Y’all. BIG NEWS!! Whitney—you’ve had three babies in three years, what now?!?!
Let me tell you: AFRICA IS ON THE HORIZON, PEOPLE!
Okay, okay, so nothing is anywhere close to being for sure. BUT—we are in the process of putting Jonathan on a plane to scope out some land in JULY. As in, three weeks from now he will be on African soil, JULY!!!
Here’s the story: About a month ago we walked into a little church meeting on a Wednesday night. We didn’t know anyone, had never visited before, and we knew only as much as google had told us (which wasn’t much). I was wearing a shirt that had the shape of Africa on it and that started one or two conversations. Within probably 15 minutes of being there, we had been informed of this church’s affiliation with Neema House—an orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. Jonathan and I had heard of the place and simply thought—oh cool!
But, as we shared a meal with these new friends—they kept talking about it! When it was discovered that Jonathan majored in Missions, a whole new wind of questions was brought about: Do you still want to do that? Are you still interested in East Africa? Whitney, what do you think? Of course I’m in the middle of trying to shove pizza in the kids’ mouths and keep hands out of the very vulnerable cups of water that somehow keep creeping back within arms reach. Caught a little off guard and only having heard half of what had been said, my reply was something like, “Well yeah I’d love to but it probably won’t happen ‘til we’re old.”
Because let’s be real. Mozambique fell off the horizon about two years ago. We’ve just moved to Texas. We’ve been talking about buying a house and 401-ks and honestly just getting used to the idea of life in America. We’ve been studying apologetics and really learning how to have those tough conversations with non-believers. So as much as we love Africa and as badly as we’ve wanted to return since we left, it seemed like it wasn’t going to be an option any time soon. We were finally content staying right here in central Texas, loving on some crazy Austin-ites, letting God use us to reach people from our own culture, speaking our own language, eating our own food!
But that’s when He get’s you, isn’t it?! You’ve finally given up on that want or that wish and you find yourself content where He has you and BAM! “Here you go sweet girl, if you still want it, it’s yours.” And haven’t I said that to Tylee?! When she finally settles down and stops BEGGING for a napkin like the world will end if she doesn’t have it five minutes ago—“Yes baby, I would love for you to have and use this napkin.”
So we get home from church that night and start debriefing after the kids go to bed. We come to agree that it felt kind of like they may be looking for another family to go over and help the current missionary family. There was a lot of talk about all of the plans for Neema House to expand to Neema Village—it sounded awesome and like something we would love to be a part of, but no one flat-out said, “Y’all should go to Tanzania!”
Because I’m terribly bad at waiting for an appropriate in-person chance to talk things out, I did what any reasonable young woman would do and I started creeping on Facebook. I found some of the people we met that night and immediately sent out some messages. I asked one friend if she knew if they were looking for/needing another family to join the team, her response was something like, “We aren’t exactly ‘looking’ for anyone…its not a need you there by July kind of possibility…but adding ministry partners to that team is definitely a possibility.” She went on to encourage the exploration of the subject and helped put us in touch with the members of their church who started Neema House.
For the next few nights, Jonathan and I stayed up watching videos of Neema House and reading blogs about the people over there and the work being done—really starting to fall in love with the idea. My excellent facebook creeping skills came in handy again when I found the current missionaries and the couple who started Neema House. This is when we started sending messages that felt a little more scary. Let me tell you: We felt a bit CRAZY. Within a week, we went from thinking “What part of Temple should we buy a house in?” to “How much time would it take to prepare to move to Tanzania?”
The crazy part is that up until yesterday I felt like we invented the idea and that no one who is currently overseas had validated it as a real possibility—yet our hearts were feeling like this really could be an option. There have been so many people from this church who have poured advice and encouragement and love into us regarding this possibility but until yesterday, we had not heard from the actual people in charge.
A few days ago, Jonathan found out his work will be closed for the last week of July for routine maintenance on all of the machines. So—getting crazy again—we sent a message to the missionaries and the couple who started Neema House (who have been in Tanzania all summer and who we have not actually met) proposing the idea of Jonathan doing a short survey trip at the end of July. Having never heard back from previous messages, I felt like a nut sending this message. Hey um you don’t know us at all, and I’ve sent you a few messages already and you probably think we’re desperate or crazy or something but anyway we’d really love to move there so is it okay if we come take a quick trip in three weeks to scope it all out??? Haha, oh bless!
Fast forward. Yesterday, I woke up to an email saying they had been praying for another family to join them in this work and if Jonathan is really free at the end of July, he should come on over! What?!? Praise God!!! They know we’re not nuts and they want us to visit!!!
So, before everyone cheers or cries—this does not mean we are actually ready to make any moving plans. It is still SO EARLY in the planning, talking, praying process that we would be getting ahead of ourselves if we assumed that. Jonathan’s trip will be to meet the current missionaries and get a feel for what the expansion plans are. Do we have the skills/knowledge base to be an asset to the developing plans? Where do we fit in to these projects? Do we mesh well with the current missionaries?
So many questions! So much to do in the next three weeks! Making sure everything is good with plane tickets, passports, visas, vaccinations. Luckily, just Jonathan will be making this trip so I don’t have to plan for diapers and baby vaccines and 27 hours of traveling entertainment, etc. Although I am having to try VERY hard not to get TOO jealous.
So Church, we’re going to need your help. July/August is the most expensive time of year to buy plane tickets to Kilimanjaro. I think the budget for this trip will be about $3300—FOR JUST JONATHAN. When that’s about an eighth of your current annual income—it hurts a little bit! So please contact me if you’re willing to help with this cost! We are talking with some folks to figure out how to make donations tax-deductible, so I will keep you posted on that when we have a solid plan.
[UPDATE!!] Checks can be made out to “The Vine” and in the memo be sure to write “Tanzania Survey Trip” so that they will know to give the money to us. Send checks to:
4902 S. 31st Street
Temple, TX 76502
OR you may donate online by downloading The Vine Church app. Search “the vine church – tx” and download the app you see in the picture below. When you open the app, click “Give.” This should open a new browser to pay through a website called Push Pay. Enter the amount you’d like to give, use the drop-down menu to select “Other” AND in the memo line write “Tanzania Survey Trip.” Then follow the prompts to enter your payment method!
Also, please pray NOW! If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you probably know I’m a little pessimistic when it comes to “what ifs.” What if Jonathan dies while he’s gone? Then I’ll be a widow and have to push this baby out all by myself and raise three kids alone! Or what if I go into labor while he is gone? I’ll have a preemie and no husband! Or what if I die in childbirth while he’s gone and he dies too?? Then OUR kids will be orphans and Tylee and Ember will have emotional problems for the rest of their lives!
So really. Pray along with us for that peace that passes understanding! Our whole family needs it! Stay tuned… 🙂