Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We have received some of the same questions at multiple Munchies & Missions evenings this fall and thought it would be a good idea to create a FAQ post. We will try to update this post as new questions come up or as answers to some of the questions evolve. We’ll also be posting a link to this post under Learn More on the right so you can access it easily!

Question: When are you leaving?

Answer: Sometime in July, 2012, assuming we raise 100% of our support target. We are still waiting on the exact date of departure.

Q: How is your financial support-raising coming along?

A: Great! We are at 72% for our monthly pledge amount (updated as of 11.30.11)

Q: How long will you be gone?

A: We’ve signed up for a 2 year commitment. Neither of us feel strongly about this being for 2 years or for the next 20. We are open to what the Lord has for us after our first term. This could mean another term of 2, 3 or 4 years. We’ll need to know by the end of our first year what we are planning on for the following term, if any.

Q: What are you doing with your house?

A: We will try to sell it (spread the word!) by owner first, then probably use a realtor if we don’t have success after a few months. Renting seems to be too much of a hassle, without any guarantees of how much we could get out of rent or whether it would be consistently leased.

Q: What prayer requests do you have?

A: Lots! 1. For family, friends, and ourselves as we prepare to be apart for a few years. Pray that the proper grieving would take place among us all.

2. Ethan is nervous about how “long” the trip there will take. Pray for peace for him.

3. Tons of decisions to be made about our life “back here” while we’re gone – what to do with possessions, etc.

4. We’ve been blessed with almost NO anxiety about the fact that we’re moving to Africa, to a place we’ve never been. Pray that the Lord will keep us in that mindset, relying on Him for our provision and safety.

Q: We know Dan will be teaching math. What will Courtney do?

A: Courtney will be involved in her current full-time job as the mother of our three growing children. There will also be many ways to get involved on campus, with the students and the school. The staff who live there wear many different hats and we will both be wearing several that we aren’t even aware of yet. Courtney is especially looking forward to coming alongside some of the girls boarding there, hoping to mentor them and encourage them and be a mother-figure to them in their walk with Christ.

Q: What will your living arrangements be?

A: We will live in a house on campus. The campus is large (100 acres including the land that Kijabe Hospital is on) and has several houses that are used by staff members of the school and the hospital. Housing assignments are determined by family size, so the house we start out in may not necessarily be the house we stay in permanently. From what we understand, housing arrangements are re-assessed each year, depending on the families that will be serving there. A three bedroom ranch-style house seems to be the most common type of arrangement for our family size.

Q: Will Ethan go to Kindergarten there?

A: Yes, but not until our second year. The cut-off date for Kindergarten is age 5 by September 5th (similar to Pennsylvania’s Sept 1st cut-off). Ethan will therefore start Kindergarten during the 2013-2014 school year. RVA does have a 4 year old pre-school that mothers on campus take turns teaching, three days a week.

Q: Is it safe where you’re going?

A: Yes. The riskiest moment of our journey, statistically speaking, will be when we drive to the airport preparing to leave the U.S. this July. Safety is relative – and relative to many places in Africa (and many places in the U.S.) we will be safe. We always go back to the truth that “the safest place you can be is in the center of the Lord’s will.”

Q: What do you do with all your stuff?

A: Sell it, Toss it, Lend it, Store it & Take it – A little of everything. Things that are near and dear to us, we will most certainly be keeping in storage with friends or taking with us. That being said, we certainly have collected a lot of stuff over the 7 years we’ve been married. This is kind of a neat excuse to “clean house.” It really forces us to ask the questions about what we need and what we actually use on a regular basis. Courtney loves de-cluttering, Dan is more of a pack-rat, so please pray for us as we are sure to have many interesting discussions about what to do with different possessions!

Q: What are the options for communication back to the States when you’re over there?

A: Email, Skype, Facebook, Blogging, Phone - Anything Internet related WILL be available to us. Our internet connection won’t be as fast as what we have here, but we will have one. Phone calls will also be made, I’m sure. We’re still looking into the international plan options that are available. The bottom line is that we plan to be just as connected to many of our loved ones as we are now – just without the periodic visits in person. We don’t say that to belittle the fact that we will still be gone for two years, but we are encouraged that we can still be actively involved in the lives of those we care about. Also, its neat to foresee how much more intentional we’ll have to be in those relationships – that can only be a good thing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RVA in Pictures







Titchie Swot is the name of the elementary school at RVA (which I think means “little learner”)


First Grade Classroom at Titchie Swot


Beautiful murals by the students

***All Photos are courtesy of Jill at The Wills Family blog. We met at candidate week in June. She and her family are currently raising support to serve at Rift Valley too! She had the opportunity to visit in October and she kindly shared her photos (and the notes she took!!) with me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How the Lord continues to teach me

I gave my testimony at MOPS yesterday. And I thought I’d post the transcript. It does recount some of our story, from my perspective.

