Saudade – Longing for what was

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It’s been a year since we left South Africa.  It’s been…

…a good year
…a hard year
…a year of reconnecting
…a year of loss
…a long year and a year of longing…

The first three months were the hardest for me.  I felt miserable most of the time, and all I could think about was our friends, our life, our home…in South Africa.  The grief felt so intense one night that I audibly sobbed for a long time.  I’m sure everyone in our apartment complex heard. In between sobs, I just kept saying, “I want to go back; I don’t want to be here.”

That intense flood of sorrowful emotion has subsided, but a sweet sadness remains for our adopted home. In English we might call this homesickness. Portuguese has a better word – saudade.  It is roughly translated a melancholy longing for what was.

There are so many things that I still miss: people, places, foods, activities, routines, even driving on the left. Mostly, I miss the sense of belonging I felt.

I don’t know when I’ll next be in South Africa, and I’ve accepted that our journey has moved us towards a new place.  However, I move forward with saudade, with sweet memories of our old life and a longing to someday return.

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Relocating our home base

If you subscribe to our regular newsletters, then you’ve heard that when our home assignment is complete we’re relocating our home base from Africa to Europe.  As our responsibilities have changed, being willing to move our home base has become an important way for us to do our work for Wycliffe more effectively.

Since mid-2010 Jeff has been working remotely for Wycliffe’s Europe Area primarily serving Wycliffe staff based in Europe and Africa with computer support.  During these years, Jeff has been finding an increasing demand for his services from staff in Europe. This is because all but one of the about 20 Wycliffe offices in Europe receive their computer support from the three-person IT team for which Jeff has been a part remotely.

IMG_5216For a month during two summers Jeff helped with special IT projects in Europe. In this photo, taken in July of 2011, Jeff and his boss, Martijn, have just completed installing a server rack for the Wycliffe Netherlands office. 

Moving to Europe

For this reason Jeff’s supervisor has requested that we consider a change in location to be based in Europe rather than Africa.  Jeff’s job would stay nearly the same – he would still be remotely helping staff in both Europe and Africa with computer support on special projects.  However, being based in Europe would mean that he could do more on-site computer support for the Wycliffe offices in Europe helping to relieve some of the workload his two colleagues based in Europe are handling.

IMG_2906Out with members of the WNN team in Austria during 
our launching meetings in November of 2011.
 

In January of 2009 I started as the director of communications for the Africa Area, in November of 2011 my role changed to being the director of the Wycliffe News Network (WNN).  While I remain connected to Africa as the primary contact for publicity stories the WNN team gathers in Africa, WNN is a global photojournalism team.  It is important for me to now be available to travel to a variety of places around the world.  Europe has better and more economical global flight options.

Just where in Europe will you be living?

As missionaries not assigned to only one country we’ve been exploring locations that are close to airports, have good communications infrastructure, have supportive communities for transient people, and put us in proximity to people for which it will be good for us to professionally network.  The place that seems to fit this best for right now is a small town in southwestern Germany called Kandern.  Moving to Kandern means that we will be based in Germany (rather than being missionaries to Germany).

Kandern is home to the Black Forest Academy – a Christian international school for which many missionaries send their children.  This has attracted an English-speaking community which includes a number of our colleagues as well as staff from several other Christian organizations.  Being part of this community will allow us to fellowship and worship with others in our own language.  I’m rather excited that we will also only be 30 minutes from an English Bible Study Fellowship group.  Kandern is also only an hour to two airports and has a good available communications infrastructure.

An extra bonus for this location – we’ll only be 20 minutes from France and about 30 minutes from Switzerland.  We hope our proximity to France may allow us some opportunities to keep up with some French learning which helps when we are traveling for work in French-speaking countries in Europe, Africa and the Pacific.  We’ll also be just an hour from Jeff’s boss who has his home and office in Switzerland.

IMG_0006Jeff helps a YWAM staff member with her computer from our office in South Africa.  While we were in South Africa,  we enjoyed a great working relationship with several YWAM staff in addition to our regular work with Wycliffe

Excited, but also sad

We have had mixed feelings about this move.  Leaving South Africa is bitter sweet. We miss our community in South Africa a great deal. When we left for our home assignment, we knew it was likely that we wouldn’t be returning, even though we both would have been thrilled to go back.  It seemed like God was leading us elsewhere, and as we’ve prayed, we continue to feel that this is the direction God is leading us.

