Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Embracing the Challenges in Missions - Christian Jung

Taken from the Iris Latin America blog

Remate, Guatemala
Friday, October 28, 2011
Embracing the Challenges in Missions
It’s not often that I talk about the challenges that we face as missionaries on blog posts, mostly because of a heavenly perspective that has been cultivated in my life throughout the years as a missionary due to the grace of God…it’s a perspective that gives the victories that we experience the spotlight and that causes the challenges that we experience to be left in the shadows. Mama Heidi talks about drinking from the cup of joy AND the cup of suffering. So today I think I’ll share a little bit about some of these challenges that we’ve been facing lately, and how we choose to embrace these challenges simply because we choose to embrace the entire journey and all that it entails.
I have had my share of mosquito bites throughout the years but Latin America wins the award for the longest lasting, most itchy mosquito and gnat bites I’ve ever had. When we were in the mountains of Nayarit, Mexico, we slept outdoors for a couple of nights on potato sack cots. The first night that we slept outdoors there, I got bit throughout the night by gnats that literally paralyzed parts of my body. Some of them bit my on the face and the mouth so badly that I couldn’t feel my lips. It was so bad that I went into the RV in the middle of the night to take some Benadryl in hopes that the swelling would go down by morning. In Dangriga, Belize I was bitten by tiny mosquitoes all over my body, but especially on my ankles. These mosquitoes would leave a little hole in your skin where you can see the blood. Most mosquito bites go away after a day or so, at least when I get bitten by them. Not these bites. They literally lasted a week and in the middle of the night I would be up for hours scratching these bites almost uncontrollably. They were so itchy and annoying. We also heard that some of the mosquitoes where we have been carry Dengue Fever, but none of us experienced any symptoms. Speaking of bugs, Jesse and I drove right through an entire swarm of honey bees in Belize that covered our entire windshield. It was a miracle that none of the bees entered the driver’s side and passenger’s side windows which were open…and many of you know about my fear of bees. Uhhhh-uhhhhh!
We’ve also experienced some fairly major difficulties with our vehicles on this journey. Before we ever even left the U.S. for Latin America we had to do some major work on almost all of the vehicles that we purchased. Then when driving through the mountains coming out of Oaxaca, Mexico, our Ford Camper Van that we named, “New Wine” blew a transmission seal just as we pulled into a gas station to fuel up. That cost us a few days and some money to repair it. That van also seems to have problems with the radiator hose as every now and then it pops off of the radiator and looses all of its’ coolant. Just yesterday we entered Guatemala from Belize and our Dodge Durango that we named “Shekinah” lost all of the gears on its’ transmission. We hooked up a tow cable that we purchased right before leaving the U.S. and towed it to a mechanic near Tikal where we were heading. He called the only transmission mechanic in the area who met us the following morning. We were told that there would be the parts that we would need back in Belize, either at Matus Auto Parts or in Spanish Lookout where the German Mennonites live. So Jesse and I were driven 100 kilometers all the way back to the border, re-entered Belize, found the auto parts store and then called every auto parts store in all of Belize, including the Mennonites to no avail. No one in the entire country of Belize has the transmission that we need, new OR secondhand. So we traveled back to the border, re-entered Guatemala and got a ride in the back of a pick-up truck back to Temate where the rest of our team was waiting. Now our only option is to purchase a transmission from the U.S. and have it shipped to the mechanic’s shop here in Guatemala which will take seven business days (or a week and a half). We figure the transmission will cost us $1,800 plus shipping costs. The funny thing is that we don’t have the money for it! We are already over-budget on team travel costs due to these unexpected challenges. And now we will be even further behind on our schedule as we have ministries waiting for us and other team members flying in to other Central American countries to meet us. So what should we do in this situation? Stress out? Throw a pity-party? Heck no! We embrace the journey. We embrace the challenges. Our team will pray and worship together until we have financial breakthrough to get the parts we need. God called us to take this trip through all of Latin America and He is faithful to give us all that we need to complete it!
My most difficult challenge has been being away from my wife and children for so long. It is going on two months of being apart from them. I miss them like crazy. I know I will be returning back to the U.S. to be with them soon, which is comforting. But it is only by God’s grace that we can embrace such challenges as these. Jesus laid down His life that others would find eternal life through Him. The missionaries of old encountered far more difficulties than I have ever faced in order that entire people groups would hear the good news of salvation. We must be willing to count the cost and lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel as well. I need to even be willing to give up my life so that one more person can enter heaven…all for the sake of love. Love enables us to drink from both the cup of joy and the cup of suffering as missionaries.
Our team is now camped out on a beach next to a lake where we are staying for free. It is near some ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal which we want to visit tomorrow. There are signs everywhere warning us about jaguars and crocodiles. What an adventure! We don’t know what each day holds for us…which is super-exciting! Last night some of our team led a Guatemalan boy to Jesus. The children come and visit us at our campers near the lake. Please pray for us as we continue to bring revival fire through Latin America. Bless you all!
Christian Jung

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