Dear friends, mission partners, brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is most appropriate that we begin by expressing our gratitude to God for all of you who have prayed for and supported us over the years. The Lord has been faithful to provide for us, and for others through times of celebration and times of difficulty. To God be the glory.
Yeison had another evaluation last week. The doctor decided that since he has progressed so well, that he can now continue his therapies at home with us. This is great news and we are so happy for our little guy. He is very excited and already talking about wanting to start playing sports, something he couldn’t do before since he used to easily trip and fall often. It took a long time to get his surgery done, with lots of battling with the insurance company who was not wanting to cover things, but even so, we are thankful for all the progress that has been made. His life has changed in many ways since his surgery, and he is really excited about possibly playing sports. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and even helped us pay for that surgery and the therapy sessions that were not covered either.
This past year has really been a difficult one, for everyone really. I personally know of many churches that are struggling, some have even had to close their doors. I know of lots of missionaries that are struggling since the pandemic started. Some got blocked from going back into the countries they were serving in. Some have lost portions of their funding due to supporters losing their jobs. Some missionaries are ill and recovering, unsure if or when they can return to the field. Some have had bouts of depression or other mental health issues due to the overwhelming increase of stress due to the needs in the people they serve. The loss of employment in an already poor and unstable place causes desperation among the people. There is a thick tension and there is a burden to help. But with an obvious burn out on the horizon, many missionary families have had their share of difficulties. The wife, the children, all of them.
We are one of those families. Many of our supporters know about our situation with Yeison. Until he gets approved for a visa and can travel with us, we are pretty much stuck between two worlds. We have been here for over 8 years now. We have never had a furlough. We (usually separately, so one of us can stay with Yeison) have gone back to the States for a month here and there when I have spoken at different churches, or Christen would visit with the kids to see family. Rarely have we all traveled together in the last six years since Yeison came into the picture. The couple of times we did, on short trips, he was left with very trusted friends here that are like family. But it affected him. He thought we weren’t coming back or felt abandoned. He asks why he can’t get on a plane with us or if he is going to have to live with another family. It was heart breaking to think that he felt that way or even thought such things on his own.
About three years ago I attempted an “in country” break from ministry when we were on the verge of burnout, but it didn’t work out so well. I still ended up very involved in many things. And in a short time I was doing even more than before and I ended up even more exhausted afterwards. But it’s been eight years now. Yes, we have done a lot by the grace of God. But humanly speaking, it all has taken quite a toll on us. The pressure to perform, for fear of losing the few supporters we have. The overwhelming amount of needs. It was always in the back of my mind how we were so easily forgotten. Not to the mention the other issues that just arise out of the nature of ministry dealing with everyone’s sins and mistakes, including our own. Don’t get me wrong, we have always trusted the Lord and always will. We know for a fact He has provided and sustained us here for this long, Especially, since we came to the field with practically nothing. The Lord has always been very good to us. And it has been very helpful to remember all of those answered prayers and God’s faithfulness through dark times over the years.
But it is wise to know your limitations. As much as we want to do, we can’t do everything. I have not been good at discerning that and saying no to things. I have been pushing the limit for too long and unfortunately it has hurt us. All of us. We always have hoped to get the visa and then take the furlough for at least a year back home, only entering and exiting the country when necessary to keep his visa active. That hasn’t happened yet.
So I write this update to announce that we will be taking a furlough. Due to the circumstances, it will have to be an in country furlough from all ministry. On our break we still be working and praying to get another appointment in hopes of getting a visa approval. It is is possible, but we realize it is not guaranteed. But, in the mean time we will be resting from most of our ministry labors, almost everything. I will be only working as an “administrator” of sorts to keep things going. We are a small ministry, and to keep costs down we have always had to do almost everything ourselves. But there are areas of ministry that should go on and people that depend on us to keep it going. We do not want the support others receive through us and their respective ministries to stop or be affected at all if possible. Thankfully, I do have a few faithful men I can count on to make things happen in my absence who are trustworthy and can get it done. Praise God for that.
