Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Happened to us in Rwanda?

Dear Friends and Family,

Thanks to your encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts, we made it to Rwanda and back safely. Thank you all for being patient with us as we took some time to talk through things with our church before sending this report letter to you. Now that we have a plan, we would like to share with you about how our trip went, and where we see God leading us from here.

First, the trip was everything we were hoping for. While we were in Rwanda we visited two churches, spoke with several Rwandan Church leaders, ate in a Rwandan home and several Rwandan restaurants, visited a church’s children’s program, visited the Rwandan history museum, drove a significant length of the country (which is only about the size of Maryland), visited the market, observed the day-to-day life of our hosts (and their three energetic children), visited and observed the pastoral training school that we are hoping to join, slept under mosquito nets, drank about 10 Fantas (the drink that every good host offers his/her guests), took walks through neighborhoods in Kigali (the capital city), and even visited a Starbucks-ripoff coffee shop complete with Caramel Macchiato. All in just 2 weeks! In short, we were able to get a taste of what Rwanda is like, see what needs the church there has, observe what living conditions would be like if we were to move there, and picture how our gifts could be used in ministry with the Rwandan church.

One thing that really impacted us was the realization that the church in Rwanda has a lot of very deep needs. For one, the vast majority of their pastors are untrained and are hungry for Biblical and practical instruction. For example, one pastor who we visited told us that his greatest need was not financial, but was training in how to be a pastor. He had not gone to seminary or been ordained before becoming a pastor. Rather, he told us that he was a layperson who had been slowly given more and more responsibility in the church until eventually he was running it completely. To make matters more difficult, church leaders usually do not mentor those below them, because there is a fear that if you train someone below you, they will rise up and steal your position. This means that if you cannot pay for formal instruction, as most pastors cannot, then you have no options for learning the Bible or training in ministry.

The ministry that we hope to work with was formed to address this exact need in the Rwandan Church. Their core ministry is a 4-year school that uses a modular setting to train pastors in Biblical Studies, Theology, and Ministry skills. It is a very exciting ministry that is addressing one of the most important needs of the Rwandan Church, and because the education is heavily subsidized, it is available to even the poorest of students. Were we to join this school, Luke would use his education from as a teacher in the school, likely specializing in theology and Church history. Jaymi would use her skills and experience to work in their Children’s Ministry Training program, which helps churches create effective gospel-centered children’s ministries within the pastor’s churches.

So what’s the conclusion? We feel that God has used this trip to confirm our calling to go work in Rwanda. The work that they are doing in Rwanda is very important and fits perfectly with our gifting. In addition, we feel both a peace and a tremendous excitement to get back there, which has only increased the longer we’ve been back.

Because of this, we have begun the process of applying to return to Rwanda long-term. So far we have applied with our home church’s mission board, and they are excited by our vision. While Luke finishes school, they plan to help prepare us by offering us a number of opportunities both to be mentored and to serve in ministry, with the ultimate goal of us being appointed with the missionary organization in June 2011. At that time, we will begin seeking individuals and churches to partner with us and help send us to Rwanda, while also preparing to leave as soon as we can.

In the meantime, we’ll continue growing through the work of our church, finishing graduate school, and adjusting to life with two boys under 2 (second baby due any day now!). We’ll begin sending out updates again next spring as we approach the appointment time with the mission board.

Thank you all for your prayers and gifts. We most certainly would not have made it to Rwanda this summer without you, and we are grateful to God that we did.


Luke, Jaymi, Ayden, and Baby

In the coming months, please continue to pray with us:
  • That our hearts will continue to be drawn to Rwanda and our future life and ministry there.
  • That we will be focused, effective, and learn a lot while finishing school and serving in our church and neighborhood in Chicago.
  • For the current work being done at NCM in Rwanda and the team that we will be joining.
  • For smooth adjustments for our boys, as the next few years will include a lot of travelling and transition.


Late winter and into spring of 2010, I started blogging about our potential path to the mission field. Then in May I dumped our support letter onto the blog with little explanation. I've been absent from the blogger world ever since. Sorry.

We went to Rwanda for the last 2 weeks of May and it was an INCREDIBLE trip (my next post will be a copy of our letter with the details of the trip). In short, we plan to go back long-term. By the time we left there we were thinking that that is what God wanted us to do. But before announcing that to the whole world, we wanted to have confirmation from our church that they believed that we should be heading there. After all, they are the ones who know us best and ultimately would be sending us as an extension of the local church. We figured it would be a few weeks of conversations, then we would send a follow-up letter (hopefully) exclaiming that we were going to go back!

