I didn’t know I was going to become a missionary volunteer until after I heard myself saying to an elementary school principal in La Paz, Mexico, “Well, I could become certified in two to three months and return in August.” That was April 2017. I had flown to La Paz to see my friend who was giving me complimentary treatments for a neck issue. Upon my return to San Diego, I studied hard and fast, completed the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course in 2.5 months, and began making plans to retire from nursing. I also began the process of packing, trying to keep my luggage down to what I could put in the back of my Honda Fit. However, God had other plans.
The Sabbath three weeks before I was to leave, I drove from San Diego up to the San Marcos church. As I drove, I heard a voice: “You cannot take your Honda to Mexico.” Immediately I began questioning this voice: “Lord, my Honda is paid off, it gets good gas mileage, and it is versatile for hauling my stuff.” For a few minutes I reiterated my arguments. I dismissed the voice as soon as I reached my destination. I didn’t think about it again until Tuesday, when I heard the voice a second time: “You cannot take your Honda to Mexico.” Now it had my full attention.
Two years prior when I was hunting for a new car, the only two cars that I could comfortably get in/out of were the Mazda 5 Sport Minivan and the Honda Fit. I bought the Honda because of the much better gas mileage and its versatility in carrying my nursing bags and supplies. It was perfect. Now it had 48,000 miles on it.
So no matter what, listen to that “still small voice.”
Considering the voice, I went online to several sites to see what my Honda was worth and to research more about the Mazda 5. I was disappointed that the Honda was so devalued and again disappointed that the Mazda had held its value. I did find a Mazda that I thought might fit my needs. After a few minutes of conversing with the owner over the phone, I asked, “Where are you located?” The salesman quickly said, “Vermont.” Well, that was certainly too far. I decided to drive to a much closer dealership.
As I entered the dealership, a salesman approached me. I asked whether he had any used Mazda 5 Sport Minivans. He paused for perhaps five seconds, then answered, “Yes, I believe we just took one out from the detailer. Let me get the keys.” We took it for a spin. It was as I remembered. Easy to get in/out of, comfortable to drive, room for six to seven people, and seats that folded down for lots of cargo space. But I still didn’t understand why I needed this car.
The salesman and I chatted about my decision to go to La Paz, Mexico (in the southern part of the Baja California peninsula), to teach English in a small parochial elementary school (more specifically, a Seventh-day Adventist school). The salesman seemed genuinely interested. The fact that I was going to be a missionary volunteer, giving my time away for free, was a new concept for him. He wanted to know more. Eventually we got back to the subject of the car. I said I needed more time to think before purchasing.
I went home and discussed the car with some of my family. They wanted to drive back to the dealership immediately and see it. After another test drive and inspection, we all sat down to talk with the salesman. We were several thousand dollars apart on the sale price and the price I was able to pay. After a few trips to the dealer’s finance man, our salesman brought us a good figure. Esther, one of my family members, said, “I think you just need to trade pink slips.” And 20 minutes later that’s just what we did. I had to pay only for the tax and license.
Now I had a car that got much worse gas mileage but was a bigger vehicle that could haul more stuff. Upon arriving at the school in La Paz, I found out that none of their seven teachers had a car, and it was a two-mile-plus walk from their homes to school and church. I became their “Uber driver.” Later my car was used to transport students on field trips, and, most recently, was extremely useful in hauling 10-20 sacks of cement and other building supplies to a church that was being completed.
The concept of “You can’t take your Honda to Mexico” and the fact that we merely “traded pink slips” will always be a miracle in my eyes. The Honda Fit would not have been large enough to handle any of the vehicular needs at the school. So no matter what, listen to that “still small voice” (or perhaps not so still and small)! It is telling you something you need to hear. God is the owner of this car; He has merely entrusted me to use it for His honor and glory.
This story was first printed in the ASI magazine, Summer 2020.
Longtime nurse Luella Nelson was impressed, in 2017, to leave the United States to become an English teacher in La Paz, Mexico.