We will continue to support the church of Hato Mayor, though we may not be present for a time as we plan to go elsewhere for counseling and to disconnect a bit. We will continue providing for Pastor Victor’s seminary training. We will be continue supporting Leonel and the work in Haiti, hoping to get a few more men involved to support and join him in the work with a few groups there as well. We will continue to provide help and food and medicine for the several people in and around the community as we have always done, it will just not be us personally doing it. We will provide (Lord willing of course) the means to allow this type of ministry to continue by others who work closely with us. We pray that the funds continue to come in so that these and other projects can continue as usual. These are all done with funds that come in above and beyond what our own family’s needs are. So please consider praying for us and continuing to support us through this season.
There will be costs like that of our counseling sessions, a possible relocation to disconnect from things for a while in order to avoid another failure like our last attempt at some rest and healing. This was not an easy announcement for us to make. But it is necessary.
Some may ask, “why don’t you just come home?” As in leave Yeison behind for our family’s sake. Implying that somehow Yeison is not really part of our family. Well that is easier said than done. Not even easily said for me. Most people tell us “you’re wife and kids and your number one priority. Yes, we agree. Christ loves His bride and we should do anything for ours. Except that our situation is bit unique and multifaceted. We have a Dominican child, he is our son. He’s been with us since he was only three months old. So although the argument that Christ would never abandon His bride is true, and although we should do anything for ours, it is also true of our God that He never abandons or forsakes any of His children. So what are we supposed to do? Leave Yeison behind in the name of being Christlike in one sense, while at the same time going against the character of God by abandoning one of our own children?? God forbid. We don’t see that as an option. We have also known of cases where people with good intentions took on children only later to give them back or abandon them altogether at an orphanage, causing more harm than good to both parties, but especially to the children. We hope and pray that we can get a visa soon. But that is really out of our control. Please pray that God would graciously allow for that to happen.
So this break while being here is the best possible solution we can come up with for now. I am still teaching at the school for now, but am seriously considering if I should stop for a while. I will no longer be involved in the magazine project, the Bible Institute (which was put on hold due to COVID anyway) or food and medicine distribution, at least not personally during this break. But we are still willing and feel led to raise and receive funds for those things entrusting their execution to a few faithful brothers, especially Leonel in Haiti and Pastor Victor in Hato Mayor. But I will be protecting my time to be intentionally focused towards God, myself, my marriage and my family as much as possible.
This will come with a cost and a risk. Counseling sessions aren’t cheap, catching up on doctor visits that have been put on the back burner as usual due to work have their cost, and some cash to just get away and rest with the family are all extra expenses we will need help with. We have received a few private messages or caring brothers urging us to slow down or happy to hear that we will be taking some time for ourselves. That has been encouraging. But the pattern in the past has been that the less active we seem on social media or in reporting, the less funds we receive. Even though there are times that I seemed to report little, but we actually remained quite busy. But I have come to the point that I just cannot worry about this and allow that fear to hinder me from doing what I think is best and necessary for myself and my family.
I often am surprised that people forget we are just regular people with our own issues, struggles and sins just like you. Perhaps because of the kind of work we do, others may tend to see us as more spiritual or somehow above certain things. That is certainly not the case and there are no superheroes in the Kingdom. Don’t let others fool you or tell you otherwise. If anything, our problems and struggles and multiplied by our complicated situation here in another context and an immense load of responsibility. It really puts a strain on everything over time. I am weary and tired and need some time to rest and to pour into my family and refocus. I pray that our supporters will continue to be there for us financially and pray for us more than ever. We really do need your prayers and support during this time. May God give us the rest we need and the wisdom to use this time wisely for healing, personal and spiritual growth, and increased unity in our family and marriage for God’s glory. Pray for us.
In Service to our God and King,
Antonio Salgado Jr.