11 August, 2011

Counting the Cost

I was sitting on the floor in our room in Glasgow with my back against the far side of the bed, sobbing uncontrollably.  I had picked that spot so that I was hidden out of the way and could deal with my grief and frustration alone, but at the same time I hoped that Scott would arrive home soon and would come looking for me and find me. 

I’d been in Glasgow for almost 6 months and overall I'd been impressed with how well I had adjusted to living in Scotland.  My sister Emily had come to visit for two weeks and I'd loved spending time with her and showing her around my new "home," but now, just a few days after she flew home, I physically ached to be back with my family and friends. 

Feeling blue, I decided to keep busy to take my mind of things and making dinner seemed like an easy distraction.  

It was the end of the month, and like each other month so far that meant I was low on groceries, had no cash on me and I knew we had very little money left in the bank. Trying to be as positive and resourceful as possible I came up with a dish I could make from the ingredients we had. All I had to do was jump across the street and pick up the two simple and inexpensive ingredients I didn’t have on hand—a can of corn and a green pepper.  Easy.  

With a renewed sense of purpose I walked across the street to the ATM to take out the minimum amount (£10).  My heart sank as our account balance appeared on the screen… £9.35. Trying to stay positive, I reminded myself that it was not the end of the world, after all, I could pay with my debit card.

I walked the few yards to the small store and successfully found a cheap can of corn but no green pepper.  This time I had to force myself to stay positive in an attempt to keep the now threatening tears and feeling of defeat from overwhelming me.  "I’ll buy the corn here and get a green pepper from the other store at the end of the street," I resolved. I took the corn up to the counter where, to my dismay, I was reminded that this store only takes cash. As if I wasn't already frustrated enough, the gentleman behind the counter kindly pointed me in the direction of the ATM I'd just visited?!?  I forced a smile, thanked him, and left the store empty handed and feeling even more defeated.

Fortunately the other grocery store on the street is only 10 yards away and I knew that this one allows you to pay by card.  I was relieved to enter the store and quickly spot a green pepper on the shelf.  But then I discovered that they had no can of corn. Why was everything in life so difficult?

Doing everything I could to hold myself together I convinced myself that the dish would be fine without the corn since Scott doesn’t like corn anyway.  I took the green pepper to the cashier who, as pleasantly as possible, told me that they required a minimum spend of £5 when paying by debit card. Then, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the cashier smiled and very kindly suggested if I'd prefer not to spend £5 I could go to the ATM just a few yards away where I could withdraw some cash?!?!?!

In that moment, on top of everything else, these daily inconveniences sent my world spinning out of control.  I felt frustrated, helpless and completely alone. All I had wanted to do was make a simple dinner and not have to think!  Using every ounce of strength I could muster I managed a stable sounding "thank you" to the cashier, left the green pepper, and sped off towards home.  

I wasn't even halfway across the street when the tears came in a torrent. Barely able to see, I fumbled my way into the flat and bee-lined for our room, where I collapsed in a heap on the floor and felt despair flood over me.

I was there for over half an hour before Scott arrived home and found me, huddled against the bed, a complete mess with snot and tears running down my face. He gently asked me what was wrong and through shaky, halting speech I told him the same thing I'd repeated to myself hundreds of times since collapsing there: "I just want to go home." 

I missed my family, my friends, a job that paid me more than enough to live on (so I could buy ingredients for dinner without stressing), a work schedule that was consistent and a job where I knew what I was expected to accomplish daily, a car and the ability to go for a drive whenever I wanted, etc.  I had finally come face-to-face with the COST of following Christ.  

Since being back in the States the past 4 weeks, I have struggled with the fact that I will have to again leave family and friends and American conveniences.  But do I think that moving to Scotland and serving in ministry is worth the struggle? Yes! 

Over the last year I have seen God claim and change the lives of many of the young women I am privileged to disciple and many of the young men Scott disciples. I continually see young people pumped up about being in the Word and becoming people of Prayer. I watched Him provide a church building worth £150,000 for £40,000 at a time when we had lost hope of finding a permanent facility of our own. Plus, I have grown tremendously in my dependence on God for both my identity and His provision. 

Without a doubt, God is moving in Scotland and I feel excited and honored to be part of what He is doing! Obeying and following God can be exhilarating, but is it always easy and without cost? No! Nevertheless…there is no place I’d rather be.  Despite the pain and the struggle, the frustration and heartache, I place my life in the hands of the One who Never Fails and I whole heartedly declare that I am committed to do Whatever God Wants, Whenever He Wants It, Whatever It Costs.


  1. Oh Monica..I have a solution! It helped me when we were stationed in Wash. DC for 3 years and I had to leave my mama. We had been a team my whole life since my daddy had died when I was 3 and now she was missing our children growing up and..well, you know, I needed my mama! Christmas Eve, my sister called and said I needed to pick my Christmas present up at the airport. Being terribly dense (I guess) I told her she shouldn't have (picturing some big gift that had to come by plane) Finally, she shouted, "It's Mom!" Oh my gosh, I burst into tears & we picked my Mommy up at Dulles Airport that night. We made her stay for a month and I would have kept her longer but afterwards, after she left, when I talked about things, she knew because she had BEEN THERE...and for some reason it made things so much easier. All this to say...YOU NEED YOUR MAMA! :) She needs to experience your life there. Go Val!

  2. I've never seen a more honest readable admission before. How exciting to be in the hands of our AWESOME GOD who loves you sooo much...YOU are a part of a wonderful ministry pleasing to God, and I'm so excited to see what He is going to do through you and Scotty. Thank you for your honesty...and now we will pray for you specifically in this area of homesickness...((((((((BIGHUGS)))))))) Sue

  3. Yes, thanks for your honest writing, Mon. Sometimes we tend to romanticize mission work because it takes place somewhere different. It's most often pretty mundane and downright frustrating. Hang in there, Sweetie, and may God continue to show you His blessings. We'll be praying specifically for your financial situation as well, that God will multiply what you receive. Hopefully some of the homesickness leaves when you realize that you don't have to live out of a suitcase in Scotland :) That helped me in returning to South America after a vacation in the States. All my stuff was in drawers at my flat in Barranquilla, which was much easier, w/ 2 little ones, than living out of a suitcase! Such a small thing but God used it to make me feel more at home, away from home. Of course, none of this is Home yet, anyway.
    Love you!
    Aunt Liz

  4. Hey Auntie, I'm about at that point where I am looking forward to being back in Scotland in our own flat with our bags unpacked! ;) Thank you soooo much for your prayers! Love you!

  5. I want to post a comment, but no words come to mind. I feel you captured how I feel, and I haven't even left the states yet! Thanks for sharing!