Saturday, October 9, 2010

How We Got Here

Well, it's a been a few months away from the blogging world, but that doesn't mean it's been a boring few months.

I'll try to paint this picture simply, but the fact is, it's more of an intricate tapestry woven together with thousands of strands that worked uniquely to help us arrive at where we are today.

Upon our return home from Iris Ministries in Mozambique, we experienced culture shock in reverse. Our hearts were broken (and a little disgusted) at how quickly we get lured into the trappings of "stuff" and self-obsession in the land of convenience. Our hearts longed for the simplicity and utter faith we saw in Africa - of people who depend on God and rely on Him because they don't have a plan B. We prayed long and hard about returning to Mozambique to serve long-term with Iris, but felt that ultimately, our heart had been to find a place where we could all serve together and feel like our talents were being maximized. While Dan had an obvious fit in the medical area there, it would have been quite isolating for the girls and a real struggle to carve out family time.

We spent May wrestling with these issues - still feeling our hearts broken for the people of Africa, but not knowing how to move forward. We decided to lay it on the table and not go searching out ministry/service opportunity after opportunity on a goose chase. We felt like the Lord would bring something to us if we let him have the chance.

So, we tabled our mad pursuit. Dan was set to start a new job back in the rush of trauma medicine in June following a trip to Colorado. On our visit we met with many friends and family, among whom were my aunt & uncle, Joy & Steve Brien, who served many years overseas with Mercy Ships. We compared notes on our experiences in Africa, and matter-of-factly, Steve asked, "I hate to state the obvious, but have you considered Mercy Ships? It seems it would suit your family very well."

This question left us perplexed. Not at why it would suit us, but at what point had we stopped considering it. Back in the dating years (oh so many, many years ago now!), we had talked of Mercy Ships as being an integral part of our future. At some point along the way, this plan had been tossed out. Dan thinks I had an aversion to boats (but I think that's another story.:)). I don't remember exactly, but it was encouraging for us to hear that after serving with them for several years, Steve & Joy would be pointing us in that direction.

We started researching as much as we could, and the more we learned, the more our hope swelled.

Meanwhile, Dan started his new job, and in matters we can only explain as God closing the door, lost that job just four days into his training. As we sought counsel on this and were trying to figure out what the explanation could be, repeatedly people would ask, "Weren't you going to move to Africa? Don't you think that is what God is doing?"

So, we took a step of faith and completed our application with Mercy Ships. Dan took a 13-week travel nursing assignment at a local hospital in the Sacramento area leaving our options open for this fall. In September we attended an Introduction Seminar at Mercy Ships' headquarters in Texas and were continually impressed by the heartbeat of the organization, their accountability, and vision.

We have been waiting since July to hear if they would have room for our family. You see, the ship is large (499 feet long, with 474 berths), however, only 26 of them are for families. So, we waited for them to fill the urgent positions, and give precendence to those candidates who might have families to bring on board.

Our nerves were getting a little bit batty - this happens when your life is full of a bit of uncertainty (okay, almost complete uncertainty). I'm sure you've experienced it. Our answers included a lot of, "We'll see...," "Perhaps," and "Who knows."

Thursday I had hit the end of my rope with uncertainties. I was bombarded with lots of ugliness this week (weird dentist appointments, car problems, financial issues, etc.) and a friend reminded me that right before we get an answer is often the hardest oppostion. Then I attended a Bible Study where the entire message by Beth Moore was on TIMING! and what it looks like to wait on the LORD instead of waiting on a thing. So, we discussed this and realized that in our impatience, we needed to back off and let God do His thing. When we wait on the Lord, He renews our strength, contrary to when we wait for something else and we are left exhausted.

Sure enough, Friday morning we received word that they have room for us on the ship, and for the girls in the school on the ship. We are elated and feel utter peace (even though now our brains are going about a million miles an hour trying to calculate all that needs to take place in the next two months).

So today, we are thankful. Grateful. Excited. Emotional. Hopeful. Anxious. Overwhelmed. Equipped. And ready.

See "Mercy Ships" posting for how this will pan out.

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