Missionary Stories -
Missionary stories may sound generic, but in this case they are truly Christian missions history; mine that is. There are so many miraculous and wonderful stories from my first years in Puerto Rico, that it is difficult to know where to begin.
I probably haven't written them before for that reason...
When I first wrote this page, it turned into a booklet, so I've broken it into four pages instead of one so the stories will be more accessible. It still left two stories for this page. I hope you enjoy them. As you'll realize, both happened fairly early in the five years I lived in Levittown.
Missionary Stories -
Miracles Still Happen
Janet was one of the girls in the church I was closest too. She spoke more English then the others, so she could communicate when the others couldn't. During the summer mission team experience, she had been the driver of the car that had taken me all over the island.
Since she was driving, I didn't get to know her as well as Iris, but it was a crisis in her life that provides the next of my missionary stories.
A minor side effect of this experience was, I realized I had finally gained fluency in the Spanish language.
The crisis happened during my first year of teaching in Levittown, and only four or five months after I'd come to the island to live.
I'm not certain of the time of year, but I believe it may have been in February. Without the seasons to help my memory, it was much more difficult for me to remember times of the year while I was living in the tropics.
Anyway, one day I arrived at church to hear everyone talking in hushed tones in Spanish.
Whatever the problem was, I could tell it had to do with Janet, but she was much too upset to take the energy to explain the situation to me in English, so I was left to figure things out from Spanish.
After listening closely to the conversations I heard, and the announcements in church, I figured out this story.
Janet had a sister and her husband living nearby. Neither knew the Lord as Savior. Their names were Dali and Jimmy.
Dali was expecting her first child. Around the sixth month of her pregnancy, she began throwing up every day. When she asked the doctor about it, he told her not to worry about it, it was just morning sickness.
This went on for the last three months of the pregnancy, with Dali slowly getting worse as time went on.
Finally, within a week of when the baby was due, the doctors put her in the hospital, and discovered that instead of morning sickness, she was actually suffering from a bad case of hepatitis.
The doctors had called the family in, earlier that week-end, and told them Dali was dying, and there was nothing they could do to save her. They said she was vomiting up her liver, and she couldn't possibly survive.
Janet, as anyone would expect, was heart broken, but not just for her sister's physical condition, also because she knew she didn't know the Lord as Savior.
She explained the situation to the pastor. He announced it to the church, and the whole church began to pray.
A service was scheduled at the hospital that afternoon, or evening, and some even dedicated themselves to fasting along with their prayers.
The details are a little fuzzy, since it has been so many years ago, but I'm sure of the most important facts.
During the service the church held at the hospital, Pastor Cortes was able to lead both Dali and Jimmy to accept the Lord as Savior.
I believe they did lose the baby, but Dali didn't die, as the doctors had insisted she would.
Instead the Lord miraculously healed Dali. When she had recovered enough to go home, the doctors told her she would be unable to have any more children due to her sickness.
But she recovered completely, and later had two or three more healthy children.
She and her husband were both baptized, joined the church and were faithful members until they moved to the southern part of the States some years later.
God still heals today, but even more importantly, God is still in the business of saving souls!
My newly realized fluency in the Spanish language was really just a small unimportant detail in this missionary story, but it did greatly improve my confidence in my ability to communicate in Spanish.
Missionary Stories -
Victory Over Christmas Homesickness!
I spent my first Christmas alone on the mission field while I was still living in Levittown. I don't think I had the money for the trip home, or maybe I had responsibilities I couldn't get away from...
I don't remember for sure, but whatever the reason, those facts form the background for the next of my missionary stories.
I knew I wasn't going to be home for Christmas. Thanksgiving had been fine, but Christmas was another story.
The tropical weather didn't seem like Christmas to me, and as decorations began to appear all over, I realized I needed help, or I was likely to spend the whole season having a prolonged pity party!
So, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me figure out a way to avoid homesickness. Within a day or two, He answered that prayer, and I had devised a plan...
I decided to bake Christmas bread wreaths for all of the widows and shut-ins in the church, along with all of the church workers. (After I get home from this trip, I'll try to find some pictures to include.)
I would make the breads on Saturday, and deliver them on Sunday. If I was giving them to workers in the church I would deliver them at church. If to the sick and shut-ins, I would deliver them during the afternoons and evenings of the following week.
Since I was teaching during the week, I baked on Saturday. I frequently started baking at five in the morning and didn't finish until around eleven at night.
I could make four batches of bread during the day, and each batch would make about six bread wreaths. So in all, I made about twenty-four wreaths each Saturday I baked.
Then I would spend the first part of the week delivering the wreaths I had made. If I couldn't get them delivered within a day, I froze them, to keep them fresh.
It was a wonderful solution to my homesickness problem. I was too busy to get homesick, but in addition, in making and giving the breads to people who were likely to be lonely and homesick themselves, I found companionship and company so I never felt lonely or homesick myself.
This is one of my favorite missionary stories because it became a beloved holiday tradition. I continued it until I married my husband, and had other responsibilities around the holidays to replace it.
I even taught some of my students to make the breads, but that is one of my missionary stories for another page.
Conclusions about Missionary Stories in Levittown Puerto Rico
How do you condense five years of living into a few pages of missionary stories? I can assure you, it isn't easy...
Perhaps it has been somewhat easier for me, since so many years have passed. The missionary stories I've shared are some of the highlights of those five years, but there are probably more I've left out than what I've shared.
I think my biggest adjustment to missionary life was realizing how much of my time I had to dedicate to living...
I wanted to spend all my time witnessing and winning people to Christ, or at least teaching discipleship classes.
But I found out I had to make three meals a day, I had to do the dishes, clean the house, wash the clothes, and take care of the outside of the house as well.
All those things took time. I remember being frustrated because I couldn't spend more time "serving the Lord", or what I considered that to be.
As I've grown older I've realized that is why Paul said "whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." If we are willing to dedicate our lives to the Lord, and live for Him, He will use us, even in the mundane details of our lives.
I believe this to be true whether we are serving him on the mission field, or at home. In fact, practicing this principle appears to me to be the essence of "presenting our bodies a "living sacrifice" as Romans 12:1 commands us to do.
As we choose to obey, God will be glorified in our lives wherever He puts us. May we all make that our goal on a daily basis.
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