As I approached the back door I heard it. A distinct sound guaranteed to stop your heart and drop your stomach. Growing up in the Arizona desert, I recognized it immediately. My eyes darted back and forth as I searched for the source.
Yep … all curled up in a raging temper tantrum. One very angry rattlesnake.
My first thought. I can deal with this. Not my first rodeo with snakes.
But what about them?
Mama bear instinct kicked in. I wanted to protect. This cranky creature needed to be removed. Permanently.
“Them” would be the rotation of visitors who have taken over the back end of my home. Missionaries.
Two years ago we signed on to volunteer half our home to the missionary program of our church. After our four chicks grew up and flew out of the nest, we decided to invite others to land for a time. An opportunity for us to serve. And love.
Missionaries who come from all over the world. Here to serve the people of Arizona. A surrender of the best two years of their life.
We decided to give those lucky ones living under our roof the “real” Arizona experience. After ensuring this nasty reptile would not bother us again, we taught them what any responsible Biology teacher would.
“Notice the bump," my husband said. "What might this unwelcome visitor have eaten? Any guesses?”
These young women will return home with many experiences from their mission. Certainly this is one Arizona memory which will never be forgotten.
The last two years has been a gift. A window into the real world of missionary work. The strength. The focus. And the dedication to Him.
I saw beautiful events take place.
“Come quick!” they squealed. Baby quail frequently born and raised in my potted plants out back were ready to leave the nest. The missionaries grabbed chair cushions from patio furniture to soften that first big leap. Providing comfort and support for this National Geographic moment. An event that I certainly would have missed.
I witnessed missionaries endure hot summers with endless high temperatures. And then sudden summer monsoons when washes flood and rivers of water pour from the rooftop. Brief, heavenly relief from three digit temperatures. Comfort recognized and celebrated by them.
I heard missionaries pray.
And then pray again. And again.
In fact, they never left my home without stopping to pray at the back door. Communication with God. Pleading for miracles. Praying …
Hoping that you might introduce them to your friends. Give them an opportunity to do what they desire most.
I felt the lows and the highs.
Homesickness is real. The sacrifice made real to me in conversations with them about loved ones. That look in their eyes as they spoke of family back home.
The greatest joy for these missionaries is to witness their message change a life. To be part of a new beginning.
I signed up for two years to serve the missionaries. Open up my home and embrace them and their cause. Something I felt honored to provide as their “Arizona mom.”
What I didn’t know then was that, in fact, they would serve me.
My heart is full.
I have witnessed dedication. Sacrifice. And incredible commitment.
Grateful for a front row seat.
To the best two years.