Shane got back from his whirlwind trip last Wednesday. The Thursday prior to to his Sunday departure, we had a significant change of events. After some discussions with Family Legacy, God made it clear that we were not to be in Zambia with them. Initially, this was very disheartening. Once we had time to process a little more, we decided we still felt called to Zambia within a similar timeframe, so it was best for Shane to proceed with his trip, but change his trip to more of a scouting trip.
Most of you know that The Village (our church) has been unbelievably supportive of us. One example of this support is that Jamie Hipp, the International Missions Pastor, was already planning on going with Shane in this trip for the first 10 days. (Shane was originally going to be gone for 3 weeks) Shane decided to shorten his trip to match up with Jamie’s. The Village is adopting Zambia as one of it’s main countries of focus, so it was good for Shane and Jamie to go scope out lots of different opportunities for our church to consider being involved in. Shane and Jamie hit the ground running. They even had their first appointment at the airport right after they landed!
We have networked with lots of different organizations in Zambia over the years, so Shane and Jamie were able to set up lots of meetings very quickly. We sent out some emails the Friday before Shane left letting them know our situation and that he would be in Zambia looking for another organization to partner with. In no time at all, they had their entire week booked up. You would not even believe how much ground they covered in their short time there!
Their first few days they traveled down to Choma via public bus (an experience in and of itself!) and then 1 1/2 hours into the bush to Sinazongwe, where MVI’s mission station is. Shane and Jamie were both extremely impressed with the ministry there. They were able to stay overnight and really get to know the people and see what they were doing. This opportunity was very attractive for us because of both the people/organization and the work they are doing among the Tonga people. The downfall for our family basically came down to location. There is no more room on the mission station, so we were going to have to live 30 minutes away, separated from the rest of the team. With only one car, and with Shane and I both having a role, we decided it would be way too hard for our family to have not only a huge cultural adjustment, but to then be separated for long hours at a time. The roads are also flooded during rainy season and it is impossible to leave for 3 months out of the year. Maybe someday, but considering we have never done long-term missions, we feel like it may be too much for our family at this point. Shane is very grateful for the time the Engelbrechts, Susan, Stephanie, and Mike spent with them.
Shane and Jamie also had the opportunity to go visit Moses’ orphanage! What a treat to get to take pictures to show Mo’s nannies. They were flipping out – so excited!! Shane emailed home that if he didn’t have better sense, he would bring home another baby! There was a little girl there that stole his heart. Yikes. 🙂 It has been an absolute joy to continue a relationship with House of Moses. We are so impressed by the organization and the people that are working there. There will always be a special place in our family for the people there at House of Moses – they loved on our little sweetie before he was ours!
One other interesting meeting was with CCM Ministries located in Kitwe. They took a flight there in the early morning and then a flight back in the evening. This ministry is one that The Village is partnering with and really excited about. Shane found their work very impressive and he admired the insight of the missionaries serving there.
Shane was also able to see some of the boys we are sponsoring to go to school at Lifeway School. Below is a picture with Francis (a special friend to Hannah). It was hard for Shane to see “our” boys in such a hard place emotionally.
There were many other people met and places visited – too many to share without boring all of you!
15 meetings and 10 exhausting days later, Shane and Jamie were home! Shane and I then spent the next few days praying and talking through what our next step was to be. There are so many wonderful organizations working in Zambia – each of them with pros and cons when it comes to our family’s situation.
Over the past 6 months, we have developed a friendship with Dick and Meg Ackley. We actually found out about them through Dan and Kim Scheel who are missionaries in Ethiopia (where Allyson went to work in the clinic this spring). Dick has been a mentor and friend to us throughout our process as we have prepared to go serve in Zambia. Dick also happens to be the Area Director for SIM. Even though we weren’t going with his organization, he has made himself very available to us over the past months and has been a great source of encouragement.
We have been having conversations via email with some SIM missionaries in Zambia for many months. More out of curiosity than anything. We have always thought that if we stay in Zambia long term, we won’t stay in Lusaka, the capital. These SIM-ers are serving in Kasempa at Mukinge Hospital which is 12 hours form Lusaka in the bush. We had talked with them about visiting once we got settled in Lusaka. Shane had the chance to meet with the director of SIM / Zambia while he was there last week. They were able to talk about the possibility of us coming over with them.
To make a long story short, we feel like God has led us to serve with SIM and we have formally applied to be missionaries with this wonderful organization. Right now we are sort of in a holding pattern as we are trying to follow the normal application process. It is a little different for us, because we are essentially ready to go. Most people would apply and then start raising support, getting immunizations, and all of that. We are already signed up for training in September and are still on our original timeline to move at the end of October. We will need to make a trip to South Carolina to the SIM headquarters sometime in the next 2 months, too. We’ll see how everything falls out. We are hoping to be able to serve at Mukinge Hospital. It seems like it would be a great fit for us, but we are waiting to make sure everyone else thinks it’s an okay fit, too. We will keep you posted as we know more. Once we know exactly where we will be (definitely), we will post another entry. Pray for us as we await our destiny!!
All in all, we feel like we have drawn closer to the Lord in all of this and we are definitely being forced to be patient and trust Him (this is good!). We are grateful for our church, friends and family. Without all of your support, this would be too heavy to carry. Thank you for sharing our burdens! We love all of you and are so excited to see the rest of our story unfold in God’s timing. For those of you that are financially supporting us, thank you! We want you to know that our funds will be transferred over to the new organization we will be going with. For those of you who signed up to contribute monthly, someone will be contacting you within the next month in order to transition your donations to our new organization.
We’ll leave you with this funny plaque on the wall in Shane’s hotel… only in Zambia!!