So we filled out the New Tribes questionnaire online and waited to see what would happen.
We had a few concerns about going to the New Tribes Missionary Training Center for two years of training. We wouldn’t be members of New Tribes during those two years, so we wouldn’t have any medical benefits during that time. Because Patrick is an insulin-dependent diabetic, we must have insurance; so we would have to pay a lot of money for a Cobra insurance plan during those two years. We just couldn’t see how we would afford that, especially since Patrick would have to quit his job and neither of us could have a job at all during those two years. We assumed we would need to sell our home and live off the equity during our years of training.
Another concern was that I would have to participate in training as well, so we would not be permitted to homeschool during that time. My preschool children would have to be in a childcare setting at the training center for half of every day, which was definitely not something I would prefer. We did not have a peace about putting them in public school in a strange place, and we weren’t sure how Christian school would be in our budget.
Basically, we prayed, “Lord, we are following in obedience to Your leading, but we sure don’t see how these things will work out. But this whole thing is Your idea, and so we trust You will work out those details.”
A few days later, we were at the soccer field watching Lauren play when Patrick’s cell phone rang. It was the director of the Communications Department at the U.S. Headquarters of New Tribes Mission. He had seen our questionnaire, and he thought Patrick’s skills and job experience would be a perfect fit for the Communications Department. He suggested we not go to the New Tribes Missionary Training Center for two years, but instead join as Associates and come straight to the U.S. Headquarters. Technically, the Associate program is 6 months to 4 years of support work; however, some missionaries have joined as Associates and after 4 years have become Full-Time Career Members. That would be our plan. Associates are full members and join the NTM medical plan, so we would have health insurance. I would be free to make my children and family my primary ministry, so I could stay home with my preschoolers and either homeschool the other children or place them in the NTM school located at the Headquarters, which is much less expensive than other Christian schools. Because we would be going straight to our ministry, we would do partnership development and raise support right away and would not have to live on the equity of our home, unless we wanted to. This suggestion answered every one of the questions we’d brought before the Lord.
Once again, our Father had made His will so obvious to us. We were asking for wisdom, and He was giving abundantly. Just like He promises in James! Why would we be surprised? He is always faithful and true to His word.
Seeing this door open, we walked through it. In May of 2006, Patrick, baby Griffin, and I traveled to the U.S. Headquarters to visit and interview with the Communications Department and the Associate Program. During our visit, God confirmed beyond any doubt that this was His will for us. Everything was a perfect fit.
In the next few months, we filled out the very long application booklet and follow-up questions. And life continued in Virginia. Patrick worked hard at his job, knowing that when he resigned, he wanted to do so with an excellent testimony. We served in our church. I attended MOPS. I homeschooled. We had soccer games and playdates and visits with family.
In November of 2006, we officially became members of New Tribes Mission. We celebrated. For a year and a half, we had spent so much time praying and waiting and taking baby steps, it was exciting for us to finally make a big step forward.
After visiting Headquarters in May, we decided that when we moved, we would live in one of the apartments in the Headquarters building. At the time, there were no 4-bedroom apartments available. There were not even any 3-bedroom apartments available. But we knew we would rather live in a small space and get there more quickly than spend extra time raising enough support to buy a home. So we told our Father that if He wanted, we would live in a 2-bedroom apartment and trust Him to help us be content. Or if He wanted us to have a larger apartment, we knew He could work it out. One day in November, I found the most wonderful message in our email in-box. The maintenance department had just remodeled a couple smaller apartments to become a 4-bedroom apartment, and they were holding this apartment for us! We would move from our 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom house to a 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom apartment. God indeed could work it out to provide all the space we needed!
The Sunday after Thanksgiving we presented the ministry of New Tribes and our part in it to my parents’ church, the church I had attended in my late teen years and when I was home during college. It was exciting to begin that phase of our ministry among my family and church members who are like family.
During the next several months, we traveled to churches and shared what God is doing in remote tribes around the world. We mailed out letters to friends and family members, explaining the changes God was working in our family’s life. God gave us many opportunities to glorify Him and the amazing ways He is working around the world. He also allowed us to share our burden for those who have never had an opportunity to hear about Him.
Next time, I’ll write about plans for Patrick to quit his job and how God really knocked our socks off with His goodness.