11 years ago this month, we were beginning the process of joining Operation Mobilization. With a baby Aliya, who was just 3 months old, we ventured down to the OM headquarters near Atlanta for their “Outbound Conference” for new recruits. After this time, we began the process of raising support to go to South Africa. It was on January 1, 2002 that we landed in South Africa (with a then-6-month-old Aliya) to begin what would ultimately be an 8-year stint at the Training Center in Pretoria. After those 8 years, we uprooted and relocated our family (which by then consisted of an 8-year-old Aliya, 6-year-old Gabi and 5-year-old Julianna) to Panama, Central America.
It has been a journey of epic proportions in our lives! And now, God is leading us on a new adventure in a new direction! After these almost-11 years, God is leading us out of full-time missions and into the “secular” world; specifically back to the USA. Those are words we thought we’d never say, but as always, God is directing in ways we never imagined.
There have been a series of events that have led to this decision. One of things that has been an on-going struggle has been our continual battle to maintain full financial support. This has pretty much been a fact of life for us for these almost-11 years. It has been one of the biggest struggles we have had as missionaries.
Another thing has been the education of our girls. It has been difficult since we’ve been here in Panama, especially with Julianna. She needs some extra help and we just can’t seem to find it for her here. We are also concerned for Aliya, who has not made a single friend here. She is 11 years old and at a time in her life where she really needs to have a good friend. She has been homeschooling this year, which obviously hasn’t helped in the friendship-area. But I can really see this issue taking a toll on her. She’s lonely. It really breaks my heart. I don’t ever want our life-choices, especially in regards to ministry, to be an issue in the girls’ lives when they get older. And we don’t want to compromise our family’s well-being, or development (both academically and socially) to suffer.
In June, we hit a bit of a brick wall in terms of Clint’s US Residency Permit and the process of obtaining his US Citizenship. This has been an almost-13 year process and we thought we might have to leave Panama so that we could sort this thing out from the USA. However, once we discovered that we could do that process from Panama, we were okay with that. But you know what I realized? While we thought that we were going to have to move back to the USA, I realized that I was actually okay with that. This was a BIG realization for me. In all of our years as missionaries, we never could have imagined living in the USA…until June.
This realization really caught our attention.
And then my dad was diagnosed with the C-word. Cancer. I usually like to pride myself on being strong and “capable”. But this diagnosis really rocked my planet a little bit off its axis. It got both of us thinking that maybe God is trying to say something to us about our future. We realize that our kids have never really lived close to my side of the family. What if something happens to one of my parents and my kids never had the chance to know them?
Then, in the middle of all of this, Clint received an email from Chrsyler, following up on the application he submitted 2 years ago! What timing is that?! So, he continued that process and has already had his initial interview on the phone with them!
We had talked to the girls early on during this thought-process and unanimously, they agreed that this is a great decision! They have been overly excited about this and are SO looking forward to living so close to their cousins, Grace and Jack. Gabi especially keeps talking about how excited she is to hang out with Jack! They are only 3 months apart in age so it will be great that they have each other. And we believe they are all going to make some great friendships at school and at church!
So…..our plan is be here for the end of the current School of Missions. Graduation for them is October 14. So, we will be leaving after that, sometime between the 14th and the end of October. Obviously, there are so many logistics to work out, but this is where we are right now! We are so excited and really feel such a sense of peace through this decision.
Stay tuned for more posts about this next epic journey in our lives!