Joey was one month old when we moved to a small village called El Triunfo. At the time we had six children: Judy 7, Jason 6, Johnny 4, Josh 3, Julie 1 1/2 and baby Joey! Jimmy would join us the following year. In this picture the J’s are enjoying one of the rare times it rained in the desert. They would get as excited over rain as kids do here when it snows!
Our house in El Triunfo was a God-given miracle built for us free by a church with a heart for missions from California (a story for another day). I knew that God wanted us there, and I wanted to be where God wanted me. However, every time I washed the dishes and looked out the window, I felt depressed. I was born and bred in Tennessee where everything was green. There was NO grass in El Triunfo–just endless light brown dirt and occasional trees and carefully tended plants.
I realized you can be homesick not just for people but for the land you are used to! Love o’ the land is a powerful emotion! I made a decision not to be depressed by the monotonous scenery. I cut a picture of a beautiful waterfall out of a magazine and taped it beside my kitchen window. When the scenery made me sad, I would stop looking at it and turn my eyes to my waterfall picture!
I prayed that God would help me to find beauty in the desert. One time after a rare rain, a few sprigs of grass sprang up in our front yard. Gleefully I proclaimed, “Look, everybody, we have grass!” How I enjoyed those few sprigs of grass until a little later when a horse came strolling down the street and ate my front yard! haha
One year we decided to try to plant a small garden. It took an incredible amount of effort to grow things in such a dry climate. Water was gold in that little village (another story for another day) so we often used recycled water from the washing machine and J’s bath water to water our plants! We planted okra which I loved (remember I grew up in TN). Usually okra could not be found in grocery stores in Mexico or was very expensive.
I was so proud of our plants. I enjoyed having a spot of green in our back yard and anticipated eating yummy fried okra soon. Every morning I would go out to see how our plants were doing. To my dismay I noticed that our plants started to disappear. Every morning there was one less plant. The plants would disappear completely with no trace left behind. The plants also disappeared in an orderly fashion–straight down the row. We could not figure out what was happening.
One morning Jacinto was out early watering the plants when suddenly one of the plants disappeared right before his eyes. It was pulled completely underground–just like in the Winne-the-Pooh cartoons! haha Despite our hard work, ALL of our okra plants completely disappeared long before we ever got a chance to eat any okra! I hope that animal (we were never completely sure just what animal it was) enjoyed the okra as much as I had anticipated enjoying it!
As time passed I learned to see beauty in the desert. At a certain time every year, orange flowers would spring up all over the desert! They were so beautiful. Roses grew exceptionally well. Sunsets were incredibly lovely and breathtaking in the desert. At night you could see hundreds of stars in the dark sky.
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. My J’s were desert rats. Having grown up in the desert, they loved it! In fact, when we moved back to the United States, I loved all the greenery and grass, but the J’s missed the desert and sand! One time when we had not lived in South Carolina very long, Joshua said to me, “Mexico was better than here!” “Why do you say that?” I asked. “Because in Mexico you could play in the loose dirt. There’s too much grass here!”
Wherever God calls you, He puts a love for that place in your heart.
If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go Anywhere! ‘Tis heaven to me, Where’er I may be, If He is there!
I count it a privilege here His cross to bear. If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go Anywhere!