For myself, expecting our fifth child, I would have thought the Lord’s timing strange. But as we conceived, I knew in my heart he or she would not be born in the US.
Peter had Paraguay in his heart for a whole year, and I didn’t even know where it was. And when the plan came together to go with Pastors David and Rhonda from Grove, OK, I told Peter that he should just go. “I know you need to join me in this Evi,” Peter lovingly told me, as I tried to make excuses to stay at home with the children.
I have always supported Peter on our adventures and had mixed levels of involvement in Israel (GOD TV) and the US (Global Ventures), but this time Peter knew in his heart we would serve the Lord together and that he would no longer go and leave his family and minister away from us, but that we as a family would serve the Lord side by side.
So despite the potential excuse of “I’m pregnant Lord, later please?”, we set off to spy out the land of Paraguay.
After a string of huge and clear confirmations in a 6-day visit to Paraguay, we returned to the USA, having been undone by our Lord and King!
As we drove back into our little patch of heaven in Claremore, OK, to all that was familiar and comfortable, Peter and I knew that this was no longer home. God had done something in our hearts for the sake of a nation.
When should we return to Paraguay? We were amazed at the excitement and willingness of our children to say goodbye to home, friends, toys and cherished pets, packing only a few items, in order to get there sooner rather than later. We all had a sense of urgency, and therefore the need not to procrastinate or dig our heels in over small details such as where will we live, what will we do, who will support us, where will baby be born? Quite amazingly the Lord had also been showing each of us for more than a year the numbers 10:01. We had been through the Bible, one night in curiosity, looking for what scripture the Lord was speaking to us, but found none that seemed to apply. What is it Lord, then that you are trying to show us? Suddenly, amongst list making and prayer about our move to Paraguay, we dared to think that the Lord had a specific date for us to leave our home and begin the journey to Paraguay - October (10) 1st (01). Peter and I had returned on the 28th August, making it a total of only five weeks (since returning from our visit) if we chose to believe and obey God’s instructions, rather than giving way to the various natural obstacles we faced to make this move happen.
So, the real packing began, with purpose and resilience to all obvious challenges. It is a story in itself, how a family of 6½, with a fair amount of gathered goods from around the world and excellent garage sale bargains stashed in our garage, could sell, give and pack up a house in 5 weeks. Peter’s last day at work with C&A was the 29th September, and my little feet couldn’t run fast enough to get it all done the way I would have liked, but with Daniel’s strength and ability, and the girls little giggles and smiles, but most notably by the grace of God, we did it! Thank you to all our dear friends who stepped in to help those last few weeks, cleaning, packing, making meals, taking care of the girls, giving me much needed hugs, words of wisdom and encouragement. Even to the last minutes of us leaving our home, we had helping hands. Saying goodbye to our dear family in OK was one of the hardest things we have ever done, and seeing each of you sacrificially contribute to this adventure in one way or another was so very touching. We will never forget your kindness and your reward awaits you in Heaven!
On the first of October, 2014 by God’s hand, we drove away from our home, pulling a U-haul filled with 16 suitcases, heading south to fly out from Miami, Florida. We had begun our new journey of faith, tears rolling as we were leaving precious loved ones, but hearts full of excitement for the Lord’s call on our lives.
Peter & Evi Ratcliffe