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.