Furlough 2017

Hello there internet world. It has been a while since I have blogged. In fact, it has been a while since I have done any type of social media updating at all. My Facebook account keeps reminding me how long it has been since I last posted. Maybe Facebook thinks that I forgot to update, but the truth is that the silence has been intentional. As you know, we spent the months of June, July and August in the United States. We started in Texas and then traveled to Colorado, Northern California, South Dakota, Ohio and ended our trip in the bay area of California. Each location was filled to the brim with reconnecting with family and friends. It had been two and half years since we had been in the States. To say that it was good to see our family and friends would be a massive understatement.  I would describe our trip back to the States as life-giving, healing, rejuvenating, refreshing and faith building.

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As I said, I have been Missing In Action on the social media front. This was a deliberate choice, as I felt like we needed time to really focus on the flesh and blood people in front of us. We also needed some time to heal and recover from the major life transitions that had taken place right before we travelled back to the States. That healing needed to be done in private. A few of our major prayers for our time in the States was that we would be able to recover and regain our passion for the work we still felt called to in Arusha. With much praise, please know that those prayers were answered. Our recovery was done through community. We laughed and cried and prayed and were loved and supported by the people who are and will always be our firm foundation. In the communion of relationships, our hearts knitted back together. We gained clarity through the many conversations, in both explaining what happened and what we felt called to do when we got back to Tanzania. We were also healed through listening to the stories of others who had so much wisdom to share.  I described the time of transition as being unmoored. Through our time of healing, it felt as if our feet hit a solid trail pointed in the right direction.

 

In addition to connection, we were also able to see and experience so much of the beauty of America. I had forgotten how easy it was to access that natural beauty. There are parks, trails, lakes and beautiful country roads just waiting for you to come and enjoy them. When you want to hike in Tanzania, you either have to hire a guide, or you head off on your own and end up with a group of people following you just so that they can witness (and laugh about) the rarely seen white person walking in the outdoors. In America you can just hike, in peace and quiet, maybe a little solitude thrown in if you are lucky. I bet you take for granted the fact that in America it is possible to go outside and walk to a place where there are no people for miles around. For introvert hearts like Matt and myself, this time of beauty and solitude was as healing as time with people.

 

Our visit to the States held quite a bit of work. We spoke several times in churches and small groups about our new project. One of the big changes for us is that not only are we the on-site directors of our project, but we are now also the main fundraisers. Each time we spoke our presentation improved. By speaking publicly we were able to crystallize some of our ideas. The questions that were asked made us think and re-think what our plans were and how to communicate those plans. We spent hours researching (Oh, America, how I love your fast speed internet) the core issues regarding the care of vulnerable children.  We were able to identify and contact other projects that we could learn from in our building stage. Through all of this, our passion and commitment to family based care has grown exponentially. Something that became such a conviction was realizing that in America (and most of the developing world) we would never, ever for any reason, consider sending our kids to live in an orphanage.  Why do we think this is the only option for kids in developing countries?! The Mayo Angelo quote has become our mantra.

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Better for all kids is family based care. There is a revolution happening all over the developing world to shift the mindset of care for vulnerable children toward family based care. We are so excited to be a part of the change in Tanzania. That is enough preaching for now. If you know me, you know I am a passionate person and prone to soapbox rants. I have had to watch myself, because all of a sudden I will be talking and realize everyone’s eyes have glazed over.

 

We learned so much on our first real furlough home. Being back in America was eye-opening for all of us. The girls made memories that they will definitely remember for a life time. They also bonded with friends and family in such a way that they will hopefully remember the feeling of being connected and loved, even if they cannot remember everyone’s name or how exactly they fit in the web of community. They also fell in love with vending machines, got a fidget spinner, fell in love with water slides and realized they still love Indian food the most. Because we are doing more fundraising for our project, we are hoping to return yearly, most likely in the spring or fall. We are so thankful for our furlough. We are so thankful that God was not done with our story in Tanzania. We are so thankful to be back in Arusha and starting our work with Walk In Love. We are super excited to share more with you as our adventure takes shape. Thank you for loving us well and supporting us through the crazy.

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2 Comments

  1. Joy Erdman 09/18/2017 at 9:20 pm #

    It’s great to hear from you! We really enjoyed having you here in the USA. I’m so glad it was a healing/resting time for you! Our prayers are with you daily and we have wonderful memories from this summer too! God bless you as you reach out to the precious families in Tanzania! Hugs to all 4 of you! Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world!” We thank God that you are over comers
    with Him. May the power of Christ rest on you!

  2. Brenda Kimaro 09/19/2017 at 1:04 am #

    So happy for the great times you had in the US! And even happier to have you back in Arusha! Looking forward to all that you will make possible for families in Tanzania through Walk in Love! XOXO