Thursday, September 3, 2015

A brand new chapter...

This past weekend we took our daughter, Hannah, to RVA for her to begin her freshman year of high school. She has been home schooled up until this point in life and did well with it.  However, it wasn't something she enjoyed.  She would do school until 4-5 in the afternoon and had very few friends to hang out with on a regular basis.  A lot of her free time was writing emails to friends or trying to skype with them if our internet would hold out and last the whole month.
Many people may criticize us for allowing her to go to boarding school and that is ok.  Everyone has their own opinions.  Of course, there is nothing natural about young children living away from home.  Even though our boys also went to this boarding school I really thought that Hannah would not want to go since we lived in the city now and there was more opportunity for her to be a part of a youth group which met occasionally.  However, about one year ago she expressed the desire to go.  We told her to pray about it and see if that was something that God was leading her to do.  When she came back to us telling us that she felt it was what God wanted we then also prayed about it and agreed that she could go.  This was not an easy decision for any of us.  It was a decision made as a part of our sacrifice to come and serve in Zambia as missionaries in 1997.  People often times will talk about how much we sacrifice to live overseas.  Personally, I feel we don't really sacrifice that much in comparison to all that Christ sacrificed for us.  Our greatest sacrifice by far is being away from our families and them not being able to be a part of our lives and vice versa.  Seeing each other every 3-4 years is not optimal.  However, we knew that when we moved our family to Zambia many years ago there would be a lot of sacrifice in this area.  It was one thing to leave our families but now to have our two sons living in America and our daughter in Kenya can be quite overwhelming at times.  When each of our children were born we praised God for how he allowed us to be the parents of these 3 wonderful kids.  We gave them each to the Lord knowing they were a gift for us to enjoy and raise but they were still His.  Now we have an empty nest.  Yes, Hannah will still come home on her breaks every 3 months and be here for a month and we look forward to those times.  The reality though is that now it is just me and Kevin.  I remember when we first came to the mission field feeling like all I ever did was take care of my family and occasionally did some ministry.  Longing for the day when I could do more outside the home.  Comparing myself to others and feeling like I fell short even though these other missionaries were at a different stage in life than I was.  A wise woman missionary once told me that I needed to enjoy whatever stage of life I was in and do all that God would allow me to do but to always keep my family first(not above God of course).  These children I had were my little disciples and so I was doing a wonderful work for God by raising my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and homeschooling them.  Now, I have more time to do the things I used to beg the Lord for time to do and I'm feeling lost without Hannah being here.  What is my purpose now?  What am going to do with all the time I have now?-are questions I have been asking myself and praying about.  I know God will show me in His time.  I must admit that I'm an emotional person.  I have shed many a tear over the years for all 3 of our kids.  Anytime they accomplished something they didn't think they could do or overcame a fear I would shed a tear or two.  First days of school along with last days of school and even some days between a tear would fall.  When friends didn't treat them well, when they were hurt or struggling with something more tears would fall. When they gave their life to Christ and followed after Him in baptism I rejoiced with tears.  When they went to boarding school and then college, their graduations, and leaving them in the US while we came back to Zambia are all times that I have not just shed a tear but wept before the Lord asking Him are you sure we are doing the right thing.  All I can say is that it is a good thing that God's grace is new every morning!  When we look back at our lives we tend to not remember the tear stained stories.  It's the relationships that we have made, the pillow fights and staying up late and talking to friends, the cool adventures we get to go on, and the exciting opportunities we have because we live in another country that we will remember.  I pray that is what Hannah will remember as well and as she does think about hard times she will be able to see how the Lord walked with her during those times and know that she can depend on Him.  You probably wouldn't believe the range of emotions I have felt over the last month or so.  So while I'm very sad that Hannah is not here with us in Zambia I am excited about what is to come in her life and ours.  God has so much in store for her and I hope she grabs on to all of it.  So even though a chapter has ended  another one has begun!

 Hannah with her roommate on the right, Delaney.  Her dorm mom, Emily, is in the middle.

 Hannah, Emma, and Delaney
We are so thankful that Hannah already had so many friends going to this school before she even got there.  She has made so many new friends in just the few short days she has been there too.

 Hannah and Emily hanging out in the hammock.

 Another blessing to us is having Anna Grace working at RVA as dorm mom and teacher.  She lived some of her life here in Zambia, went to boarding school at RVA, was a journeyman in Kenya, and now is working at RVA. 
We also have other great friends Ricky and Niki who have recently started working at RVA.  Knowing these friends are there certainly makes it a bit easier for us.

 Hannah getting set up in the Computer lab.

 It is such beautiful scenery all around the school.

 Hannah's dorm

 Hannah and Delaney in their room.
These girls already knew each other from MK camp.  So thankful they are able to go through all this newness together.

 Please pray for our family as we make this transition.  Pray for Hannah to do well in school and get used to how they do things there.  Pray for her to make great, long-lasting friendships.  Pray that she would know that God is right there with her and that she would grow closer to Him every day.

So just as we gave God our kids many years ago we now give our empty nest to Him as well.  May God be glorified in our marriage and may He be pleased with us and our service to Him.

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