Three months ago, on a cool afternoon at the beginning of October, I was biking home from school before a phone meeting with a representative from World Renew to discuss possible employment opportunities. Suddenly a thought popped into my head, “What would I do if they offered me a position overseas?” A few hours later, I was asking Bethany what she thought about spending 8 months in West Africa.
This position with World Renew seemed to fulfill all of the different hopes I had for a position: interesting and meaningful work, plenty of responsibility, and the opportunity to use and improve my french skills… it was perfect! This must be God’s plan. The Lord, however, works in mysterious ways....
At the time of my telephone conversation, there were two very similar positions open with World Renew, one in Mali and one in Niger. Initially, it seemed as though Mali would be the better option, however, after sending our resumes out to the field staff and having a Skype call with the Team Leader in Niger, we received an offer for the position there instead. After spending about 3 weeks thinking about, discussing, praying, and struggling with the idea of packing up our apartment, saying goodbye to all of our friends and families, skipping two of our best friends’ weddings (one for which I had been asked to be a groomsman), complicating Bethany’s grad school application process, and moving halfway around the world to a country that had experienced a coup 6 years earlier, Bethany and I made the most logical decision possible. We were off to Niger!
The Lord, however, works in mysterious ways…
On December 5th, only about 4 weeks before we were supposed to leave, we received the news. Due to security risks, Bethany and I would no longer be going to Niger. We were thus thrown into a period of uncertainty; with our notice of vacation submitted and no employment for the winter, we wondered where God was leading us. Luckily we had final exams to distract us as we waited for World Renew to go through the process of determining if there was another position that we could fill in West Africa. A week later, it was confirmed: Mali was a go!
Now, I look back on this recent adventure with a little bit of awe. I remember when my friend Andrew first presented me and the other two members of the Tall Men Growing team with the idea of heading to Africa for a few months after high school instead of the normal route of heading off to university. I remember thinking that it was a nice idea, but it would never happen. God, however, works in mysterious ways and I am amazed at how He brought those four naive teenagers into His plan and the repercussions that trip had on our lives. In fact, I would be very surprised if I would still be sitting here today writing this blog and preparing to move to Africa once again, this time with my amazing wife, for over 7 months if I had not gone on that trip. Again, our Lord works in mysterious ways; the uncertainty and craziness of the past 3 months is proof of that again.
This gives us much comfort as we prepare to leave in two short days. Because of the country switch we did not have much information about our new positions, travel, or living arrangements until quite recently. We are still unsure of the specifics of our work, and of course know very little about Malian culture and what faces us when we arrive - we will have to experience this to understand fully. However, if there is one thing that I have learned throughout my past experiences and times of uncertainty, it is how to trust God. Because through all the challenges and uncertainty that life throws our way, the one thing in this world that you can be certain of, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that no matter what tomorrow, the next 8 months, or even the next 78 years have in store, good or bad, our Father in heaven is holding us in the palm of His hand and He will never let us go.
*All credit for the witty title goes to Tom Horlings, our fellow member of Community CRC in Kitchener. Unfortunately, neither of us is quite this clever.