June came and went and the conversations with the church were sluggish, at best. July came and went with little improvement. We began wondering if they were hesitant about our call to ministry, despite the fact that the conversations that we HAD had were all positive. But we just couldn't seem to get a firm go ahead from them. Very discouraging. It left us both with little to say to anyone who asked follow-up questions about Rwanda. Everything seemed conflicted and in limbo and although we were both still excited about the ministry there, we just weren't sure what was going on. Hence the silence. No follow-up letter to the many, many people who prayed for us and even gave to help cover the cost of the trip. No blogging or posting on Facebook about it. Unless we were directly asked, we rarely even brought it up. We just didn't know what to say.

Finally, in early August, things started moving. We met with 2 of our pastors who enthusiastically said that the church was behind us in this. They had a plan laid out for us to minister in our community and in our church, and for them to mentor us in this preparation process. The waiting and confusion were more related to transitions that the church was going through and confusion that arose from that, and really didn't have much to do with us. It was SO encouraging to have that conversation. We really felt that if God wanted us to go to Rwanda, our church would be a part of that process. Having them finally join us in our enthusiasm for it just pulled everything together and confirmed what we already felt.

So what's next? We plan to apply with the mission board with the goal of being officially appointed with them in June. Being appointed just means that they have approved us to join their mission board, specifically with the Rwanda team. From that point, we will begin connecting with churches and individuals who want to come alongside us and partner with us as our "senders." We'll have a lot of money that needs to be raised and we'll want a lot of people to plan to pray for us. Once that process is complete, we get to go! That process tends to be about a year or so, though. So if you are following the timeline, it's looking like summer 2012 is when we might be actually heading to Rwanda, although I'm sure that timeframe will be adjusted as we go through the process and find that some things move faster or slower than planned.

Meanwhile, Luke is finishing up classes this fall and will have one major test in the spring to complete his master's degree. I am already a day past my due date with baby boy #2, so I plan to have my life turned up-side-down at any moment now. Little Ayden is completely oblivious to the million transitions swirling around him and is just enjoying life as a toddler in the summertime.

I should also note, another reason that I have been so absent from this blog is that I have felt like I needed to lay out where we are in the process (as I just did) before I could really just sit and talk about what I think about it all. So even though I've had thoughts that I might have wanted to post, it seemed too cumbersome to prepare all of the details first. So now I've gotten through that and I plan to post our follow-up letter that we mailed out a few days ago as well. So the story of it all should be up to date and now I can just post what I think about it.

So there you have it. I hope to make this a more active blog again, despite my lack of writing recently. It helps me process. It connects me to others. It seems fitting for me.

And we're going to RWANDA!!! WOO HOO!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Details of the Upcoming Trip

I'm snapping myself out of "journal mode" to give some of the details of our upcoming trip. I've just copied our letter, but taken out identifying details. We'd love for you to pray for us!! And if you didn't receive this already by mail or e-mail, let me know and I can add you to our mailing list.

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you are doing well and enjoying this incredible spring weather! The past year or so has brought about a lot of changes in our life, and it looks as though the next year will bring even more. A (now 15 months) will become a big brother in September and by next December L will have finished his Masters degree.

Meanwhile, we have been looking ahead to our long-term future and we feel that God is calling us to serve Him in full-time ministry overseas. More particularly, we feel that He may be leading us to serve at a pastoral training school in Rwanda. This ministry has a unique program that serves people who are already working as pastors (often at multiple churches) but have little to no training in the Bible. For example, after one of their recent sessions that taught the basics of the Gospel, over a third of the attendees responded by claiming that they were professing faith in Jesus Christ for the first time! Although they had been serving as pastors, they hadn’t even understood the Gospel for themselves. Apparently, this is a typical scenario in much of the African church, and for many of these pastors, training centers supported by missionaries are the only Biblical and Theological education available to them.

