*Just a warning, this is going to be a long one.*
We are leaving South Africa on September 15th.
I didn’t know this was coming. Truthfully, I didn’t. Neither did Bryan. Before we came here, we sat down and ran the numbers and asked ourselves if this was truly possible. We worked our budget again and again, factoring in all the possible expenses that could arise. As we boarded the plane on May 30th, we were full of hope. We were anticipating the ministry we would have, the relationships we would build and the doors that would open. Our hope continued throughout the first and second months of our time here. We enjoyed new friends, we started programs, we prayed with and for people, and we made plans for next steps in ministry. But as we received our monthly support statements, we realized something wasn’t quite lining up. I had my appointment with the OB/GYN, and the bill at the door was much higher than our estimate. Unexpected trips to the hospital came up from sicknesses our bodies weren’t immune to. I remember sitting in the living room with Bryan when he told me we weren’t breaking even. He was working our budget on the computer with our support statement in front of him. When we saw the numbers, we were shocked. A lot of support that had been promised had never come through, and other supporters had (very good) reasons that caused them to drop off. Our hand was forced, and we were blindsided by it.
We immediately went in to a flurry of discussion about of course, a) why did this happen, and b) where do we go from here. To be honest, we’re not sure why it happened. It just did. We also realized that if we were to gain a few more supporters in the coming months to make up the difference, we would still be in a place that would cause us to be pinching pennies… meaning we would be forced to prevent another child from being conceived.
We have wrestled for a long time with the fact that we have a deep desire to have many children. Our desire for a large family, however, seemed directly opposite to our desire for foreign missions. It’s an obvious reality that the more people in the family, the more money must be raised, the more plane tickets purchased, the bigger house equals higher rent, etc. We had, with sadness in our hearts, resigned ourselves to waiting on expanding our family and had once again begun using contraceptive, against our own desires (not because we don't believe in it, just because we WANT more children). And then our second daughter was conceived, despite contraceptive—just weeks before we were to leave for South Africa. I stood holding a positive pregnancy test in one hand and plane tickets in the other, wondering how in the world they could co-exist. We believed that God led us to come anyway, and I won’t deny that still. God brought us here for a purpose, and it is not for me to question His ways.
Now here we sit, with the realization that we cannot stay in our current situation unless a miracle occurs. I am not one to be skeptical when it comes to the miraculous, but I do believe that God has obviously entrusted Bryan and I with the well-being of 2 precious daughters and we must do what is wise in regards to their care. We have the means to stay through January, but our conclusion to leave in September came through hours of reasoning. I am due with this baby on December 31st. I am expected to contract Cholestasis as I did in my pregnancy with Peyton, but it is not guaranteed (nor desired!!). If I do have Cholestasis again, I will be induced the first week or two of December. However, we cannot bank on that. If I do not get Cholestasis again, we will be leaving it up to God and this baby when she comes and any woman knows that could be any time between the beginning of December and mid-January. Our lease here in South Africa is up on January 15th. We cannot gamble with the chance of having to leave with a few day old baby and a sore, recovering momma. We have seen it best that we travel in September, when flights are cheapest, when I am at a good place in my pregnancy (not yet third trimester), and when we will still have time to get somewhat settled before our family grows again.
Our plan is for Bryan to pursue Law Enforcement, in which he has an Associates Degree already. This career will allow us to have the big family we believe God has called us to have, and also still have an involvement with missions through our giving and even short term trips in the future. Obviously, it will take time to get our feet on the ground again. We will essentially have to start from scratch all over again as we sold almost everything to come here. We are trusting God to provide the means to get us settled. Bryan will have to take a temporary job right away to pay our bills and get us jump started. Then he will move forward with his certification to pursue a job in the Burlington (or a surrounding area) Police Force.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Burlington. As in Vermont. We feel that Vermont is the best place for us to settle and to raise our family. Vermont has a lower certification requirement than Minnesota, so Bryan wouldn’t have to go through any more schooling other than a hands on training course. I will be close to family and therefore have help with the kids as Bryan is away getting certified.
There are a lot of unknowns, and to be honest with you, there is so much temptation to feel condemned. We feel as though we failed, in a way. I have thought long and hard about this decision and we have both been before the Lord through this process. The devil has tried to come in many times with thoughts of judgment. We have received mixed responses since sending our newsletter announcing our decision. But each time we are met with a judgment from “man”, we run to God and find peace, love and grace.
I know that no matter where we are, we can be used by the Lord. We came to Africa to be useful, and we have been. But we also learned that we don’t have to be in Africa to be used. God has put the same Spirit in us that was in Christ Jesus and that Spirit enables us to be ministers of the Gospel far or near. For us, contrary what we always thought, I guess it will be “near”.
We may not know right now God’s reason for bringing us to South Africa for such a short time. In man’s eyes and estimation it seems almost a waste, but God does not operate on our time table or in our fashion. He knows the end from the beginning and all things will be made clear at the end of time. For now, we are trusting Him each step of the way and believing that He will continue to lead us from here onward.
I am excited about the next step, because I have a Master who is leading me forward in His grace, and excellent wisdom.