Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Living My Dream

I’ve been doing a lot of organizing, sorting, and looking back through old stuff the past few weeks. It has been interesting to look back at messages and emails I received after moving to East Africa. People often said things like, “I’m so glad you’re finally getting to live your dream!” And while that's true, in a sense, somehow this comment has always made me stop and think. It’s not because I haven’t been wanting to live and serve in Africa for a long time – ask my college roommates about my frustration with classes when I “could be doing something useful in Africa instead!” (Oh, I was so naïve!) I’ve been working towards this for a long time. But the fact is, the only reason Africa or missionary kids were ever on the “hope for” list is because God originally put them there.

Rather than saying I’m living my dream because I’m in Tanzania, or working with amazing kids to support an incredible community working to get the Bible out in languages people understand best, I’d like to say I’m in part “living a dream” because I am simply following God. I feel blessed to have spent much of the last 5 years of my life serving here and bringing many of you along as part of the incredible team that has made this all possible. I’ve learned more about the world, grown in my teaching abilities, become better at helping guide and mold the hearts and minds of children, and have grown in my relationship with God. I'll never be the same.

But the truth is that the only dream I’m living is the one where I seek and follow God.

Trust me, there are great days and fabulous experiences here with amazing friends and there are horrific days where everything under the East African sun goes wrong, just as much and even more so here than in the States. Yes, I’m thankful for the adventures He’s led me on these past 5 years (and well before). I’ve gotten to teach incredibly unique kids from around the world and supported some of the work God is doing here in East Africa through this.

And slowly, over the past year or so, the dream God has put in my heart has been changing. And since my “dream” or hope is to seek after and follow God, I’m excited for the next stage of this dream to come to light.

So come late July of this year, when I head on “furlough” after two years of teaching in Musoma, I’ll be leaving Tanzania without plans to return. At least not right away… who am I to say what the future holds?

So what does this mean? I would love to have you join me in praying about what’s next! I’ll be going on a regular furlough with Wycliffe and will continue to need regular financial, prayerful, and emotional support during this time... even more so, since cost of living will be higher. I will be living in Holland, MI through December in-between traveling and meeting with churches and supporters, reconnecting with family and friends, processing all that’s happened the past five years and taking a required online class. I’m currently exploring options with Wycliffe about continuing to serve Bible Translation from within the States after furlough, and am excited about some possibilities that have come up, but I also know I need some time to process the past five years and lots of prayer before making any big decisions on what’s next.

So in the meantime, I’m sorting, preparing to sell most of what I own here in East Africa while thinking about what I'll need to start over in the States, putting curriculum records together from all I’ve been teaching, and enjoying my last few months as a slightly-confused-American-misplaced-in-the-Land-of-Tanz. I would love your prayers both for where God is leading and for good transitions along the way.

In case you missed it, here’s a copy of my latest newsletter – including the kid section for any of you with little people! Looking forward to seeing many of you soon!

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