Gandalf: "I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone." Bilbo: "I should think so - in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Our Journey to Senegal
Since the beginning of this journey, we've felt a lot like Bilbo Baggins did at the opening of The Hobbit. In the book (and movie) Bilbo's wizard friend, Gandalf, pays him a visit, and then awhile later, strange dwarfs begin to arrive at his home, disrupting his comfortable life and well-earned leisure. Once Gandalf shows up, Bilbo is somewhat relieved, but then learns that he has been chosen by Gandalf as a key member of a team ... for an important quest. And so, Bilbo's unexpected journey begins.
In October 2016, we were a lot like Bilbo - with a comfortable life and plenty of leisure. Then, suddenly it seemed that God stepped in and showed us a new plan. God began to work in both of us, independently but simultaneously, to begin to consider serving Him overseas after hearing a missions update from a couple at our church. Apprehensively, we began to talk with each other about what we had (separately) been considering. When we each discovered that the other had been impressed to consider serving God full-time, we were stunned, excited and a little scared! We sat together one sunny afternoon looking through service opportunities with the C&MA, the denomination of our home church. There were several openings that could have been a good fit, but one really jumped out at us. As we read the qualifications for this position in Senegal, West Africa, it seemed like Steve had been preparing for this work for years. The C&MA was looking for someone to teach young men auto mechanics at a boy's school, to give them technical training while also introducing them to the Gospel. We began to pray for God's direction and for Him to clear any obstacles that would prevent us from going, if that was what He wanted. Over the next eight months, we received the confirmation and clear path that we prayed for, so we dedicated ourselves to following Christ as He took us toward Senegal. In October 2017, our family took a trip to North Senegal to see the city, the way of life, the boys' and girls' schools, and meet some of the team members. We were impressed by the great need and the great opportunity. While less than 2% of the population is evangelical Christian, many doors are opening in North Senegal and God is using a small local church to impact the community. The church oversees the administration of a girl's vocational school and the boy's vocational school (though the boys' school is currently closed because there are no teachers). We saw numerous ways in which we could be involved and felt that God has also been preparing Elizabeth, mainly through years being a foster parent, to help reach the street boys for Jesus. At the end of January, Steve and Elizabeth had a final interview and were recommended, unanimously, to the C&MA Board for long-term service. The Board met at the end of February and officially appointed us to the Senegal team!
Points of Praise
1. Confirmation! Over and over again we have seen God confirm this call. We're continually in awe of how He provides and have confidence in how He will care for us in the future. *
2. Offer! We listed our house by owner and accepted an offer after just two days. We're so grateful for God's provision on this - two days of showings and no more! * Work! Steve is able to quit working at Kohler Co. at the end of March to be able to focus on everything that needs to be done by mid-May.
3. Peace! While some days are certainly stressful, we have so much peace and a real joy in this process of packing, purging and preparing. (This is definitely from God, because Elizabeth is still sleeping well and focusing on regular daily tasks instead of being filled with anxiety.)
Points of Prayer
1. Packing! We are busy packing for Africa, packing for France, setting aside keepsakes, and eliminating everything else. Pray that we would have endurance and make wise decisions.
2. Schooling! Elizabeth continues to home school the boys and is keeping their activities and field trips on track. Pray that they would finish this school year well, in the midst of the chaos.
3. Learning! Steve and Elizabeth are in the middle of an online course. The workload is heavy and time for study is short. Pray that they would work hard and dedicate the needed time to this class.
4. Transactions! Pray for the closing on our house to go smoothly.
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