As a young married couple with two little ones, our family spent two years living on the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies. Here’s the story of the day I knew we’d move there.
Nathan and I were full-time missionaries serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We had helped finished up a project in Peru where we sort of got our feet wet with translation and oral Bible story projects. Now we were ready to oversee a new project of our own, and were praying about where God would have us go.
There were many days and months of raising up prayer and financial support where I could not answer the important question: Where are y’all going? Nothing makes you feel like an idiot without a plan more than not being able to answer this question. But God first asked us simply to GO, and we said yes. Remember when God said to Abram, “Go to the land I will show you”? Genesis 12 He asked him to leave his family and his country and go somewhere, but he didn’t tell him where. Our experience was a lot like that. We didn’t know where we’d be going for a long while. Then we learned about some island projects our organization wanted to start using oral Bible story methods. We were asked to consider if this would be a fit for our family. So in November, Nathan and I visited the island of St. Vincent to see what we thought. This was my first time to leave both kids, who were 3 and 1 at the time. Yep, I went all out and left for a third-world country for our first little getaway.
This was a scouting trip to meet with the people on the island who were asking for someone to come, to learn what it was like there and to see if we thought we could live there. After an overnight and a meeting with some church leaders in the main town, a pastor came to pick Nathan and me up to drive us to his village an hour and a half away. This was my first travel of this long and winding road that followed the coast all the way from the city to the village of Sandy Bay, where we would later live. I had no idea all the trips that were to come. In a few months, I’d travel that winding road on a bus with a very sick child in my lap. Read the story here. In a year, I’d travel that winding road holding a paper bag, as I’d be very nauseated and pregnant with our 3rd child.
Nathan sat in the front with the pastor and made conversation. I was in the back seat, taking in the new sights and listening to them talk. And then suddenly without any warning I was having a moment. It got dark quickly during that drive, and I was completely lost in my own little divine meeting with God there in the backseat of this old car. It was an overwhelming point in time of God speaking to me, where everything converged and felt so strongly all at once. In that moment, I felt the urgency of getting God’s word into this language. I felt love and deep compassion for a people that I hadn’t yet connected with. I felt God say, “THIS. This is your place. Your task, your mission, your where. This is the land I wanted to show you.” I knew in that moment that I would be moving my family there. I immediately started sobbing and trying to hide it, which worked okay because it was dark and I was by that point so not a part of the conversation happening up front. I knew what God was asking of me, and I knew that I had to obey. It doesn’t mean that I felt all happy about it in the moment because I knew obedience would be hard. I knew there would be a cost, and I looked around and understood in this seemingly strange and unfamiliar place a lot about what that cost would be.
I did not say anything about this to Nathan for a little while, because I knew that God was also speaking to him in his own way and time and I didn’t want to interfere with that. But there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to be “island people”, and we soon talked about it and confirmed that God had made this clear to both of us. So we went back home and spent the next four months preparing for a big family adventure in St. Vincent.