Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where to begin.....

The question of why we are moving to Africa is difficult to answer in one line. But if I were going to sum it up I would just have to say because we believe God wants us to. It is even difficult to pinpoint a beginning. So, I'll start by saying that I remember being at church camp in the summer between seventh and eighth grade when I first realized that I needed and wanted to be a Christian. I was in the back of the auditorium on one of the last few days of the week thinking about how I didn't really want to walk down to the front in front of all the people. I squirmed in my chair wrestling with this decision and the weight it would carry knowing that I'd have to agree to follow into unknown territory. The only knowledge I had of Africa was the Ethiopia commercials and I had not ever thought anything about going there until strangely enough it was part of my decision that day. I remember bartering with God and thinking, "ok, I am really ready to make this life changing decision but please don't ever make me go to Africa". I guess that I viewed that as the 'ultimate mission' and that only the most notable christians go there. Billy Graham types or weirdo's. And no one in between. Life went on and in college I gained a further understanding of the Bible and God himself. I have always loved children and my heart hurts for those abused or abandoned. Andrew and I were feeling that God was beginning to stir something up in us and so we prayed that we would understand what we were supposed to do. We spent 6 months helping on Sundays with the children's ministry, helped with a small refugee project in Nashville, and a list of other things trying to find the answer to that question. We knew we were supposed to do more but we weren't feeling like we had found the 'it' thing. Until August of 2009. A new couple visited our small group and while I usually like to dominate all conversations we let them tell us what they did for a living and when the wife began talking I became speechless(i know that this blog has just lost all credibility). Andrew was hitting my leg under the table. She said that she ran a non profit organization that was about to open a center for orphans in place that I had never heard of nor could locate on a map. But I was in awe. I had spoken that same 'i want to open a home' speech to Andrew four years before in a detail that I still can't fully believe. I wanted to do what she was doing years before I met her only I wanted to do it in America. I didn't mention that to her but we followed her blog very closely for the next few weeks while she was in Sierra Leone opening the center. Andrew and I were hooked. We had found the thing that God was stirring in our hearts for a year before. We weren't sure what exactly we were supposed to do but we knew it involved The Raining Season and orphan care. From that August to the next we debated, swayed, wrestled and finally decided to move to Sierra Leone. It was not without a fight on my part and I decided that since God was being so clear that I would just ignore him which I did for three weeks. What a terrible three weeks it was. One Sunday morning I decided that enough was enough and that I would read once again and I picked up where I left off three weeks earlier in Matthew 13. That chapter has several parables about the kingdom of heaven, sewing seeds and the good sorted from the bad. I kept thinking how I don't mind sewing seeds-I just wanted to stay here in my house, in my town where my friends and family live and there is a Target. I like Target. I like Target a lot! But in the very last paragraph Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, that a prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown". So, I shut that Bible and drove to church. I can't remember if I took the scenic route or the freeway because I was to busy thinking of a rebuttal. It went something like this: I am not a prophet so maybe this doesn't apply to me. And, not everyone has to leave their hometown to spread the seeds. So, maybe I can just stay where I am and work harder on the things I am committed to here. I got to church and the guest speaker was talking about the validity of Christ and I thought, "whew, thankfully I am not going to be provoked here since I was already very convinced of that point" but church is not a very good place to go if you don't want to hear what God has to say. So would you believe that that dumb guy ended the whole thing with the comment that if God took all the pains to ensure that we had the right guy wouldn't it be a good assumption that we should listen to what he has to say. Of course everyone is thinking yes so he says, "lets find out what he does have to say", and he went on to quote the great commission. "Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have commanded you. And I am with you even till the end of the age" Matthew 28 ( or Mark 16) I was sitting in my seat dumbfounded(no remarks on that please) and got out of my seat like a zombie to go home. I called Andrew who was in Memphis and told him about the morning really just wanting him to agree that we should stay in suburbia and live opposed to what we were supposed to do. While I wrestled these thoughts out loud to Andrew I was coming around the corner of a turn I have made a million times. I had just ranted these words, " I just really want to be sure that we have to go there and that we can't stay here. I need a clear sign that we have to go there" when rounding that corner and dropped my jaw. There on the corner was a large wooden playset like you see in backyards all the time. It was the kind that had a canvas top. This particular canvas top had obviously seen better days as the stripes had been faded with the sun and had come loose on one side and was flapping in the wind. I did a double take and checked to make sure I was really seeing a blue, white and green striped canvas flag waving all around in the wind. Yep. That is the Sierra Leonian flag! These three happenings only cover a four hour time period so you can imagine how many other things I don't have time or space in this dissertation to mention. So, we are going. And I am excited about it. Andrew has been offered a position with The Raining Season(visit therainingseason.org if your interested) and will be learning a lot about business as missions. I will be raising our kids at home and homeschooling(God help me) and learning how to milk chickens. We have been on a two week survey trip and have gotten our budget figured out finally so we will go as soon as we sell our house and have the funds raised. Our goal is November but we will see. We aren't sure how long but we are viewing it as long term and would be there at least two years. It's funny how when you decide to just give in and obey you find that it usually isn't nearly as big of a deal as you made it out to be. Kind of like kids eating peas. I am sure that it will be hard. We are going to miss all of you so much more that you will know. But we will be taken care of and God has a way of providing all you need. Thank you so much for all of the support you have been to us. We have been showered with kind words and great friends to support us during this rocky time so we are very blessed!

4 comments:

  1. Heather, thank you so much for your transparency and for sharing your heart. You and Andrew have been an awesome example of obedience for Dave and me, and I will always treasure our friendship. I promise to keep in touch and pray for you often, and I can't wait to see what wonderful things God will accomplish through you.

    Love you!! Amber

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  2. I am kinda slow and not sure I understand. You can raise the chickens in two years but ... how are you gonna raise the kids in 2 years? :)

    God bless you guys for your commitment to serve others.

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  3. Sam, do you mean the kids that will live in our home or the kids that live at the center?

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  4. @ Sam...Ha!
    @ Heather... SO SO SO SO SO SO SOOOOOO excited for you! My jaw is still on the floor. I wish so badly that we could have lived closer and connected more. Maybe we can stop and see you on our way to Virginia this summer?!
    Love you so much!!

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