Our jobs are pretty much remaining the same, but our new location will open some new opportunities. Jeff’s supervisor has expressed multiple times how much Jeff is needed in this new location to do more onsite computer support in Europe, and I’ve begun to get excited about some new possibilities for partnerships that may open for my team with this relocation.

This move means increased expenses, as it is more expensive to live in Germany than South Africa. So, our home assignment includes some extra time for building our ministry partnership team.  Our faithful ministry partners have helped us be able to serve God in some amazing ways over the last number of years.  Now we’re inviting new people to partner financially with us so that we can make this move a reality.

It is our faith goal to have monthly commitments for 100% of our new ministry budget by May 15, so that we can arrive in time for the annual Wycliffe Europe Area meetings.  Our ministry is not possible without individuals and churches that regularly pray and give.  What about you?  Would you ask God if He is calling you to become a ministry partner?

Check out our giving page for more information.

Fill out our invitation to partnership form online to let us how you desire to be involved in our Wycliffe ministry.

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Home Assignment: A Return to the USA

jumbo jet airplane landing at sunset

On March 1 we completed packing, moved all of our belongings out of our apartment, and boarded a plane to head back to the USA.  After four years in Africa, it’s time for our home assignment.  It took almost a full day of travel (a 16 hour flight followed by a six hour flight), and we touched down at our destination in the USA.

Every three to four years staff with our organization return to their home country for home assignment (also called furlough).  This time is designed for reconnecting with ministry partners, family, and friends, rest, working on next steps with our ministry, and also continuing to do some work for our organization.

Home assignment is not a vacation or an extended break.  While we will have some vacation, much of the next few months will be quite busy. Our time will be split between both coasts of the USA with stops in the northwest, southwest, southeast and northeast. I will be doing at least a portion of my work leading the Wycliffe News Network.  We’ll both be involved in sharing about our ministry in various locations.

If you’ve been praying for our ministry, here are six topics for prayer for this time:

  • Transition:  Many people upon return to their home country after an extended period away experience reverse culture shock.  Pray that God will help us connect with the resources we need to handle this transition well.
  • Housing and Transportation: We need to find affordable housing and a vehicle to use in each of the locations where we’ll be staying.  Short-term, furnished housing can sometimes be difficult to find, and finding a vehicle to use for 2 to 3 months can also be hard. Pray that God will help us find the housing and transportation we need in each location.
  • Connecting: We’ll be connecting with many of our current ministry partners.  Pray that we’ll have good times to share with them and that God will use us to encourage them in their participation in missions.  We’ll also be connecting with friends and family we haven’t seen in a while.  Pray that God will give us good times of reconnection.
  • Sharing: We’ll be sharing about our ministry with many people over the next few months.  Pray that our stories will glorify God and clearly show how he has been at work in our lives and in the lives of those we’ve served over the last few years.
  • Finding more partners: Our ministry budget is increasing, so we need to find additional ministry partners for our ministry team.  Pray that God will give us guidance as we plan our activities – that he will lead us to the right places and the right people at the right times.
  • Balancing: Our home assignment time will be very full.  Balancing our work to develop new ministry partners, connect with existing partners, doing some of our regular work, and trying to find times to rest will be challenging. Pray that God will help us balance all of our various activities and that he will help us find times of refreshment.

We are beginning our time in the USA on the west coast.  As our plans for time in other parts of the US come together, we’ll keep you informed.  You can find a schedule of all of our public meetings on our calendar.

Thanks for your prayers!

* Photo provided by iStock photo.  To use this photo yourself, purchase it from iStock.

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My Heart’s Desire – Meet Diane Lovell

Diane Lovell is a Bible translation consultant-in-training working with The Seed Company, a Wycliffe Global Alliance partner organization.  She serves southern Africa, and she has been balancing her work with her role as a new mother.  Take a look at this video to learn a little more about her.

This is our first completed piece after our Wycliffe News Network meetings in South Africa in December. Great job Rodney and Elyse!

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