Mzungu Memoirs

Archive for January, 2011

Stone Memorials

We have been enduring a number of hardships and struggles over the past few months.  Financial stress, real estate headaches, major transitions, emotional stress and spiritual warfare.  Within the span of a few days, Heather became very sick, was unable to travel with me to Colorado for training, I became sick and finally, our car was broken into.

Amid all of this, we see God working and providing for us in amazing ways. In Joshua 4:4-7,we read:

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan.  Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you.  In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD.  When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.  These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.

I feel a connection to the Israelites crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.  The Israelites were leaving the familiar and entering unknown territory led by God.  We feel we are crossing the Jordan (Atlantic Ocean) to enter very unfamiliar territory.  We don’t know why yet, but we hear His voice and we follow.

Heather & I have what we call a God shelf.  It has items that remind us of times and ways that we experienced God working and providing in our life.  I would like to share some of our recent stone memorials.

STONE ONE: Without a buyer or renter for our Colorado townhouse and with only about 3/4 funding for our budget, we committed to a lease of a house in Uganda.  About two weeks after committing to the Uganda house, a renter was provided.

STONE TWO: Two supporters have purchased laptop computers for Heather and myself.  These supply tools for us to provide drawings and renderings for ministries we serve and connect us with family and supporters.

STONE THREE: Heather and I had been talking that we needed to have a will done before we leave.  An attorney who does wills and estate planning for clergy and missionaries fell into our lap and provided these services pro-bono.

STONE FOUR: This website was established and is being hosted by a brother from a men’s breakfast I was involved with in Fort Collins, CO.

STONE FIVE: Only two major international airlines service Uganda, one of whom I had 89,000 frequent flyer miles with.  A round trip flight to sub-Saharan Africa is 80,000 miles, so we ended up spending just over $2,700 for our three round trips tickets rather than $5K as budgeted.  This has helped tremendously on start up costs and with our lack of full funding.

I encourage each of you to be quiet, observant and notice ways that God has provided, answered prayers and parted the Jordan Rivers of your life.  I also encourage you to build stone memorials so that in the dark valley times of your life you may remember the times that God did amazing things.

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So Many Questions…

As we have been making preparations for our trip to Uganda and sharing our story with family, friends and potential funding partners, we have been asked many questions, some of which you may or may not have thought of yourself. I thought I would take a few moments to share them with you as well as the answers.

One of the first questions we are often asked is “What will you be doing over there?” Robert will be joining three East Africa design project teams in 2011, providing master planning and architectural design for those three projects and architectural renderings and graphic design for other smaller projects.  His first project trip is for a Widows’ Vocational Training Center in Burundi.  He will be working with team leaders and interns more closely than he normally does on short term trips, serving a more hands on role in preparing and assembling the project reports.   These reports are a culmination of the design work on a short term trip and provide a document for the ministries they have served to use for fund raising and construction.

Since we usually assume that the first question is directed to Robert, the next question is usually “So, what will you be doing, Heather?” This question kind of caught me off guard at first, as I didn’t really think of my role as much beyond supporting Robert and running the household, which will be a fairly monumental task in a developing country.  But if you think about it, these are very important roles, and I now look at my tasks very seriously.  But I will also be available to help out in the eMi office and possibly go on a trip should one arise that would be particularly fitting for a female architect.  Of course, we would have to make sure that it doesn’t coincide with a trip that Robert is scheduled to go on.  Someone probably ought to be around to take care of Caleb.

Another question that usually comes fairly early in our conversations is “How long will you be there?” This one is pretty straight forward as we have committed to serve with eMi in Uganda for a year.  We originally thought this would mean that we would be overseas from the beginning of January to the end of December, but it looks like it will be more like from February 2011 through the end of January 2012.

Of course, everyone wants to know  “When will you be leaving?” We finally have an answer for this one.  Robert just purchased our tickets and we are scheduled to fly out Monday, February 7 at 1:17pm.  We will be flying from Austin, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia, and then from Atlanta to Amsterdam and on to Entebbe, Uganda.  It will take us almost 22 hours of travel time with about 19 of that actually spent in the air.  I can hardly wait.

Another question we often get asked is “So, how’s the funding coming?” And, unfortunately, if you get down to the nitty gritty numbers, it doesn’t look so great.  We have enough in our account with eMi to reasonably cover most of our start up costs (airfare, vaccinations, purchase of a motorcycle in country, etc.)  Currently, with the known pledged monthly support we have about 78% of what we need to cover our minimum monthly budget.  We could still use another $400 to $500 a month, but we know that God will provide for us.  He will either provide the money for us or make it so we don’t need it.  And I’m kind of curious to find out which it will be.

Somewhere in the mix of questions we usually get asked “Is Caleb going with you?” Of course he is!  We wouldn’t want him to miss out on the adventure.  This is something that we truly feel God is calling us to do as a family.  But it is a valid question.  Years ago, before I felt the call as Robert did, I had told him that he could go serve long term with eMi and I would wait for him at “home.”  God really had to work on me, but He has helped me see that my home is with my husband and our son and it doesn’t matter what continent it is on.

And then we come to Robert’s all time favorite question: “Is it safe?” Robert says we would probably be fully funded if we had a dollar for every time someone has asked us that.  Well, maybe not, but it sure feels like we get asked that a lot.  To which we answer it is about as safe as moving to Detroit, Chicago or New York City.  Besides, God doesn’t call us to a life of safety but of service.  We trust in the truth that God will not send us anywhere His providence will not cover.

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