Well, it’s almost here – a mini furlough for 2012. I’m not sure most people or the average “person in the pew” understands much about all that is involved with a missionary furlough.
For instance, when South Africans hear that we are going to America for furlough, most of them respond with, “Wow, have a nice vacation.” Sometimes I explain and sometimes I just smile and say, “Thanks, we will.” It depends on the person and on my mood. The truth is, while furlough may include a vacation it is all of the above… it’s Good, it’s Bad, and yes, some of it is Ugly.
It’s Good! We get to see family and friends, new and old acquaintances, pastors, supporters and other missionaries. This year we will go to ME (Missionary Enrichment) at ABWE. That’s always encouraging and a good time for spiritual enrichment and training too. Tom will attend a pastor’s conference this year and we’ll enjoy a family vacation too. We’ll get to visit many of our supporting churches and hopefully help recruit some new missionaries for our field – that’s exciting!
It’s Bad! We’ll leave behind people we love and care for here. This is our home. Tom is their shepherd and pastors them weekly. The ministry will be impacted by our time away. Our co-workers will work at least twice as hard to keep things moving forward in our absence. Our house will be empty this time and that’s always a risk with the high crime rates. There are expenses of keeping up our home on the field while incurring the living and travelling expense of furlough in America and it takes a toll financially. I guess you get the picture. We are incredibly grateful for our family who provide a place for us to live and a supporting church who is providing a vehicle for us to drive. Okay, maybe it’s not so bad!
It’s Ugly! Most of you haven’t seen us after 24 hours on a plane! It’s not pretty. This time we are bringing our youngest daughter, Morgan, to the states to start college and Nancy and I will return to South Africa in August without her. That’s just downright awful. All the empty-nesters reading this are either tearful or just shaking their heads. Yes, life-change is hardly ever easy, especially when the distance between loves ones is so great. Another “ugly” thing about furlough is raising additional financial support. Who likes to ask people for money or feel the pressure of somehow convincing them that the things God has put before us in our mission is worthy of their investment. Praise God for people who have a heart for missions and understand God’s global call to reach the nations! We have $800 dollars of monthly support to raise and only three months to do it. Without it, we will be unable to do our ministries in South Africa and the new expanded ministries that we have taken on for ABWE in other parts of Southern Africa.
This we know for sure. No matter where we go and whatever happens on either side of the ocean… in all the good, bad and the ugly, God is in control and He’s faithful. On that we can depend.
OK, in the midst of all this babbling there are some prayer requests and praises listed for you too (please click on the Prayer Requests tab on our blog) – we covet your prayers. Living through furlough is often easier than thinking about it, as it can be overwhelming. I know you will continue to stand in the gap for us. God is doing some great things in South Africa and we are excited to see what He’ll do this furlough too!
Thank you for being a part of our lives and your partnership in global missions. Know that we love and appreciate you all dearly!