Posts Tagged With: missions

The Middle East

No, that’s not where we’re going…that we know of. That is where we are currently staying…MCC’s The Welcoming Place in Akron, PA has four different guest houses that are designed and named after four different continents. We are in the Middle East/Europe house. They are very nicely setup so that our family has three rooms in one wing that we can close off when needed and have some private space.

Today was day one of our training at World Missions Institute, and it was a very good day. We started this morning by hearing about the history and present-day mission of EMM from the president himself, Nelson Okanya. I didn’t know much before about the history and it was quite interesting and inspiring. I also really appreciate how much EMM supports their workers–not only in the expected spiritual ways, but also that all around well-being is so important to them as to be listed as a core value. They have systems in place to help with missionaries’ emotional and mental health as well as their spiritual needs.

This afternoon we had a session discussing Spiritual Formation and Sabbath Rest. We talked about different methods of spiritual formation and how to continue them while on the field, away from the fellowship and community we are accustomed to. We also heard about Sabbath rest and how important it is to truly have some time apart from all the demands of ministry to recharge, refresh, and reflect. Although I knew many of these things before in principal, I learned some new ideas for implementing them and was inspired to work harder to accomplish them as it will become more important as we experience new cultures and other challenging situations.

The kids also did very well today. Although I was called twice to take care of Rosebud, I actually prefer that. I’d hate to think I’m really not that important to her. 🙂  The child care workers clearly care for the children and really respect the parents’ wishes. There are quite a few other kids of similar ages that Daisy and Cub have especially enjoyed getting to know better. Tonight we had a family fun night to get to know each other better and have some fun. Both goals were accomplished exceedingly well.

Ted and I also really enjoyed getting to know the other families here and learning the stories of where they’re going and how they got there. It feels a bit awkward to not be able to say where we’re going yet, but it is encouraging to here about others’ journeys and know we are not alone. The way God has brought each family to this point is awesome, there’s really no other word for it! There are some wonderful families, couples, and people God is sending throughout the world, and we are privileged to have a month to get to know them better.


A quick addendum: in one of the emails I had a chance to skim today was this quote from a book that feels quite true at the moment: 

“Fear camps out right next to whatever it is you’re most called to do. That means the closer you get to your calling, the louder fear sounds.”
~ You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream, Chapter 5

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Getting Started

(Continued from)

Once we were approved to work with EMM, things began to move rather quickly–at least much more quickly than I had anticipated. The same day we got our approval, we also received descriptions of three different opportunities.

1. Teaching in Cusco, Peru, a very modern city, We had this location in mind already–mostly because we knew something about it as a team from our church had gone there seven years ago to help with building the school.

2. Assisting with a chicken feed business in Central Asia — in a former Soviet republic northwest of China that is working to recover economically from years of Soviet rule. Though there is a small church there, the numbers have actually been falling because so many people are leaving the country looking for a better life elsewhere. Much of the work here would be relationship building, and learning the language is critical. We have been told this description will soon be updated to include some type of coffee shop business. We are looking forward to seeing the new description.

3. Working to support the K’ekchi’ In Guatemala as they worked to build a fair trade coffee business exporting coffee to the United States. The K’ekchi were Mayan Indians, and historically, they have not been treated well by the government. This position would involve working with the government and farmers to make the businesses successful. I imagine a very good command of the Spanish language would be necessary.

We are currently praying about all of these opportunities to see where God wants to use us. We are drawn by different aspects of all three of them.

At the same time, EMM has encouraged us to attend a month-long training event next month. This is a bit sooner and longer than I had been expecting. So we are scrambling a bit to figure a bunch of things out before then, as well as how to put our lives on hold for a month, but still come back to them, as it will likely be several months after that before we leave on our trip–we will have to raise quite a bit of money first.

Even so, we are looking forward to the training. We have already received two of the three books we are to read beforehand. They are good reading and have given us quite a bit to think and talk about.

The wonderful thing is that they also work with the children to talk about missions and things they can do. The have one person entirely devoted to helping the children. Daisy understands and is excited about the trip, albeit a little apprehensive. Cub knows we’re talking about taking a trip somewhere else, but I don’t think he really understands all the implications of what we’ll be doing or how long we’ll be gone. Chimp and Rosebud are both pretty much clueless, though Chimp does participate sometimes when we practice in other languages.

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What’s going on?

About 15 years ago, Ted and I were at Messiah College and we came across some literature from Wycliffe Bible Translators. They were looking for ethnomusicologists and computer programmers. “Huh?” we thought, “That sounds kinda like us.” It was a fun idea, but we didn’t really feel called, and we had other plans at the time.

Once in a while over the next 14 years, we would occasionally talk and dream of someday traveling around the world with the kids (once there were kids). I always said we needed to wait until the kids were all older–old enough to remember the trip!

Then, last September, when I was 8 months pregnant with Rosebud, we went to the New York Mennonite Conference’s fall Celebration. While wandering around there, trying to keep a certain 3-year-old from disrupting the service, I was browsing the information tables and I came across Eastern Mennonite Missions’s (EMM) Missionary Messenger magazine from last September. It happened to be about Families in Short-Term Missions. I had never really thought about the possibility of us taking an international trip that included missions–especially as a family and just on a short-term basis. I picked up the magazine and read it through, but then I put it away. It sounded great, but still wasn’t something I was ready to consider anytime soon.

Fast forward about six months. Rosebud is now just over four months. Ted is at a place in his career that allows him to take some time off. He was looking for some ideas of things to do and came across a missions website. A while later, he handed me the computer with this page open and said, “This is what I want to do.” Then, an absolutely amazing thing happened: I looked at it, sat down and read through the options, and said, “Yes, we should do this.” Then I pulled out the issue of Missionary Messenger that I had tucked away and gave it to him. God had been working on me behind the scenes without my knowledge, and the time was right!

Two days later, we had both talked to other people about the idea and got very positive feedback. Within two weeks we had  talked with both our parents and a couple other friends/advisors, so we contacted EMM. They were excited to hear from us and encouraged us to fill out an application to start the process with them. We had the applications complete in less than a week. (And if you know anything about Ted, this timeline is quite fast!)

We had already planned a visit to my parents for three weeks later (to have a yard sale to clear out loads of baby clothes and others things we had accumulated over the years). Since my parents live in Lancaster County, where EMM is headquartered, we setup an interview for during that visit. Thursday morning we had a wonderful interview with a placement coach from EMM. By that afternoon, we were officially invited to pursue a GO! assignment with EMM!

Continued here.

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