May 22, 2013

We're not the only ones moving...

... GOD is moving.  A LOT.

A lot of people have asked us the 'big' questions:
Where are you going to live?
You'd be surprised what people think when you say "moving to Africa" :)

What are you going to do with your house?
Our house after a freak snowfall in March of '09
What about your cat?
He's been a part of our family for 7 years!
When are you leaving?

What will you do while you're there?
Pretty sure O will be starting a band in Moshi... ;)

We didn't always have an answer for all these 'big' questions, you know, the things that kinda hafta be taken care of before up and leaving for Africa for nearly a year.

But God's been moving.

We had prayed and sought God's wisdom on whether or not we should sell the house or hang on to it so we'd have it when we returned, and we both clearly heard him say to give it up.  To sacrifice the comfort of having it here waiting.  So we talked to a realtor friend, and after crunching numbers and looking up comps we all decided it would be best to wait a little while before putting it on the market.  So we began praying for the perfect renters to come our way.  Ideally it would be someone we knew, so we wouldn't have to go through having to use a property management company, worry about the state our house would be in after we returned, etc.  But we didn't know anyone.  We went this route before when we were still clinging to the house being ours.  We asked the handful of couples we knew that may be in a position to rent our house, and they all said no.
But after committing to selling it and then finding out it wouldn't be financially wise... we found renters.  Literally the day after we decided to look for renters.  And we know them pretty well, too.  Just last night they agreed to a one year lease, and we could not be more thrilled with the prospect of them living in our home!  It was so fun to show them around and watch her dream about nesting and all the ways she could decorate.  It got me excited to house hunt for us in Africa :)

Oh.  But that's not all.

As much as I hated to do it (I cried, I'll admit it) I put up an ad on a local website called Charlotte Mommies describing our situation and the need to find Oliver a new home.  I know not everyone is a pet person, but we are.  Oliver was our kid before Owen came around and he is truly a part of our family.  He waits for us at the door, he snuggles with Owen on the couch, lets him push him around in boxes, he's one of us.  It was hard to put up a 'wanted' ad for him. :(
The first person that contacted me was a lady that lived about 30 minutes away.  She'd been looking for a cat to get their family but wanted one that was laid back, playful and liked attention - not a snooty, skiddish cat.  Well, those of you that know Oliver know that he is exactly what she described.  So their family came over to meet him on Mother's Day.  They're a family of three, with a 2 1/2 yr old daughter.  I love how similar that is to our family make-up.  Oh.  But that's not all.  Turns out she went to Harper Creek High (in Battle Creek,  where I went to Battle Creek Central High).  She knows my cousins.  We both went to the Math & Science Center together, graduated a year apart, and played tennis against each other.  It was seriously like the twilight zone up in here as we were figuring all this out.  CRA. Zy.  But that's not all that mattered, having all those cool connections, what I loved was how much Oliver loved them!  He was super chill around them, let them hold him, rub his belly and was even up in their faces asking for nuzzles by the time they were getting ready to leave.  He let their daughter play with him, pet him and cuddle him.  It was adorable.  And the best part (for me) is knowing that he will have a smooth transition, moving into a family that has such a similar dynamic and into such a loving home.  The family actually asked me if it was weird that they wanted to come over and play with him in the interim because they missed him. :)  I love that he's going into such a loving home!

So those are the BIG things that have happened lately!  We know the answers to the other questions already -
We'll be staying in a family's home in Moshi that will be on furlough in the States for 6 months. (not in a tent in the bush, as pictured above)  They have a 2yr old daughter so it's the perfect home for us to transition into. :)  Once February comes around and the family comes back from furlough, we're not sure what will happen.  But we have until February to either a) find a house of our own or b) ask someone else if we can bum around with them for a while - and with the community in Moshi as awesome as it is, we aren't worried at all about finding a place to stay come February.
We will be leaving in early August.  We don't have our tickets yet, so no exact dates, but our goal is around the 1st week.
While in Moshi, I will be teaching jr. high at the international school, while Bill stays home with Owen.  Our ministry focus will be serving others and bringing the spirit of excellence (doing the very best with what you have).  Bill also wants to get involved with Farming God's Way, and I'm sure I'll find some orphanages to love on some babies.  We'd both also love going back out to the Maasai tribe for some ministry.

We'd love it if you'd partner with us on this journey!  You can sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE  We plan to do a monthly newsletter once we get settled in Moshi, right now we're sending one every couple weeks because so many things have been happening!

If you'd like to support us financially we're still looking for about 90 more people to commit to $25 a month, and we need about $4000 for start-up (visas, airfare, etc) but any amount helps!
You can give online by clicking HERE or the big donate button up at the top of the page.  Donations are given through Freedom House Church and can be set up to be recurring monthly so you don't have to worry about remembering!

May 15, 2013

I'm Two Now!

The week leading up to O's birthday we would tell him, "You're going to be two on Saturday!  Are you excited?"  He'd reply, "YEAH!"
Then on his actual birthday, when he got up in the morning, I said, "Bear, happy birthday!  You're two now!" And he'd say, "Yeah!"  Then before we came downstairs for the morning I said, "Owen, it's your birthday, are you excited?"  And he said, "I'm two now!" just as clear as day.  It was so cute!
He requested blueberry pancakes for breakfast, so of course I obliged, it was his birthday after all!  Afterward we spent time playing and relaxing.
Papa got home around 11am and brought a surprise that even I didn't know about... a HUGE balloon shaped like a guitar... that played music.  Owen was ecstatic!


