but by the grace of God

There's a rumbling outside and I can smell the rain building in the skies. I spent today restful and Sundays I love for resting.

Well, there is a lot to catch up on today. I thought for a moment about what I could title these thoughts and this (above title) is the best I could come up with. God has truly shown grace in the past week, even as I was walking through some very rough situations. I'll try to paraphrase without taking away from the beautiful way God has proven faithful.

Let's see, I will backtrack to the beginning of the week, when almost every car here on the compound began suffering some sort of mechanical flu. Everyone took it in stride, but there were many trips to the mechanics and frustrations over changed schedules.

We had a dynamic twin ministry duo speak as special guests in our chapel - Rick and Mick - and I spent some precious time in fellowship with them outside school and heard how truly beautiful is to listen to those God has blessed with the gifts of evangelism. (I secretly think I could see my dad doing evangelism as a ministry... as I was talking to Rick and Mick I just saw so many similar gifts! I'm not sure what he thinks of that, but I'll just keep nudging!)

Also, during the week, I found out a very, very dear friend will not be returning next year. Though I am confident God is going to use her in amazing ways at her next mission post, I am inexpressibly sad that I will not be doing ministry with her here next year. I really won't try to explain how this changes everything, it just does.

Lastly, in between "last" dinners and get-togethers, I am trying to get a plan set up for next year. Proposals for school, ideas and visions, figuring out where to live, if I should drive... all these things are pressing in and demanding I start to figure them out.

Story Number 1
Thursday was one of those days I tried to do it all and the universe seemed to conspire against me (to borrow Paulo Coehlo's words from the Alchemist). After school, I rushed to our buses to get a free ride downtown, but I didn't have the phone (I share with my roommate and she was coaching a volleyball game) and I couldn't find Macayla, who I was supposed to be shopping with (and of course, her car had the mechanical flu). I chanced it and rode down anyway. Now, if you can picture the central square of a very large city, colonial style, this is where I was headed. I thought I could sit in a coffee shop window where I could see people walking by, in hopes I might see Macayla pass. After about an hour of reading, I kind of gave up, but I went ahead and browsed a few thrift stores anyway. We were supposed to be finding outfits for the costume party on Saturday and then meeting up with Heather, Sara, and Melvin to celebrate Sara's birthday. So, I started off and in the very first thrift store, I ran right into Macayla! Without any sort of communication and an entire downtown... I thought that was pretty amazing!

Story Number Two
Well, that same night (after a few GREAT costume finds), after we finished a beautiful night of good food and greater laughter, we needed to get back up the mountain by way of taxi. So, we went to a hotel nearby where we were sure we could get one inexpensively. I was exhausted at this point and the details are a bit fuzzy. I just remember that Heather and I were exchanging money as we walked out the restaurant (we are in a constant state of indebtedness to each other for one reason or another). We were at the hotel, with costumes in hand, and Melvin secured the cab for a good price (Hondurans always seem to do better than gringos at haggling) and we climbed in after saying our goodbyes. Forty-five minutes later, we were up at the apartment, throwing together cupcakes for the next day's charity bake sale.

Then, when Heather and I had to figure out some money exchanging, I went to find my wallet and it was gone. vanished. disappeared. nowhere to be found.

After some severe panic, we prayed and tried to trace back steps of the night to figure out where I last had it. Most people know memory is not my strong suit, but I am also paranoid about things like this and I was positive I had my wallet after the restaurant and I didn't use it the rest of the night. So, where could it be? More praying...

I somehow deduced that I must have left it in the cab, because I shuffled things around in my purse to find the cell phone. I called several people for advice, called the hotel where we got the cab (who thought we were crazy for taking a cab on the street and not one of their expensive cabs) and they took my name but didn't offer much help other than suggesting I come in person, called my bank here to cancel my bank card, more praying, and finally called our friends Tiffany and Jenny to see if they could swing by the hotel on their way up the mountain. Tiff and Jenny, however, were stranded at the gas station with Jenny's Kia that wouldn't start. More praying.

Heather and I walked out along the road where we had gotten out of the taxi, turned over rocks, prayed, and finally came back and gave one final prayer before we went to sleep. Minutes after we prayed specifically for Tiff and Jenny and their engine, they called to say God answered and He would answer my prayers as well!

I know it's difficult to imagine, but when I woke up on Friday morning, I had the most beautiful sense of peace. I woke up proclaiming God's attributes and there was no doubt in my mind God would be faithful. I wasn't quite sure if faithful meant he would protect my identity in cards and passports and bank information OR if He would allow all that to pass and stand by through it all. Either way, I knew I was held in His hand and that was enough.

So, my plan for the morning: I swung by the principal's office at 5:30 (his usual clock-in time) to let him know what happened and that I thought I should go to the hotel and then the Embassy to start sorting things out. So, down the mountain I went, the whole time still believing that God could make the wallet appear out of thin air if He wanted to. I believed it.

At the hotel, the manager was so kind, but very doubtful about the chances I could recover something so valuable. I left the hotel thinking, "Wow. I am very impressed by my Spanish skills... and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do now." So, I started for the Embassy, just praying through it all, trusting God would provide and again show Himself faithful.

Then, I got a phone call from our superintendent, "Caroline, get back up here to work."
"Uh, okay, Mr. Smith"
"I have your wallet right here in my hand."
"Really?!?"

I later told my students that absolutely nothing could make the day sour for me. God was just too good to allow anything to steal my joy. Spiritual war comes in many forms... and I believe we're in the thick of it up here as the school year comes to a close. But, I know as well as I know anything, that we have a God that is over all and in all. He is sovereign over all creation and my heart says, Amen!

Blessings today and this week! Look for ways God is showing Himself faithful to you in your life! By God's grace alone we are here and allowed to do His good work. By His grace alone.