Ecuador, Earthquakes and Thomas the Disciple

You know, when you pray you should be very specific–just an FYI. When my parents moved us to St. Louis from Fargo, North Dakota, my sisters and I prayed that our new house would have a dishwasher. When we moved in, wow, the house had a dishwasher!!! We were so excited…until my dad was nearly electrocuted trying to get it to work. The entire time we lived under that roof, the thing never worked. You would think I would have learned that lesson about praying specifically, but…

My husband and I have lived in a lot of interesting places. Shortly after we were married, we lived in the California desert. I hated it. We lived in a little place called Hemet–at that time it was famous for having the largest retirement RV park in the world. I had never seen cemented gravel lawns painted green before we moved there. Nor had I ever lived through a summer of temperatures over 110 degrees every single day for a month. Pregnant. Just let that sink in…I really don’t care if it was a dry heat…when you open the oven door and you singe off your eyebrows you are not comforted to know that it’s a dry heat! And for all those seniors with their bumper stickers–they lied. Hemet WAS NOT HEAVEN! So I started to pray…Lord, please send me someplace green. That wasn’t PAINTED green. You know, real GRASS that wasn’t smoked, trees, plants…I seriously was praying. And God heard my prayers…we moved to the jungles of Ecuador, South America. Not exactly my plan, especially since I was (and continue to be) terrified of snakes.

But Ecuador was an awesome place to live. The country felt as close to paradise as I had ever been here on earth (and lest I have you confused already, I have only lived on Earth, so far). The natural beauty was everywhere. Even living in the jungle, we did not need air conditioning. It took a little adjusting to having tarantulas living outside my bedroom window, and the jumping spiders that slid into the door frames were a little creepy, but not poisonous. I think I would have been more creeped out by the cockroaches running around in my baby’s crib if my dad hadn’t done his doctoral research on cockroaches. Let me just say, my dad made sure we had a broad array of experiences, and bringing home his science experiments to dissect for us on the KITCHEN COUNTER pretty much prepared me for just about anything. Did you know that there are sugars found in cockroaches that are just like what we have in human brains? Inositols.

You would think that having lived in California I would have experienced earthquakes, but no, I experienced those first-hand in Ecuador. Once while living in the jungle, and several times after we moved to Quito. The first earthquake in Quito was a bit frightening for me because I was no where near my husband. Janielle (about 20 months old at this point) and I would take a bus about 40 minutes outside of the city where I helped at an orphanage and graded Emmaus Correspondence Courses in Spanish. The office where I worked was built on top of a very high stone wall. The little office was like an upper room perched on the edge of the wall and when the earth shook, I thought we were going to fall right over the edge. We didn’t. It was over pretty fast, and I got on the bus with my daughter and headed back home. I had had enough adventure for one day.

When you live in the Andes, and are surrounded by volcanoes, you expect a bit of rocking and rolling as the tectonic plates shift. One night, Nathan and I were awakened by doors banging. After a few seconds, we realized what was happening. My husband, true blue Nathan, remained himself…

“I’ll go get Janielle so we can die together,” he whispered, clearly out of breath.

“Don’t you think it would be harder on our families if we all died in the earthquake?” was my sleepy response.

Mind you, third world country building standards aside, the earthquake was over before we could even all get to the bathroom doorway to hang on for dear life. I have teased my husband as much as possible in the years since.

This morning during the Sunday message at our local church, I was reminded of the earthquake story. The passage being shared was of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11.

John 11:1-16

 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Do you notice anything similar about Thomas and Nathan?  Ok, if they are going to kill Jesus, then they can kill the disciples too. Not sure how many of the other disciples were interested in losing their lives yet, but hey, Thomas was all set to go if that was where the Lord Jesus was going to go.

So that makes me ask myself…will I do that too? To what lengths am I willing to go to be with the Lord? To allow Him to have control of my life? Am I willing to go to the death if need be? That is the question.


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