To say this is the busiest time of the year is an understatement. Reflecting on this last year reveals just how eventful this last year has been; some good and some bad. Between the emotional transitions of people leaving and now dealing with a heavier workload from a smaller team, I now feel busier than ever and more needed than ever. After God led me through a refocusing time I’ve been able to see more clearly what God wants from me as a part of this team; not just using my skills on the side “to help the team out” but really investing in the team whole heartedly through my God-given abilities. My work for the team still comes after my family and always will but it isn’t further down the line than that any longer.
So much has happened in the last few months that I cant hope to cover it all, which is the main reason for the silence on my end. September we had the EDRC Women’s Retreat that I was primarily responsible for planning and putting on. Right after that my Mom and Aunt arrived for a visit from the States, my Aunt left, and then the entire team and guests (including my mom) travelled to Uganda for our family conference. My mom was with us for just over a week after our return from conference and then we were into November by the time she left us to return home. Then I had MAF’s Day of Prayer that I was planning and executing followed by Thanksgiving. I had a medical ordeal mixed in there where we thought I may have shingles for a bit but it turned out to be a nairobi eye bug sting, thankfully.
Now we are into December which means decorating, wrapping presents, parties and get-togethers, as well as putting together ‘Christmas buckets’ for all of the MAF workers and ours. This requires knowing how many you need and how much of each thing goes in each one and then purchasing the various items from different places and coordinating a time for the expats to put them together. Typical things in the bucket are rice, beans, palm oil, sugar, tea, matches, two kinds of soap, candy, milk powder and even a solar lamp. The day to do this this year also happens to be Daniel’s 3rd Birthday so we will be celebrating the following day on our first day of Christmas vacation.
Following that is of course is Christmas and somewhere in all of there are a few movie nights and some other missionary families coming and leaving. So yeah – busy!
The Women’s retreat was A LOT of work but it was so so so worth it. We all had a relaxing and unifying time with each other and we each learned something new about ourselves and grew in our relationship with God. There was talk of doing one annually. But we will see what happens.
My Mom and Aunt’s visit was a very special time for me and for Daniel. My Aunt stayed for 10 days and my mom was with us for an entire month. Honestly I have a hard time describing how important and meaningful this time was for me. I felt so supported by them for coming and by the others who had contributed to the financial gift allowing my Mom to come visit. You cannot put a price on family time or memories and somehow having them here made it feel more like home and gives me the courage to keep serving here. It is such a huge sacrifice living here anyways but that burden, that often brings missionaries off the field, is lifted just a little when your family can come be with you on the field; when they begin to understand your life more and are equipped better themselves to have empathy and wisdom concerning your life and decisions. They are making a huge sacrifice having you live so far away – it’s not just the missionary family themselves – and when they can view why you are doing what you do and the difference you make serving it eases that sacrifice on their end too. I suddenly don’t HAVE to explain the background of everything in conversation with them and I know they understand somewhat of how Im feeling about things. The joy of having them here lasts well beyond their physical visit. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything and it brings me to tears even now as I type this . . .tissue break. I praise God for that priceless time together.
Family conference is always a nice break for us in certain areas of our life but we never seem to get much sleep. I don’t have to cook, we get to primarily speak English and worship in English, you don’t have people pulling you every which way all day. There is a big pool and even a spa. We also had a day trip this year as a family to a local Ugandan nursery to pick up some new plants for our yard and garden including fruiting trees, strawberries and mulberry bushes. My mom was with us to babysit Daniel during sessions which was also another HUGE blessing.
About a week after my mom left was MAF’s International Day of Prayer which our Program Manager had asked me to plan, while mixing things up this year from the previous years. So this year we moved things indoors, starting with a breakfast as usual. That led into worship time that had a couple new songs that had to be translated into swahili for the men and we provided both English and Swahili lyrics so all the staff could sing in their heart language, celebrating our united differences. Then I did a presentation of videos followed by a slide show teaching the men about MAF and the impact it has worldwide and slowly brought it in closer and closer to home until they were able to see the impact we are having here. My main question for them was ‘are they working for MAF or are they working as a part of MAF’ with emphasis on how the menial everyday tasks are our foundation – how it’s all God’s work, from washing planes to raising children, etc. We then spent time in prayer for our team followed by a nice lunch. That afternoon we prayed for MAF around the world and ended with some dessert.
Thanksgiving was shortly after that and this year trying to source turkeys was a handful. In the end we were able to have a team member in Uganda find some live ones for us there and butcher them, then send them over. I pressure cooked them each for an hour so they were tender and it was lovely. We had all the traditional foods including orange sweet potatoes from our garden. It was a good time together as a team.
So now we are onto December which is also busy but still has that joyful feeling of the Holidays surrounding everything you do. Now that you are somewhat up to date on my business for the last few months, I’ll save a more in-depth look at what is happening around our place this December in the next post to follow. Till then . . .
I have a question: When you say you got the MAF staff together and worshipped together etcetera etcetera in different languages, I understood that. But then you said you created the video to “teach the men” about MAF. I was wondering quote what “men”?
Please forgive, I’m just getting acquainted with your ministry. I really appreciate your candor.
Christine thank you for your question. We have both Expat and National staff (Congolese) here. Our National staff know what happens here on a daily basis but they dont have many opportunities to learn about and understand the global impact that MAF; that the things that they do everyday that could be considered mundane are done all over the world to set up the foundation for impact. I was able to show MAF videos that showed other places around the world and gave them numbers of things like passengers flown, cargo carried, etc. They were able to learn from the videos about MAF’s impact worldwide, then in Congo and then specifically the impact made for God’s kingdom here in Nyankunde. The slideshow that followed was a reminder to them that all the work matters to God, not just the flying; that if they work unto the Lord instead of just doing a job it all glorifies Him – from washing the planes to cutting grass. That it is the heart behind it that matters. They were reminded of what the everyday work accomplishes and taught by the videos about MAF.
That makes sense; what a great idea to help them know their value. And, knowing God, and knowing about ‘mundane things’, it probably enouraged you as well.
Thank you for being there.
You do such a good job of writing & sharing what life is like for you. Thanks so much. It is beneficial for us, as we have no idea. Knowing can direct our prayers for you in a more specific manner.
Makes me miss Nyankunde! And you’re right Ashley – after spending time with you there, meeting the people and seeing where you live & how very important Dave and your mission is, it makes it so much more “real”. And getting to know Daniel was priceless. Thanks again for your hospitality. Love you!
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Thank you for sharing, Ashley. It is so helpful to us to have some insight into the challenges and joys of your life so far away. May God richly bless you.
Thanks for your beautiful story.