It’s Been a While…

Well, well, well…hey there, friends. It’s been a hot minute. Allow me to give an update:

I haven’t been super excited to write these days because inspiration has been at an all-time low. Who wants to hear from the girl who is STILL waiting on permits? It’s the dreaded question that many caring friends have asked and been met with an even more dreaded answer:

Caring friend: Hey, have you guys heard anything about work permits?

Me: Nope. *cue my awkward attempt to deflect with a lame joke that makes everyone feel weird and red and itchy in their soul (will I ever learn?) or my attempt at sharing newly acquired spiritual insights while I watch people’s eye’s glaze over…

So here it is…

We have been waiting on answers about work permits ( permission to live and serve in the country) for over a year.  We have watched most of the expat and missionary community around us leave and this year will mark the final wave of movers aka the “mass exodus”. We have submitted our applications and are still waiting on the answers.  

If you were wondering what this missionary waiting period has felt like over the last year then just watch the movie Groundhog Day, all day/every day, for an entire year and add in: missionary skirts, a few bad haircut decisions just to feel in charge, crying into pillow at night, watching husband cry into pillow at night, asking way too many existential questions like “Who am I? What have I become?” , and an occasional lack of motivation for basic hygiene. *It’s not exaggeration, people, it’s hyperbole.

Waiting for so long, not knowing where we will be living in the next couple months has been painful for our family and for those around us. However, it has also taught us so much about the grace that He provides through seasons of waiting – through seasons that are completely out of our control. I have learned a lot more about what it means to pray…and believe (like, actually mean it) “may Your will be done.”  I have learned a lot of things that I needed to learn…things that I couldn’t have learned when I felt in control.

As we approach getting our answer of whether we will need to pack up our home or whether we will be able to stay (those impending rejection or approved stamps), I find myself in a place of surrender-ish.  Surrender-ish because either answer brings the temptation of allowing new fears to overtake me. Either path will be another commitment – and a new surrender to Him.  

If we are rejected, we are asked to give up our home, ministries, loved ones who have been family over the last 9 years, the country where two of our children were born and all five were raised, giving up our lives, our plans, our church and community, many dreams and partnerships developed , and also our pool (I threw that one in there for shock factor because I may be the first missionary in the entire world to admit that she has a pool. We do! And it’s amazing! That felt so freeing!)  

If we are approved, I give up the tiny dream that I allowed myself to ponder over, of being reunited with our family, getting to wrap my arms tightly around my newly widowed grandma – cook her meals, take her shopping, hold her hand. I give up that small dream that I allowed myself of calling America home again, not living as an outsider, buying a home and building a future, being in the same country as our children when they leave for college, not having to watch as almost every other foreigner who we know and love is forced to leave this year.

A third option – starting over. My honest feelings about this, if put to sound, would be similar to the screeching of my youngest sister’s violin that year that she “learned to play”. New opportunities – new surrender. Relocating, again, to a new place to serve; starting over in a new country, another new culture, another foreign place to learn. More times of humiliating (albeit hilarious and good for blogging) language and cultural mistakes, working through the disorienting nature of cross-cultural living, and more nights of comforting the lonely tears of my children while fighting back my own. Being the unknown foreigners, once again – a new surrender.

Either way, there is new surrender ahead. And either way, God is in control. No amount of anxiety or fear will change what the Lord has planned because “no plan of His can be thwarted” (Job 42).

I keep needing to learn the same lesson, but I will say it again in case there is anyone out there as forgetful as I am. When we are called to lay down our lives and follow Him, it isn’t a one-time decision. Surrendering our plans/our lives/our families/our comforts and security to Him hurts – like, really bad. However, that hurt (that painful grace) is what draws us closer to our Father and into true rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Grace and Peace,

Steph

  1. Prayers prayers and more prayers asking God to ease your servant hearts letting you know you are loved, you are strong you are faithful and God’s plan is always the best. Stay strong. Stay faithful. Stay positive. And remember tears are there to be released and wash away fears and anxiety
    Love you

    1. Oh my goodness, I love you and your family. I love your honesty and openness and pray you get an answer soon, one way or the other, just to get out of limbo. At the same time I know you are praying for those of us here in America as we face monumental challenges with this divide in our country. I truly know why people turn to drugs, alcohol, etc., because they don’t know, or they forget that ultimately God is in 100% control and his timing is perfect. Please give our love to the team and remember, your words touch our hearts, even when they are hard to write. Love you, Anita & Tom

  2. Hi Stephanie thanks for your post have missed them; I shared this post on FB and hopefully will encourage you that you’re not alone in the struggle! “This may be a little long but I have to do it for myself and hopefully encourage someone else in it. This past year has been a real struggle for me in more ways than one (like all of us) COVID, losing a job I loved twice, personal struggles, politics, etc. BUT God has provided for me. Lessons I learned more than once this past year: Trust God (Psalm 9:10 “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you”); accept what I don’t understand, (Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”); pray more “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18); read God’s Word more (Ps. 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”), the hard part WAIT, (Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”); and be thankful (Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”). I truly pray this is an encouragement!!”

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