We are extremely excited about this opportunity, and we feel as though God is leading us to join this ministry team. We are passionate about the work they are doing, we feel that we are both gifted to accomplish this kind of work, and many of our friends and advisors have been encouraging us to pursue it. Therefore, our next step is to take a short trip to Rwanda to see and experience the ministry first-hand. While we are visiting, we will have the opportunity to tour the country to get a feel for life and ministry in Rwanda. L will be able to observe the pastoral training school while they are in session, while J will be able to observe one of their other programs that helps church workers develop effective children’s ministries. Overall, we’re hoping to accomplish three things on this trip. First, we want to confirm that God is indeed calling us to Rwanda so that we can move forward with confidence, second, we want to begin to develop a vision for our future ministry there, and third, we want to make connections with the missionaries and local pastors in order to have a personal tie with the real needs of those who are laboring for the gospel in Rwanda.

Although we’ve been expecting to take such a trip, J’s pregnancy demands that we either do it immediately while it is still early in her pregnancy or wait for nearly another year from now when the new baby is old enough to travel. We feel that God is clearly leading us to take this trip sooner rather than later. Therefore, we will be traveling to Rwanda May 17 – June 1. We’ve estimated that the trip will cost about $5,000.

We would love for you to partner with us as we pursue God’s call on our lives. Please pray for us as we step out in faith and seek God’s wisdom. In addition, with L having been in school for the past year, we are not able to pay for this trip on our own. If you are able to help us with this need, you can let me know and I will give you the information about how to donate.

Although the details of planning a trip so quickly can be overwhelming, we are excited and thankful for this opportunity that God has given us! When we return, we’ll contact you again to let you know what God has done while we were in Rwanda. We are so thankful for your love and support.



Beautiful Twists and Tugs of the Heart

At this time next week, we will be boarding a plane to Rwanda. Ok, not directly to Rwanda, but we'll start the first leg of our 24-hour journey---we gotta make it through Europe and that crazy ash cloud first. Then we'll be in Rwanda.

Africa. Although both of us have taken a number of overseas trips, neither of us has been to Africa. From the pictures, it looks similar to the trip I have taken to the south Pacific. So I suppose I am just expecting that, but really, I just don't know what to expect.

It feels a bit weird. (and overwhelming--we've got so much to do in the next 7 days!! but that is a different story....) Back to weird. We're going to an unknown place, meeting up with people we don't know, and hoping that by the end of it, we'll want to go back. Like really go back. Like move our kids across the ocean, learn a new language, and settle there. The number of simultaneous emotions that go through me as I think about that are too many to list. Excited. Scared. Uncertain. Hopeful. Joyful. I want to go. I want the adventure, the experience, the opportunity to do something that is really making a difference. I am terrified to go. There are so many "what if's," especially when I think about raising our kids there. Yeah, so many of those.

This past few weeks, I've become very aware of all of the subtle expectations that I have had about raising a family. I always assumed that about the same time that we got to kid #3, our car would probably be on it's last leg and we would get a minivan. Maybe keep our current car around as an unreliable second car. But if we move to Rwanda in the next year or two, it's pretty likely that kid #3 will be born there, we aren't bringing our car along, and I doubt a minivan will be our car of choice. (Do they even have minivans in Africa?!?!) This is obviously not a huge deal and it's a "dream" that I can easily let go of. It probably wouldn't have happened that way anyway if we stayed here, but that's just what I subconsciously expected. Not a big deal on it's own, but when you start to think about ALL of those little expectations that you didn't even realize you had.......well, it makes you realize that you really are giving up life as you know it.

But there is more than all of that--more than the fears or the lost expectations or even the selfish desire for adventure. We started this process with a "simple" question for God: "what's next?" We expected something like L continuing his education, or looking for a teaching job, or pursuing a position in a church. Working with the church overseas was possible, but it wasn't really at the top of our list. But God has been drawing our hearts, step by step, to this exact place. If I hadn't had a one-year-old crawling all over me, I would have captured the progression here and all would see how beautiful it is. Not to bash the little guy, but there have been so many posts in my mind that never made it on here because the little dude wants to type every time I do. But back to the beauty. How do you explain the little twists and tugs at our hearts that have slowly brought us here? How do I capture that now? There is such a peace and confidence that comes from knowing that what you are doing is simply not your idea, but God's. And if God has planned it, He will provide for every part of it! He will keep our new little boy safe in my belly as we travel. He will protect our little man (and us!!) from heartache as we leave him behind for 2 weeks. Or maybe He won't take away the heartache, but He will sustain and comfort us and him. Maybe He won't keep us all healthy as we travel, but He will provide whatever we need to endure whatever comes our way. When you are walking on your own path, you can't be sure of that. But when you are following God's path, although there is uncertainty, there is also peace.

