Pam and I have been Asia for nearly eight years. Believe it or not, that is the longest we have lived at any one place in our marriage. We didn’t start out with this in mind, but it seems that the Lord had His own plans for our lives. It is true that we spent 20 years in St. Thomas. It is also true that we lived in four different houses while we were there and spent two years overseas. For us, eight years is the max, and frankly we are getting a little restless. I probably would have been happy to leave two years ago, but this new position in community service opened up, and I saw huge potential for personal growth. We had also just embarked on a Master’s and Malaysia has pretty good internet. We opted to stay for a couple more years. But always, running in the background, there is the question, and perhaps the tyranny, of “Or”
There have been a lot of “Or”s in our marriage. Do we settle in London or St. Thomas, which is safer for children and has cheaper housing? Do we send our children to a public or a Christian school, where they can develop Christian friends and have the benefit of smaller classes and phonics-based reading? On my deferred salary leave year do I pursue my Master’s, or do we go to Bangladesh and serve the Lord where the needs are great and the workers are few? Do we keep this older house that we can afford, or do we buy something that will escalate our debt and give our children some privacy to develop as they go through their teenage years?
Coming a little closer to the present, do we maintain our high-paying jobs at the peak of our careers or do we give them up in order to do what we have purposed in our hearts to do for God? With mixed success, and apologies to our children for our many failings, we have always chosen what seemed best for others, rather than ourselves; made decisions that fed the spirit, rather than the flesh, regardless of the cost to us personally. Now it is time for another “Or” decision.
Do we remain in Malaysia, which has become like a second home to us, comfortable in positions that are in no danger of running out of ministry opportunities, or…..? And it is the uncertainty of that “Or” that marks this decision as unique. There is no viable alternative at present, just a lot of unknowns. This we do know: our kids are getting older, and more importantly, our grandkids are getting older. Once a year at home just isn’t enough to maintain those relationships to the depth and consistency that is in keeping with our commitment to family.
But the cost and the time it takes to get home from Malaysia is just prohibitive. So, despite how comfortable we now are here, despite the honour and recognition that we now receive in our present positions of leadership, despite the uncertainty of the next step, we are asking the Lord to find us a place of ministry a little closer to home. Our target destination is the Caribbean, but we would take Central or South America, or even Western Europe depending on the safety of the locale and the opportunities for ministry.
Consequently, I started putting together my résumé and references and registering with agencies back in September. As of this writing, I have sent off fifty applications to various schools in the region. To date there has been no response, but it is early yet and hiring typically doesn’t start until the New Year. I recognize that I am old, although I don’t often feel it, and know that there are several fields now closed to me on account of my age. I know too that if we are able to leverage this move to the West, it will likely be our last kick at the can.
For this reason so we want to ensure that we find a good posting that will allow us both to work productively and leave us room to grow into those positions. Given our work experience and our growing educational lineage, I am optimistic that the Lord has something left for us to do. Nevertheless, if you are so inclined, we would greatly appreciate your prayers for us on this adventure. It would be wonderful to be within five hours of ‘home’ if we were needed. Or if we just needed to get a hug from a grandchild or two. This is our Christmas and New Year’s wish. If you would share yours, we would consider it a privilege to pray for you as well. Blessings on those decisions, and thank you for following us, as we seek to follow God.