Sunday, October 05, 2008

For Those Considering Missions

Many times people write to ask "How did you know you should go?" or "How did you know you were called?" "What should we do?"

We cannot tell you how to interpret God's voice in your life, we can simply tell you our story and that for us His voice was loud and clear. He made a way where we saw no way and it simply became an act of obedience to drop our fear and objections and just GO. Below, a portion of our story and how God confirmed His calling for our lives in mid 2005.

Hope and Isaac came "home" to Minnesota late in 2002. We continued to think often about Haiti and the impact the things we had seen had made on us. We talked about wanting to go back and serve there "some day."

When we adopted our children God also planted the seeds for our future here. We just did not know at the time that the future was not too far off.

Over the next three years our conversations often brought us back to Haiti and God's will for us. We had a surprise baby (Noah) in 2004 and determined that we would probably be smart to wait until our kids were grown before we could even try to visit Haiti again.

Each time something would stir up the Haiti discussion we would simply tell each other that parents of five children do not belong in ministry in Haiti. We would also reason that we really had no formal training. Troy is not a pastor, neither of us had done any sort of cross-cultural coursework in college. We talked about trying to take some classes that would help us in the future ... Because certainly God could not use a telephone man/Dad and a sales manager/Mom in Haiti.

We thought our excuses were very solid -- and honestly they were, but God made a point of getting our attention and at least asking us to test Him on our rationale for waiting.

One day I got an email from a friend, this friend had no way of knowing anything about our desire to go to Haiti OR our excuses for not going. Her email said, "Hey check these people out. They are moving to do ministry in the Ukraine with TEN kids."

I forwarded the email to Troy. He reluctantly said that yes, maybe if that family could drag ten kids across the globe, we could at least test God on our "Haiti thing."

Slowly but diligently we started researching ministries that might need help. We sent dozens of emails to different agencies on the ground in Haiti. We asked what they needed, what sort of training they required, what sort of specialized degrees we might need. We wrote to families that were already serving in Haiti, especially if they had more than a couple of kids. We asked 100's of questions of many people.

I was training for a marathon at the time and was involved in a on-line running group. I had been reading the posts from that running group for months. One day during that time a lady posted about running in the heat. She said, "I hear you - that you're experiencing lots of hot weather this summer in the USA and that makes training difficult. I have been training for marathons in Haiti for many years. Our weather here is only hot."

I contacted the woman who wrote that post, I told her that we had been praying about Haiti and that we had a connection through running too. She was excited to hear from someone who loved running and Haiti. She said she had never posted a comment on the running group before. The connection was instant between us. She invited us to meet them and stay overnight with them if/when we decided to come to Haiti.

All of the research led to a fact-finding trip to Haiti in the fall of 2005. We saw the mission where we now work and we met the marathon runner, Beth, who God placed in our path for a reason. Our friendship has been a blessing since day one. Lydia is named after Beth.

When we returned home we knew God would need to clear some pretty significant obstacles if we were going to move. We wrote a list of those obstacles. It was a LONG and complicated list. We said, "If God clears these things, that means we are supposed to go." We fully expected most of them would not happen. We never thought He would make it possible. We actually thought it was dumb to even move on the first few things because to us some of the middle things seemed totally out of the question.

In the next four weeks, one after another, the list began to dwindle. In less than 60 days we packed, sorted, and cleaned. Our house rented for the full payment amount, our small credit card debt was paid off, our oldest two daughters got on board and wanted to go, we got permission for them to move from their biological dads, our stuff got moved and stored, and the full dollar amount we needed to live in Haiti each month was raised. All of this happened in 58 days.

At that point it was hard to deny that God's timing was not "when our kids are grown" but rather "now." The list of obstacles had nothing left on it. The only remaining obstacle at that point was our own fear of stepping into the unknown. We knew we needed to do it afraid.

We moved to Haiti in January of 2006. It has not always been easy, at times it has been terribly daunting -- but it has been exciting and it has been filled with God's provision.

The number one thing each one of us can say - God is stretching us - individually and as a family. We have all grown and changed a lot in the past three years. We have much more learning to do and we're glad to be where we believe God wants us for this season of our lives. We're excited to see where He will take us next. We feel privileged to be here, it is no sacrifice to be where God places you.