Being married to a doctor has been my reality for quite a few years now. Generally, I don’t think about it much. He goes to work. I stay home with the kids. It doesn’t really matter where his work takes him or what he does. We’re proud of him all the same. However, it’s times when we get together with other medical professionals that I notice a few things…like, the way I can’t participate in any conversations. It’s mostly my fault; I have almost no interest in medical things and therefore make no effort to learn what he does at the hospital or clinic. In my defense, though, doctors use a lot of big, fancy words and acronyms! Who is suppose to keep up with all that?!?
Not me! I just take care of the kids, making sure they have what they need or engaging them in intelligent conversation…I just can’t understand all the tests and prescription names any better than he can understand calculus or why a baby’s diaper needs to be changed when I’m not at home. Which makes me think…do I have just as many weird words in my vocabulary as he does? Probably so.
That list of acronyms and fancy words is growing, and this time it’s happening to us together! As with each profession, there is a lot of new jargon to be learned as a missionary. After spending 2 1/2 years on the field, I thought that I had learned a lot of the ‘Mission-ese’ language. However, with just 4 days of training at WGM HQ, I realized I still had a long way to go. (By the way, WGM HQ stands for World Gospel Mission headquarters.)
Don’t worry. I won’t bore you with all the new lingo I must commit to memory and then figure out how to use in an intelligent fashion. I do, however, plan to explain a few things in the next few months. I hope these informational posts will help you understand what Aaron, the boys, and I are doing while here in the States. And they might help you hold a conversation with us when we get to see you face-to-face!
So…Have you figured out what HMA stands for?
If not, that’s ok. It’s the first acronym that I’ll explain.
Home Ministry Assignment (HMA) is what WGM calls furlough. Furlough is the time when missionaries (or military personnel) leave their field of ministry and return to their homelands. Every time we leave Kenya and return to the States, we are on HMA or furlough.
You may be thinking OK, that makes sense, but what is the purpose of HMA?
I suppose that question could be answered in several ways. And the answers might vary based on a missionaries’ agency, family situation, ministry needs, etc. I’ll do my best to explain what WE are doing on this, our first HMA.
Before leaving Kenya, Aaron and I had an unofficial list of goals for our time back in the States. Some of those goals have already been realized, but others are still a work in progress. Some of the goals were big; others were rather small and unnecessary. Regardless, we had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish here in the States. Below is at least part of that list in no particular order:
- Transfer to a long-term sending agency.
- Spend time with friends and family.
- Get the boys swimming lessons.
- Make new friends in Lynchburg, VA.
- Raise a support team to enable us to return to Kenya.
- Save as much money as possible.
- Enjoy America!
How are we doing on this list?? No too badly. Here is an update with prayer requests in bold.
On #1, we’re good! This goal was quickly realized. We landed in the States in June, and by the end of July we had interviewed with WGM and were excepted as long-term missionaries! However, we just did our first training with them in January, so we are feeling like our HMA time has just begun…Now that we know what we’re supposed to be doing!
#2: Spending time with friends and family (most of whom live in Pennsylvania) has been harder than we expected. It takes us at least 5 hours to drive from our home to anyone we know in PA. That’s not a day trip. While I intended to attend all the holiday celebrations and birthday parties that we were invited to, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. We’re either traveling (I’ll get to why in a minute) or we are recuperating from traveling. We did have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas with family, but we have missed every single birthday party…I wish I could say that I’ll do better with this for the remainder of our furlough, but I know that having a newborn won’t make the traveling any easier.
Please pray for us and our friends and family. Pray that we will take comfort in knowing that we have eternity together. Pray that we will be gracious with each other, that we can communicate openly with each other, and that we will enjoy every second we do get to spend with each other.
#3: Swimming lessons haven’t happened yet…I’m determined to make it happen, but I haven’t been successful quite yet.