When I was preparing for this talk, I just started thinking about what the Lord has been teaching me over the past few years and has really been hammering away at me in the last year.

HE’S TEACHING ME ABOUT : Surrendering rights, Giving up control, Putting to death fear and anxiety that so entangles and robs joy

HE’S TEACHING ME TO : Trust Him fully, Accept His unconditional love and overwhelming grace, Lean in on Him when it’s hard & To give thanks in all circumstances.

Some of these things I am further along in than others. Some I am just starting to be able to do. None of it can I do on my own, without His help.

I know about control. I know about scheduling. I know about starting early to get where we need to be on time. I’m very type A. Until just recently, I had never been late for anything in my life. And believe me, I do not tell you this to brag. I tell you this because I am a sinful controlling person by nature and I make my neat orderly life into a god and my control of situations and how it looks to others into a god and I worship them. I don’t submit well, not without first weighing all pros and cons and doing an analysis of the situation.

My story starts, however, being raised by my single mother. My mom expected us to be in church each week and in youth group each week and I’m so very glad she did because it was through youth group that the Lord spoke to me and saved me my sophomore/junior year of high school. God gave me the wisdom during my senior year of High School to seek out a Christian college to attend after High School. I was just a baby believer at that point, but I felt very convicted that if this was going to be a real commitment, and if I was going to grow in my faith, I needed to be nurtured and discipled by Christian teachers and peers. And my years at Geneva did just that. Geneva grew my faith up by leaps and bounds. It was in my senior year at Geneva that I began dating Dan. And I had never met a man so in love with the Lord and walking with Him, and I was enthralled. It was on one of our first dates that he told me that if we were to get married someday, he wanted me to know we would probably be missionaries in Africa. And I just thought it was so cute. He wanted to “save the world” but surely we were not going to be missionaries in Africa. We were married in 2004.

We’ve been married for 7 years and we have 3 children. Ethan just turned 4 in October, Nate is 2.5 and Evelyn is 7months. This is my fifth year in MOPS and my second year in the position I’m in as administrative coordinator. And this is likely my last year in MOPS because in July of 2012, we will be moving to Africa. We’re moving to Kenya, specifically, to be missionaries and to minister to missionaries.

So how did that happen? How did I go from being logical and orderly and in control and on top of things to moving across an ocean to a country I’ve never been to with my three small children, likely selling our home, some of our stuff, and leaving convenience and comfort and things I know ? The Lord. That only happens through Him. The Sovereign God of the Universe, the same one that created life, that spoke it into existence and called me to Himself when I was in High School has given me, has given us a task. He’s told us to go, He’s made it abundantly clear and He’s asking me to obey, to trust Him.

What happened practically between 2004 and 2011? The Lord laid missions on my husband’s heart long ago, but Dan never pushed or prodded or even brought it up during our marriage. What happened was God caused us both to stumble on His purposes for the whole world over and over again early in our marriage. For 3 or 4 years of marriage, we were being bombarded with cross-cultural/overseas missions. We were in a Bible Study on God’s Global purposes. A few times we were visiting my husband’s family and they had missionaries speaking at their church that Sunday. And to take that a step further, my husband is a high school teacher and we would hear about the need for teachers for missionary children. Wycliffe Bible Translators had an ad for teachers for missionary children. Not just once, but multiple times over the course of a year. It was evident that we were being confronted by this more and more and the Lord was really softening my heart.

Recognizing that the Lord was doing something here in causing us to bump into this need at every turn, my husband and I began praying seriously about our role in missions work in the summer 2009, with the understanding that every believer plays a role in carrying out the gospel of Christ. Where do we fit? We prayed for clarity in the answer - that God would make it abundantly clear to us where He wants us right now. At the time, my heart was simply not ready for this. As far as I was concerned, my husband was in a mission field teaching in a public school (and he is). Certainly we need strong Christian men teaching in our public schools, but we simply could not get away from the fact that God was placing cross-cultural, overseas ministry in our laps. So we sought His direction.

