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Waiting in Wonder and Patience

A Letter from Jhanderys and Ian Vellenga, serving in Nicaragua

November 2018

Write to Ian Vellenga
Write to Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga

Individuals: Give online to E200391 for Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507593 for Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

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Everything happens for a reason. Wait on God and trust in Him. He wants the best for us. He wants to take us from glory to glory, and from victory to victory.
― Germany Kent

Sometimes following God’s call means waiting, but waiting is in many ways against human nature. We are always in a hurry to do things, to get somewhere or to finish something, but often that is not how God works. The reality is that God frequently does things not in accordance with human timetables and agendas. That became a reality in our lives when our departure to Nicaragua was delayed by a couple of months due to the increasing confrontations between the government and the people. We were excited and ready to go, only to be told that we must wait for the situation to calm down a bit. For a moment, we were confused about God calling us to this place, then seemingly telling us to hold on without a definite time frame. We wondered if the confrontations will ever stop so we can finally travel there.

In the scriptures, we can find many examples of God not hurrying, taking his holy time and freaking out impatient humans. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” The scriptures also offer some examples of saints who got tired of waiting for God and chose to do things their way; in most of these cases things did not end well.

Although we may not want to understand them, God has reasons for making us wait. Waiting is a part of life and one of God’s utensils for developing people. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait on God. Abraham is a good example of waiting for God’s promise but also giving in to human impatience. Abraham and Sarah wanted a son, which God promised them. However, they decided to take matters into their own hands because both were advanced in years and thought time to have a son was running out. So Abraham had a son named Ishmael through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. This immediately caused tension between Sarah and Hagar. After a while, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, which further increased the tension, to the point that Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away at the insistence of Sarah. Acting on their impatience created a less-than-ideal situation for everyone involved.

We were growing increasingly impatient, so while we were waiting we decided to take some time to enjoy our families and friends, and to contemplate and try to understand what God wanted us to do next. We didn’t want to take matters into our own hands, but we needed something to do. We know where we have been called to go, and we know what the description of our job is, but in many ways, we don’t know what God wants us to do there yet. We decided to go visit my family in the Dominican Republic. It was Ian’s first time to visit the DR and to see and experience what I love so much about my island, family and friends. Going back to the Dominican Republic after almost four years was reinvigorating for my soul. As someone once said, “Go to the people and the places that set a spark in your soul.” Being back in my home country felt not only familiar, but also safe and stabilizing in many ways. Very often people talk about going back to be able to move forward, and now I think I understand what that means. Going back does not necessarily mean walking in the same steps, but walking the same path with a different point of view, hoping it helps you to see and notice things you might have missed before.

Being back home brought back that sense of community and human kindness that is very common in my culture and in the culture of the people from Central America and Nicaragua: the strong family ties, the kindness and sense of value, not only for the self, but also for others. The importance of sharing not only meals but also time and fellowship to connect and reconnect. I came back with a renewed heart, mind, and body. Ian came back with a new family, friends, a couple of pounds and lots of new experiences. One of the most meaningful parts of our waiting time in the US was getting to know many of the people and churches who support CEPAD and care about the people of Nicaragua. We got to visit a couple of churches, and we had phone calls, skype meetings, and countless emails. We got to talk everywhere we went about CEPAD and our sense of calling to work and walk with the people of Nicaragua during this time and for the years to come.

In the coming months, we are going to travel to Costa Rica, so Ian can improve his Spanish, but mainly so both of us can work with Nicaraguan refugees while there. Working with Nicaraguan refugees and getting to know them will help us grasp the reality that is taking place in Nicaragua and how it is affecting people there and in other countries. We realize that the time we have spent waiting to go to Nicaragua, and the many moments afterward, are all part of God’s plan. The seemingly endless waiting will better prepare us for our mission and encounters with our partners in Nicaragua.

We are grateful to all of you for your support and for waiting with us until God allows us to continue on the path he has laid out for us.

Ian and Jhan

Please read this important message from José Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear partners in God’s mission,

We near the close of 2018 inspired by the hope of Christ. God is transforming the world, and you are helping to make it happen.

Thank you very much for your support of our mission co-workers. The prayers and financial gifts of people like you enable them to work alongside global partners to address poverty, hopelessness, violence and other pressing problems in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every day, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers are blessed to be able to walk alongside their brothers and sisters across the globe. Listening to each other in faith and in friendship, they learn from each other how to work towards a world in which everyone flourishes. Acting upon what they discover together, PC(USA) mission co-workers and our global partners strengthen the body of Christ.

Because you are an integral part of God’s mission, I invite you to become more deeply committed to Presbyterian World Mission. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer God’s call to serve others.

I also invite you to ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s prayer list and mission budget for 2019 and beyond. Your multi-year commitment will make a great difference in our involvement with our partners. The majority of our mission co-workers’ funding comes from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours, for God’s mission is a responsibility of the whole church, not a particular area of the church. Now more than ever, we need your financial support!

In faith, our mission co-workers accept a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission, representing the whole church and you, sends them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts? With hope and faith, I await your positive response!

At God’s service and at your service!

José Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

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