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The Long Trip Home

The Long Trip Home

APRIL 5, 2021    |    4 MINUTE READ

Traveling out of the country is complicated even when COVID isn’t a factor. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and it’s near impossible. Missionaries Andy and Lizet Bowen discovered this firsthand when planning their return to Paraguay in February 2021 so they could resume ministry there. As they tackled packing, finding new homes for their stuff, getting COVID tests, and even just getting on flights, they ran into obstacle after obstacle. Instead of stressing over the process, they stood back and watched God work. Follow the Bowens’ story through these social media posts that they shared about their return to Paraguay.

Saturday, February 6

Two men moving a piano

We’re so grateful for about twenty guys that came over this afternoon to put all our furniture in the attic. We fly out on Friday, Lord willing. Some of the men also helped us get our piano to a new home. Thankful for friends who put hands and feet to their love!

Wednesday, February 10

A healthcare worker giving a COVID test to someone in a car

Lizet receives a COVID test

When I looked at my emails this morning, the first one I saw was from our airline, and it said, “You need a Covid test for your flight.” The one right below it said, “Your Covid tests scheduled for today have been canceled due to the weather.” My first thought was, Okay, Jesus. How are you going to solve THIS one?

The past two months have been an absolute parade of God stepping in and solving one challenge after another. About a month ago, I took an inventory of all the issues that we needed to deal with before our February 12 return to Paraguay, and I thought, I can't wait to see how God is going to do this.

This has not always been my approach, but I like to think that I'm learning to trust. Jesus has been so faithful so many times, and I've been preposterously slow to catch on. I'm not saying I won't have to relearn this lesson. But these weeks, I've been so deeply aware of his kind, generous, faithful provision that it's just been a delight to watch him at work.

This morning, there was a moment of worry, but overpowering it was that calm conviction that Jesus was going to shine again. The first name that came to me was of a doctor friend. I sent him a quick text message, and then made some other investigative calls, none of which panned out, for one reason or another.

About an hour and ten minutes after my initial message, my friend called me with a solution. Instead of going to downtown Lexington in the late afternoon, we were able to go this morning about half that distance and get the tests.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation. Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

Friday, February 12

A family wearing masks in an airport waiting area

At the gate in Lexington waiting for our first flight! Look out, Chicago! Asunción by midnight tomorrow night, Lord willing.

Saturday, February 13, 6:52 a.m.

A man and his two teens, wearing masks, sitting on an airplanw

Chicago to Houston! 5°F in Chicago!

Saturday, February 13, 8:11 p.m.

A view of Panama City from a hotel room

This was not the photo I expected to post this evening. This is our view of the Pacific Ocean from our room in Panama City!

Everything went so well today—success with luggage, making a quick connection in Houston, helpful agents...then we got to our gate in Panama City, ready to board for our last flight. The agent checked our Covid tests (negative), verified our insurance card (in order), and asked me to show her the QR code from the sworn health declaration we had filed online with the Paraguayan government. The WHAT?! This new requirement, it turns out, MUST be submitted before boarding the flight, and a glitchy web page, limited time, and a very long form all conspired to make us miss boarding. Though I begged the agent, insisting that in Paraguay we would work it out, he was gentle but adamant.

At first, I couldn't believe we had arrived at our LAST checkpoint and been thwarted. I was incredibly frustrated. Within about five minutes, the realization dawned on me that this, too, was our Father's kind hand. The next flight is Monday, and we would get our first family vacation in a year and a half in a tropical Central American country.

Since the airline had missed the requirement when we boarded, they took the responsibility of rebooking us. We had to get rapid Covid tests to enter Panama. A taxi took us to a downtown hotel, and we are together, healthy, and grateful.

Sadly, a weekend quarantine is enforced here, so we won't be out and about. But I am sure tomorrow is going to be somehow special.

By the way, our airline also kept our ten 50-lb checked bags at the airport, so we didn't have to wrestle those things around.

Thankful tonight for our Father's care and provision. I'm beginning to suspect that He likes us.

Monday, February 15, 2:02 p.m.

A family wearing masks in an airport shuttle

Ok. Trying again! We’re checked in, we have our boarding passes, they’ve looked at our documents… Hopeful.

Monday, February 15, 11:18 p.m.

A note reading, “Welcome Andy and Lizet,” sitting on a table

A note welcomes the Bowens back to Paraguay.

We made it to Asunción a little before midnight local time! Documents okay, all luggage accounted for. Grateful for your prayers and the love and care of our good Father.

Saturday, February 20

A parked van packed full of suitcases

Packed to the roof and beyond! All ready for the final leg of our journey back home tomorrow! Grateful that our truck was out of the shop when we got to the guest house Monday night, repaired following the storm when the tree limb fell on it. Thanks, Mark and Susana Bev Donahue and Crescencio Cabrera Bereiro!

Sunday, February 21

A house surrounded by trees and grass

We’re home!

It’s exciting to hear how God is clearing paths for His people to do the work He’s called them to. He has plans for the Bowens to share the Gospel in Paraguay, and He’s not letting anything stand in theiway. We can’t wait to see what He does next in their ministry and in those of our other missionaries in similar situations around the world.


PRAY: Lift up the Bowen family as they readjust to life in Paraguay and resume serving there. Pray for strong bonds with their surrounding community and that the Lord will continue to guide them forward in their outreach. Pray also for other missionaries who are currently navigating challenges in their ministry.

GO: Do you feel called to serve but overwhelmed by the obstacles in your path? Take a step back, lift your concerns to God, and watch Him move. If He has truly called you to something—or somewhere—He won’t let anything stay in your way for long. We'd love to help you explore some possible next steps.

Author Bio: Andy and Lizet Bowen were both introduced to missions at an early age. They have been serving in Paraguay for over two decades, and you can follow their journey on Facebook.

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