I learned something during my maternity leave that I am still praying through. Every time we travel to the states, our time is pretty self-focused. It isn't that we intend to be selfish, or that we even realize how self-centered our time is. We have fundraising to do, doctor appointments, restock of supplies, and people to see. Our days are filled with what we want and need during the time we have . I had never really thought about how self-focused furlough is until this last stint in the states. Usually, I do not have time to process what is going on in the states, or how I could serve where I am. It is "time off" and focused on rest and refueling, along with fundraising and planning for the year(s) to come. While that is valid and necessary, this trip back was different, and thus quite eye-opening.
I have already mentioned the blessing of being in one place for the entire time, and how that allowed us to get plugged in at our home church again. It also allowed me to move beyond the self-focused time that is typical for furlough. I was able to get past just looking at what the kids and I needed during that time, and start seeing the needs of others. I was able to sense a piece of God's heart for His people in the USA. It was bittersweet, for it reminded me how much I love ministering to people in my own culture. It gave me much to pray about as well.
Something that surprised me during this time back was the desire that grew within me to minister in the states. My heart has been for missions for so long that I did not expect that. It added another layer of difficulty in leaving, for I once again saw purpose in time state-side, and had a vision for where I could be used by God. My eyes were opened to the spiritual oppression that is targeting the young people. From school age on up through the college years, our young people are under attack. I doubt this is news to you, with the many issues going on in the schools and families across the country. I heard of children battling depression and suicidal thoughts, families being torn apart, and cultural norms that are continuing to break apart the family unit by keeping families too busy. My heart was burdened for the young people in the states. This is not an easy time to be growing up, and American culture is not currently helping.
Parents, do not turn a blind eye to the battle that is raging for your children. The enemy has worked hard in the states to help us easily worship things other than God. Now he is attacking an entire generation. If he can turn them away from God, he will have made great progress in destroying what the USA once stood for. It is vital that we as parents lay claim to what God has entrusted to us. We must fight for our children, for their hearts. Come what may, they are our greatest mission field. Deuteronomy 6 makes it clear that no matter where we are, how God leads, or what our days look like, it is our responsibility to point our children to God throughout each day and all that we do. Be encouraged, parents - God is able! Jesus has already overcome the world. Let's follow Him and lead our children to do the same.
Gami & Cathi Ortiz
Best friends; married for 17 years; parents of five wonderful children; living on mission in Haiti since 2013.