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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Overcoming January Scaries

I have a fear of January. In the past 3 years, this month has been the worst month of the year. For some reason, we have unexpected staff changes, health problems, and uncertain and/or scary things happening to staff, school families, or church families. Also, in Cobán, January tends to be the worst weather, with lots of rain and long gloomy days. Last January, we found out about Missionary Kim's cancer. We also sent two interns home early for personal reasons, and AMI International School was sent back to virtual school due to an anonymous complaint that we were in-person. Lastly, January kicked off my worst battle with mental health (that I write about here) that I have personally had, which I had to receive outside help for.

2023 was no different. On January 1, we entered the year with Jon and baby Olivia having COVID with Jon having severe symptoms, but thankfully not Olivia. And the firehose of Jan emergencies began last week when we discovered that two families attending our church and school were receiving death threats from extortion calls (something prevalent in Guatemala). We quickly had to tighten security at the school and church. Additionally, our beloved nanny, Aida, who is pregnant, was facing health issues that she thought were endangering her pregnancy and told us she would have to quit. Yet another church member confided that she would likely have to relinquish her three children to her ex-husband as she couldn't take care of them anymore. Between last week and this week, there have been three other healthcare emergencies, and today we headed out to pray and support for 2-month-old baby with heart problems that may require heart surgery. As a person who really enjoys feeling a measure of control in my life, these huge problems typically leave me feeling helpless. It's been an endless parade of emergencies that have required us to drop down on our knees and pray to the Lord for comfort and hope.

However, this is the first year that I can proclaim that I am not fearful even faced with these emergencies. In fact, I am joyful that all these things I lift up in prayer will be taken care of by my Jesus Christ. What has changed? This year, in my prayer life, I've felt Jesus urging me to be brave and faithful and to remember what He has done. When I look back at the last year, I can see how God has redeemed every difficult January situation we've brought to him in prayer. He has healed, consoled, and saved us; we are all stronger because of it. My faith has increased, and he has used many of these experiences to strengthen me and bring me closer to Him. So this January, I have been more fervent in prayer and more devoted to my Bible than ever before. Seeing God redeem many of these situations within a week has been amazing!

Though COVID was debilitating for Jon, he recovered. Thankfully for baby Olivia, her only symptom of being more sleepy than usual, lasted only one day. The death threats the families were receiving have subsided. The father of one of the families at our church returned to church for the first time after several weeks of absence! As for Aida, her serious health issues and fears subsided, and she feels better than ever, thanks to prayer! As for the church member that was going to relinquish her children, within the last week, she received good news from the judge about her child support case. She also obtained a new job, which gave her hope to keep her children. I am amazed at how quickly God can and has redeemed these dire situations. We give glory to God for all these miracles, and we continue to lift up in prayer the remaining health issues and challenges our school and church families are facing! I am holding tight to Romans 12:12 - "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

God has performed so many miracles as I've been in the mission field, but one of the biggest miracles has been him changing my spirit of fear and anxiety into a spirit of joy and hope!

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