Have you ever wanted to put your God-given gifts to use outside of your home country? I have! And so has Doug! As some of you know (if you've read my blog and all 10 posts from the last three years...), a few years ago Doug and I had the opportunity to travel to northern Africa to visit his brother and sister-in-law. They are both teachers and they spent two years there at a school for ex-pats and local residents. While visiting there, I got a small taste of what it would be like to live overseas. I thought, "I could totally do this. The hardest part would be leaving (Manitoba)!" And then I thought, "I can't ever do something like this, no matter how much I would like to, because I am not a teacher." It seems like the greatest need out there for overseas Christian workers is in education. I believe in education, I enjoy early years education, but I can't seem to make my mind up about getting that piece of paper with the letters saying I'm qualified to be an educator. So that pretty much squashes that idea, doesn't it? Nope! In spring, Doug and I were talking about how we felt like there was something more for our family than just the day-to-day work-parent-eat-parent-chill-parent-sleep routine. Neither of us feeling completely fulfilled in what we were doing. I do really enjoy my job - especially now that I'm doing more of the "office manager" stuff. I like interacting with adults and kids and doing other office-y things, so what I'm doing right now is just about perfect! But still, there was a restlessness in me. A restlessness in Doug. I have been a faithful reader of the R. Plett blog, Madagascar Musings. I find reading about their life in Madagascar so inspiring! Jocelyn often posts about how the Vision Valley School needs teachers. They don't require you to have a degree in order to teach, but they do require you to be a native English speaker. I mentioned it to Doug and after a bit of talking we decided that we'd inquire further about the job. I think almost all summer long we were busy talking about Madagascar with each other, Doug to his Dad, and us with the R. Pletts. Doug's parents are rather experienced in the mission field themselves, having served overseas for somewhere around 10 years, plus Dad also worked for the church conference for a number of years. With that experience, when he advises us on something, we take heed and listen. He suggested that we look at going to Madagascar with a sending organization. An organization that looks after you while you are overseas, helps you prep before you go, and then helps you with re-entry when you return home. The organization he recommended was TeachBeyond. I was browsing their website and saw that Germany was on the list of places with opportunities available for service. This piqued my interest! I checked out the Black Forest Academy (BFA) site for job opportunities, and what do you know? I see they are looking for someone to work in the communications department. This is very interesting to me as Doug's current job title is Communications Coordinator! I mentioned it to him and he was immediately very excited! We inquired with BFA about the position, found that they were definitely still looking for someone to take that job and were encouraged to apply. So, over the course of the last four months, we have been busy filling out looooong applications, acquiring the appropriate ID to apply for passports and travel abroad with children, doing phone interviews, meeting with our church's missions committee and the head of our conference. To make what could be a really long story much, much shorter... We were accepted by TeachBeyond to serve in some capacity somewhere, and about two weeks later we were accepted by BFA! Our hope is to leave for Germany at the beginning of August 2013. This is all happening very quickly! We have had such a great response from our friends and family - you have been so encouraging to us! I have been terribly nervous about telling people because I feel so very inadequate to be considered a "missionary". And yet that is what our new title will be! Doug will be working in communications at BFA to help with the recruitment of new staff to the school. A Christian boarding school where students come to live and learn. Many of them have parents that are out on the mission field themselves, in places where it is either not safe for their children to go to school, or the schooling available is not sufficient for them to be able to return to North America for post-secondary education. We are excited to be a part of it! My role at the school will be working part-time as an administrative assistant in a yet to be determined department. Again, putting the skills I have from my years in an office to use in ministry - exciting!
Aside from the fact that we will be living across the ocean, way far away from family and friends, one of the big differences between working at BFA and working at our current jobs here in Manitoba will be that we have to raise financial support. BFA does not pay salaries. Because of this, the school is able to reduce the cost of educating the students, benefiting their missionary parents.
We will be gone for a two-year term, but are open to serving at BFA longer if that's what God wants from us. We may end up in another country at a different school after that, or we may be back in Manitoba - we do not know! One step at a time.
Please pray for us as we get ready to take this giant step! It will undoubtedly be extremely hard to leave our families and friends here in Canada (especially those we see often). It'll be quite a huge change for our little family, and maybe even our neighbours who happen to be the grandparents to our kids, to not see each other almost every day. We rely on them so much... I would say more than they know, but I think they know very well. :')
Pray: 1. for excellent time management strategies (there's a lot to do in 8 short months!); 2. for a smooth transition for our kids, and Doug and I too; 3. that our ears would be wide open to what God wants for us; 4. that God would provide the funding we need in order for us to embark on this new journey!
If you have any questions about this new step our family is taking, please don't hesitate to ask. I'd love to answer them. I received an awesome new milk frother for Christmas, so come down for a fancy coffee or tea and we can chat. :)
If you are looking for a service opportunity for yourself, or your family, I would encourage you to look at all of the different opportunities to serve on TeachBeyond's website. There are LOTS of opportunities for teachers, but there are LOTS of opportunities for those of us with other skills, too. :)