#4 has proven to be more difficult than I expected too. Moving to Lynchburg, Virginia wasn’t our first choice, but it was where God was leading us. We knew we would need to make new friends, and we weren’t thrilled about it. (Being introverts has its drawbacks.) However, it’s happening! Yay! God has led us to a great church with wonderful people. We are feeling plugged in (finally), and we are encouraged.
Praise God for his people! We are thankful for the people who have reached out to us and are making Lynchburg feel more and more like home.
We are diligently working on #5, which is the cause of a lot of our travels. As you probably know, being a missionary isn’t a profitable occupation. We are supported by churches, friends, family, and some people that we’ve never met. When we aren’t attending conferences (missionary or medical or a combination of both), we are speaking at churches, telling our story, and sharing what God is doing at Tenwek. We are asking churches and individuals to join our support team.
When people leave their careers and move to a foreign mission field, they need to have a large support base back in their home country. We are no different. We need a lot of prayer.We need people who will commit to praying for us daily, and we have been blessed beyond measure in this area so far. However, we can never have too many people praying for us, so if you feel God leading you to support us in this way, please do! Additionally, we need financial support. Monetary support comes in two goals: 1.) one-time gifts and 2.) monthly support. For us, we have reached our one-time gift goal. Now, all we need to do is reach our monthly pledge support.
A monthly pledge can come from churches or individuals. It’s as easy as informing WGM that you (or your church) would like to contribute a set amount of money to our ministry each month. Ideally, you would continue these contributions for the entirety of our time in Kenya starting as early as now or as late as January 2017 (when we intend to go back to Kenya). If you have received our prayer card, the pledge card is the part you can tear off and mail back to WGM HQ. These are tax deductible gifts, which is why they must go through WGM and not us personally. We will not be released to go to Tenwek until we have reached 100% of this goal. Right now, we’re about a third of the way there. If you have questions about this, please read the support page or just contact me.
Please pray that God will raise up a support base for us. We are trusting that our monthly support goals will be reached by December 2016 so that we can return to Tenwek in January 2017.
#6 just isn’t happening thanks to our Allentown house. Despite Aaron working full-time, we haven’t been able to save like we wanted.
Please pray that God will provide the perfect buyer for our house! And quickly!!
That leaves us with #7: Enjoy America. Well, we have enjoyed parts of America. I’m loving the library, the pizza drive-thru on Friday nights, the consistency of electricity and clean tap water, and Target. The boys are enjoying the traveling more than I expected. Noah, Jacob, and Levi all have spirits of adventure, which makes the long car rides and new beds every other weekend so much more bearable. (If only Joshua had the same excitement!) If it were up to Noah, we would visit each of the 50 states while on HMA. That might be more fun – and more doable – if Aaron wasn’t working full-time and if we didn’t have a 1-year-old and a baby on the way!
While we are enjoying HMA, our hearts – at least parts of them – are still in Kenya. We look forward to returning to our home in Tenwek and serving God there. The traveling is fun and adventurous, but it’s also exhausting. Our bucket list is still long. There are so many people we want to see and so many places we want to visit in the next 11 months. If you would like us to visit you and we haven’t made plans for such a visit yet, please contact us (again if necessary). While our plates are full, we will do our best to put you (and/or your church) on our calendar!
Please pray for stamina during our travels and for great family memories to be made along the way.
More Praises and Prayer Requests:
Please pray for a healthy baby and momma during the remainder of this pregnancy. Pray for a full-term baby and a safe delivery. (I’m looking forward to the American hospital this time around!)
Praise God for the 100th day of school! I’m thankful that He has brought us this far! Please keep our homeschooling endeavors in your prayers.
Please keep this little guy in your prayers. While he thinks he’s big enough for school, he is in rough shape right now. He has a bad cold and is recovering from a circumcision!
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It was a great weekend of celebrating me! Aaron and I went out for dinner. The boys spoiled me with presents. My parents visited. It was a wonderful birthday!
Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported us along the way. We so appreciate you!