You might notice that this says "part one", that is because it does not seem complete. We are transitioning. We have been on the transitioning merry-go-around since we began packing back in April...9 months ago. During that time Sam and a missionary friend stood nose to nose with the Mexican mafia while our kids waited outside in the van, we experienced a gas strike, made an international move, sold the majority of our belongings (again), said some heart wrenching good byes, our kids changed schools, they have learned to drive, and navigate American fast food menus just to name a few. (Just an FYI: you should never take a MK to a fast food restaurant and ask them to order whatever they want. It is extremely generous...and overwhelming.) That being said, we have more clarity this month than we did last month, and for that we are grateful, but we are still spinning. I described it to my friend like this, I feel we are in the very calm eye of a roaring hurricane and I am trying to navigate my next steps very carefully so I do not move out of the eye and get smacked in the face with debris! This may be a ten part series, but I have no idea what part two looks like.
As we were making plans to leave Mexico, we talked over a lot of places we could go. We even strongly considered a move to Honduras and took a survey trip there. Oh how I love working with pregnant women and their families at Hospital Loma de Luz, it made so much sense, such a great fit, and yet our hearts weren't quite there. Partly because we felt we needed better training to be truly effective, partly because we are pretty worn out from the last five years on the field, and partly because our hearts are planted in the rocky Oaxacan soil.
We strongly felt we needed to return to Northwest Arkansas were our sending church and family are located and set our hearts in that directions. Sam felt very strongly God was going to provide a home for us. It was not long after that we received confirmation that we were moving in the right direction, when a family offered us a great home rent free for a year!!! This was a blessing in so many ways, as we could not have made it financially without this extremely generous gift.
We also felt that I needed to get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. We wrote out charts and researched and researched to figure out a scheme that would accomplish this mission and get us back to the mission field as quickly as possible. I already have a bachelors degree, so we thought I could do prerequisites for a nursing program and then do and accelerated program nursing program. This would hopefully, with no hiccups, get us back to the field in two years. We did not feel easy about this, but we marched ahead. On our wall was the quote from J.R. Tolkin "There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest". And that is how we all felt trying to navigate this vaguely familiar, but oddly foreign land. We had gone on a grand adventure and we were not the same. We could not unknown the grand world full of needs that we had witnessed.
As we met with frustration looking at accelerated programs, the one in Arkansas was six hours away and we had already put the family through a lot of transition and the closer one would charge us out of state tuition and would still require a lot of driving and being away from the family, Sam suggested that we drive over and check out a local Christian College. The tuition was more then we could even think about paying and the time was more than we wanted to stay. Interestingly, they were very willing to work with me to get me in the nursing program and the program was brand new. If I attended I would be a part of the first graduating class! We left the admissions office feeling like it would be a great school for Hannah, if she could get a scholarship or grants. Upon their request I sent them my unofficial transcript. Did you know I graduated from college with a 3.6 something? That's actually pretty good! When the hand of God moves, it is actually good enough to get a scholarship to a nursing program! The scholarship does not pay for all my school, but it is very generous. Wow! I'll just let that soak in for a while....
Just before I was offered the scholarship, we became conflicted by a quote from the amazing missionary/martyr Jim Elliot. He said, "Wherever you are, be all there". Our hearts struggle. We see the things God is doing here, yet we are not completely comfortable here. We see the things God is doing all over the world and we long to be there, even if we are not completely comfortable there. Maybe, comfortable is a little over rated. Maybe broken and stretched and completely present wherever you are is just right.
Extending our furlough is a direction that we have walked down very reluctantly, but we strongly feel that in order to be effective missionaries we need to spend some time preparing. Originally we had hoped to have enough support during this phase of preparing, so we could continue making trips and stay engaged in the things God has allowed us to be a part of in Mexico. After six months of trying to make it work, we have decide it is time to be "all here" for this time. Sam is looking for a job right now and we are excited about this "tent making" phase of our ministry. God has already used these last six months here in the U.S. to begin building us back up. He has sent wonderful people who are encouraging us and pouring into us and he has even given us ministries to be involved in.
I think our next quote will be from Dr. Suess, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" or maybe one from Corrie Ten Boom that says, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." What do you think would be a good quote for the Mean's board? What are quotes you have in your house?
I just started my second semester out of six this week. God was gracious enough to allow me to maintain a 4.0 during a very challenging first semester back to college after...well, several years. :) I'm so excited for this amazing opportunity! I really do like school and learning! I know, unleash the inner nerd. Since, I was not offered the scholarship until early August and classes started in late August. We were certainly scrambling last semester. I am hoping to be a little more organized this semester and I think I am off to a good start.