You know how there are times in life when you might hear the same question a lot? When you start kindergarten— “do you like school!?” Or when you’re a senior in high school you might be asked what you’re going to do when you graduate? When you’re getting married, people will say, “when’s the date?” or when you’re pregnant, “when are you due?”
Well for missionaries in their home countries during the COVID pandemic the question is, “how long are you here?” or “when will you go back?”
Now, I don’t want you to feel bad if you’ve asked that question, not at all. But the answer is, “I’ve been here almost five months” and that in itself is enough to cause me to pause. How did that happen? It’s really gone so fast. And then the rest of the answer- “there are no flights available that line up with the restrictions that are in place, so I really don’t know.”
That limbo results in a bit of a tension for most of us. How much to settle in where we are and how much to be ready to go as soon as something opens up. But, praise the Lord, He still works in the tension.
What’s been going on?
I’ve been blessed by time with friends and family and have still been able to keep in touch with my team back in PNG. It’s so good to call into the ICT group’s weekly prayer time and know that Samuel will always be sitting in the corner, and that I’ll always have to fight to pry information out of them to see how they’re doing and how they need prayer. I’ve also been able to connect on a weekly basis with several ladies from PNG currently in their home countries through Zoom to share prayer requests and pray for the work still going on in PNG.
In the past two months, the Lord has really directed my steps to focus on two new projects. I’m still working on communication tools and updates and developing videos and resources for my team, but . . . I’m excited about two new opportunities.
1. Mission Pastor Discussion Groups- I’ve always been excited about the ways that the Church can come alongside missionaries serving on the front lines. I believe that support is vital to seeing the work completed. I’ve recently been able to develop and implement a plan for meeting over Zoom with mission pastors of churches that have missionaries in PNG with Ethnos360 to talk through different missionary care concepts found in scripture. The great part is that I just ask a few questions and then the 5 or 6 people on the call share with one another how they see the examples playing out in their church. Right now I’m on the first round of these calls with 6 calls in all, and I’m really encouraged to hear the ideas everyone is sharing. This group has been put together specifically to give feedback on the process.
2. Debriefing Retreats- I went to a Barnabas International Debriefing Retreat in June, and I really enjoyed the activity based approach to reflection and processing. Afterwards, I really wanted an opportunity to share the activities with some of my PNG co-workers. So, I organized a retreat in Washington State, and while it was a small group, it was a really meaningful time of sharing and fellowship.
Well who knows, really?
But while I wait for countries to open up and allow flights across the globe, I hope to continue pursuing these two projects. This week I’m going to a week-long debriefing training, so that if I get the opportunity to offer other retreats here or there, I’ll be better equipped.
I hope to continue having great conversations with mission pastors from across the US in an effort to learn and grow from one another about how to support and encourage the work of our team still serving on the other side of the world.
And then there’s this conference at the beginning of October about missionary care in North Carolina that I’d like to go to. And then I still have this list of videos I want to make . . . but while many are the plans in a man’s heart, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).