Jeff and I frequently get asked the question of how often we will be back in the states for a visit or how often we will be coming home for furloughs. I wanted to pop on here real quick and explain how we see things going as of now. Just like the "sudden" call to move to Africa (more on that here) , God can do and does exactly what He wants when He wants ;). We will continue to follow Him should He call us back to the US at some point. But for now, the reality is that visits will be few and far between; very far between. Travel from Kenya to the US takes about 2 full days; a hotel stay (well, we are choosing that for the move) and at least 2 planes, but more likely 3. Plus a 7 hour drive to Kaya after arriving in Nairobi. Getting 9 people to an airport, on a plane, off a plane, on a plane, off a plane, grabbing 20 something bags and to a hotel will be no easy feat, nor will it be cheap. We aren't moving to Kenya with a large missionary group backing us. AFM (About-Face Missions) is a small international ministry connecting Christians with global indigenous pastors assisting and supporting these servants in their God-given missions to carry out the Great Commission and serve the needy. AFM was founded in 2011 by Jim Ball and David Shelton. Jim is now a full-time missionary evangelizing unreached people groups. David is now serving as AFM President and Director. AFM is ran by an all-volunteer staff of seven folks from various locations in the US. We are a 501c3 so all donations made to AFM on our behalf or the behalf of any of our other supported ministries are tax deductible. We will be the first missionaries sent into the field by AFM. So while we will be supported by donnors we won't have thousands of extra dollars to be flying in for visits...not even every third year.
Pictured above areLinda and Ann, 2 of the orphans living with AFM supported Pastor Samson and his wife Ruth in Moi's Bridge, Kenya.
Coming back home...Well, Kenya will be our new home. We are leaving Texas and building our new home and life in Kenya. Kenya isn't just a 5 or 10 year move for us, this is where Jeff and I plan to grow old together. God willing, this is where we plan to continue to raise and possibly grow our family. Our main purpose in Kenya will be to care for orphans and widows, discipling all whom God will allow. It is our desire, God willing, to be a blessing to the community in which He is placing us. While we will have help with the children's home, we do not have plans to turn it over to someone else anytime soon, so that will make leaving for an extended period of time hard.
The kids...We've been very honest with them about our move and the likelihood of us not returning. We've told them that we won't be able to come back often, so if you ask them when we are coming back they will probably just say they don't know. Just know that's not because we haven't discussed it, it is literally because we don't know if or when we will be back in Texas. We tend to over prepare/inform our children for things if that is possible, that's just part of the way we have chosen to parent. We like for them to know what they are committing to before they just jump in head first. A quick example is Caitie desperately wanted to go with Jeff to Kenya back in April. However she was very sad when we told her we (and by we I mean mainly me) wanted her to wait until Jeff had been so he could help prepare her for the unknown of another country. My "Momma gut" kept telling me that Jeff needed to go first so he could help prepare her. Obviously she disagreed, but ultimately she understood and trusted us. Well you should have seen the look on her face after her Daddy came back and told us the "bathrooms" there were literally a HOLE in the GROUND. I thought she was going to burst. She would NOT have been okay with that at all and that isn't something that her Daddy could have easily explained to her in the moment.
Pictured above: Left, the two dark brown structures are Toilets at AFM Mercy School. Right, Urinals at AFM Mercy School.
As far as our 3 adult kids, we are so hoping that they will come and visit us. They have each said they will come and visit...my heart just might burst if we are ever all in Kenya together. Leaving our "big boys" as I call them will most definitely be the hardest part. I literally can't talk (or even type for that matter) about it without crying...it feels so wrong. But at the same time I KNOW that we have been called to this. I keep thinking of all the things we are going to miss or what we might miss or "what ifs". Two of our boys are graduating in May of 2017; one from high school and one from Princeton Theological Seminary. While I keep telling myself that it is "just a ceremony" and we have been there for them for this whole "school career" it is heart-breaking to know that we will miss these important life events and many others.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37–39, ESV)
Our supreme affections belong to the Lord. We have no doubt that this move is of Him. While leaving behind our "big boys" will be a difficult trial to our entire family, we count it all joy, giving God all glory and honor and praise.
Pictured Above: Our 3 "Big Boys". Left, Cory (25) Top, Quinn (22) Bottom, Kyle (18)
Will we ever see you again? I don't know the answer to that, but we hope so. I can tell you that we will have a room for you (even enough room for a group of people). You, yes you, are invited to come and see what God is doing in Kenya! I've always heard that mission trips were expensive...like $3000 or more. Well, not here. We are purposefully building a room for guests. If you are able to come and stay with us all you will need to do is get here...I mean there...Kenya, get yourself to Kenya. We will feed and house you for as long as you can stay. A quick Google search will show you that you can get a round trip ticket for around $800, and I bet if you have some sort of flyer points you can use those to make it cheaper or possibly free. Yesterday I even saw some one way flights for under $600, and for us, that is exciting!
Also if you want to see us while we are still here in Texas, let one of us know and let's make it happen! Life is busy, I completely understand that. But we would love to see our friends and family before we go, even if it has been too long since we saw you last. If you want to come to the farm let me know and I can throw lunch or dinner together and we can visit. This move has forced me to adult and actually have a calendar/planner. Can you even believe that I've made it this long just winging life ;)? So let Jeff or I know if we can write you down and visit (at our house or yours) for a while before we move in February!
Pictured Above: My First Adult Planner!!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and pray for us. Your prayers are felt and are sincerely needed.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24–26, ESV)