Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Friday, June 12, 2015

Home Assignment

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for months but just haven’t had the mental energy to put together.  Now that I am feeling mostly better, I am having to seriously begin thinking about our home assignment plans for 2016.  A number of people have asked about our home assignment and what it will entail exactly.  Since this will be our first ever home assignment, we can’t be sure of precisely how it will all unfold, but our general understanding is as follows:

We left for Africa in January of 2013 and embarked on our first three-year assignment with Africa Inland Mission.  With AIM, missionaries receive home assignment time which is based on the length of their overseas assignment.  So for us, three years in Africa means eight months on home assignment.  Home assignment, also known as furlough, will begin for us in January of 2016.  We will spend our 8 months visiting supporters, supporting churches, family and friends, attending conferences and occasionally being AIM representatives if there have been requests for AIM personnel in nearby churches.  During the spring of 2016, Jonathan plans to finish his Masters’ degree with Liberty Online and we will attend his graduation in Lynchburg, VA sometime in May.  We also plan to visit our dear friends in Mexico during our home assignment.  We have about 50 supporters and five supporting churches which spread across the whole country.  It is our goal to visit as many of our supporters as we possibly can, as we truly believe they are our partners in ministry.  With the addition of our new daughter, we will have some additional support to try to raise during our time home.  And lastly, for the first time since our honeymoon, Jono and I hope to take an anniversary trip alone sometime next summer.

For traveling around the US, visiting churches, supporters, etc, we have a home assignment fund that is being funneled into each month.  It pays for our tickets home, our travel, our tickets back to Africa.  We will still live on support for our normal life expenses during all our traveling.  Our plan is to base ourselves in Aiken, which is where we have the most family nearby and where the majority of our supporters live.  Also, three of our supporting churches are in the Southeast.  Because our sending church is in Illinois, we will travel and spend significant time there, probably around the time of their missions conference.  Another of our supporting churches is in Missouri where Jonathan’s parents are living, so we will spend time there as well.  Our goal is to maintain some level of normal life for our family, so we hope to use Aiken as a home base and do the majority of our travels leaving from and returning there.  Any of our supporters who would enjoy coming to us, we will gladly try to host in Aiken.

Currently our two major needs are a place to stay while in Aiken, as well as a vehicle.  In order to keep our house in Africa, AIM will continue to pay rent for us throughout our time in the States.  Thus, our available funds for trying to actually rent a home or apartment in Aiken are insufficient, besides the fact that we have no furniture.  We are certainly willing to pay what we can and we are praying something will present itself to us.  If you know of someone who has a place where we could stay or rent, please send me an email or a Facebook message.  Understanding that eight months is a long time and that five people are quite a lot, we are willing to move around some if we have a few options.  My parents have a van we can use which will hold all our carseats.  But that will leave my mom carless.  So, if you have or someone you know has a car my parents could borrow, then we will primarily use my parents' van.  We appreciate prayers in both of these areas.

The future plan, although not written in stone yet, is to come back to Africa in Aug of ’16 for a follow-up 2-year assignment.  We have approval from our local leadership, it only needs to be confirmed by our US AIM office. We’d like to come right back to Mokhotlong, spend two years trying to establish TEE in various outlying villages and establishing leadership for those groups.  Eager interest by pastors and church people in two nearby villages has recently necessitated Jonathan starting a new group. The interest and desire for TEE in this area is widespread. We will need to turn all groups over to local leadership before we can depart for good, or TEE won’t continue without us.  The main issue with the local leadership is transportation.  While many local pastors who will graduate from the first TEE class (should graduate before we leave in Dec) would be willing to lead a group in an outlying village, they don’t have cars.  So getting to and from is a serious issue.  That will be our main objective when returning- trying to establish a system so that those groups can perpetuate themselves.

It is sort of hard to believe that we’re halfway through our third year already.  It has been great and long and hard and fun.  I’m so excited, though, to be home for a while.  I believe we all need it.  I think Kyle will be able to actually remember America after those months, and I think he needs that for establishing his little identity.  I also think it will help him to bond with his grandparents and cousins and feel like a part of a bigger family.  The other day I asked him if he was an American boy.  Almost in defense, he replied, “No, I’m an African boy.”  And I’m glad that he feels confident here.  But he also needs to know that he is American and has those roots as well.

I’m looking forward to being nearby friends, my sisters and sisters in law- to feel like I’ve got girlfriends again.  I’m looking forward to being able to drive!!!  I’m looking forward to dressing Ellee up pretty and taking her out just the two of us.  I’m looking forward to celebrating the kids' birthdays with family!  I’m looking forward to church in my own language and nursery, getting to sing and listen and enjoy a service without my kids at my feet.  I’m looking forward to eating chicken salad from about ten different places.  I’m looking forward to making some crafty things!  I’m looking forward to hugging my brother, Ryan.  It will have been three years, which feels like a very long time.  I’m looking forward to visiting all my grandparents, whom I miss terribly.  I’m looking forward to seeing so many familiar faces and places which are so dear to my heart.  I’m looking forward to our whole family getting to meet Sadie while she is still a baby!

My kids are not going to believe we'll be 10 minutes rather than 4 hours from McDonalds!