Antes y Despues

“Thus it is sad to see men and women, who for years have been professed Christians, to whom the deeper spiritual realities have no meaning, no power, no appeal.” -Charles R. Erdman

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity…” Hebrews 6:1.

We just wrapped up the 3rd week back at school! Isn’t it amazing how life suddenly picks back up after a short respite and you find yourself right in the thick of it again? This year Highlands is pioneering a middle school and I have the privilege of teaching escritura and lectura, writing and reading, for 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. It’s been a blast for me to work with many of the same kids I have taught over the past two years. I have seen them grow from lanky elementary students to awkward junior highers, passionate about life and eager to learn.

The hot question out of most Bolivian friends’ mouths since our return has been, “When are you going to have a little huawita??” (Huawita is an affectionate Aymaran term for newborn baby). HA! Apparently it is culturally expected to jump directly into parenthood after making the huge life change into marriage. The thought that we want to wait several years to procreate is odd, even depressing to some. And yet, this is an indicator of their deep value of family- why would you wait if you can start now?

We just celebrated Tim’s 27th birthday this past week! At Highlands, the students honored him by singing “Happy Birthday” in 5 different languages- a powerful reminder that we teach kids who will disperse and influence countries all over the world. We partied with a camping style cookout, complete with choripan (a delicious sausage and bread combo…WAY better than hotdogs!), a blazing bonfire, and s’mores.

Many of you know that we undertook a huge endeavor at the start of our marriage- to overhaul a 50+-year-old house that had been sitting empty for 2 years. Perhaps the best aspect of remodeling our house in Bolivia has been the overwhelming shock and encouragement from those who have seen it from the very beginning. When we recently reached a stopping point, or felt that we had made most of the changes we were able and willing to pay for, we stood back in awe. We posted an album on Facebook to show friends the drastic change (link below). It was remarkable even to us! Somewhere along the slow and tedious process of change we had forgotten just how bad it was when we first began. The day we first showed up, fresh off a luxurious honeymoon, I thought, “There is really no way we’re going to stay here for more than a few weeks…” But thankfully, my husband is a visionary and a capable developer, 2 components that proved crucial in this 7-month-long revamp of our Bolivian hogar.

I’ve realized lately how much we crave to see evidence of change, to see figurative before and after snapshots of our lives. In a spiritual sense, I believe that when we have known the pain of being separated from God, living as his enemy, we will forever have a “before” picture engraved in our minds. In seasons of our walk when we fall away and taste of that “before” stage once again, the response of the Spirit in our mortal bodies is to strive to be nearer to Him. How many times do we hear or share the words, “I’m feeling distant from God right now…”? Essentially we have known the intimate relationship with our God and instead of living and walking forward in the “after” stage, have regressed to the “before.” But the more we are reminded of where we came from, the tragedy of eternal separation, and the ugly pictures of our “house” from the very beginning, we run the other direction, into deeper knowledge and closer embrace of the Lord, that we might be different, changed, better, living proof of redemption to a fallen world. As Paul says many times, we were formerly…, but now we are…. We were once dead, but now are alive!

On a related note, it is always disturbing to walk by a haggard woman breastfeeding her 4-year-old child in the marketplace. Instinctively we know in our gut this is not how it was meant to be! I believe this is what the author of Hebrews was speaking of when he pleaded with the not-so-recent-converts to move on to solid food, to entirely leave behind their infant tendencies. While we will always be in the “after” stage once we come to know Christ, sometimes we simply remain, stagnant in our place and comfortable in diapers, drinking milk as our sustenance.

Check out our tangible reminder of before and after!