January 15, 2010
This date gets us every year!!! In 2010, when we arrived in South Asia to “call it home” indefinitely, it was such a celebration of a LONG journey to get there. This morning Gray sent me this picture from the date stamped in his old passport ...and he sends me something of the sort every January 15...and I am actually the more sentimental one!!! 😉But this date is SO significant to us, and it always will be. Today we celebrate the fruition of such a significant calling on our lives.
In August 2007, we returned from a 2 year assignment in Eastern Europe thinking we were supposed to serve in the US for at least 10 years or so and then go back overseas or maybe serve in a mobilizing missions pastor position at some point. The main thing we knew—we were NOT done with overseas work, but we thought we were on a long temporary assignment in the US.
We really thought that was right! We thought it was SO right that we planted roots...roots that didn’t have enough time to go deep, but they had enough time to make our return back overseas one of the seasons of life we learned our 2 biggest lessons in the school of life (another story for another day)!
So in that season of the fall of 2007, after returning from two years in Slovakia, we started church planting in the US. Bought a car. Bought a house. Bought a house!!! We bought a house!!! We moved into the house in November 2007. That is when it started for me...as we moved into that house, for every piece of furniture, decoration, dish, and possession in our home, I was marking it in my mind as either "sell," "lend," "donate," "give a family to use," "throw away," etc. for when we moved back overseas. I am NOT exaggerating! It was so strong and compelling and was driving me crazy! When I reached my breaking point after numerous days of this, I went upstairs to our bonus room/Gray’s office to tell him about this madness, and I found him crying, weeping at his desk over a mobilization video by the IMB. Right then, we prayed, and knew we were returning overseas. We were so compelled, we did not delay, and we went right back into that process, and our only question was where...
To be honest, right away we knew it would be South Asia. As Gray studied in seminary in a program where you study for 2 years and then finish your 2 years overseas (Southeastern seminary 2+2 program, which you can learn more about here), he studied with a large group that strategically focused and learned about church planting in South Asia. Only Gray and one other couple went to other places outside of South Asia (we went to Slovakia), yet they studied all 4 years within a track focusing on South Asia. Because of that, because of South Asia being “the greatest concentration of lostness” on this earth (click on that link and look at all of the concentrated red on that map), and because the Lord was growing a compelling love for South Asia from so many places in our hearts—one big example, our oldest child born in 2003 is named after a family from South Asia with a great story (another story for another day)...because of all of these things, we knew we would most likely move to India. But we did take time to pray, seek advice and wisdom, and wait on the Lord. We also knew leaving the mission field is one of the hardest things ever (once again, another post for another day), and we wanted to make sure we weren’t just knee-jerk responding to our recent departure from our 2 years of service. So we sought the Lord and we asked for His guidance.
As we waited, we knew it was right, because it only got STRONGER and LOUDER! A short couple of months later--January 2008 and we were already in the paperwork and application process to return to long term, career service overseas. By then, we knew it was South Asia and were focused on that being our next home!
These pictures are from the day we left America in 2010 (left) with all of our carry-ons, our first day in South Asia and first auto ride (center), and all of our luggage that safely arrived with us (right).
I will tell more of this story later...but for now, this is the intro to why January 15, 2010 is so special to us. In 2010, it was special because we landed there and were finally beginning that irresistible and painful calling. I say painful because for 2+ years from that initial heart stirring in our new home in 2007 until flying to South Asia in early 2010, our hearts were hurting and longing to do the incredible work of taking the Gospel overseas to very lost, hurting people in need of a Savior, of which the vast majority had never, ever heard of the name of Jesus.
It is painful when you know with everything in you that’s what you are called to do and you have to wait...wait...wait. It is so painful and it feels like you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing. BUT, it’s nothing furtherest from the truth. In those 2 years of waiting, we learned 2 of the most powerful lessons in our lives. We were humbled more than we have ever been humbled in our lives. We grew strong in our faith in the midst of a great church that equipped us to do the work better. We grew stronger in our calling and love for South Asia, and that is absolutely essential if you are going to stay and work in a hard and difficult place (for us it was almost 10 years). I would love to write more about these stories over the next year, so look out for them:
Those painful, powerful lessons (heeding advice and waiting and praying).
The most humbled we've ever been and the biggest picture of the Gospel to us.
Actively Waiting. Preparing. Growing Strong.
SO, if you are in the waiting...do not despise it. Seek the Lord’s face. Grow in your calling. Learn, learn, learn about your people. Learn language. Learn life lessons. Pray. Pray. Pray. And WAIT on the Lord—it is an active work to wait well. All of these things will serve you well. All of these things will serve your team well. All of these things will stoke the fire of your calling. All of these things will serve the people of which you are called. All of these things will give you "humble pie" that you need because you are NOT the peoples' Savior you are going to serve. You are a servant of the One and ONLY Savior.
January 15, 2010...always so special. I will continue to share more of our story throughout this year. Eventually all of the "(that is a post for another day)" statements will turn into links to those stories. Stay posted!