Mar 11, 2021
Do you want to know what I have the hardest time pronouncing? The word for “close” in Spanish is “cierra.” Like if you need to “close the door” you would say, “cierra la puerta.” Maybe because I can’t roll my ‘r’s or maybe because I’m such a beginner with the Spanish language, I struggle with this word! I figured this out when I was giving my testimony in front of some ladies at our church here in Honduras. I was telling them our story of how our family found itself in this beautiful country. It all came about through a series of closed doors.
The story of how we joined Medical Missions Outreach, to serve here in Honduras and the Rearick Surgical Center is all wrapped up in closed doors. How does God use closed doors to build a surgical center, move a family of seven, and provide life-changing surgeries for eighteen people? Let me tell you the story of closed doors, just a few years, and God’s amazing plan.
The first closed door was when we attended a medical missions interface at a mission board we had always respected. Several years ago, before children, and just a few years newly married, Jason and I listened to this board tell us that we had to pay off all of his medical school loans before we could even apply to be missionaries. Although we walked away excited for the possibility of the future, we left discourage to know it would be years before that debt was paid.
Little did we know around that time Medical Missions Outreach was in Honduras with a frustrated surgeon. In a tired response to a hard day doing surgeries in a less than ideal setting, he said that Bradley Edmonson needed to build a surgery center so he could come and do surgeries properly. The doors were closed and the list seemed too long. It would be impossible to help these people, or so it seemed.
People began to pray. A donor came forward and soon the supplies poured in. The building was designed, laying on the desk of an architect, pastor, mission director, and a Honduran construction worker. The building was going to happen. But it would be useless if there were no doctor to run it. MMO began talking to a surgeon who was interested in moving his family overseas. They began to make plans, only God closed the door again. That surgeon chose a different path not leading to Honduras.
God was closing doors in ways we didn’t even know. So when Jason was offered his ideal job five years prior I was so excited! He was going to get to do what he had always wanted to do. We prayed and prayed, and felt God had led us here. A few months into this job we attended a medical mission’s conference again. This time God stirred in our hearts a passion for working overseas. Although we had intended to buy into this practice, we knew it would determine how involved we could be with missions. Did God want us to move overseas? Did God want us to stay in the United States and support missions financially? After that conference we researched several different mission agencies. None felt like the right fit. Closed door. Closed door. We just felt like maybe God didn’t want us to be involved in missions.
For an entire month we fasted and prayed for wisdom. We asked God to who show us what to do. I’ll never forget that day I got the call. It was three months later from that month of prayer and fasting. Jason was due to come home early so we could meet with our social worker. We had begun the process of adoption and she was coming for our first home visit. He called at lunchtime to tell me that he had lost his job. I could hear the sadness in his voice. I could hear my own response of disbelief. How does a doctor lose his job!?
The door wasn’t just closed, it was slammed in our face. With all of the closed doors, this one hurt the most. It was his “dream job.” A pediatrician’s office, fifteen minutes from our house, in a community we had lived in for over thirteen years. God had led us to this job - we were certain! When the door was closed on this job, we were shell-shocked; however, we recognized we knew right away this was the answer to the prayer we had prayed.
The closed door revealed another door: overseas missions. Immediately we began to search again for a mission’s board. Through a series of phone calls we connected with Medical Missions Outreach. Just one year later, Jason was on a plane traveling to Ecuador on a week-long trip with MMO. I remember him calling me from Quito, Ecuador. He was the happiest I’d ever heard him in a long time.
As soon as he came home he told me this was the group we needed to pursue. Medical Missions Outreach was the perfect fit for us. The only catch? We wanted to do long-term missions together as a family. We weren’t interested in just short term trips. I love my children, but weeks alone with them is not my ideal of fun! It wasn’t long before we met with Bradley and Kelly to discuss Honduras.
Two months later Jason and I were stepping off of the plane into the heat of Central America. It took a weekend, but that’s all, to see how God had directed our path to this place. The next year was spent preparing to travel on deputation. After just eighteen months visiting churches we raised enough support to move to Honduras. In January 2020, our family packed up seventeen boxes and suitcases and took the one-way ticket to Honduras.
Little did we know a world-wide pandemic would hit our country with restrictions that would limit our very everyday life. When all of the trips for 2020 were canceled, our hearts fell with disappointed. More closed doors. God had led us here, but closed the door to ministry right away. When it was clear COVID was not going to let up anytime soon, we tried to focus on living life as a family and getting to know our new country. We took virtual Spanish classes and learned to navigate in a third-world country.
When it seemed like finally we would have a trip, it was exactly one year later. As Jason prepared for the team, there seemed like so many closed doors along the way - just weeks before the first team! First, Jason and I get COVID. Then we are missing a tube for a machine. We ended up four team members short so Jason had to scrub in with every surgery. The AC broke right before the team arrived. Even with all of the obstacles, God was still working! Patients arrived Monday morning, January 25 to receive the very first surgeries. With tears in their eyes, many woke up knowing they would be freed from their painful medical conditions. And with hearts open, people listened to the Good News of the Gospel. Not only did these people hear about the Gospel of Jesus, they saw the love of His hand in form of a surgeon’s scalpel.
What we would have seen as “stop” and “go home,” made us move forward in faith. We didn’t have faith in ourselves, but faith in a God who never gives up. Many times we wanted to give up, move around the closed door, do things our way, and be frustrated because our path wasn’t what we expected. In the end I think we learned God never stops leading our steps. Never does God take a break from orchestrating a life willing to serve Him.
Through a series of closed doors, God directed our path. Did the closed doors hurt? Yes, in some cases they were quite painful. But God is good and His plan is always good. For our family, we are so thankful for the many closed doors that led us to Honduras for “just a time” as this.