African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Africa?

The whole reason I've started blogging is so that I can keep people informed about our activities in Africa.  I figure that I better know what I am doing before we set out or it might not happen.  That being said, I'll give you a little background on our decision to take our family to Africa.
Back in 2005, our church had a team go to Kenya to work with Wycliffe Associates.  Eric and Tracey Hagman are missionaries in Kenya and our trip was in part to support and encourage them because their family was originally from Evergreen Community Church.  Drew and I were on that team and it really was life changing.  There is something about working alongside these people who had very little, yet more joy than I could even imagine.  It was inspiring and humbling to  listen to them thank God for all their riches and quote scripture knowing they were truly Words of Life.  I realize in a 2 week trip you get the "honeymoon" version of what a country is like but we were determined to return to Africa.  As we talked we decided that when our kids were old enough we would come back to Africa with them so that they could experience this first hand.  When Chris was younger we had gone on a mission trip with him to Honduras and found that to be a very worthwhile investment.  So our plan was made and life went on.

Fast forward 6 years, to January 2011.  The economy has been in a several year slump and we are feeling it.  Drew works in seasonal construction and has to worker harder than ever for less money than ever.  We're doing okay but it's definitely by the grace of God and we surely don't have EXTRA.  One day as I was praying for our friends in Africa while walking on my treadmill this thought came blazing into my mind.  "If you are ever going to take your kids back to Africa like you said, the time is now."  It was that clear.  Being the logical one that I am, all I could think was - That would be impossible.  Right about then, the song came on with the line "He can move a mountain..."  Wow, did I believe that God could move a mountain?  I felt really challenged by that thought as I prayed more about the possibility of us taking our kids to Africa.  In my mind, I pictured just the 5 of us going and staying near Eric and Tracey.  I thought the kids and I could work at Heshima with Tracey, and Drew could do construction with Eric.  We had been there before so it didn't seem too risky.

Once I had this great idea figured out in my head I went upstairs to talk to Drew about it.  Now here is what I love about this man.  He could have laughed at me or said "No way" or just ignored me.  He looked at me and said "Wow, that would be great.  You're right, there is no way we could do that without God making a way for us to.  I think we should pray as a family for 2 weeks and see if we still should move forward."
So we prayed and prayed (all 5 of us) for 2 weeks.  At the end of the 2 weeks we sent an email to Eric to see if it would even work.  He copied our email on to Michael Wahl with Wycliffe Associate (Volunteer Coordinator).  We laid our plans before the Lord and he took our willingness.  Michael called us right away and said it wouldn't work for us to go to Kenya but would we consider going to Cameroon?  Cameroon sounded almost as good, since we had another couple from our church moving there.  Then he asked if we could get a team together...Okay.  This wasn't really what we had in mind but our good friends Jon and Julie Sybrant agreed to co-lead a team with us.  There are 16 people in our team!  We thought we were just dipping our toes into the water to see if there was a need and suddenly things are happening.  We still had no idea where we would come up with the money.

Well, I'm here to say that God really can move a mountain when it is part of His plan.  We had prayed for things before that just seemed to go on empty ears after years of laying it before God.  I don't know why this is so important to Him or even why he would chose to use me and my family - I'm just along for the ride.  With each step of faith we have taken on this journey the money has come in at just the right time.  We have been blown away with the generosity of people, some we don't even know!  The more we planned the clearer it became to us that we should stay longer than the team.  There are a lot of projects going on in Cameroon and we have the time.  The biggest expense is the airline tickets so in our mind we might as well get our moneys worth and stay until mid-March.  Since making this decision to stay 10 1/2 weeks I have heard a few different speakers talk about the 6 week point being very difficult in a new land.  I really believe this is going to bring us closer as a family and cause us to cling to Jesus in a whole new way.

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