I thought I'd take a few minutes to answer some of the questions I hear often. If you have any questions that you don't see here, please feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to do my best to answer them for you:
* Where are you going?
I'll be in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa (and the surrounding townships)
* How long will you be there?
I've committed to 1-3 years. But I'm leaving it as an open-ended decision. I want to stay as long as I feel God would want me to stay. My plan is to take some time off after the first year and spend some quality time with God reevaluating my commitment, fasting, and praying to see if He would have me return. I'd like to continue this process each year until I feel led to move on.
* What will you be doing?
I'm going to be helping in various ways at the Merryfield Children's Village. I don't have a designated role just yet, but I'll be working with the directors to find needs within the village that my skills and gifts can help meet. I've very excited to work with the kids and to use the knowledge I've gained from working with kids through day cares, foster care, elementary schools, after-school programs, children's ministries at churches, etc... etc over the years. I'm also excited to learn more about the culture of South Africa and to learn from the people of the townships.
* What agency are you going through?
I'm actually going independently. Shepherd's Staff (www.ssmfi.org) is my sending agency. They are helping me manage my donation, as well as taxes, retirement, and insurance needs. But they are not necessarily representing me as the traditional missions agency would. This frees me up to be able to travel where I feel led by God and to have the support I need from my home church, Long Hollow Baptist. This also grants me the freedom to allow my donors to have tax receipts for their gifts.
* How do your parents/family members feel about the decision to move to SA?
My family have been my biggest cheerleaders, particularly my parents. As most of you know I consider my parents some of my greatest blessings from God. When I told them about the opportunity to serve in South Africa they encouraged me to spend some time with God to clarify what He would have me do. I then took the month of January (2015) to pray and fast and separate myself from many distractions. When I came back to them with the understanding that I was indeed feeling led to go to SA long term they were both excited. Of course, as my Mom says "It depends on the day" as to how they feel. As we get closer and closer to my leave date (September 2016) it does get harder to talk about leaving. But both of my parents have told me that they feel like this is something God has called me to and that they believe He has already started to equip me for this journey. They understand that I belong to God first, and to them second.
My extended family have been equally as supportive. There have been concerns and questions raised but each in turn has taken the opportunity to tell me that they support me, love me, and will help me in various ways to do what I feel led to do. Please keep my family in your prayers as we prepare for this change.
* Is it dangerous where you will be living?
I think there will always be a danger factor when you are a single woman living on your own. And if you add in the fact that you are not naturally from that country, it does increase the tension as well. But no, I don't feel as if I'm going to be living in a dangerous situation at all. Let me put it this way...my family has thoroughly investigated my location, using any means necessary, and they feel that I will be safe where I am. So if they are on board, I am too.
This is a question I actually smile at when asked because it shows me just how much the person asking cares for me. I can never say I'm 100% safe where I am, even in the US. But I know that I'm going to a good location, working with great people who have been in SA for some time now, and that I never go alone. God is always with me and He has proven Himself as a protector in my life many times. I trust Him.
I'll add to this list of questions as I see a trend. But if you have any questions that you'd like answered, please feel free to email me (link on the side) or get in touch with me however is best for you. Thank you to everyone who's been following this journey along with me. I couldn't do any of it without your support, encouragement, and prayers! Thank you!