Matthew 6:25-33 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

One week from now isn't really that different than right now. In both cases we are just walking through life, trusting God to provide, and pressing on to serve Him in whatever way He wants. The only difference I can see is that while we are here, we have a false sense of self-sufficiency, but when we board that plane, we know we have to trust Him.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Philippians 4

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I am thankful for:
  • A healthly little family
  • A great local church
  • Good friends
  • God's grace and redemption
  • God's leading in our lives and work in our hearts
  • Food, clothes, a home---everything we need
  • My wonderful husband
  • Did I mention God's grace? It is so good in so many ways.
God, life is overwelming and scary and uncertain right now. Lead us where you want us. Give us what we need to follow you, and grant us peace in this process.

God is good.


So I'm a bit overwhelmed right now. That's kinda an understatement. Ok, so was that. Yeah, I'm not too sure what to think of our life right now. I'm pretty sure we're teetering on the edge of complete insanity. At least, it certainly feels like a roller coaster right now. I feel certain that God is leading us, but wow. He's got some crazy ideas. Ok, so let me explain myself.

We've been thinking for awhile that we need to take a trip to Rwanda for a few weeks to see the ministry firsthand (learn about what they are doing, learn more about the culture and people and what life there is really like, get to know the other people working with that ministry, etc). At one point we were thinking that might happen this summer, but then we found out that I was pregnant and due in September and we figured international travel (to Africa!) at the end of a pregnancy is probably not possible or advisable. So we put the idea of a visit out of our minds---we'll plan it for sometime after the baby arrives.

Then we were advised last week not to give up on the idea of this summer so quickly. Huh? Isn't it too late to plan a trip to Africa this summer? Especially since my pregnancy will dictate that it will have to be early summer? We decided that we should consider it, but figured in the end we would see too many problems with it and not go until later. But every step of the way, it is looking more and more likely that we will be going soon. All of the people and logistics that we thought would point us away from going so soon did the opposite. The family working there right now aren't opposed to it. Our pastor and his wife aren't opposed to it. As we tentatively explore this, everything seems to be falling into place. In fact, the people we have talked to about it have all been excited and encouraged us to do it.

See why I feel like I'm on some insane roller coaster? We were supposed to be looking into this so that we could confirm that we shouldn't go so soon.

Not that I don't want to go. I want to go tomorrow, but I don't want it to be until next year so that I have enough time to plan for it. I would love it if we could be there right now--I'm so excited to see it all and learn about it all and everything else that goes with visiting a country and a ministry that you are hoping to someday be a part of. But at the same time I'm not sure how to make it happen. There's money to raise, schedules to figure out, health to consider, visas, plane tickets, ahhhhhhh!! I can't possibly do all of that in 2 months (or less!!).

And really, there's something else making me frazzled. It's one thing to talk to lots of people about someday picking up and moving to Rwanda. It's a completely different thing to plan a trip there and visit there. It's real. We're really thinking about doing this. This is a big step that isn't just a fun thing to talk about. Is this really what we want to do?!? Actually, is this really what God wants us to do? I keep moving forward, waiting for Him to shut the door and make it clear we should go in another direction. Instead, things just seem to be falling into place. So we just keep following, right? But now following is leading to a pretty big step. Do I have the faith to follow?


At this point in writing, I got interrupted by Luke messaging me (he's at school right now). He's feeling overwhelmed by all of this too, for many of the same reasons. We talked for about an hour about the need to trust God in this. He seems to be leading us, and as long as we are willing to follow, He won't lead us astray. We both felt a little better, and Luke went for a walk to clear his mind. He came back a little later and had ran into a prof and while talking to her, it became clear that he could do a thesis instead of an exam, which he would much prefer, but we didn't think was even an option. So now we have one more thing to think through for the future. Then as we finished that conversation, I got a call about a part-time job for the summer (that I would LOVE). Great, but there's another thing to think about. This morning we also discovered that it might be a possibility to finish our missions app this Nov, instead of having to wait until June 2011, which is a huge, but again--another thing to figure out.

Those are all really good things, but seriously.......I'm not sure how much more thinking about life I can handle right now. I'm going to go play with Ayden for awhile. I'm pretty sure he's too young to throw anything deep or overwhelming at me. More later.....

