Real Sacrifices Mean Real Consequences - by Katelyn
As you may know, when we were still in Kenya, we made the decision to gift our Land Rover to our friend Fr. Erick so that he would be able to minister to the 16 out-laying communities in his parish.
This meant that we wouldn't be able to buy a vehicle for our family in Puerto Rico because there would be no funds from selling the Land Rover like we would have had otherwise. The decision to donate the vehicle that we worked so hard to raise the money to buy has had real consequences....
...especially since the Lord called us to Aguada, which is a VERY hilly town in the valley of a mountain range.
I asked each member of my family the six following questions. I interviewed them separately to see what each of their honest opinions are regarding the donation of our truck to Fr. Erick and the very real consequence of now only having bikes and our feet for transportation.
Question # 1:
When we made this decision did you fully understand
the implications of it?
Michael: No, I thought that if we were to sell our truck we could have used the money to get things like surfboards and motorcycles, which we really don't need so it didn't seem like a big deal.
Jack: No not really. I guess I didn't think that we wouldn't be able to buy a car here.
Anna: No. I wasn't thinking about the future. I only thought in the moment and knew that was the right thing to do and didn't consider the consequences.
Dad: In my mind, yes, but in my body, no.
Mom: No. This is the first time in my whole driving life that I haven't owned a vehicle. Although I enjoy riding bikes and appreciate the opportunity to get exercise, I didn't understand what it would mean for that to be our only means of transportation. Going places on bikes because we want to is WAY different than going by bike because we have to.
Myself: I didn't know that it meant that we wouldn't be able to buy a car upon arriving here in PR.
Michael: Um, no. It doesn't really change my thoughts about living poor among the poor.
Jack: Kind of but not really. Most people here have a car and the only man that doesn't have a car is a guy who we believe doesn't have a house and everyone else on bikes is only doing it for exercise.
Anna: No, but I feel like now we're living into that in a different way. It's giving me the chance to put my words into practice.
Dad: Yes, especially because so many people here have cars.
Mom: In the past we've lived poor by American standards but we've always had more than the local people, so I never really felt poor. I'm thankful for the opportunity to live with so much less than a lot of the people around us because it challenges me to practice what I preach.
Myself: It doesn't make me think differently, but it does make me reconsider what it means to live with less. It sets the bar in a different place for me.
While you are going up that HUGE hill or arriving late to an event what are your thoughts and is this bringing you closer to God?
Michael: It is definitely helping me in my patience and my physical health. Yes, I think it's helping me to get closer to God because I spend more time with just Him on those really long bike rides.
Jack: Sometimes we're really tired and sometimes we're not, it's different every time. What we get is different every time. Sometimes the brakes aren't working and sometimes the tire is flat. So you never know what you're going to get. I'm thinking about how I wish we had a car and sometimes not. I don't really think that it's bringing me closer to God.
Anna: Well at first I usually grumble and think of what an inconvenience it is, but then I start to pray and I'm able to offer up all the difficulties.
Dad: It gives me a chance to offer up the difficulty of it for others.
Mom: It depends on the day. Sometimes I find myself deep in prayer for Fr. Erick, for those that can't afford transportation and those that have gotten their licenses taken away. On other days I am more focused on my own physical health and I'm thankful for the daily opportunity to get so much exercise especially after quarantine. In my not so holy moments I think about other possible scenarios where we could have helped Fr. Erick without giving so much. The more we ride, the easier it gets and the more I'm able to spend the time praying.
Myself: I'm thinking the most about getting up the hill or going faster to not arrive late but I think inside of all this that I am able to spend more time inside my head and praying. I think that it's been very important for my self-understanding. When I'm riding on a bike I only have myself as company, which is something that takes getting used to.
How is this impacting or how will it impact
our ministry in the future?
Michael: I think that instead of impacting us, it will impact others. They'll see that we're helping people without even having any type of motorized transportation.