It was shortly thereafter that I got a phone call that would change everything. In early October, the chair of our International Missions Committee called, asking if I would be willing to pray about going to Africa to teach missionary children, from May 18th to June 3rd – 17days. And he asked for ME. He didn’t ask for my husband. What you have to understand about this - this is October of 2009. I have an ALMOST 2 year old and a 6 month old. People don’t call that woman to go to Africa for 17 days. This goes against every logical, controlled, orderly, the-way-things-are-supposed-to-go thought. But Yet I got off the phone KNOWING with absolute certainty WHO was calling me to this and that I had to say yes. It was the VERY thing we were praying about.

In Luke 1, the Angel of the Lord appears to Mary and tells her of her role in the birth of our Lord. That she is going to carry Immanuel and give birth to him. And there are potentially consequences to this since she is still a virgin & engaged to be married. This does not make sense. And Mary’s response in verse 38 is to say “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be as you have told me.” Talk about surrender to the Lord’s Will and Purposes.

And I’d like to tell you that just like Mary, that night on the phone I said “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be as you have said.” But I didn’t. I wavered. I tried to muddy up that clarity and say “this doesn’t make sense. It isn’t logical. It isn’t my desire” But the Lord was asking me to lay down my control, to lay down my logic, and to lay down my comfort. To give it up to Him. To trust that He is calling me to something far greater than I can do myself. He is calling these shots and He will take care of all that needs taking care of … including my children.

And what happened between that October 2009 phone call and my departure for Africa in May 2010 was a complete shift in my thinking. A complete heart change. I had to say here am I Lord. It doesn’t make sense to me and I’m not comfy, but I surrender. I’ll obey. The Lord met me where I was, trying to be obedient but doing so kicking-and-screaming, and he transformed my heart and put a desire there to be SENT and to GO in whatever capacity.

Because the reality is my life is already His. I don’t own it. I should be responding to Him in unhesitating obedience. “Anything you want, Lord.”

So now I’m excited about going to Africa in a long-term capacity. I can’t believe that I am standing up here saying that. I’m excited about how the Lord will be able to work through us there.

That is not to say I’ve arrived at giving up control or surrendering my rights, I find that I still want control of every little detail of the planning. We are currently in the throes of support raising and I would like to have control of that. We have a million and one decisions to make before we go and I’d like to control those, to know the outcome. I’d like to know and control the health and safety of my kids while we are there and I can begin to stress out and worry about it.

But I’m learning that worry and fear are nothing more than a lack of trust in Him and a prideful elevation of myself.

So whether its in my parenting, my marriage, or moving overseas, The Lord is still having to work on me. To remind me to trust him with every aspect of my life – my relationships, my children, to lay all of that at His feet because He is good and His promises are true and He is in control and He will lead me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Caption Contest RESULTS!!!

Before we announce the results of our caption contest, we wanted to post a few captions that didn't make it onto the actual blog page...mostly facebook comments.

Andrew Dinardo: They're doing a duet to "How he Loves"
Nicolas Kroger: they're obviously laughing at Martha Schartner when I beat her at cornhole
Carl Dawson: Africa? We're going to Africa? Wait, where is Africa?
Andrew Dinardo: Ok new one: "Student Leadership Retreat!!!"
Paulette (Grandma) Schmidt: Nate- "Ethan bit my finger!", Ethan- "I didn't mean to, he put it in my mouth!"
Scott Pearce: Too hard to keep it clean. I withdraw from participation.
Marc DeJeu: "Fire in the hole!"
Rachel Maize: and then Mommy told Daddy, "I really have no interest in missions overseas..."

Now, the moment you've all been waiting for...
The winner is...

Grandma Schmidt! She clearly captured the most likely quote from her grandsons!

Lucky for us, there isn't a Wendy's anywhere NEAR her, so, we'll have to owe you, Mom. You can cash in next time you visit or we'll get you the KFC equivalent of a frosty when you visit us in KENYA! :)

Honorary mention* goes to Andrew Dinardo...he really wanted to win. Good effort, Nards!
* Honorary mentions DO NOT qualify the individual for the prize of a Frosty.

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