I’m feeling inspired to write about our family life again, especially since I have some exciting news to share. Some hard stuff, too. So maybe the best way to get through it all is to just tell it.
First, back in May, we unexpectedly gave up the support of the Jesus Center in our community garden. The reasons for that decision probably need more context than I can honestly give here, so I’ll just say that it was a difficult decision to make. We are still trying to understand what that will mean for us in terms of the garden’s story. But for the time being, we call ourselves the 14th Street Garden instead of our former name (the Jesus Center Community Garden). And we still give away a majority of our production to folks who can’t afford it.
Also, right around that time, new volunteers from the Jesus Center started coming to help out in the garden. A good thing, right? Well, yes! But the timing was difficult because they initially came when we were out of town. So I wasn’t able to give any orientation or welcome and some tough things happened before we got back. Someone took our greenhouse mentor’s plants and used them in the garden without asking. She tried to get them back and was rudely told to “shut up” by one of the men. On top of that, someone built a temporary campsite in the garden area while we were gone and then left a lot of junk/trash around the place, causing my alley-neighbor to call the police several times. I’m trying to maintain a sincere welcome for all (especially for the homeless and poor) in the midst of everything. Still, the chaos was very intense from the very first day we got back from our trip.
Together with other worries about our housing coming up around this time, we began to feel like we were getting way in over our heads. In all honesty, we started to panic a little. The pressure was more than we thought we could handle. We began asking ourselves, “Do we need to move from here? I mean, given all the problems in the garden, the unfinished landscaping project, the BIG water leak, and our increasingly small income?”
Many of our friends saw us floundering and wanted to help us figure it out. Housing options and invitations came in. The possibilities varied, but they all seemed to involve accepting the determination that we had our hands full now and wouldn’t be able to continue under these conditions. I kind of agreed, of course, but I thought it best to wait for some kind of “sign” from God since we had been caught off guard by most of what happened.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Julissa got a call from an old neighbor asking if we could help her find a room available to rent. We knew Lonnie Aguilera from when Santiago was just born (before we went up to Paradise) back in 2008. She lived in a big boarding house that shared the parking lot next to our cottage. She would bring us food, offered us kitchen supplies that we needed, and helped arrange for my in-laws to stay in that house for almost 3 months. Since moving away, she started participating in a food ministry for the street crowd in Chico’s downtown park. So when she asked Julissa if we could accommodate someone else in the house, our initial thought, even despite the cooking for close to 150 people, was overwhelmingly yes. Excited, we met with her that same evening and talked through the details.
So long story short, in July, Lonnie moved in and we are very pleased she is here. The added rental income is just about right for our budget. And at the same time we get to experiment with a shared living situation. I thought it might be difficult to find a good housemate, considering that we have two young children and we’re trying to live a semi-unconventional life (see our rule of faith). But both aspects were “no brainers” for her. It’s a good feeling.
Another piece of good news is the possibility of me going to Pemba, Mozambique for a 12-day visit to Iris Ministries. I’m looking forward to the cross-cultural experiences I’ll have while serving there and also the learning I expect to receive from the people I meet. The arrangements for this trip have been kind of daunting—again, probably more than I can handle. But I’m learning to trust now even more through the Spirit.
Which is kind of the point of this update, really. As God demonstrates his love for us in tangible ways, we are loving him back with our child-like trust, knowing that he will do exactly what he said. Why wouldn’t he keep on providing for all that his children ask for? Pray for us as we go further and deeper in. We send our love to each one of you.