. I grew up here at Faith but some of you might not know me because for the last several years I’ve been away at school and now I am living and working in Goderich. But I look forward to getting to know you in the next few months! In October I’m moving to Guatemala permanently as a missionary. I am a nurse, and the work I will be doing specifically is working with women during pregnancy and birth: prenatal care, attending deliveries, and postpartum care. Guatemala has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in Central American and the health care system is almost non-existent in rural areas.
Why did you choose to become a missionary?
It wasn’t a one-time decision to be a missionary. It wasn’t as if a few months ago I suddenly decided that moving to Guatemala was a great idea. Instead, when I was 13 years old and visited Guatemala for the first time, I fell in love with the country, language and culture. I felt something like a fluttering in my heart, like God was whispering to me, “I’ve got something for you here.” I’ve been back and forth to Guatemala 7 times in the last several years. Each time, I felt God saying to me, “you’ll be back again, just wait.” So I waited, and I prepared myself by learning Spanish and becoming a nurse because I wanted to be ready to go the minute God said “go”. The last time I was in Guatemala some missionaries I knew invited me to join them full time. They do a lot of medical care with families with special needs, but for the last few years they have been looking for someone who head up a maternal care branch of their ministry. To me, there wasn’t really a question. I can’t explain it, but I just knew in my heart that I was to say yes to them. It was like the invitation came straight from God, like he was saying to me, “Steph, here’s my invitation that you’ve been waiting for. Would you partner with me here? Would you sacrifice everything for me?” God has given us free will, and I could have said no. But I knew that God was inviting me to be part of something bigger than myself. I couldn’t say no. What excuses did I have to say no? I know Spanish, I had been praying for an opportunity to be a missionary, I have medical skills that are transferrable to Guatemala, and now I had been presented with an opportunity. So I said yes. That’s how I got here. It was a long process of waiting and listening and praying and preparation. God planted this seed in my heart 9 years ago, and now here I am!
What are some struggles you will face in Guatemala?
I think that the biggest thing will be loneliness. I’m going to be in a culture that is different from my own and although I am familiar with the Guatemalan culture and I have a handle on the Spanish language, it’s all still new to me. Relationships and friendships I’ve been developing for 23 years are going to change dramatically. I’m not going to be in touch with day to day life here. That makes me really sad. Obviously, I’m going to miss my family the most. I’m going to miss out on important milestones with them. I don’t have plans to come back to Canada. I’m there until God says to move. All of my friends are getting married and having kids, and I’m going to be out in Guatemala living on the side of a mountain by myself. Sometimes I get stuck in thought patterns of doubt: “I can’t do this, God picked the wrong person. I’m not qualified. It’s not fair to my family. This is too hard. The sacrifice is too high. God should have chosen someone else, He’s going to regret choosing me.” While it’s true that I have envisioned myself living in Guatemala for a long time, I didn’t think it would be this hard to leave Canada. When I start doubting that this is where God has called me, I look back and see all the places he has taken me, all of the situations that have fallen into place perfectly to make this happen. And then there’s no way that I can be afraid of making a mistake or of failing. This, going to Guatemala, was God’s idea in the first place. He’s been planning this forever. The pressure is off me, I’m simply being obedient to His call and He has promised to take care of everything. I know that God is good, and that He is with me, and that He has good plans for me. From this vantage point, all I can see are the challenges of leaving; I can’t see all the blessings that will come because of it. But I know that this is the best plan for my life. If I stayed in Canada, I would have a great life. My friends and family are here, I have a great job; I would have a great life. But it wouldn’t be the best life for me. Knowing that I am walking in God’s will makes all the difference, and no sacrifice is too hard. When I remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for me — he left His home too– I’m willing to do anything for Him. I’m nervous about moving away. It’s really difficult and it’s scary and sad…but mostly what I’m feeling is overwhelmed with the privilege it is to serve God in this way. Any small sacrifice I have to make is more than worth it in light of eternity.