Saturday, October 20, 2007


When we were forced to return to Portland a little over a year ago, our lives were in limbo for several months. After the initial crisis had passed and life began to take on a semblance of normalcy again, we started praying about and discussing the question "Where do we go from here?" We considered settling in the Northwest for a time. Rusty could get a ministry job and work on his degree long-distance. Several discouraging months passed... letters of interest were sent... and letters of rejection came back. No doors opened, not even a crack. Never even an interview.

Okay then, maybe I could get a job. Rusty could keep his part-time job at Starbucks (and the awesome benefits), and finish his degree quicker since he wouldn't be working full-time. I applied for the same job at Cascade College (my alma mater) twice... and was turned down both times. The second time, I was actually invited to apply (I don't think I would have done so otherwise). I was given an interview and had high hopes... but then the rejection letter came. A door had barely cracked, then slammed shut.

Settling semi-permanently in the Northwest didn't seem to be an option. We began to wonder if maybe God had other things in mind. Maybe "settling" was not something we were meant to do just yet. Maybe we are never meant to "settle," but that's a discussion for another time.

We began to discuss our goals, and found that they boiled down to two things. Goal #1 - Rusty needed to finish the degree he started five years ago. Goal #2 - We needed to realize our dreams for doing mission work in Africa. When we began focusing on our goals, the answer to "Where do we go from here?" seemed obvious. We needed to move back to Memphis.

Almost immediately, doors started opening left and right. We made a trip to Memphis in April and found out... that Rusty could finish his degree in 1-2 years... that there was a 2-bedroom apartment available on-campus for us... that Rusty could transfer to a Starbucks in Memphis. I was even offered a job, pending that the current employee found a teaching job (she did).

So we made the move, and now here we are in Memphis. Rusty is working, being a part-time stay-at-home dad, and taking classes. I am working, being "mom," and keeping the house. Life will be busy for at least the next 18 months, but I for one am so much happier (even though I don't necessarily enjoy being a working mother) because I feel like we have a focus and a direction.

Now for some discussion about Goal #2. Some may be wondering... Africa? Why Africa? Why not go back to Japan? Let me first say (so there is no doubt) that WE LOVE JAPAN! We spent four years there and will always look back on them as some of the best years of our lives. We forged deep friendships with special people, both Japanese and gaijin. We had some unique experiences and made many wonderful memories. We will always have a special place in our hearts for Japan and pray for the kingdom work that is being done there. (And there is not a day that goes by that we don't miss onsens!)

Well, Africa is something that has also always been on both our hearts. There is such a wrenching and tugging that goes on inside us when we think of choosing between Africa and Japan. Because, try as we might, we simply cannot be in two places at once. Several years ago, we thought we had made Africa our final choice. We made some promises. We didn't keep them. We went back to Japan instead. We have some regrets -- not about going back to Japan, because God used that year for good in so many ways -- but about not keeping our word and letting people down.

Now, nearly three years later, the doors in certain parts of Africa that once stood wide open appear to be closed, at least to us. We are disappointed... but not surprised. Life moves on. The doors God opens to us will not always remain open indefinitely. So we have spent this last year praying that He will open another door and direct our hearts to another people, another work. And He has answered in a surprising way, a way that has definitely required a major paradigm shift for both of us.

For the last several months, Rusty and I have been in prayerful discussion with a group of people who are forming a team for mission work in Angola. If you don't know much about Angola, don't worry -- we didn't either! Not many people do. That's because, for the last 40+ years (longer than we have been alive!), Angola has been embroiled in civil war. However, peace has finally come to this African nation that is twice the size of Texas, and as history has shown us, often the years of highest receptivity to the gospel are the initial years of peace following a long conflict. For more information about Angola and the team that is forming, I hope you'll visit the Angola Team website (a permanent link will be posted in the sidebar under "Mission Teams Around the World").

Rusty and I have not made a 100% firm commitment to the team as of yet. We are trying to take it slow, be prayerful, and learn from our past mistakes! However, at this point, all the signs look promising, and the door seems to be cracking ever wider. At this point, we are committed to going on the survey trip with the team next summer (2008), which in itself feels like a pretty major commitment seeing as we will have to raise over $10,000 in order to go! (Oh, me of little faith... I know God will provide as he always does. Still, it is a daunting figure.)

Please lift us before the Father as we consider this door, this amazing opportunity!

(Photo courtesy of David Schauer on stock.xchng)


  1. We're excited for the doors He's opening for you guys and continually lift you up in prayer - especially these next months of school, work, parenting and the decisions about the future. We love you guys a lot!
    PS Glad to have the Angola team site.

  2. A wise woman once told me, "Never tell God where you don't want to go because that is where He will send you." Wherever you end up serving, I am sure you will be a great blessing to those around you.