Esther was just a small child sitting on her father’s lap in church when I first met her. She was a happy-go-lucky toddler and has kept that same bubbly spirit, many years later. Esther is the oldest of eight children and always seemed to have a child on her hip. She is also a good friend of my daughter, Charity.
I hope her unusual story of love, adventure, and trust helps you to see God has an individualized plan for each one of us, one which may stretch us outside of our comfort zone and cause you to rely on God every step of the way.
Life With Esther
If I had to describe the last 10 years of my life with one word, that would be it. Faith.
In those 10 years, I have been married, moved to three different countries on two continents, learned a new language, given birth to three children (one in each country I’ve lived in), and started two jobs in non-related fields.
I was never the “adventurous” kid. I liked to stay home, where it was safe. I didn’t even enjoy summer bible camp as a kid, because that meant I had to be away from my family for SIX WHOLE DAYS!
So, how did the shy girl from a little town in Ontario, Canada end up all around the world? By saying “yes” to each baby step that God placed before me.
Let me start from the beginning. 10 years ago, I was sitting at my comfortable and predictable job, and a thought popped into my head (I now see it as a nudge from God!) that I should go on a mission trip. Again, I was a shy kid who never went anywhere… but the thought was sudden and strong, so I opened my computer that same day and searched for an organization/trip to join.
I felt pulled to work with kids, in a Spanish speaking country. I couldn’t say more than “Hola” in Spanish, but it was such a pretty language… so why not go somewhere where I would hear it, right?! I came home from work that day and told my mom that I had signed up for a three-week mission trip going to Chile, to work with orphans and church plants…. And I was leaving in 5 months. She looked at me, stunned, and said “Ok.”
That was the beginning of “the crazy.”
On that mission trip, I met a young man who was the son of a pastor that we went to help. I was in his hometown for 3 days. We exchanged email addresses, but because he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish I didn’t foresee anything coming from our little encounter. 3 months later, Alvaro flew to Canada, met me in the airport and asked me to be his girlfriend. One week later, on Valentine’s day, he asked me to marry him. Ignoring the fact that we had major language and culture barriers to overcome, I said yes!
Ok…Full disclosure: The first time he asked me to marry him, he asked in Spanish. I misunderstood and thought he was asking me if my pasta was good. When we realized our confusion, google translate came to our rescue, and he asked me again… to which I still responded with “Yes!”
When I come home from dinner that night, and told my parents that we were getting married, I remember looking at my mom and asking what she thought about all of this… and was I crazy? I’ll never forget her answer: “Esther, there is no way that this could all come together without God’s hand. For you to have peace about this, and for your Dad and I to have peace about this, it has to be from God. So just do as He asks you.”
Less than a year later I sat on an airplane beside my husband, flying to my new home in Concepcion, Chile. I didn’t speak the language, I didn’t have a job or a plan… but I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was what God wanted me to do.
We settled into our new home, and I tried my best to get a handle on the new language and culture that surrounded me. After a year of adjusting, I started teaching English at the Chilean University that my husband graduated from. I taught for a little more than a year before Alvaro was temporarily relocated for work to Raleigh, North Carolina. We lived between Raleigh and Chile for the next year or so, and in that time, our son Liam was born (during our vacation in Canada!).
We moved back to Chile, and I stayed home to “live the dream” of being a stay-at-home momma.
Eighteen months later, our little firecracker Emma was born. I suddenly had two kids under 2 years old, and I was fairly certain I was going to lose my mind. When Emma was just 2 months old, Alvaro came home from work and told me that he had been offered a semi-permanent transfer to the USA. They wanted him to work in Atlanta, Georgia… and they wanted an answer soon. We talked about it and prayed about it. We asked God to show us specifically if he wanted us to move again.
The day before Alvaro needed to give an answer, we went to church. A visiting pastor was giving the message, and he talked about the five stones that David picked up from the stream before he fought Goliath. He spoke about how each stone was in the river, with the water moving and shaping it, and in the perfect moment, it was ready for the purpose God had created it for.
At the end of the service the pastor prayed, walked off the stage and came towards us. He pulled a smooth stone out of his pocket, placed it in my husband’s hand and said,
“The Lord says “Go.” He has a purpose for you there that you do not yet know.”
Well… that’s about as clear of an answer as I have ever heard, so we made a decision that day, and eight weeks later we had sold all our belonging and were boarding a plane with an infant and a toddler, to start a new job in a foreign country (again!).
And here we are, three years later, still in Atlanta, Georgia.
In our time here, we have seen God mould and shape us in ways that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. We now have three children (Liam(5), Emma(3), and Diego(1) ) and are about to start the new adventures of Kindergarten in the fall.
Motherhood is chaotic and messy… but oh so beautiful.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to co-direct a MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers). If you have children in that age range, I would really encourage you to check out their website here: MOPS and see if there is a group near you! I also work part-time at Dunwoody Baptist Church, as the Prayer Coordinator.
I have a passion in my soul to help revive the practice of prayer in the Christian Community. In a world where we want the answers to everything, and we want them “now,” sometimes we forget about the power of prayer. I truly believe that God wants to reveal His plan for our lives to us, but He asks that we trust Him as He gives us that plan piece by piece.
So, when people ask me how we do it, how we make the crazy life decisions and live with the uncertainty of how long we will be here… I answer with one word: “Faith.”
Because there really isn’t another option. If I allow myself to think, plan or scheme too much, I start to worry. And there has NEVER been a time in my life when God has let me down. He might not have shown me the big picture, but He has always given me “the next step.” I have learned that as long as I trust Him, and take those leaps in faith, He will never let me down.
God has plans for my family and me, far beyond that which I could make for myself and I only need to trust.
I hope Esther’s post will help you to trust God a little more with your decisions and worries. If you enjoyed Esther’s post and would like to read more about faith and trust, read: BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, a feature I wrote about facing some crippling fears I had and how God had to reach my scardey-cat soul to get me to go out on a limb.
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So inspiring! Thank you for sharing, Esther (and Cindy!). I got chills at the moment when the pastor pressed the stone into your husband’s hand and said that! Wow! Cindy, you sharing your own stories and that of other believers is really a boost to my day/week! Love to hear testimonies of God’s work (and, sadly, we don’t hear enough of these in our church – I’m sure God is working, but we are not often given the opportunity to share).
Adriana, these Inspiring Women posts touch my heart and life too! I am honoured you would find them so uplifting 💕