Hello everyone! It has been a while since I’ve blogged, but I have felt God tugging on my heart to tell the world how I really feel about moving to Brisbane, Australia in January, 2019. As it may seem from my social media platform, travel is of the utmost importance (and this is partially true – traveling is one of my favorite things to do)! However, our move to Brisbane is not about traveling. Let me explain…
About six months after we moved to Ann Arbor, I was finally beginning to get settled. It’s difficult to transition from the UK back to America, but I finally had my furniture back, my family around me, and the thought of settling in that beautiful city comforting me. During a conversation with my aunt about her considering using her skills/gifting with medicine to do international ministry work, my heart squirmed from the idea as I contemplated how God was using me for his Kingdom purposes. About a week later, I had a chat with someone very close to me who travels to the Middle East/North Africa/Southeast Asia for Bible Translation opportunities (to these dangerous places, where being a Christian poses a threat to your life). Again, I was challenged with how God was using me to advance his Kingdom here on earth.
As I was sitting on my couch, taking in the beauty and comfort of my wonderful surroundings, God spoke loud and clear. He asked me what was the one thing I was clinging to that would stop me from going where He was calling us. My answer: our furniture! We had second hand furniture that wasn’t particularly nice – but it was ours! We bought it when we got married – it represented independence, security, and ultimately, our cushy life in America. I yearned for that furniture the entire two years we were in Manchester, and yes – it may seem ridiculous, but I took pride in the things we had. So, naturally, God told me to sell it and go.
One thing I think you should know about my husband and me is that communication is one of our strongpoints. He’s my best friend, and we tell each other everything, especially something as profound as God telling me to sell all that we own and go where he sends us. But I will say that, in that moment, I considered keeping my mouth shut. You see, if I didn’t tell Matt what God was prompting in my heart, then we would continue doing ministry in that beautiful city that offered us so much. We could have our family around us (both immediate and extended in Canada). We could live our comfortable and cushy lives, receiving a sturdy, bi-monthly check that supported our every need, without ever having to give anything up. However, as God would have it, tears filled my eyes and I accepted that all those comfortable things in my life were not worth the joy that would come in following God’s will for our future. So, I told Matt.
That talk was both long and scary. We discussed what this all really meant, and what God was trying to do with our future. We eventually landed on Australia for several reasons: I don’t think I could live in a country with a foreign language and manage my Celiac disease, we do well ministering in a secular/atheistic culture, and a potential opportunity for ministry partnership was already flourishing. After much prayer and meditation on the idea, we began moving forward in the process.
Back then, I didn’t know all that I know now. God has moved in incredible ways to prove to us that it was him working on this transition. Ann Arbor would have never worked out, for various reasons, but we were presented with the opportunity to sell all of our furniture (just as God had requested of me months prior) and move to a transitional job in the NC Mountains. This job not only provided a home and furniture for us, but it gave us the opportunity to start raising funds in our off week, thanks to Matt’s awesome work schedule. However, I still I cried like a baby leaving Ann Arbor.
Has it been easy to endure this transitional phase before moving to Australia…no! Every other week, we are without a home, which means we are constantly traveling (yes – almost always enjoyable, but understand this is much more difficult than it seems). We depend on friends and family for a place to stay in our off week, or we spend a lot of money traveling elsewhere – sometimes for fundraising opportunities, sometimes for pleasure.
Which brings me to my final point of this post…although my life may seem amazing from the views presented on social media, there’s so much I struggle with about this move. Will we be able to raise the money we need to live off of in Australia (especially with the expenses of the move)? Once I arrive, will I find that gluten free eating is accessible, or will I be accidentally contaminated, leaving me ill for the following months (yes – when I get sick, it usually lasts for about two months)? Will God honor our efforts in Brisbane as we see a community come together for the sake of the Gospel? Will I be able to see my family once a year? Will our friends slowly forget about us as they get caught up in the beautiful, wondrous lives they lead back here in America?
On the surface, anyone would say how great it is that we are moving to Australia. However, we have faced the reality of doing cross-cultural ministry already, and we know the challenges that are going to be presented. Our first year in Manchester was potentially the most difficult year of our marriage – we were committed to each other and to Christ, but we faced serious spiritual warfare the moment we stepped out to do ministry work, and that was tough. We trusted God with our funds, but there were so many moments I lost all emotional control from the dwindling numbers in our bank account. When we first moved, the fear of getting lost of losing sight of Matt (or my parents, who visited just after our move) was nearly crippling. I’m not joking when I say I almost had a break down in the grocery store because everyone wanted to go on a different aisle…ridiculous, I know, but it’s the truth!
Now, we are doing it all over again. And although there is excitement in the opportunity to get back into ministry and to partner with such a wonderful, Christ-focused family (Rich and Cherie Priebbenow), there are hang-ups. I cry a lot as I think about leaving my two nieces and my nephew behind (flights to Australia are expensive, and I doubt my sister and her whole family will ever be able to visit…especially not all at once). I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit our cottage in Canada again once we settle over in Australia. My blood pressure spikes when I think about all the money we have to raise for our three planned years there. But one thing I have to cling to is scripture, and this passage was shared with me during the wonderful week we spent in Brisbane this past March:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… – you of little faith” (Matthew 6:25-27;30b).
I’m a worrier; no…not a warrior – a worrier. But I have heard God’s calling, and I want to follow his will for our lives, no matter what that entails. So, as fun as Australia may seem to all of you, I thought I would share my fears, hesitations, and struggles. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it, and I’m trusting God every step of the way!