12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1)
I don’t like to run, at least not for long distances. But I can imagine that if I did have to run any distance longer than a mile, having a friend with me would make it more enjoyable (and possible).
Being a missionary is naturally isolating. It comes with the territory – and anyone who takes this step knows this loneliness is part of the calling. You might think the loneliness arrives when the person or family is living in the foreign country they serve. But it comes much sooner than that! For us, as soon as we made the decision to return to Niger long-term, we automatically put ourselves into this “in-between place”. We now spend our free time fundraising (planning events, writing letters and thank you’s, etc) rather than hanging-out with friends and working on our house and yard. We begin to be preoccupied with things in two countries – USA and N!ger. It can sometimes feel like our schedule and priorities are totally out of sync with our friends and family! It isn’t anyone’s fault. This is part of the journey, and we accept it.
But last weekend we experienced the joy of being together with friends and family, all gathered together to help us raise the financial support we need to return to the mission field. We hosted a Dessert Fundraiser at our church, complete with a delicious brownie bar! The best part, though, was that we knew we were not alone. It was such an encouragement to our hearts! We were reminded that we truly are surrounded by “witnesses”, (here and in Heaven!).
Not only did we hear some encouraging words from our friends and mentors, David and Kelli Pritchard, our own kids were able to have the microphone for a change! Nathaniel, Jonathan and Ruth shared their experiences of living in N!ger, spending hours in preparation to choose the right photos and words to describe the unique life of a missionary kid in an undeveloped country. It was very special to hear from them!
This was a family event – giving kids a chance to participate and even go do some fun crafts and games together. Our dear friends, the Rodenbeck family, gave away some nice prizes for correctly-answered trivia questions. We learned some fascinating facts about N!ger, such as that the national symbol of N!ger is the endangered Dama Gazelle, or that this sub-Saharan country has it’s own ski resort!
We are truly thankful for this opportunity to be with friends and family and to share the ministry we are called to.