Thank you for your ongoing prayers, thoughts and support. Without you, this work is not possible.
It is nearly the end of July and four months since I have returned home from Kenya and Uganda.
I am writing today because, at length, there is a conclusion about what's next. Please do not stop praying for me, our family, our new season in Belington, W.Va. and for future missions at home and in far away places.
First, In Conclusion....
The mission in Kenya with Archdeacon Mary and Rev. Simon was full of surprises. The most common surprise to me was the way God guided and directed each step. The schedule was full of visitations, preaching opportunities, teaching Sunday School teachers and meeting the people in Kirinyaga Diocese.
Rev. Simon is an incredibly gifted young man. He shines Jesus' love. Simon escorted me to most of the 7 teacher conferences. We taught together, as a team. He interpreted (and corrected when needed) my words as we joyfully encouraged the Sunday school teachers throughout the diocese. He has now been appointed to lead a multi-diocese task force that writes simple, usable lesson plans for the teachers. They have a strategic plan for helping the teachers to become more effective as they share the gospel with the thousands of children who are being touched by God's word.
This mission was an important picture for me of the connections we all have in Christ. You who pray and support through encouraging words and financial support are just as present to me as those with whom I am working face to face. We, together, are part of the embassy of the Lord's Kingdom here on earth, we are His ambassadors. As one prays and gives, another writes, another goes, another welcomes home, we all work together for His good.
And a special thanks to Mosaic, my sending church. Thank you Rev. Elaine Storm and all those who so faithfully pray and give. Thank you for your encouragement and for hearing my stories when I return. Thank you for caring about the people in far-away places and for those in Imperial who do not yet know Christ. Thank you for being willing to make sacrifices in order that others may come to know Jesus. Thank you for being my home when I am in this part of the world.
In the mean time.....
My head and heart are spinning. When I arrived home on Good Friday, Emily, Karl, Cambria, Greta, and Dietrich were already preparing to move to Sewickley. They have lived with us for at least 4 years and I love having them here with us. I am so very excited for them in their new home. They have returned to the neighborhood where we lived until Emily was 10 years old. They can walk to school, to the shops, the park, to church and to the YMCA. They are happy and active in their new place.
At the end of May, Nathaniel bought a house in Baden which is down the river from Emily. He packed his clothing and a few items in boxes and off he went to begin a new adventure of his own. As an auto mechanic, he will continue in the same place he has been working since he was in college. He is a good helper for Chuck as they work to build our new home.
In a few days Abby will move to Mt. Washington as she too begins a new season. She continues to work as a nurse in a place where challenges are at every turn.
Soon Erin and Austin (now nearly 3 years old) will move to a new home in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Erin works as a nurse in Pittsburgh as well and continues to be a blessing to many families who come to the hospital with great fear.
In 12 weeks Chuck will retire after 35 years as a police officer with Moon Township. For 2 1/2 years he has been working hard to build a home for us on the shore of the Tygert Valley River in Belington, W.Va.
As you see, WE ARE IN TRANSITION!!! My head and heart are spinning. There are days when I just simply do not know were to begin, I don't have Greta and Dietrich jumping on my face and singing "Shake it Off". I'm living in three worlds. One in Oakdale where we are working to get our house ready to sell after being here for 23 years. One in Belington where we do not yet have plumbing and struggle to get the hot water to work in the outdoor cow trough bath tub. One in Africa where I long to be again.
As you may know, Bishop Joseph invited me and a SAMS team to lead a missions conference in November. The date was then changed to December. It is an incredible honor to have been invited to work side-by-side with such dedicated brothers and sisters in Christ. I was excited to return to do so. But is now seems that the timing is not right. For personal reasons which I will explain and because we were not able to gather a team, I have written to request that a team could come in 2017. Lynn Bouterse, the director of short-term missions and I will work together to prayerfully consider this mission. It is my prayer that another opportunity for mission will present itself so that we can walk together with our friends in Kenya. I am also praying with confidence that God is providing the right people to lead the mission already scheduled in December. There may be other opportunities in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan as well so I pray for clarity of vision and for wisdom as I listen to God's direction.
Our new bishop, Jim Hobby, is excited to hear more about what God is doing in Belington. He is open to finding ways to form partnerships in ministry and to think together about the best ways to walk into the vision God has given. Years ago, God showed me a place with a house where people gather to pray, to eat, to worship and learn together. There were small cottages and small gardens and people coming and going, people of all ages from all over the world. We were connected by friendship and for our love of the Lord. It was a place of peace and prayer.
As you see from the Mean Time report, I believe that this 23 acres of land on the river is a place God can use to bring people together for a time and then send them back out into the world. Building a house in a place where there is no electric, no sewer system, no gas, no paved road and very little access to reliable helpers is not easy!!! It is hard. There are days when I question whether or not God is the one who gave that vision, if the vision was for us, if the vision is for this place, for now for .....
I question. And I know that walking obediently with God is not easy, but it is good and right. I know that I may not see the fruit of this obedience until we arrive in heaven. Right now it feels like there may not be fruit. UG.
Belington is a beautiful place. I meet people who are sad, some who are stuck, some who are angry, some who are encouraging, faithful, and full of hope. It is a mixed bag just as those first missionaries found and the thousands of faithful missionaries throughout history.
When God gives us marching orders He rarely gives a detailed description as He did when He gave directions for the building of the tabernacle. I would love those kinds of directions!!! But most often He says, "Follow me, trust me, walk with me day by day and I will show you the way." UG. I want a road map, not a note with the next step scribbles on a napkin. But, when God hands you a napkin it is best to trust those directions and wait for the next marching order.
Please pray for continued clarity of vision, for His provision, for help to complete the house and most importantly for God to show us people of peace in the place with whom we can partner as we share the gospel.
Sad to leave. Packing is hard. Organizing 23 years of stuff and not having a place to put my books is hard. We have contacted a Realtor, waiting to hear from him. We will move some things to Nathaniel's house where we will keep a bedroom as a local resting place when we come home. I hope to have a big party before we say good-bye to thank those very many people who have made our house home over the years.
When we first moved here people came to help Chuck tear down a room and build an addition. We celebrated Thanksgiving in this house before the walls were finished, such great memories.
People came to paint and scrape paint, to scrub and just to hang out with us
People came to partner with us to plant the Garden Gate which began officially a week before Ivan hit. And then came a flood of people helping to clean up and work through the mud as we ministered to those is great need.
People came for bible studies, missions planning, youth group, and just to say hello.
When we were looking for a home, we asked God to give us a home that would be a blessing to us, our family and friend for years to come. He answered those prayers in a thousand ways.
And now we pray that God will bring the right people to take over the care of this home that will be a blessing to them for years to come.
Years ago, Eric Taylor reminded us almost daily that change is hard. I always considered myself one of the early adapters, the one who goes out ahead to lead to way to change. And today I feel like the one who is hanging on for dear life. The future us unknown, I have no control, it is not easy, but it is good and right. I will follow Him where He leads. I know you will too.
I love you and look forward to the continued Adventure...