As we’ve gotten deeper into our preparations to leave Ohio and move to Davao, there have been many encouraging signs that we are following God’s leading for our family. Sometimes we can only see a step or two ahead and we realize that there may be many unexpected twists and turns before us that we don’t yet anticipate.
When we started this journey last fall, our long-term plans were very vague indeed. I felt a strong desire to serve as a midwife in the developing world and a need for a time of further “on the field” training to prepare for wherever God might lead us next. This was something that had been on my heart for several years. Matt was willing and ready to bring our family to Newlife School for the year it would take for me to complete my Bachelor of Science in Midwifery and grow in my experience of developing world midwifery. However, he was only just at the beginning of exploring what this might mean for our family, did not have a clear sense of what his role and calling would be on the mission field, and was not yet ready to plan for or commit to long-term missions. So we started out planning for a one-year mission trip while open to the idea that God might want us to serve for longer. Our local parish was happy to provide the necessary church letter for us to be eligible for a missionary visa, and we would be serving under the direction of Newlife’s existing and established ministry. I trusted that if God wanted our family to be long-term missionaries the details and means would become clear and I thought that would probably happen after we arrived in the Philippines.
In early January Matt attended a Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS-USA) intern training workshop at the suggestion of the Reformed Episcopal Mission Board’s Executive Secretary, Canon Bill Jerdan. I was unable to go with him because I was on call for births here in Cincinnati. Matt returned from this workshop asking “Why are we planning for just one year instead of long-term?” In the course of his work toward ordination in the REC and our preparations to move overseas Matt had also found much more clarity about his possible roles in ministry.
Canon Jerdan had told us from our first inquiry about missions work that if we wanted to be long-term missionaries we would need to be in relationship with a sending agency with the experience and resources to provide field support, though being “sent” by our local parish for one year of training and preparation was fine since we would be working with and under an established ministry. We had also initially planned to fund our year in Davao primarily from our own savings rather than relying on donor support to be able to go. In the last few weeks it has become evident to us that God’s call for our family to serve on the mission field is not a one-year commitment, but an ongoing and indefinite one. That being the case, it seemed wise for us to build as firm a foundation for long-term missionary service as we can while still here in the States.
Matt’s meetings with the staff at SAMS-USA, their written materials, and our subsequent phone conversations with them have all indicated that they will be a very good fit for us as a sending organization. SAMS focus up until recently was on missionary work in South and Central America, but in the last few years they have become more global and now have missionaries in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
As of last week, we have decided to delay our planned departure date until at least October in order to have more time to prepare for long-term missionary service. We have submitted an application to SAMS-USA to work with them as long-term missionaries. The application process will likely not be complete until late June, as we will need to travel to their headquarters in Ambridge, PA for a series of in-depth interviews and I am on-call for clients in Cincinnati and unable to travel for the next several months. In the meantime, we are continuing to get our house ready to put on the market and also starting to actively seek supporters who are interested in partnering with us. We are continuing to pray for God’s guidance on our preparations, His provision for each step of the way, and His spirit to be with us as we share our vision for ministry with those who will partner with us to make this vision a reality.