Prior to coming to Paraguay, I spent two years working as a Family Advocate at an emergency domestic violence shelter. As one might assume, it was an emotionally burdensome job and the hours did not help. Commanding the 12pm-9pm shift five days a week effectively eliminated any sort of social aspect from my life, and it was really quite isolating.

So as I prepared to come to Paraguay, B and I spent a lot of time praying that I would find community here. I defined community as friends. Although, babies that I did not have to produce myself and could snuggle were also considered acceptable alternatives.

Despite my haughty and specific demands, the Lord manifest His grace in ways more sweet than I ever imagined. These four dumplings have been the light and laugh of my last two years. Amidst bouts of loneliness, ministry frustration, homesickness, and every other dark force I encountered on occasion, these nuggets remained a constant source of love, adorable antics, and yes, snuggles.

I am ever so thankful for this family and these little faces.

IMAG0677Literal bosom buddies.

IMAG0659Hole-in-one.

IMAG0678Baby Forest.

IMAG0631Dancing queens.

Woulda, coulda.

May 4, 2011

Around 11pm last Friday night, my phone buzzed with a text from my [now former] co-worker M that she had just gotten home three hours late after a wild night at the shelter. A client blew up, assaulted another client, smashed several lamps, broke a few more nightstands, threatened M with a violent death, and chased my boss in a fury.

“I have NEVER seen C run from a client. EVER.” texted M.

M ended up calling the police three times and eventually seven squad cars showed up to the shelter to arrest the client. My boss is pressing charges and the other client is now considered an assault victim (on top of the abuse she already suffered from her boyfriend).

I am still stunned. Had Friday not been my last day on the job, it would have been me working alone in M’s place. That was my shift–the crazy evening hours so susceptible to episodes such as these (but never so extreme). Seeing as the client had threatened me and gotten all up in my bidness the previous night, it is difficult to fathom what might have happened had I been the one on duty.

So humbled by God’s protection, timing, and convincing closure of a season in life.

Dear Future Lo,

Remember that God has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Hold out for hope and trust that God has better, different things in store for you. This job was a miracle and a blessing when you got it. And yes, it was work that mattered. But He has shown you your strengths and weaknesses through these professional trials, and while He has definitely sharpened you through this process, this is not what He is calling you to pursue for the rest of your life. The search from here may be similarly challenging, but cling to love, pray for wisdom, and rest in patience. Brighter days and better things will come because you are loved and you have grace.

Peace is yours for the keeping,

A Lo for the wiser who does not ever want you to talk yourself back into this line of work in the future when the memories dull

This is a monumental day and the end of an era: I finally quit my job.

Big Angel

April 28, 2011

“You are big, big angel to me and my daughter, [Lo]. I wish you many money for life, a big house, handsome husband, who is very nice, and many, many babies. You are young, beautiful girl, maybe only 13-years-old. You should go make good life. I hope everything you want, you take. You take, okay? You never let people say you no. We always remember things you do to help us when we were in big dangerous. Thank you many, many.” offered my client, a former mail order bride, in her thick Russian accent.

There is something unspeakably humbling about having a woman, whose life has been but a series of unparalleled hardships, express verbal exhortations wishing the good life on me. I have so much to learn.

Especially at the ripe old age of thirteen.