The Work Goes On
Worst Term Ever
By Jaimie Lancaster
Recently, I was asked to recap our last four-year term. The first thing that popped into my mind was “worst term ever.”
Let’s review the “highlights,” and I think you’ll agree with me:
We lost four pastors in Uruguay due to relocation, resignation, or moral failure.
Two deacons resigned. One passed away.
Our teammates relocated to Spain.
We weathered several church “disagreements.”
And the list goes on.
Added to these events, we had been asked to change our ministry role. For a whole year we prayed, asking the tough questions regarding our gifting, our desire, and our ability to carry this out.
In March 2015, Tammy went to a missionary ladies’ retreat for the weekend. During her absence, I sat down at the computer and came up with a three-year strategy to fulfill our new assignment and to transition from the old one. It was a masterpiece. Tammy returned from the meeting encouraged and excited. She had found peace regarding some things and remarked, “I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders.”
On Monday morning, I sent my strategy to our regional director. He liked it and was anxious to see it in action. That night, as we laid down to rest, we felt it had been one of the best days of our term. We were both at peace and happy, with clear direction for the future. We had no idea that in less than 24 hours our whole world would turn upside down.
Tammy went to the hospital and found she had several masses (or knots) of intertwined veins and arteries in her brain. One of them had “oozed” into her brain, producing stroke-like symptoms. Doctors sent us directly to the States where we discovered she also had an abscessed diverticulitis. It took five long months to learn nothing really could be done. She would recover on her own over the next year.
We returned to Uruguay and tried to carry on. Tammy slept 18 hours a day. I cooked, cleaned, shopped, and did ministry. This was our first year. Eventually, Tammy got to the point she could host English classes and teach piano students in our home. She would rest during the days before, wake up an hour before the event, do the class then go back to bed. Two years later, we are still finding creative ways to minister around her health limitations.
Do you remember the ingenious strategy I crafted? Would you believe none of the things that happened were included in my version? God had other plans. You see, when I wrote my strategy, we had one person who could even be considered as a contact in our community. Two years later, over 60 people are involved in our lives as a direct result of Tammy’s illness.
During and after our time in the States, people from our community offered assistance and encouragement. These “not-yet-believers” opened their homes, resources, and arms to us. One friend, upon finding we’d needed to fly back to the States for treatment, offered to pay for our tickets. (Thankfully, these were covered by insurance.) Our neighbor offered her back yard and grill area for my birthday party so we wouldn’t have to prepare to host guests. When I told her we were going to keep it simple and not overwork Tammy, she called her husband, invited her family, and they threw a birthday party for me. Yet another neighbor, hearing we were looking for a place to stay four nights before our return to the States, asked us to be “test guests” in the bed and breakfast she was about to open.
The sleeping, the drastic reduction in ministry time, and ill health—things we saw only as limitations—God worked through each of them to open doors and demonstrate His power and glory. He has used these limitations and hard times to mold us, changing our minds, our hearts, and the way we work. We can attest to the truth of Jesus’ words to the Apostle Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
While our term started as the “worst term ever,” we left Uruguay encouraged and ready to get back so we can see what God has in store for His work there. Are we making plans for our next term? Of course. Do we think God will work in ways and events that we never planned? Without a doubt!
About the Writer: Currently on stateside assignment, Jaimie and Tammy Lancaster have served in Uruguay for almost 20 years. For more information, visit www.FWBGO.com.