Hello again from beautiful, and chilly, Norway. Our time in the US was very beneficial and we got the answers to several questions. But, the questions we got answers to weren’t necessarily the ones we were asking…
Time in the mountains
We were blessed with the use of a beautiful cabin in the north Georgia mountains. It was remote, peaceful, and located very near the Appalachian Trail. Dave took advantage of this by spending several days hiking on or near the Trail. These were great times of solitude and reflection for him. Jo used much of the time to catch up on one of her favorite past-times; reading.
Time with our girls
The highlight of our trip was Easter weekend when Lindsay, Caleb and Mako along with Taylor, Logan, and Teddison joined us for a wonderful time of family, food, and fun. We colored eggs had an egg hunt, and Jo (as usual) prepared a wonderful meal. It was wonderful having everyone (and the dogs) together.
Time for listening
One of the purposes of this trip was to disconnect from the busy-ness of ministry and to hear from God what our next season would be. Should we start to pull back from Norway in anticipation of returning to the US, should we pursue other areas of ministry that interest us, or should we put down roots and make long-term plans for Norway? These were all options but we didn’t know which one we should choose.
Time with others
We were also able to connect with Jo’s family as well as friends and partners in the Atlanta area. The last night in the US we hosted a small reception where we reconnected with about 20 folks. It was a fun time of questions and answers and it was very encouraging to see how they were engaging with us in the ministry.
A few weeks before we left Norway, our leaders announced that they were stepping down from their leadership roles. This announcement came after many months of struggling to juggle the demands of parenting and leading. Even though this was not a surprise to us, it did create even more uncertainty for us and our future. All we knew was that the Board of Directors would meet the day after we left and they would come up with a plan.
After one week in the US, Dave received a call from the Chair of the Board and he was asked if he would assume the role of interim leader of the team effective June 1. Because we had been watching this situation develop for almost a year, we knew that one day this question could be a reality. Therefore he was prepared to say “yes.” While this did give some clarity to our immediate future, it also created more questions. We would need to wait until we returned and Dave met with the Board to get any more answers.
Another piece of news we received during this time was that our current visa (permission to live in Norway) would expire in 2 more years. Although this was discouraging at first, it was, in fact, another answer to one of the questions we were asking ourselves; how long could/would we stay in Norway.
One thing we often consider is what would we do after Norway? We definitely want to stay involved in mission, and I (Dave) have an idea of what my ideal role would be, but would that opportunity even be possible? Well, the day before we came back to Norway, that question was answered. Dave has officially offed a ministry role that would fulfill many of his desires for the “dream job” and there were also very interesting opportunities available for Jo. And they were willing to wait for a year while we completed our commitment to Norway. Hmmmmm……
We have been back for 3 weeks now and have met with the Board and the OM leader who oversees the Scandinavian countries. This has allowed us time to consider Dave’s new role and the impact it will have on our lives as well as the team. Even though the challenges will be many and the rewards quite possibly few, we feel that for him to accept this role and to provide leadership for the team is the right thing to do. His primary focus will be to strengthen and add to the current team so that the next leader will have a strong environment to step into.
While we were in the US, one thing became very clear to us. We no longer think of the US as being “home.” We are very happy with our lives here and we are fully engaging in everything involved in living here. We shared this revelation with several of our Norwegian friends this week and they seemed to be very honored that we would so eagerly embrace their country and culture as our own.
Until the Board finds a new leader, we will be 100% focused on our responsibilities here in Norway. Once that person joins the team we will re-evaluate the situation and then determine how to proceed. We have turned down the job offers in the US but we were told there would be doors open for us when we return… which will probably happen sometime between June 2018 and June 2019.
In the mean time
Jo’s responsibilities will (mostly) remain the same. She will continue to handle the application process for the folks we send out, and she will visit and care for those who are already serving in foreign countries. She will also have one more full-time responsibility, reminding Dave not to “mess things up.”
Dave will continue in his original role of visiting churches and mobilizing Norwegians into missions. Additionally, he will absorb the CEO, COO, and CFO responsibilities of the team which was previously divided between two people.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom we will face many challenges in the months to come
- Team members we need several people to fill essential roles quickly
- Grace I (Dave) am often reminded by my loving wife that “gentleness and patience ” are not my strengths. This could be problematic for me in my new role hearing God’s voice there will be many things to distract us and we must stay focused
- hearing God’s voice there will be many things to distract us and we must stay focused