We had a few of his buddies over later on for a little celebration and he had so much fun playing with all his friends (both young and old)!  He loved it when everyone sang happy birthday to him - he thought that was pretty cool!  When he was eating his cupcake I bent down and kissed him on the cheek and asked if he was having fun.  He said, "Mmmhmm." and then quietly added, "sing again?"  He wanted everyone to sing again.  A. Dorable.


He LOVED his blackbean cupcake!

He had fun opening presents!

Sunday we continued his birthday celebration with a special family trip to the NC Transportation Museum.  He got to see lots of trains, old and new, lots of cool airplanes and some cars too.  But his favorite part (I'm pretty sure) was getting to ride on a real, live train for almost 25 minutes!  
Showing me his train ticket 
The conductor let him help punch the ticket! 

Little Bear, we can not believe that it has been two years since we held you for the first time.  You have grown into such a sweet, and smart little boy!  You astound us each day with the words you know, the sentences you form and the concepts you understand.  Your willingness and eagerness to help anyone that needs it shows us that you truly have a servants heart, and we can't wait to see you grow into the boy God has made you to be.  We love you, and we look forward to celebrating you every day!
~ Momma & Papa

May 12, 2013

On Having Green Grass

It's taken years.
Lots of hard work.
Lots of weed-pulling.
Lots of fertilizer (read: lots of crap).   
Lots of trimming things back.
Heck, there's even been a time or two we when thought about just excavating it all and buying sod. 
But we didn't, we pushed through.
And we finally have green grass.

And we're leaving it to have a yard full of dirt.

This past week Bill & I have been realizing how much things have been coming together for us lately.  We're finally (pretty much) debt free (aside from student loans and one car).  I'm working a part time job that allows me to bring O along.  Photography business is booming.  And now I'm selling Norwex, falling in love with the product and loving changing peoples' views on cleaning chemical free.  Our house is pretty much fixed up the way we want it - we recently painted our bedroom, worked on the landscaping, etc.  Bill's job is transitioning into a place that will be much better than where it has been.  It's under new management, they're going to be giving out company cars now, etc.  We're really getting back into leading at the church, since taking a year off after O was born.  We're branching out and making tons of new friends and building some amazing relationships.  The relationships we've had this whole time are blossoming and really taking on a whole new level.

And we're getting ready to leave it all behind and move to Africa.  Where we will have no steady income.  No church to call home (at least not right away).  New friends whom we hardly know.  No place to call our own.  No cars to call our own.  We're starting over.

And it's going to suck.  Why not stay here in the States?  Support local missions?  Just wait a few more years.  Owen is so little, if he moves now he might have trouble and get confused learning/hearing two languages.  Just stay in the States until he's a little older.  We need to build up our savings more so we can be more comfortable when we leave.  Stay here where our friends are and where we can be helpful and serve within our own (amazing) church family.  We say we are going to Tanzania with the main two goals of serving with an attitude of excellence.  We can do that here.  Why do we need to give up everything we've worked so hard for, pushed through so many trials for, and fly half-way across the world to a new continent where we will have nothing?

Because God said so.  And it's NOT going to suck.  It's going to be awesome.  But those lies ^ up there, that's what Satan has been telling us this past week.  I mentioned it to a girlfriend via Facebook message the other day.  Then today Bill mentioned it to me casually.  And I looked at him.  And I said, "That is exactly what I've been feeling too."  And we know it's Satan and his lies.  And that makes it so much easier for us to say NO.  It's not going to suck.  It's going to be Awesome with a capital A.

Yes, it feels sucky to be meeting with a family today who's considering taking Oliver (our cat) when we leave.  He's a part of our family and has been since he was a baby.  We're going to miss him.
Yes, it feels sucky to know that we only have 12 Sundays left at our amazing church.
It most definitely feels sucky to have to sell Owens toys, some of which he hasn't played with yet because we were saving them for future birthdays/Christmas, but they're too big to take with us.
At times it feels sucky to be starting new relationships with friends, and growing deeper relationships with old friends when we're just going to be leaving them in three months' time.

But faith isn't about the feeling.  It's about believing.  Believing that God's got a plan for us and that his plan has our very best interest in mind.  And that's what we cling to.  Yes, moving to Africa has been the desire of our hearts for several years.  But now that it's here.  It's happening.  It's not all sunshine and rainbows.
When it feels sucky to go through our house and label everything we own with "sell," "storage," or "take", and when most stuff ends up with the "sell" label on it, we cling to our belief that this is going to be Amazing.  Capital A.  Amazing.
When it feels sucky, I remember the conversation I heard Owen having with himself after he woke up from his nap the other day:
"Couple months.  Fly Africa.  Move Africa.  New home.  It's fun!  Papa come.  Mama come. That's Africa.  Fly airplane."

This kid knows what he's talkin' about.  It will become our new home.  It will be fun.  And we'll be together.  That's all that matters.

So, I'm okay with the grass being greener on the other side.  Because you know what?  The dirt over here makes some pretty awesome castles when you add a little water.