Last Sunday our friend and one of the pastors of our ever growing church family spoke a moving message to begin this advent season about the meaning of Christmas. It was an awesome message and a perfect reminder of why we celebrate this season. He talked about how so often we miss the big picture of Christmas because we skip to the story in Luke of Jesus' birth. We miss out on the whole story that begins in Genesis... a story of brokenness, a promise of restoration, and a waiting and a hope.
There is a season in our lives called "Waiting." In this season we wrestle with who we are and why we are on the earth. We may be suffering from the loss of a loved one, or loneliness, or illness, or uncertainty. We are waiting for God to come through and rescue us from our brokenness in whatever form it has taken.
Christmas is a season to remember that it's okay to wait and we are not alone. Christmas is the time when we remember that we have a Great Hope because we trust in a God who is Faithful and keeps His promises. And we have the opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas: that Christ came to bring light into the darkness. This Christmas we have a new hope. A hope and a reminder that God does keep His promises. He is faithful.
Seven years ago I found myself on a boat in Indonesia crying my heart out to God in prayer. I had fallen in love with a people and a nation and I didn't want to leave because for the first time in my life I felt at home and I saw a great need for a people to know the Love and Grace of Jesus. Through my tears, I heard His gentle, strong voice speak a promise to my heart: you will return to Indonesia and you will not be alone. I returned the next year with an amazing group of people and again I felt a peace knowing that I would return to this place that I called home and the people that I had come to love as my family.
Now, five years after that last trip, my husband and I are pursuing a relationship with a missions organization to see if we are cut out for long term missionary service in Indonesia. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness, His perfect timing, and the lessons we have learned in the Waiting. He has strengthened us, matured us, prepared us and now we are being sent out... just as He promised.
There is still some preparation left. We are not leaving for Indonesia tomorrow, but we have taken a large leap in that direction and we feel that at last the timing is right for us to go.
The organization that we have chosen (or maybe chose us?) has a simple but effective process for their candidates. First, we must complete the formal application including obtaining 6 general references and a pastoral reference for each of us and a psychological examination to determine if we really are crazy enough to be missionaries. :)
Then we will fly to Florida for a week long orientation where we will decide if this is the right organization for us and if we are the right couple for the organization. During that week, they will also provide us with invaluable training and support as well as show us all of the projects they are involved with around the world to help us focus our vision. Our goal is to attend this orientation week in January.
From there, we will contact the teams we feel God may be leading us to serve with and find a time that is most convenient for us to come and work with them. Then we will work hard to save money and raise support to go on what is known as a "survey trip." This will be about a three month trip where we will be able to get a better picture of what day to day life in Indonesia is like and if we are compatible with the existing teams. Then the team leaders will work with us to decide if we are the right family to join their team long term. Then we would return to the States to settle any affairs and raise more support before going long term to the region that we have seen God lead us to.
We would love your comments, encouragement, prayers and support as we press on towards these goals. There are many ways that you can partner with us in this stage of the journey and we would love to talk with you about those opportunities and visit with you about how we can partner together to accomplish the Great Commission.
Some of our more urgent prayer requests are :
financial: to pay for the trip to Florida
health: energy for both of us and clarity/diagnosis/better treatment for our issues
spiritual: that we would be on the same page and connected to each other and God despite the busyness of this next month of preparation and holidays.
physical: as the end of the year approaches, many things are up in the air like where we are going to live and work come January especially without knowing our time-frame after the orientation, storage or sale of "stuff" (vehicle(s), furniture, pictures and keepsakes, etc)