“How does it feel being back?” I've been asked that question frequently since I returned to the states. My response, “It feels weird.” A culture that was once familiar to me now feels so strange. I still find myself checking my bag to make sure I have my flash light, an essential tool in Togo, since it got dark at 6:30pm and you did not want your next step to be on a snake or scorpion! Before bed, I still inspect my feet for dirt and under my sheets for any critters. These were such normal routines in Togo, and it feels weird that I don’t need to do them anymore. There is not any danger of encountering a scorpion or snake in the dead of winter!
Tasks that use to be simple, now are complicated. One of my first trips to the store, I stood frozen in place in the dairy aisle frozen. My brain felt frazzle as it tried to comprehend why there were so many types and brands of milk to choose from. In Togo, there was powdered or unrefrigerated U.H.T. milk. Not real a choice at all. I finally grabbed the milk I needed and headed to check out. Shopping feels overwhelming, and I sometimes feel guilty afterwards. As I walked out to the car, tears welled in my eyes. I am in the land of unlimited choices, while my dear friends in Togo don't have the same choices. Adjusting back to a world that is vastly different from the one I lived in the last 14 months is hard. God is good, and He is giving me the grace I need during this transition.
I had barely been in Michigan for 24 hours, and I was getting back on a plane. I had a debrief time set up at ABWE headquarters in PA. It was a quick trip, but it was just what I needed. It was great to be able to reconnect with old friends. A special treat was that I was able to have lunch with Pastor Paul and Martha! It was fun catching up and sharing about my time in Togo with them. The next day there was a chapel service at headquarters for home office staff. Right before it was about to start Pastor Paul asked if I share briefly about my time in Togo in front of the staff. I smiled, “Sure, I would love to!” even though I was not prepared for this. I said a quick prayer, asking God to give me the words, and as I began to walk to the front, I felt this peace and confidence come across me. I shared about how God had worked in my life through Jonas and how the deaf ministry was developing. I also announced that I was pursuing going into full time missions with ABWE.
2019 is a year I will not forget. God did a lot of work in my heart this year. I faced many challenges, but I also experienced so much joy. This year I made 59 videos to be used in a variety of ministries. No one sees the countless hours and late nights spent editing a single video. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into making the 59 videos, but it was worth it. Because I saw first hand how media can make a difference, I also realized how much more I still have to learn about media.
When I return to Togo, I want to be the best I can be for God. I have been invited for a special media training in Nicaragua with the ABWE Storytellers. I have gone on storytellers trips before; however, this trip is special. This is an advanced trip. I will be with the best of the best from the media field, working alongside and learning from media specialty's who work with companies such as ESPN and Chick-fil-A. The trip is April 18-25, 2020, and it will be an invaluable experience for me and my ministry. I need to raise $3,000 for this training. Would you pray with me about this?
I shared in my last newsletter the unexpected and sudden resignation of a team member who was helping to develop the deaf ministry with me. With the news being so close to my departure back to the states, I had to leave some questions left unanswered, such as the question of Jonas. With no sign language teacher, the best option is for Jonas to go to a public deaf school. I was able to visit the school, without Jonas, right before I left. It’s a good school, but it is some distance from his home. A Christian family who works at the Christian school nearby the deaf school has offered to take Jonas in during the school year. He will make the switch to the deaf school beginning in January. Will you please be praying for Jonas and his family during this time. This is not going to be an easy transition. It breaks my heart that I can’t be there for Jonas. But I know that God loves Jonas far more than I ever could, and God will be with him.
It felt good being home for the holidays. Thanksgiving was spent at my grandparents in TN. For Christmas, we kept it more simple. We stayed in Michigan and enjoyed family time. We watched Christmas movies, had a dramatic reading of the Christmas story by Philip, opened gifts, and played a favorite board game. We did not have snow, it was actually in the 50s on Christmas day! Still not as warm as Togo, but I didn’t mind not having a white Christmas!
Transitions are hard and messy. I'm thankful for supportive friends and family during this time. In an ever changing world, I know I can hold onto this truth: My God never changes, I can trust Him.
- Praise God for a productive debrief time at ABWE headquarters
- Praise God for safety in travels from TN and to PA
- Praise God for a wonderful time with family during Christmas
- Pray for Jonas and his family as he transfers to the deaf school.
- Pray for Jonas’ financial needs – He needs $250 for this semester. If interested in helping, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pray for grace for me as I transition back to the States.
- Pray as I pursue next steps for going into missions full time.
- Pray for the Storytellers Training Opportunity – To learn more about the program visit: https://www.abwe.org/storytellers-abroad-missions-multimedia-workshop
- Pray that I will find a job.
- Pray for wisdom for deaf ministry in Togo.
- Pray for an ASL interpreter – big opportunity for one!