I´ve wanted to write this post for quite some time, but have been remiss in getting to it. I want to talk about my friends...who are also my heroes. I´ve always had wonderful friends. It is something that God has blessed me with in this life, but I am more and more aware of how completely awesome and inspiring my friends really are. They are heroes of the Christian faith. If anyone says there are no more Christian heroes then they haven´t met my friends. I will by no means post a complete list of my friends who are my heroes here, but just want to introduce you to a few.
- We have friends who are fellow missionaries with SIM that are serving in Sudan. Eli and Bethany moved to Sudan with their two preschool boys the around the same time we came to Coch. She has since had another sweet baby boy. They live in circumstances much worse than where we live without any real comforts of ´home´. They minister in a land of poverty beyond what most of us can imagine where people go without the basic necessities of life. They live without running water or electricity. They gather rain water to wash themselves, their clothes and their dishes. They live in the midst of disease, starvation, and young children dying daily. Eli and Bethany sacrifice themselves in order to share the love of Christ in a land that so desperately needs good news. To see this young couple give so much of themselves and to rejoice in doing so really inspires me.
- Our other SIM buddies, Dennis and Deb, have been in language school in Canada to learn French and are any day now heading out to the harsh environment of Niger. He was a successful pediatrician and she a homeschooling mom when God called them to the mission field. They are more mature like me and Joe and I know that it is not easy to leave behind a whole life, career, and also to leave older kids in the States to follow such a call. (Though I must add that also like me and Joe they are only mature in age. ;^)) But they gladly obeyed God´s call and it´s been grand to watch their excitement on this faith journey. I pray as the Michael Card song says that they will find joy in the things they leave behind.
- Lon and Sarah are serving in the eastern part of the world in a place where because of security issues I can´t even tell you too much about what they do. Recently they have been given opportunities to pray for and over demon possessed relatives of a new convert. They are a light shining in a dark place....and they too do it with joy.
- Moving on we come to DaRonn and Angie. These sweet friends serve with us here in Coch. They have been in Bolivia for almost 8 years now. They have started an orphanage, a church (our church), and a pastor training institute. They are real people of vision and are driven (in a good way) to see God exalted and Bolivians following Him. I am so glad to have them in our lives as they have made our time here in Coch much more enjoyable. Angie was there with me for my entire labor and stayed through Mercy´s birth and even brought me a real Starbuck´s Frap in a bottle…a real treat here. She came to my bedside and prayed over me when I was in the middle of my miscarriage in January. She´s always there for me…rejoicing with me, crying with me, and cheering me on. I know I can always count on her.
- Gary and Laura also serve here in Coch. They are part of a church planting team. It´s been fun to get to know them and we like just hanging out them. They are our ´Texas buddies´ and we can relate well. They too have softened our landing here in Coch. They not only minister to Bolivians, but to my family too as they have comforted us in our sorrows and helped us through the trials of endless bureaucracy and laughed with us through many funny and not so funny times of culture shock. Laura is the Kim Strickland of Cochabamba for those of you who know Kim. Kim knows all the good places to go and all the good products to buy in Northern Virginia. She´s my go-to gal there for all things wonderful. She´s ´in the know´ on it all. Laura is like that only here in Cochabamba. If we need to know where something is or if something is good or not, Laura is where I turn. She, too, is always there for me…whether I just need a cup of coffee and a chat or if I need real encouragement or if I need a helping hand, I know I can always call Laura. She is also the best hugger I know (I guess I should say “except Joe” here) and I can´t tell you how many times those hugs have ministered to me.
- Kevin and Beth are also church planters here in Coch. They are some of the hardest working people I know. They are always on the go serving their church. Their big hearts and generous spirits are contagious and I just love to be around them. Their love for the Lord and the people of Bolivia is apparent to all who are in their presence for very long. Beth has been a big encouragement to me ever since I first met her. Above all her desire is to please the Lord.
- Jennifer is another of our friends here in Coch. We heard about her before we ever even arrived on the field. She moved here to Bolivia almost 5 years ago as a young single gal of only 22 with a desire to serve God by helping orphans. She now runs three children´s homes here in the city that house a total of 40 orphans and she is always willing to take more. She loves these kiddos like no one I´ve ever seen and pours her very life into them. I never see her without at least one and sometimes two or three little ones hanging onto her. The kiddos of Casa de Amor may not have parents who care for them, but they sure do have someone who does. I hope my girls grow up to be a fraction of the wonderful woman that she is.
- Jennifer´s parents, our dear friends Carl and Glenda, were our fox hole buddies here in Coch. They came only a couple of weeks before we did, so we endured all our ´firsts´ together...both good and bad. They too sold everything they had and came here to serve the abandoned children of Cochabamba. They are people that we just ´clicked´ with. I am so grateful to God for their friendship (although they have now abandoned us to go back to the States....for a while) and that God worked out the circumstances in all our lives to get us here at the same time. They were our ´out to eat´ buddies and we enjoyed going out and eating long Bolivian dinners and just talking about ministry and the mighty God we serve. They sharpened and encouraged us countless times. I can´t wait until they come back.
- Jorge is another of my friends who is also my hero. He is a Bolivian pastor who also ran a successful automotive shop here in Coch. His wife is a doctor. They had a comfortable life here. Then, they felt God calling them to a small village of Bolivia where there is no clean water, no good medical care, no good schools and no one to share the Good News of Jesus with the people who live in fear of upsetting their ancestors or the gods they believe that control the crops, rain, and environment. It is an area so that is so much in darkness that one of the churches that Jorge asked to pray for him said that they would not do it. He wasn´t even asking for money....only prayer covering! They said he should stay where he is and do good work here after all there is plenty to do in his own neighborhood. But Jorge and his wife heard the call of God to go to another place so they gave up all they had accumulated and moved to very rough conditions in order to share God´s love with people who might have no one else to tell them.
- Of course this list would not be complete without mentioning my parents, Paul and Darlene Watson, who are our bestest friends and biggest supporters in more ways than one. They raised me to listen to the voice of God and to follow Him above all else...even when it costs them personally. For instance they wanted us to follow God´s call on our lives even though it meant they would now live over 4000 miles instead of 20 minutes from their children (me and Joe) and their grandchildren. They are the most faithful, sacrificing, caring people I know and am so grateful that they are such a huge part of our lives. When the chips are down, we know they will always be standing with us. Not to mention that they are the heroes of my 11 kiddos….I´m sure it has nothing to do with all the spoiling they do. ;^)
- Here I must add all our friends who faithfully pray for us…many of them tell me that they pray for us EVERYDAY. We don´t take that lightly. They are my heroes because I know that it is God answering their prayers that helps keep us on the field and in the battle.
- We also have many dear friends who support us and our ministry financially. Beyond doubt we are here because of them and their investment in the kingdom of God. I pray that we will make good use of the support they provide and that their investment will pay big dividends in eternity. So many give so faithfully and I know several give sacrificially. You, too, are heroes to me.
I didn´t mean to make this all personal and about me and how much these people have ministered to me. I started this post to just let you know some of the people that I admire and look up to and to share their great examples. I wanted to acquaint you with you people I know that are giving their very lives to increase the kingdom of God...to show you those who have taken what God has given them and given it right back to Him to be used however He wants. Above all I think that these people are available. They are at God´s disposal whatever that means. They say yes to whatever God asks them to do. They follow where ever He leads...what ever it costs. That makes them heroes in my book.
As I said I could not possibly mention all of my friends who are my heroes, so this is just a sampling to show you what quality of people God has brought into my life. I am in awe of you all and inspired by the example of your lives. I salute you my heroes, my friends.