We are not on vacation.
We are not even on sabbatical.
When I was a kid, it used to be called furlough. Most mission agencies don't call it that anymore because furlough means a leave of absence or vacation. Which it is not.
Instead, we call it Home Assignment.
First of all: Why are we staying a whole year?
Our mission requires us to be in the States about 20% of our time. In the past 8 years, we've been in the States approximately 7 months. So we're kind of making up for lost time. There was never a good time to take a Home Assignment while we were at HOPAC. Since we are between ministries now, it works.
Secondly: What exactly are you doing if you are not on vacation?
Let me start by saying this:
We all talk about the Body of Christ. But as missionaries, we are more keenly aware of our need for it than we would otherwise recognize.
We cannot do what we do without the Body of Christ.
I'm not just stating that figuratively. We cannot.
We are an extension of the Church in America, and specifically five congregations in California, so we need to be connected to them.
That does not easily happen when we are 10,000 miles away. It's been 8 years. A lot has changed in your lives; a lot has changed in our lives. So many people are new in these churches that they don't even know who we are.
So it is important that we spend time in the States so that we can continue that personal connection. Because if we don't have the Body behind us, there is no use in us going.
So what are we doing this year?
- Sharing our vision for ministry with any small group or individuals who want to hear about it.
- Preaching in churches (well, Gil is, anyway!)
- Serving our supporting churches in any way possible. We will especially be helping out at our sending church here in So. Cal. We told FCC to consider us as part of their staff...and put us to work!
- And most importantly, doing everything we can to make connections with people. We will be having people over for dinner once or twice a week; we will be attending whatever social activities we can manage at our five supporting churches....for example, this month Gil is attending two different Men's Retreats at two different churches!
We'll be doing other things as well--Gil will be studying and preparing curriculum for his upcoming new ministry, we all will be deepening our level of Swahili, and we will be spending lots of time with grandparents.
So if you attend one of our supporting churches, I hope you'll see us a lot. If we invite you over for dinner, it's because we want to get to know you (again). We love you; we need you. And we hope that we will live up to our calling to be your extension of the Body of Christ in Tanzania.