There’s something about receiving the confirmation for our reservation at the missionary training school that sent the butterflies floating around my belly. I saw the email and suddenly everything became so real. We are really on our way. We made our decisions and now the whole thing seems to be coming at a much quicker pace. I don’t know whether to leap for joy or pray for mercy!
Our training begins on February 20 in Colorado and lasts for 3 weeks (for the entire family). If you are interested, you can snoop around their website at http://www.mti.org.
Just in case you were wondering, our mission sending agency, The Antioch Partners, has determined that all of their missionaries will attend the training… we are obligated to go… but the truth is we are very excited about it. Not just for us, but for the kids too. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, but even to take the 3 weeks away from everything and digest what it is we are about to do… and to spend the time (isolated) with the kids to help them think things through. I know a big part of the training will be centered on preparing all of us for a cultural shift, and an even bigger part will be revealed when we get there… but still… I am really looking forward to it.
What are the odds of this… The training school is about 20 minutes from our old house. What a gift! Of all the places we could “have to” go, we find that we will be just down the road from our family and friends in Colorado. In my mind, this is the Lord’s generosity, plain and simple.
It is decided. Sometime at the beginning of February we will load up our car, the kids and all that we own (not much by that point) and drive to Colorado. Yeah, that’s right…driving across mountain passes and Utah in February… glad Rob is a professional!
The plan is to visit family and friends for a week or so, get organized with stuff (with 4 kids and all that we own you can imagine!) and then go to training until March 9. We will actually be living on campus for the 3 weeks during training. Once that is completed we will continue our visits for about another week and then…. oh my, I can’t believe I’m typing this out loud… we will fly out for Johannesburg.
I should probably insert here that we remain flexible. If you have been around us for any length of time you already know we have made several attempts to plan what lies ahead. It seems it is not our job to make the plans! At any rate, we think it will go like this and are aiming that direction. As the Lord makes His will known to us, if we need to make adjustments along the way we are prepared to do so. Prepared to adjust? Hmmm… how many of us are really prepared to adjust our plans? OK…I admit, I may baulk a little, but I understand that planning for something this big is a bit of a challenge and my flexibility may be the key to my own sanity.
This all leaves us about 12 weeks to get our lives (and our things) in order before we leave Washington. Like I said before, I don’t know whether to leap for joy or pray for mercy! We have had the big garage sale, so the bulk of the stuff is gone. What remains is the complicated, messy parts of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of from the emotionally-attached-to-it pile. Just think of the amount of stuff I have amassed thus far for the kids; all the little baby booties and blankets, their toddler drawings and home-made Mother’s Day gifts, awards for a job well done and prized possessions from a best friend. You get the picture. And speaking of pictures …
I have this to deal with. Thousands, and I mean thousands of photos. I love photos. I love having albums of photos. I especially like having really great photos of the kids and although not all of these are great, some are. Just for the record I am not getting rid of these. I am going to digitize some, store others, but you can see it will take a great deal of organizing (and time) to get this down to manageable.
I have to confess that I worry about time. I know I shouldn’t. The truth is, when we get on the plane, what’s done is done and what remains undone, well… probably won’t matter anymore. But I still worry about getting it all done. It just seems to me that 12 weeks isn’t very much time for getting all these things organized and prepared for storage, plus all the other tasks for getting ready… doctor’s appointments, collecting records, taxes (ugh!), shopping for supplies. Let’s not forget we are still in the business of raising support, speaking to groups and we have the 4 kids, friends, family and holidays! Whew! Lord have mercy!
Meanwhile, this evolving process of letting go of stuff grows deeper and more significant as we get down to the things that matter to us. Did I say us? I guess I should say me. Rob has his own set of things to wrestle with as he says good-bye.
While I fret over which photo to make a digital copy of, store or pitch, Rob called the Fire Chief to inform him of our plans. Rob had already set this in motion a while ago when he was granted a 2 year leave of absence, but it became official when Rob gave a “start-date.” I know Rob loves his job. I also know Rob loves the fabulous firefighters he works with. He loves what he does and actually enjoys being at the department. How many folks love their jobs these days? A big sacrifice for one’s convictions. The risk of trading a work that you love for a work that is unknown, is palpable.
The next several weeks offers us a juxtaposition of emotions. While we struggle to say good-bye to our special things, we also experience the freedom of a lighter load. As we are deeply saddened to push the “pause” button on Rob’s work, we are also filled to the brim with excitement for the farm. Thinking about only having 12 weeks to be ready seems like an impossibility, yet on the other hand, 12 weeks couldn’t come soon enough! My growing sense of the Jekyll and Hyde living in me right now is becoming more obvious with my stuff! Oh mercy … it is going to feel good to get through this stage!
One step at a time is all have going for me right now, just to keep on going with the goal of getting to the farm. Even sitting here with the visualization of all things Africa… the children, the natural beauty, the mangoes …. (see my earlier post, “Blueberries and Mangoes.”) we are drawn to that place like a moth to flame. So what gets done will be done, and what’s left undone, probably won’t matter!
By the way, thanks for reading. I mean really, really thank you very much for reading. If you read this, then I know you think about us, perhaps pray for us, and we need that. It will take a little bit of effort on both of our parts (you, the reader and us, the Taylors) to stay connected while we are gone and one way I can include you in our lives is by writing right here on the blog…. so thank you.
Our funding is coming right along. It was a super-big help to have our budget re-evaluated by smart folks who know more about these things than me. Line-by-line the budget was discussed and we found that many of the items were too high. Good news for us because we are now closer to the finish line. Looks like we have 80% of our one-time outgoing expenses in place and 50-60% of our monthly budget pledged. Please continue to consider joining us in serving orphans in Swaziland. Our partnership will make a difference!