Our "theme verse" (nothing official, just one we keep coming back to) this past year from Matthew 6 seems once again appropriate:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Amen. Lord, lead us.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I just got an e-mail from one of the current missionaries in Rwanda. He was answering some of our questions about life and ministry in Rwanda. I'm excited. Really excited. I think I had an exclamation point at the end of every sentence in my reply to him.
So much of what they are doing is such a good fit for Luke and I. They have a training school for pastors. The pastors come to them for 3 weeks at a time, 4 times a year. They have 3 groups going at a time, so 36 weeks of the year has pastors there learning things like the basics of salvation, Bible study methods, etc. That is exactly the kind of setting that Luke would thrive in. He loves to teach, especially such worthwhile topics to such a worthwhile class.

But that's not what really excited me. One of the things they are doing is a children's ministry. That could mean any number of things, and I wasn't really sure what exactly they were doing with children. Here is the description I got, "Our children’s ministry is a ministry to the teachers of children. It is intended to help strengthen and train the teachers of children within churches. It primarily focuses on helping churches develop solid ministries to disciple kids." I have always said that although I love children, I much prefer working with people who are working with children. And that's exactly what they are doing!!!!!!!! AND, as if that's not exciting enough, that's what I've been doing for the past 2 1/2 years at our church. So I'm already getting great training and preparation for it! I don't yet know anything about what kind of help they need in that area of ministry, but if our church is any indication, I bet whoever is leading the ministry has a long list of "someday" projects that they never really find the time to do. So one more person working in that area can only strengthen it, right?

It's so hard to wait. I know that this process is long and the earliest we would really be able to get there would probably be 2 years or more. I hate hearing about the things happening there now, knowing that by the time we get there, the needs might be totally different. Why can't we just pick up and move there this summer after Luke is done with school? I know there are good reasons for all of the application process and support raising and everything else, it just seems so long!!!!!

But despite the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get there and my complete inability to be patient, I am excited. Super duper excited.

Friday, February 5, 2010


I've wanted to "be a missionary" my entire life, well since about age 15 anyway. I lost sight of that desire not long before L and I were married, and it stayed dormant for a few years. When the desire did come back, I didn't think that L would ever be ok with it, so I started directing my desires elsewhere. Children's ministry and urban ministry both caught my heart and drew me in. Why go halfway around the world when there is so much need right here? So although international ministry is the type of ministry that God first drew me to, I must say that I'm pretty surprised to find myself here on the threshold of it. It's just not where I expected to be right now.

But none of you are paying any attention to that because I titled this post "Rwanda?" and you are more interested in knowing what exactly I mean by that. We aren't really thinking of going there, are we?? Well, yes. In fact, at this point that is the only place we are looking at. There are still a lot of opportunities for God to close this door, but until He does so (or we arrive there!!) that's the direction we're pursuing. Yes, the first words that come to my mind when I think of Rwanda are "genocide, war, violence." Yes, I have a husband who melts and withers in the slightest heat wave and Rwanda is right in the middle of Africa (ok, a little right of the middle, but who's looking at a map right now anyway?). No, I don't want my children to be raised in a war zone. No, I don't think it's good to be married to a withered, grumpy, hot (not in the "attractive" sense) man. So what on earth are we thinking!?!?! (all of A's aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc were wondering that anyway when we proposed moving "somewhere, probably Africa," but now I'm sure they all really think we've lost it!!)

I would like to start with telling you all the reasons why we feel like God is leading us there, but I don't think anyone will really read it until I dispel a few concerns. First, the genocide. It happened mid-nineties. Every teen and adult that we meet there will have been alive during that time, and I would imagine is deeply effected by it. Does everyone in Rwanda have PTSD? I don't know--I have no idea how widespread the violence was. Is it PTSD if the whole country has it? Maybe it has just changed the culture in general. We have some serious learning to do before arriving. But I do know this: about ten years ago, stability returned and it has been stable since. Does that mean there is no more violence or unrest at all? Again, I don't know, but it can't be as severe as it had been in then nineties or the US Embassy wouldn't be allowing people there; missions organizations wouldn't sending people there. Maybe relief organizations would be there, but not Bible teachers. We've lived in Chicago long enough to know that there can be a lot of violence around you that still never directly effects you. And maybe Rwanda isn't violent at all anymore--I simply don't know. But I can't imagine that it could be too much worse than some of the Chicago neighborhoods. But maybe I'm ignorant about it---again, we have a lot of learning to do. I will say this, though. I have a lot of faith in the US government when it comes to protecting their people on foreign soil. If the Rwandan government still had as much unrest as everyone assumes that there is, there wouldn't be Americans there living normal lives.

