After much thought and prayerful consideration we have decided that, Jehovah willing, we will return to DR to serve where the need is greater. We hope to make this a long term move so some major adjustments are in store for us. Before I tell you about those though, I would like to explain how we got to this point in our lives.
If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be making this decision now, I would have laughed. Suzanne and I were both working full time and we were doing well as a family. We were living in a lovely house that we had built. It was our "dream house", we picked everything from the lot it sat on to the color of the carpets. We were set! Or so we thought.
We were active in the congregation, our house was used for a book study and meetings for service on the weekend. We were regular in the ministry and felt that all was well and Jehovah was blessing us. Deep inside though something was missing. For one thing we were always tired. Many times on Saturdays we would stay out for less than an hour and go home to mow the lawn or clean the pool or some other project around the house. I began to feel like the house owned me as I seldom used many of the things we owned and simply spent time maintaining them. We felt like a hamster on that wheel in the cage-running fast and spending a lot of time and energy but really getting nowhere.
About that time some articles came out in The Watchtower that helped us to readjust our focus. We began to see that the things we owned, although "normal" were hindering us spiritually. We began to reevaluate our priorities in life. We wanted to make serving Jehovah the central focus of our lives and not just give him what was left over after everything else. To achieve that goal we decided to sell our "dream house" and make some changes to our lifestyle: to simplify.
Suzanne was able to change to a 3 day work week at her job. I changed my employment and found a job that allowed me to work 4-10 hour days. These changes allowed us both to have additional time in the ministry and helped us to renew our focus and enjoyment of the ministry. We saw an another blessing after we simplified when Danielle was baptized in the summer of 2008. When we sold our house we bought a smaller town home to live in, no yard work, less to clean and maintain, better all around. We also used some of the proceeds from the sale of our old house to go to The 2009 International Convention in Berlin. This proved to be a blessing for our family.
While we were in Berlin we met so many friends, especially young people it seemed who were extending their ministry. Many were learning foreign languages to preach to immigrants in their community. Some were planning to move to foreign lands to preach. This planted a thought in our minds as a possibility for the future, "maybe when we are older" we thought. The urge or more of a "friendly nagging feeling" never subsided. Yes, we had simplified our lives and were more active in the congregation. We still felt a bit unsatisfied as we thought is there more we can do?
|the three of us with some friends in Frankfurt, Germany|
Fast forward to autumn 2010 and on our circuit assembly program a family was interviewed. They were moving to Bolivia to serve where the need was greater. They had two teenagers who were about Danielle's age, a son and a daughter. Sitting there in the auditorium it was as if a light switch was turned on. Why can't we do that as a family? Why not us, why not now? Why wait until you "retire" when your health may not be good or the system may be gone and we would have missed our chance? I can remember talking about that part on the way home and we were all of the same thought. It was as if Jehovah was talking to us, gently urging us, saying "this is what I want for you to do". We prayed over and over again for his direction. We spent several family worship nights using the Watchtower Library to look up articles on serving where the need was great. We talked to our service overseer and asked for input. Mostly we prayed a lot and asked for guidance. We decided last winter to make this our goal and so now, here we are.
While we are excited about the next few months there are some challenges ahead. We must declutter (where does all this stuff come from) and sell off most of what we own (anybody looking for a good deal on a dining room set?) We also want to be able to jump right into the work when we eventually get to the DR so we have to step up our efforts to learn Spanish. This is the part that truly saddens me at this point.
For the past 10 years, The Lake Mary English Congregation has been our home. We have come to know and love the friends there very much. With our future plans in view though, we have decided that the best way for us now to grasp Spanish and be effective ministers in it is to worship with a Spanish language congregation. Therefore it is with mixed emotions that as of September 1st, we will be joining the Longwood Spanish Congregation. We attended there on Sundays in the months prior to our trip and received much support in our efforts to learn the language and encouragement to reach out for our goals. I am positive we will receive more of the same as we attend all our meetings there, but will truly miss the friends in Lake Mary as well :-(
As I think about the big changes that are to come to our family shortly I am reminded of a scripture at Mark 10:29,30:
"Jesus said: “Truly I say to YOU men, No one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news who will not get a hundredfold now in this period of time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions, and in the coming system of things everlasting life."
Yes there are going to be changes in our lives, friends and family left behind and perhaps new challenges ahead. But when we think about those in comparison with the wonderful future Jehovah has in store for us if we are faithful, this becomes an easier decision to make. We are grateful that Jehovah has been patient with us and has blessed us with the opportunity to have the circumstances to take this step.
In the coming months I hope you will continue to read as I write about our experiences in the Spanish congregation and will try keep you up to date on our progress in moving toward our goal.