Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Road to Rwanda

This blog started as a chronicle of our journey to Rwanda (although at the time we didn't yet know where it was that God would lead us). It then fizzled out and was pretty inactive for awhile. I've revived it with many stories and thoughts of the present, without much mention of the future.

Meanwhile, numerous people have asked us what our plan is with Rwanda. Are we still going? When? What does that process look like? I intend to answer those questions here.

First, yes, we are still planning to go. We're even excited about it! The process was on hold for a little while, then we had a baby who turned our life up-side-down, and now we simply find ourselves behind on just about everything. Yet in all of that, our hearts and minds are still with the people of Rwanda. Every update we receive from one of the missionaries there is like an energizing shot of adrenaline. We follow the news there. Luke can't stop talking about how much of the language he wants to learn before we even get there. We discuss how it will affect our children. We recall people that we met and churches that we saw. We're EXCITED to go and are impatient with the process!!

And a process it is! Several weeks ago, we finally got the go-ahead from our church to apply with the mission agency. Since then, we have received a steady flow of application materials to complete and return. We expected the basic application form with a work/school history, a few questions about what we believe or how we feel about certain things, etc. In addition, we had to find 20 references--yep 20! Luke wrote a 6-page theological statement that we have to discuss with one of our pastors before returning to the mission agency. We each have to write a long biographical sketch (I think it is like 5 pages or something!). And let's not forget the psychological evaluations, marriage evaluation, and personality test. We also have to submit blood work and physicals on all four of us. I'm pretty sure there is more, although I can't think of anything else right now. Luke is mostly done with his portion of it, while I have barely started. All of it is due at various points in April.

Once all of that has been submitted, a committee at the mission agency will review all of it. If everything checks out, we will be invited to head out to Denver in June. While in Denver, we will have about a week of more evaluation and interviews. At the end of that week, we will (hopefully!) be formally appointed as full-time missionaries with the mission agency! We'll spend another week in Denver for some initial training, then head home to Chicago.

From that point on, we'll begin the process of recruiting partners for our ministry in Rwanda. We will be looking for individuals and families who are willing to pray for us and/or partner with us financially. We will also be looking for churches who are willing to take us in as missionaries that they will help support. This process is expected to take 1-2 years, although there is no telling for sure what it will really look like. As soon as all of our funding has been raised, we will move to Rwanda! We're thinking maybe the later half of 2012? we are working to raise the funds to go to Rwanda, we will also be working to prepare in a few other ways. The mission agency has a number of training times that we will take part in, usually involving another trip to Denver for a week or two. We will continue serving in our church here in Chicago in the various ministries that we are involved in. And obviously, there will be a lot to do in practical terms (packing, buying things, selling things, visas, shots, goodbyes.....) in order to move our family to Rwanda, so we'll be focusing on that as well.

Now that I've laid out a nice timeline with clear tasks and activities, I should mention that it almost certainly won't come about in the way that I have just described. There's a lot of speculation based on variables that could easily change. BUT, this is what we are carefully expecting right now, knowing that God could re-route things in any number of ways.

What we do know is this: Our job is to follow Jesus step by step, even if He veers from the path that we expect Him to go. Right now, God is pretty clearly directing us to follow Him in this way. Our church supports it, the missionaries that we are hoping to join support it, and we are excited about it!

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