I'm writing today to share some exciting things that God is leading me in these next few months. No, I'm not moving back to the US but I will be visiting for an extended time, about five months actually!
My primary reason is to spend some extended time with my mom while her health is pretty good and she's feeling fairly strong. Since her diagnosis with cancer in 2004, I have often felt that I wanted some more time with her and yet haven't felt ready to leave Mozambique permanently. So I spoke with my directors about taking an extended leave so that I could spend several months with my mom, helping her travel to California to see her home and family, helping her visit other family on the east coast, helping with projects around her house, etc. I'd also like to give Larry, her partner, a bit of a "break" so that he can rest or tend to other things while I take her to doctor's appointments, etc. The majority of her time dealing with cancer, she has been quite well but two years ago began a 15 month "down" time. Her recovery from that is what has prompted me to want to spend a few dedicated months with her now while she's feeling well enough to do some things she hadn't been able to do recently.
Although I feel a strong responsibility to the well-being of my boys, I also want to honor my mother and bless her during this time in her life. Again, since I don't feel it's time to move back to the US yet, I feel very peaceful about this compromise! (and as much as I'm looking forward to some time with her in the US, I am also excited to know that my time here with my boys isn't over yet!).
In the meantime, recently, my longstanding desire to go to graduate school was reawakened. I applied to and was accepted at Azusa Pacific University in southern California for their Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership. The specific program I will be attending is called Global Leadership and was created 30 years ago with missionaries in mind. The courses are a combination of online (not my favorite, I'll admit) and "intensives" where you travel to a location to participate in a week's class with professor and students and then continue the studies independently. In addition to being flexible, the fees are drastically lower for missionaries living out of country. They are about 1/3 of the price you would normally pay!
I am very excited about the courses I am taking as they are applicable both to my work here in Mozambique as well as a possible future in returning to Student Development someday. Courses like Servant Leadership, Mentoring and Developing Leaders for the Future, Leading Across Cultures, etc., get me excited about the opportunity to be trained to be more effective working here in Mozambique with my national and missionary staff!
So I will travel thru London on my way home to the US and will begin the work for my first four courses (Mentoring, Servant Leadership, Vocation and Organizational Behavior) while there.
I don't intend for the money for my studies to come out of my regular support that is dedicated to my boys and ministry here in Mozambique. I have some of it covered and am trusting to God to provide for the remainder, as any student does!
The courses begin in London on June 21. I will then head directly to my mom's in New Jersey in July. I will be with her until late October when I will go to the West Coast for my "normal" visit which entails visiting churches, friends and supporters. Oh, and family! I will return to Mozambique - and my precious boys who will be dearly missed - after Thanksgiving!
For my boys to have stability and security during this time I am away. Rebecca, who has been working with them for almost a year will be here until August when she returns to the US. A woman named Natalie will be coming in July (so a month overlap with Rebecca) to live in my home and work with the boys. Please pray for her as well as it can be very overwhelming!
For Pedro who doesn't know what he'll do without me for six months and is nervous about family conflict during that time. And I don't know what I'll do without him!
For Lucas who is very attached to me (and me to him) who doesn't tend to do very well when I am away. His health is poor right now already and I am nervous about being away from him that long.
For the Tias, to work "as unto the Lord and not to man" so they will do their job well, with love and care, no matter who is here supervising.
For financial provision for me, schooling, and the dorm.
It's a big thing to be leaving for almost six months. I will miss these little guys something fierce. Some boys will move home while I am away, others will move dorms, new boys will come . . . there is always transition. I'm sad to think what I will miss out on.
If you ask me if I'm excited to go, right now the answer is "no" - it is too hard to leave. And yet, I have His peace and I am grateful for that!