Saturday, December 31, 2011

Part I: Questions and Answers

For us, December has been a slow month. Many people have been busy preparing for the holidays and still others have been vacationing and have been unavailable. So, this month, we decided to take it easy and work on our house and make other preparations for our departure. Well, I guess that is not really easy after all. I have been thinking about my New Year’s and all the possible resolutions I could come up with, but in my pondering, I have thought about the past year. What pops out in my mind most, are the questions that we have been asked throughout this whole process. I have decided to share them with you and hopefully in this process, answer any questions you might have not been prepared to ask. With this, I am sure will come more questions. I will eventually set up a Q&A section in this blog with your contributions.
-          Where will the baby be born?
o   Fortunately for us, God has provided us with a convenient timeline. The baby will be born roughly May 31st (but only 12% actually deliver on their due date).  This is in the middle of our fundraising efforts. We have planned to move to Canada for language school several months after. Meaning, our child will be born in Knoxville, TN.
-          Are you going with Kevin?
o   Oh my yes! I personally feel called to this ministry just as much as Kevin. I could not let him go off and have all the fun!
Ephesians is chalked full of incredible scripture about how a man and woman belong together! The one that sticks out is 5:31, which says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Kevin and I have both been called to missions and as we are now one in marriage, we are now one as missionaries.
-          What does your kid think about moving away from home?
o   Well, I asked and he didn’t kick back, so I think he is stunned. Just kidding. In all seriousness, I have been asked if I planned on taking my child (which I am), and other missionaries have been asked the same. Much like parents in the US who move homes, the children don’t have much of a say. When parents have decided to become missionaries, they are speaking for their children. All of my friend’s children, who are going through this process with us, range from 7 months to 7 years. Obviously, the younger children will grow up in another country, not knowing the difference, but a few do understand. Many children that I have spoken to are so excited about the change. The chance to go to a new country, the chance to make new friends, the chance to share Jesus. Children are resilient and cope much better than their parents. Our child will grow up with a totally different worldview than we have. For all intents and purposes, our child will be “African”, so that will be his home to him, not the US.
o   Here is one example I can provide you: One of my friends’ son began crying as they boarded the airplane for Indonesia after saying good-bye to his grandparents. It is unknown whether he cried because he realized he was leaving them behind, or that he was tired after having to wake in the middle of the night for a long flight. Either way, they have been there for four weeks and he already attends school and church, and has made many new friends. He loves the motorcycle rides with his dad and enjoys looking at the wildlife he didn’t see back home.
o   I am excited to be raising my child in Africa, where he will grow up seeing God’s love and His miracles, first hand.
-          What do your parents think about this?
o   While any move for any parent is hard, no parent wants to their children to leave especially now that a grandchild is on the way. But both sets of parents know this is something we feel called to and respect our decision. Matthew 10:37 says “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples. Those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples.”
o   Keeping that in mind, we do respect our parents. With the advances MAF has made in technology, we will have the capability to e-mail, video chat, and make calls on a regular basis. Just because we move halfway across the world, does not mean we will ignore our family back home. Some missionary kids I have spoken to feel a unique bond to their grandparents. They have to make a willing effort to connect to them, so each visit becomes special, each call important, and each video chat means memories being made.
-          What exactly is it that you will be doing?
o   This can be answered in many ways. Traditionally, MAF seeks to share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and traditionally transformed. MAF partners with over 600 Christian and Humanitarian organizations worldwide to bring in peoples and supplies to these isolated groups. Someone once tried to define us as “UPS for Jesus.” That is a good way to look at it. We deliver things (books, medications, doctors, missionaries, Bibles, food supplies, etc.) to remote groups who could not otherwise have certain needs met. The areas that MAF have been led to operate in have no infrastructure and lack of a way of getting aid. In the US, if I get an upset stomach, I can drive in my car to the pharmacy. In Africa, if a villager gets an upset stomach, they ask the nearest witchdoctor (sometimes a week’s walk) for herbs and/or spells. If that doesn’t work, they have no choice but to suffer. There are no pharmacies, there are no roads, there are no paths to a doctor’s office, there is no money to pay for a hospital visit, and there is no hospital.
o   These tools (airplane, pilots, teachers, doctors, etc.) are what help us to fulfill the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.” We are very blessed to have Africa as our new home. The Democratic Republic of the Congo claims to be roughly 90% Christian, but they have included voodoo, animism, witchcraft, and any other thing that they feel will help them. It is like a pool of water 1 mile wide and 1 mile long, but a millimeter deep. Kevin and I, as well as the other missionaries in the Congo, DRC live as examples of God’s Holy Word. We are to draw upon the teachings of Colossians 3:15-17: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

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