Have I appeased your worries enough for you to hear the good stuff? Oh, I forgot about the heat. Rwanda is typically 70's and 80's year round because it is a mountainous country. Have I mentioned that I LOVE LOVE LOVE mountains?!?!

So why do we want to go? The easiest way to describe our excitement for the work being done in Rwanda right now is to share with you the most recent update from one of the missionaries currently working in Rwanda:
Today was an awesome climax to two exhausting weeks of teaching almost sixty first-year pastors. Last Monday (January 18), we welcomed fifty-nine new pastors into our Pastoral Training School. All of these men are in ministry – some oversee multiple churches. They come from fourteen different denominations, including one in Burundi. For the last two weeks, we have been teaching two classes – “The True Gospel” and “The Christian Life.” Over and over again, these men have commented on how new these teachings have been and how they have been teaching wrong doctrine in their churches for such a long time. One man openly confessed last week, “We have been building our churches on the wrong foundation!"
This afternoon during a prayer gathering, assuming that there were probably some in the group who have never understood what it means to be a Christian, we offered the pastors a chance to respond to the call of the Gospel. Twenty four pastors quickly stood to their feet to declare in front of everyone that they were trusting in Jesus and what Jesus has done for them for the first time in their lives. Praise the Lord! These men are on fire! Next week we will finish their studies, at which time they will return to their homes and churches. Please pray that the truth of what they’ve experienced and embraced would radically change their lives, homes and churches.

I feel like just ending this post with that. Need I say any more? Is there a more worthwhile work that we could do? Pastors, the men ordained to lead the Church and guide God's people to Truth, who don't even understand the foundations of God's Truth themselves!!! Think about how many lives will be changed by these influential men spreading the Truth even further.

Since I've been so concerned about defending our sanity in this, I haven't really let on to the million questions and fears I have. I mean really, Rwanda? What are we thinking? We've got a one year old child, and we ultimately want more children. Are we really considering moving to the middle of Africa with a young family, probably dealing with pregnancy and birth there?!?!? They've got a good thing going without us, do they really need us to go there? Did we rush into this decision? Do we have a stable enough marriage and family to go halfway around the world and live in less-than-ideal conditions? Are we really sure that that's what God wants with us? Maybe we're just getting caught up in the excitement of it and not thinking about it realistically.

But we've prayed about it. A lot. When we started this process, it was a cautious "God, what do you have in store for us after L is done with school?" The response? Every person that we sat down with to ask if they could see a place for us to use our gifts and passions to serve God overseas said yes. So we started to officially pursue "missions," still waiting for God to close the door. We were directed to a number of different locations that could potentially be a good fit for us. But the moment Rwanda was even mentioned, we both felt drawn to it. Neither of us admitted that until later, of course, because really, Rwanda? The process of corresponding with missionaries and talking with our church and talking with others who know us well and praying together and talking together and researching together continued. The entire time, L and I both felt drawn to Rwanda, and the work that the team is doing there right now. It is a pull that I can't describe. But despite how crazy I (sometimes) think we are, neither of us can shake it. It just seems right. How's that for a vague, wishy-washy answer? But I don't think it is wishy-washy. I think God sometimes chooses to direct us by giving us an uncanny peace about what He wants. And as far as the other concerns like, "are we cut out for this?" That's why we have both a church and mission board evaluating us. Maybe we aren't. Maybe God just wants us to go through this process so we can be drawn closer to Him, and in the end we won't end up overseas at all. I don't like that possibility, but God is God and I am not--He can do with us what He wants.

So now we have a lot of work to do. We both feel like we just want to study every aspect of Rwanda's culture and history and people. We have an application to fill out with our church so they can approve for us to apply with the mission board. Then we have that application. It's like a full life study of both of us---every aspect of our life and history and marriage and theology and who knows what else?!?! Somewhere in there we want to (and have been strongly advised to) take a 2 week trip to Rwanda. When do we do that? Do we take A along? How do we pay for it? Do we raise support? I feel like we should do it sooner rather than later, since that seems like the most likely way for God to confirm that we should go there, or close that door for us. Then (or maybe before we visit Rwanda) we go to the mission's headquarters (in November, if our church approves) and go through their evaluation time. Then, if we're approved by them, we start raising support and prepping to go. THAT IS SUCH A LONG PROCESS!!!! And I am not a patient person.

