In case anyone is new this week to my “mixed use” blog (personal and business), you might want to first read my view of “missions.”
With the kids in the safe hands of many people – our neighbor Julian, the grandparents, and friends the Dixeys – for the week, Fred and I left early Friday morning, the 22nd and arrived with no trouble in Colorado. My amazing friend Janessa picked us up at the airport (and later drove us back), let us stay with her all week, shared her food and her car. So thankful for all these tangible helps from so many wonderful people! 🙂
One of the first sessions Friday evening was a time of sharing what had led us all to this point in our journeys with Jesus and where we thought it all might be headed next. It was really incredible to see how the stories of everyone aiming to go to London wove together in such incredible ways. Here were seven total strangers, all brought to the same place at the same time, with common yet unique stories and a shared heartbeat to see people all over the world have the opportunity to discover and know the real Jesus – not the Jesus so often horribly misrepresented by the media and misguided churches or individual Christians. It’s honestly hard for me to even call myself a “Christian” in some ways because of how that term is so marred and misunderstood. These days, I more often think of myself as a simple follower of Jesus. At any rate, it was really neat to see how bonds of friendship were being formed right off the bat. Really, only God could have orchestrated the “chance” meetings in the room that night. 🙂
Saturday’s biggest event was our interview with a Member Care counselor, who, it turned out, Fred already knew from his short-term service trip with GEM (Greater Europe Mission) back in 1998. Yet another beautiful orchestration by God. This was basically a time for them to assess our spiritual, emotional, and marital health and was really, really good. We know that God has done much healing in our lives over the years, but that there is always more to learn, work through, and grow into. Rick (the counselor) recommended we do some more counseling to make sure we’ve really worked through some stuff prior to adding the huge stress of a cross-cultural move away from all the supports we’ve ever known here at home. We see counseling as a great thing and highly recommend it – not at all a negative thing as so commonly stereotyped – so we’re really looking forward to this step in the journey to see how God will use it to grow us both individually, as a couple, and as a family.
Saturday night we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant called HuHot – a Mongolian BBQ, very cool – and got to meet the President of GEM and his wife. We were so impressed by the genuine love, humility, passion, and vision of both Henry and Celia and are honored to by under their leadership as part of the GEM family.
Sunday brought some really major events. In the morning, we had a session on spiritual warfare – addressing the realities of challenges and persecutions that can come when one steps out to share God’s hope, peace, forgiveness, and love with the world. The day was cut short because of a huge blizzard coming in, and we decided to stay, with another candidate couple, at the home of one of the GEM staff couples right near headquarters, instead of driving all the half hour back to Janessa’s house in Colorado Springs. Shortly after arriving and settling in for the day of snow, our friends the Bogeses, candidates to serve in Germany, received a call that their home back in Virginia had burned to the ground that morning – while we were in the session on spiritual warfare no less. It was humbling, sobering, and yet incredibly encouraging and an honor to be with them in that moment. To see their faith in response to this news was so beautiful.
Monday’s big event was our interview with the Personnel Committee. This was also really great. It was so encouraging to see how they had so carefully and prayerfully gone over our applications and histories and had such wisdom and discernment from the Lord on how to guide us. The meeting had its share of emotions – as any deep discussion may – but it was so, so good. I could really write a whole separate post on this one meeting – and probably should at some point when I have time! 🙂
Monday night we had dinner in separate men and women groups, which was lovely. It was a great time of sharing and growing in our friendships.
Tuesday morning was “the big” day all us candidates had been waiting for all week – the official word as to whether we were accepted to serve with GEM or not. We met with a personnel committee member and got the word that we were appointed to serve with GEM, with the exact location and project still TBD. They also gave us some great next steps, both requirements and recommendations, and sent us off with hugs to celebrate with the other candidates. 🙂
Tuesday also gave us the chance to meet with Bryan Doyle, the UK field leader, and Paul Unsworth, the founding pastor of Kahaila in London. It was wonderful to meet them and get a little better idea of their vision for the UK and some of their current endeavors. Since it’s at least 18 months before we’d actually move, it was decided that we’d be aiming for London, but that the exact roles would be determined closer to our actual arrival in country. We’ll be keeping in close touch over the coming months as things unfold.
Wednesday wrapped up CO with a lovely commissioning service for all the candidates with all the GEM family from Headquarters. It was a great time of worship and fellowship and “good-byes” – or rather, “talk to you soon”s.
Then off to the airport we went to return home. We were so thankful to get glowing reports about the kids from all who cared for them while we were gone – and a little saddened by the grouchies coming out of them our first day home. Transitions – part of life. One day at a time. I think we’re almost back into a “normal” routine here, though it’s definitely changed in light of the fact that we are taking steps to move across the pond in the next 18-24 months or so… While we all have our mixed feelings, the overall sense is one of excitement and eager anticipation for what God will do along this crazy journey of following Him anywhere He leads.
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