Jack: It will impact our ministry by not being able to get to the father out places and being restricted to the bike-able or relatively bike-able places.
Anna: I think it will limit us in a good way so we don't over-commit and I think it'll add a challenging twist to everything that will make us holier and lastly it will impact EVERYBODY riding in cars who see us huffing along.
Dad: It will limit how far away we can minister. For example there are 21 chapels in this town and we might not be able to minister to all of them.
Mom: I believe that our witness is more authentic and that people will be more open to hearing the message that we've come to bring. Unbeknownst to us "cool cars" seem to be very important to many of the Puerto Ricans and so it's mystifying to them that we've chosen to live without the thing that so many of them seem to live for.
Myself: It is and will continue to impact the distance we can go to serve. Whether that is distance-wise or timewise. It will restrict us, but I believe it will be good to be forced to focus on what's right in front of us.
How does it make you feel to know that you have less
than the people around you?
Michael: It makes me feel more humble and equal with the people. It's like we're more down, so that people don't just want to be my friends to have my stuff like in other places.
Jack: A little weird because normally we're in the middle and there's some people that have more than us and some who have less. Like in Kenya it was like that. But here most people are the same and have a car, a house, a TV, and maybe even a videogaming system and air-conditioning and we don't.
Anna: Good, because in our last couple missions posts to be healthy we needed to have more than people and that's why people assumed we were happy. Here I'm excited to live simply for God although sometimes it can be embarrassing.
Dad: I can truly appreciate the benefits of having "less stuff".
Mom: I'm thankful because it forces me to find my real joy in Jesus. In other situations people thought that we were happy because we had the money we needed to buy food everyday and we had all of life's necessities. I think that here in PR people will be able to see that our joy comes from Jesus and not from physical comforts and material possessions.
Myself: It makes this feel more real. It makes the whole living with less more in our face and not just what it "should" be. I think it's what we've always strived for but up until now we haven't been able to fully live into it either for health or safety reasons. Now is our chance.
Question # 6:
Why do you think that the Holy Spirit inspired us
to give Fr. Erick the truck?
Michael: Because Fr. Erick was our close friend and we thought that if we give him the truck he could get started with his ministry pretty quickly.
Jack: Because he was a close friend of ours. Not selling it just felt like it was the right thing to do. Plus, he'll use it more than anyone else - and for good things.
Anna: Honestly, I think that God wanted it to impact us more than to impact Fr. Erick.
Dad: The Lord presented us with a young priest who didn't have a vehicle who we came to know and love and it was the right thing to do. That's it.
Mom: I believe that when an inspiration is truly form the Holy Spirit that it is simultaneously good for everyone that it impacts. The Lord knew that the Land Rover is the perfect vehicle for the work that He has called Fr. Erick to do. The Lord also knew that not having a vehicle would be the very thing that our family would need to be successful in this mission post. We all felt peace about this decision so we knew that the inspiration was from God.
Myself: I think that because God knows all things, that He knew that this is exactly what we needed for this mission post to work. We needed to be humbled so that Fr. Erick's ministry would flourish in all the best ways.
Commentary / Side-notes:
Dad: On a positive note, I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been in since I was 12 and riding my bike everywhere.
Anna: I'm super excited to figure out how to be happy with nothing.
Mom: Please be especially considerate of people that you see riding on bikes. Also, please say a prayer for them because they may not just be out for a casual bike ride to get exercise...chances are, they may have a story!
Katelyn: I think that this is exactly what we needed in this time. Also, I think that all the funny memories we're making will be remembered in our family forever!!
Thank you for taking the time to read about our crazy life of missions. I pray that the Lord keeps working in your heart through this mission. I hope that if the Lord asks you to make some big sacrifice, that you don't look too far ahead, that you don't count the cost, and that you don't allow fear to steer you away from what He wants you to do. Just trust in the Lord and know that even if things are hard, they are great opportunities to grow in holiness and to learn how to love Jesus more!
God bless you,
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Thank you and may God bless you and your family!