September 21, 2015

Return for closure

Written by  Krystal Weaver
Deane and Abigail walk to a bus stop in Achao on Chiloe Island. Deane and Abigail walk to a bus stop in Achao on Chiloe Island. Photo by Krystal Weaver.

This article appears in the September/October 2015 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

“Chao, nos vemos en tres meses! (Goodbye, see you in three months!)”

That's how my husband and I and our four children said our farewell to our friends, neighbors, and EMM teammates in southern Chile in late April 2014. We had completed our first term of service with EMM and were heading back to Pennsylvania for three months of home leave and fundraising for our next term. We knew we faced a funding challenge, just as we had before our initial term, but felt confident of God's direction and our desire to continue serving in Chile. Somehow, we knew we would be coming back to Chile for another term.

But, like the baby we lost at eight weeks gestation that same April, a week before coming back to Pennsylvania, this vision was not to come to fruition. During three months of sharing in many venues, writing newsletters, and reaching out to potential new donors, we saw only minimal progress toward funding our budget. With difficulty, together with our EMM leaders, we chose to extend our leave through December. Deane took a job and we continued to seek ways to return for our second term.

Some dreams die though. This one did. November 2014 came and we were still only slightly over 50 percent funded. How can it be, God? How can everything in our hearts and minds, along with the agreement of our spiritual family, point to us continuing in Chile, yet financially nothing is happening? That was a painful time, full of self-doubt and many questions and accusations to wrestle out with our Shepherd. God, have we failed? God, are You good? What is the purpose behind all of this? Why does the heart say yes but the wallet says no?

December came, and with it some wrenching consultations in the Salunga offices of EMM. We recognized that as a family we could not continue fundraising indefinitely. What lay within our power we had already done. We were not in a position to do more. The outcome lay with God, and He had not opened the door. We would not continue to pound on it any longer. We would surrender our dream of continued service in Chile. With many tears, we did so.

Natalie Grant sings a song called “Held,” which includes these lines: “This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was that when everything fell, we'd be held.” We have experienced being held in the midst of our brokenness, and our EMM family was an important part of how we received God's care for us during this time.

Because of EMM’s core value of well-being, no one questioned our need as a family to travel back to Chile for a time of closure, despite the cost. We had a gaping wound, and together with our children, we needed time with our friends in our adopted home to suture that wound with caring, understanding, intentional togetherness, and intentional goodbyes.

We had that time in the early months of 2015. When we arrived in Chile in January, we felt the joy of “homecoming” and wrestled with God all over again to try to see some way to stay. In February, we received the blessing of our newest child, Ana Victoria, meaning “triumph of grace.” Around the same time, we received the blessing of acceptance and peace about leaving, along with hope for the new turn our future was taking.

We are back in Pennsylvania now, with some big questions remaining but with unshakable gratefulness for the richness those 3 ½ years in Chile added to our lives. And we thank God that we served with EMM, a community that lived out its core value of well-being in caring for and supporting us as people experiencing loss. Because of that loving care, we have come through this loss intact and looking forward with hope. 

Krystal and Deane Weaver and their family served with EMM in Chile for 3 ½ years.

This article appears in the September/October 2015 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

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Eastern Mennonite Missions

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