Early in the morning on August 30, my kids set out walking to school with Dave. They were nervous, but Matt’s first grade and Karen’s Kindergarten met in the same classroom, and Dave taught on the same campus—such a comforting thought.
That evening we all agreed the kids had done well so I started my job the next day, mornings only, which was important since Karen’s Kindergarten dismissed at noon.
I worked in the administration office, a small, low, pale yellow building. Remember that hill Karen Mac drove us up on her moto our first evening? The tallest, steepest hill in our center? That’s where my office was, just feet from the radio tower.
Up to then, I’d thought hiking up comm hill was bad—and it was a doozy—but after I started my job, I climbed comm hill and the hill on top of it, one right after the other, each morning. (And yes, I did lose weight from all that hill-climbing.)
On that first day, along the way, I thought about my new boss, Rich, and that he was the top administrator at our Lomalinda center of operations. Yikes! I had pictured working in a quiet little back office somewhere.
On my application I’d written I had secretarial experience—jobs during high school and college—but when I heard I’d work for such an important person, reality hit. I hadn’t worked in an office for seven years and my skills were sure to be rusty.
I wish I’d had the maturity to pray with eloquent words but, instead, I held my breath, every muscle tense, as I hiked those steep hills.
How blessed we are that “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans” (Romans 8:26, The Message).
And so, somehow God deciphered my wordless thoughts.
Maybe He knew that if I could, I’ve have prayed like this:
“Father . . . may I live today with the creative esteem
of knowing You have chosen me
and called me to receive Your love
and to serve You [in this particular job].
May Your peace flow through me,
calming my agitated spirit, conditioning my disposition
and controlling all that I say and do. . . .
Help me to experience the peace of a forgiven, forgiving heart,
the peace of a heart completely open to You,
and the peace of a pure heart filled with Your Spirit.
You are the sole source of perfect peace.”
(Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God)
And it only kept getting better!
God, bless His heart, had arranged schedules, Rich’s and mine, so that during my initial days on the job, Rich worked in Bogotá, giving Donna Weber, his outgoing secretary, time to orient me.
I still take delight in the way God had gone before me to prepare the circumstances of the first few days of my new job, which seemed overwhelming. I experienced the truth of this:
“The Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither abandon you nor fail you” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NLT).
By scheduling Rich’s days and mine, God went ahead of me and made potential rough places smooth and crooked places straight (Isaiah 45:2).
In the beginning, my clumsiness troubled me—I was out of practice—but soon I caught on.
Later, when Rich returned and the office sometimes ran at a hectic pace, I recalled the blessed quietness of my first days and thanked God I got acquainted with the job when I did.
Donna tutored me in duties few secretaries in North America carried out. I learned city and town names—Mitú, Caño Colorado, Cobaría, and Acaricuara—and their locations in departamentos (states), names like Meta, Vaupés, Amazonas, and Nariño.
I also learned names of some thirty indigenous languages in which our people worked, names like Tucano and Guambiano and Muinane, and I forwarded messages to our radio crew who kept us connected to linguists working in those distant locales and to our planes and our staff in Bogotá.
And I typed correspondence in Spanish and used rocks and coffee mugs as paperweights because wind blew through doors and windows, open because of the heat.
When I thought of a few of my previous bosses, words like persnickety and curmudgeonly and stuffy came to mind, so I wondered what to expect in my new boss. Donna assured me he was a gem, and soon I discovered she was right. Courteous, approachable, and unassuming, he had a way of putting people at ease.
Rich and I worked well together, partly because he was a grace-giving soul and partly because he was organized. “I want this office to run like a well-oiled machine,” he told me, and it did. Since Donna was a real pro, the two of them had the place humming like that well-oiled machine.
We had two types of personnel and during my first day on the job, I needed to sort that out.
Rich, as Associate Director of Language Affairs (ADLA), helped the first group, linguists—those carrying out Bible translation and literacy among indigenous groups. Rich and his wife Karis had worked as linguists among Colombia’s Wayuu people for more than ten years but, when colleagues elected him to the ADLA position, he set most of that translation work aside to serve all the linguists.
The second type, called support personnel, carried out jobs that freed linguists to concentrate on their work—people like pilots, mechanics, medical staff, finance office staff, school teachers like my husband Dave, and many others. To succeed, or sometimes even survive, linguists needed support people, those with skills and personalities willing to fill such roles. Both linguists and support personnel joined forces on behalf of Colombia’s minority language communities.
And so it was that I began my new job in Lomalinda.
It was a good day, better than I could have imagined.
(From Chapter 11, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go:
|The view from our yard: My office is to the right of the radio tower.|