Wow. I just re-read everything I wrote. Is anyone still reading this? That's lot of reading. I'll end now because I'm not sure what else to say and this is already gettting super-long. More later.

Meanwhile, the journey continues and God is good.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Beginning of the Journey

Where do I begin in describing our thoughts right now?

My husband, L, is going to finish his master's degree in Theology this summer. Naturally, the question arose: what comes next? Prior to this adventure into school, L was just working a 9-5 job that he didn't care much about--certainly not a long term career, just an honest way to earn a living. I had quit my similarly uninteresting job a few months earlier to stay home with our first son, A. Since high school (long before we met each other), we've both felt as though God ultimately wants us to serve Him full time in ministry. After college we had gotten a bit sidetracked, but in the past 2-3 years, that desire to give our lives completely and unreservedly to God for His work has been renewed. That's the nutshell that brings us to a few months ago when we started asking "what's next?"

L and I both love to teach. We both get energized at opportunities to communicate what we know to others who want to know it. We both also are confident leaders, although our leadership styles and abilities are vastly different. I also tend to get excited about administrative tasks, while L could discuss theology and philosophy all day. So what do we do with this and with L's education? Where does God want us next?

I've always been drawn to international ministry. Part of it may be the excitement of travel, and learning other languages and understanding a new culture. But I think most of that desire comes from the knowledge that there is just so many more needs than in the US, and so many less people to meet those needs.

L is a different story, though. He'd considered missions long ago and concluded that he could be much more effective teaching in his own culture and in his own language. He also likes to travel and such, but he just felt that it doesn't really make a lot of sense to send missionaries all over the world and spend all this extra money to fly them there and establish a new life there when ultimately a missionary is not nearly as natural as a native church-goer in spreading the Gospel in an effective way. Sure, there's remote corners of the world that don't even have the seed of a church, but neither of us feels as though the initial evangelizing of a culture is a good match for us. We're more the type to take an eager learner and give them everything we can. And for that, it seemed to L that letting local people pass on what they know is simply more effective.

But a few months ago, he started questioning that conclusion. He started seeking out people who had been connected with the international church and asking them what they thought about it. The response was overwhelmingly in agreement that there was an intense need in developing countries for exactly the kind of teaching and discipleship that we think God has prepared us to do. There are countries where the majority of the pastors don't have a high school education, let alone any Biblical training. Imagine that! The person who is trying to lead the church doesn't even understand the Bible for himself.

Suddenly, the whole world opened up to us. Why should we limit ourselves to the US when there is so much need that we are equipped to meet in so many places?!?!

So here we are. We have a number of personal connections to one missions agency, and we feel like their values and such are all agreeable to us, so we've started conversations with them. They've connected us with missionaries in a few African countries that we've begun talking to to see if the work they are doing is a good fit for us.

In the meantime, we met with one of the pastors at our church today. It was a good meeting. He gave good direction for us spiritually. I'll probably be thinking about it a lot in the near future, and therefore will probably write more about it later. He also went through a few of the logistics of the process with us. We'll apply first with the church for them to send us as missionaries, and when we get the go-ahead from them, we'll apply with a mission board.

So that's where we are right now. There is SO MUCH more that I could say about all of this, but this is getting long and I just wanted to write something that would bring whoever is reading this up to speed on what's going on. This post feels very dry and factual, but there is a lot of history to cover--I can flesh out the thoughts later.

I should also note that I feel incredibly weird writing with "L" and "A" and other anonymous nonsense. However, I just read a friend's blog where she had a crazy privacy breech and in the end had to go back and change everything to make it anonymous. I'm saving myself the potential trouble and concern of that by just starting with annonymity, even though it feels very bizarre. I expect that most of my readers are friends that I have in real life who know our actual identity, so you'll be able to fill in the blanks that I leave (and please don't identify us if you leave a comment!)

Thanks for reading and joining us in this journey!

Blog Name Inspiration

Rich Mullins' song is the inspiration for this blog's name.  May our life be one of mercy and love, so that the footprints we leave will be filled with grace.

Aidan you're young
But Aidan you're growing fast
Me and your mom
And all the love we have
We can only take you so far
As far as we can
But you'll need something more to guide your heart
As you grow into a man

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I'll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

Aidan the day
Aidan the day will come
You'll run the race
That takes us way beyond
All our trials and all our failures
And all the good we dream of
But you can't see yet where it is you're heading
But one day you'll see the face of love


Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There'll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Let mercy lead