A majority of our travel is visiting people out in our village works. We work on the field of West Africa which means that we have people in 5 different countries and we are working among 17 different people groups. Because our field is spread out so much and some of the groups we work in are in very remote locations, our missionaries have very few opportunities to see other missionaries. Isolation is one of the challenges our missionaries face regularly in life. Therefore you can understand why on site visits are important. It is important for encouragement, for someone to pray with, for someone to talk to, for someone to give perspective on challenges and for someone to offer advice or connection to someone who might have advice.
For Joel most of his travel is as a member of our leadership team. Our leadership team currently has 4 members and they try to visit all of our works at least once a year with at least 2 members from the team. On top of that there are the more urgent situations that arise where it is important to have a member from leadership team there, but these events usually can’t be planned on and will just pop up at the last moment. You can see that amounts to quite a bit of travel.
Most of my travel has more to do with those who are learning language and culture. Of those 17 works, we currently have 9 where there are people in this phase ministry. This process is a very difficult process as anyone who has been through it can attest to, so it is very important to have coaching and help through it. Often the biggest contribution we make is affirmation that they are on the right path and new ideas to help their session time be more efficient. We currently have 2 consultants who are able to travel and we try to visit each work 2 times a year. So this also can be quite the load, especially when one of the two of us is on furlough.
What A Trip Looks Like…
All of our works take at least one full day of travel to get to, but some take 2 or 3 days. Because of this we try to lump some together to visit multiple works while we are out. Sometimes Joel and I can combine our trips although sometimes when we do this we have to separate paths as our goals in each visit might be different. Each trip looks very different, so it is hard to give a complete picture, but here a small glimpse of different aspects.
- Some are works are a 1-3 day drive away, others are a flight and 2 bus rides away, another is a flight and helicopter ride away. So each has its own look and challenges, but the most important thing is to be flexible as there are often small bumps along the way.
- For each trip we try to stay 2-3 days with each team. If it is a language visit and there are multiple people in that phase of ministry then it will take longer.
- The trip usually includes the following: visits to people in the village, listening to those onsite as to how they feel things are going, observing pieces of their ministry like language sessions, and then passing on our observations and advice. All of this is followed by a written report summarizing all that took placed during our time there.
- Our favorite is when we are able to do this with our kids so it allows them to be a blessing to the kids of the families we visit.
- When we leave to head home we are always encouraged with what God is doing and reminded of the importance of holding each of these teams up in prayer as they press on through some difficult challenges.