March 20, 2013

Striving


It's Wednesday morning and I'm walking to the Street's house to catch a ride to school. Today's school picture day and I'm super excited to do this for Hope International School. It's their first year being open, and it's just such a landmark to be able to capture for them. When I mentioned the idea to Stacy (the founder) a few days before she said something to the effect of, “Wow, school pictures. That means we're, like, a real school.” As if she was shocked that her dream was actually being played out.
When I arrive I see many familiar faces and receive lots of smiles from those I was in the classroom with the day before. There was a shady spot in the courtyard I had my eye on so I set up a table and wait for the kids. The pre-schoolers come first and they're oh-so-adorable. And oh-so-squirmy as they wait their turn. But as soon as I tell them to stand on the crack in the concrete in front of the camera it's as if the 'magic' of the camera calms them and each and every one of them stands perfectly still, letting me snap their picture.
The morning progresses and I end up finishing early, so I pack up and head to the principals' office. Ruth & Steve welcome me, and having just met with Stacy, have answers to the questions Bill & I asked at our lunch meeting/interview yesterday. They tell me what they're able to provide to get us back to Africa and how much they can provide monthly as a stipend for food. We discuss details about the monthly excursions and the availability of a car for going into town. The conversation turns to curriculum and classes offered and “How do you feel about teaching art?” and “You could take over the photography class,” and “It would be great if you were up to leading a year book committee.” Then she mentions, those classes may change because the extra curricular classes are based mostly on what the teachers chose to teach and what their strengths are. I (admitedly) stop listening to her continue as I roll that around in my head: “The extra curricular classes are based on what the teachers want to teach and what their strengths are.” Amazing. A school that actually listens to the teachers and plays to their strengths. I resume listening and we get back on the subject of curriculum and are now flipping through the catalog. My heart is going fluttery as I think of teaching again and the activities and extensions and lessons that could be taught– looking through that catalog did it, I'm sure (you teachers know what I mean).
Before I know it, the lunch bell is ringing which means it's time for me to catch my ride. I collect my things and head toward Stacy's van.
It's lunchtime now and I join Bill & Owen at Vince & Vicki's house. The table is already set, but the food isn't quite ready. We're here to talk with the Welches about the logistics of making the 'move'. What expenses are, where to get the best rates on insurance, etc. I say hello to Vicki & Vince but I'm still kind of numb from all the information swimming in my head. The last couple nights have been spent figuring out how we could make it work to come here in August for the school year. Do we sell everything and move here in August? Is this even God telling us to move, or is it just us being over zealous and wanting it? Or do we come here just for the school year, attempt to rent our house out, and consolidate some of our bills? How much support would we need to raise in order to live in Moshi? What would we need to bring with us? What would our 'start-up' costs be? Are people going to freak out about this? Who can rent our house – who do we trust, that is able to rent it? So many questions that we were trying so desperately to answer over the past few days.
I come back to the moment and Vince has prepared two sheets full of numbers, ideas and 'good-to-know' things. He's already been talking to Bill a little while. The info Vince is giving us is great and I quickly start scribbling things down – a lot of those questions we'd been talking about are getting answered and it's helpful. Fortunately, lunch is ready because I'm not sure my head can handle one more iota of information.
I truly enjoy lunch, being in the moment and not thinking about school or the future. It's a nice reprieve. Before I know it though the conversation has turned from how amazing the sausages and banana bread muffins are to what I gleaned from the interview/meeting yesterday and if I'd heard any more information from Ruth. I fill them in on the details and we move back into the living room and resume talking business.
Before I know it we're talking newsletters and support and numbers are flying everywhere. My head is spinning but I try not to let on. Owen is getting fussy and ready for a nap so we bid our adieus with the promise to return in a few hours for potluck and community worship/prayer time.
I'm walking along the dusty road and we're half-talking about everything that just went on, still in a stupor from information overload. Talking about all the numbers and what it all means and is this God or is this us? Are we on the right path? Are we going to fast? How could we make this work? Should we make this work?
We're walking back to the Welch's now, a tupperware container filled with french toast and my brain is feeling better. It's been a couple hours since we've talked about the fall and all that entials and I'm feeling a little rested, in that sense. We arrive and it's breakfast pot luck in full swing and boy is it good. Bacon. French Toast. Eggs. Quiche. Yummm. I let my brain rest just a little while longer so I can fully enjoy the smorgasbord that lies ahead.
It's getting close to being worship time and a new face comes over to us. Gina introduces herself and tells us about her ministry to the unreached people of the tribal villages. She asks us our intentions/hearts for Moshi and we share a tiny bit about the school and our potential plans. We would love to go to the villages with her once in a while, but, for now, that's now where we're feeling led for long-term ministry for our family and we tell her so.
It's worship time now and Rebekah is singing while she plays the keyboard, Alex jumping in on the hand drum every now and then. I soak in the moment and hold back the tears. Worship always makes me so emotional. The lyrics remind me that God is in control and He is all we need, tat he will always provide.
Worship is nearing the end and Vicki is talking now. She is saying she wants the community to pray for us. When I hear our names I snap to attention, and realize fully what is about to happen. We didn't ask for this, but it's going to happen.   She asks with her glance if it's okay that she shares the three decisions we're bouncing around and I nod the 'ok'. The group is listening as she shares: “Do they move here at all? Do they just come for ten months? Do they sell everything and move here permanently?” She asks the community to pray as they feel led and Vince is bringing over two dining room chairs to the middle of the room.
I'm sitting in this chair, holding my husbands hand and tears are streaming down my face. These people are praying with their hearts, the Holy Spirit is here and I can feel him. They pray of provision and speak scriptures over us. Several words are spoken that are encouraging and positive (oh how I wish there was a scribe for this moment!). The praying dies down a bit and Rebekah shares that she feels God is telling her to tell us to stop striving. That he's put this dream in our heart and not in vain. That if we stop striving and just seek him rather than seeking the answers, we will find our answers. Others start to speak out in agreement and peace is spoken over us.
It's quiet in the room and I'm still sitting here holding Bill's hand. My cheeks wet with tears and my heart overflowing-full. I explain that I'm crying because these people in this room are like family and we're going to miss them so much. Rebekah mentions that God is in this because it's not easy to submerge oneself into a community and have it feel like family in less than a month. Family doesn't just happen like that. But it has. And I'm sitting right in the middle of it soaking it all up.
It's nighttime now and I'm listening to the bats squeaking as Owen sleeps soundly in the bedroom across the hall. I'm writing our supporters asking for them to come alongside us in prayer that we would just stop striving. I can't explain, I just ask, knowing that so many of them will just pray.