Dave and Jo’s final countdown has begun…

By the time you read this we will have less than 90 days remaining in Norway. This is a bitter-sweet time for us because we are looking forward to our time in the US and then joining the Irish team, however we know that there will be pain associated with saying good-bye to our lives here.

The Things That Have Happened

The past few months have been busy for Jo. As the Personnel Officer for Norway and the European Area, she has been swamped with General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) implementation. She really does not enjoy that part of the work but she knows it must be done and her attention to detail makes her very good at it. The fun part of her job is helping people join OM and she has two people in the process now. One of these applicants will be Jo’s replacement in the office and that is a huge answer to prayer.

April was a busy month for both of us. I (Dave) visited Ireland with a pastor from our church. The pastor wanted to see how our Irish team partners with local churches and how he could encourage Norwegian young people to participate in that program.

After the business part of that trip, Jo arrived and we spent a week exploring Ireland and learning what it would be like to live there. We visited some of the team members and had a great time seeing some of the sights. Then Jo stayed for another week to attend a Refresh retreat for wives of leaders.

The following weekend was our Annual Business Meeting for OM Norway. We hosted Lawrence Tong, the International Director of OM and introduced the new OM Norway leader. It was a Friday night to Saturday lunch event and was attended by almost 30 people. We hope this has created momentum for the new leader to build on.

Dave and Lawrence Tong

Jo had her first exposure to the middle-eastern culture when she travelled to the Gulf region in May to attend a meeting of other Area Personnel Officers from around the OM world.

In May I attended the first week of a Sr Leadership Course in Belgium. There were 18 of us, all leaders with different roles from different regions of the OM world. It was a beneficial time of learning, sharing, and networking. The second part of the course is in October, more on that later.

June 1 was the end of my time as Field Leader as our new leader stepped in. She has taken all of my previous roles and I am helping her understand her new responsibilities.
Knowing that my replacement is in place and that Jo’s be in place soon gives us peace about leaving the team.

In late June we took our final driving tour of Norway. We spent 11 days on the road, drove 3500 Km (2175 miles), and enjoyed the beautiful Norwegian scenery. Because we were in a different location almost every day it wasn’t the typical “relaxing” vacation; but we listened to two books on tape and the mental distraction prevented us from thinking about work, and that was very relaxing. The best part of the trip, Jo finally got to see her favorite bird, the puffin. We also saw Lemmings, musk ox, and red fox.

On July 4th, I had my final speaking event in Norway. It was in a beautiful wooden church that was originally built in the mid-1600s. It seemed strange to me that while the USA was celebrating its 242nd birthday, I was speaking in a church that was over 375 years old.

The Things That We Think Will Happen

The next 3 months will be very busy for us and will be filled with travel. In July, I will attend an outreach in Spain and France with a Norwegian college student who has been involved in many of our youth events in years past. Then I will be in Germany with our annual TeenStreet conference. In August, Jo will travel to Netherlands for the GO Conference with the new Norwegians who are joining OM.

In September we will both travel back to Ireland for their team retreat. This will allow us to meet the rest of the team and to begin building relationships with our future team mates. We will also use this trip as an opportunity to transfer some of our extra clothes and household goods to Ireland. After that Jo will attend a People Care II course in Belgium for her People Care role and I will attend the second week of the Sr Leadership Course in Malayasia.

In October we will arrive in the Atlanta area and await approval of our Ireland visas. During our time in the US we will live in a mission-house provided by a local church. Jo will continue to help the office staff back in Norway as well as continue her work as the European Personnel Officer. I plan to start engaging with my new roles for the Irish team so that I will be up-to-speed when we arrive.

In November, Jo will return to Germany for European meetings, then in January we will move to Ireland, if our visas are appoved.

The Things We’re Not Sure About

Moving is stressful. Moving internationally is more stressful. Moving internationally when neither of the countries is your home country is very stressful.

In the next few weeks we will start applying for our Irish visas. The process usually takes 4 months to complete and appears very straight forward. But there is always the chance it could be complicated.
We are currently in the process of renewing our Norwegian visa so that we can stay until September and hopefully this will also be approved. This adds another level of uncertainty.

September will be a challenging month for us. We have set September 7 as our final day with the OM Norway team. We will use the remainder of September to sell our furniture, pack our stuff and handle all the other details for leaving Norway: selling the car, settling the utility accounts, closing the bank account, and other details we haven’t thought of yet…

The last piece of this puzzle is our final travel from Norway to the US. Because Jo and I both have training courses in different countries with overlapping dates, we will probably have different travel dates and routes to the US.

The Things We Know

God is sovereign and He has a plan! The lesson we have learned the most during our time here is that God is faithful, He is not surprised, and He will not fail us.

We are doing our best to finish well; we are making the best plans we can and we are trying to be prepared for all possibilities. However, we know that our plans may or may not happen and when things go sideways, we will do our best to remain faithful.

Specific Prayer Requests

Wisdom for all the details of leaving Norway
Bank, utilities, car, apartment…
Transporting our “stuff” to Ireland
We can take 9 extra bags each but the logistics of this could be problematic.
Peace while saying good-bye to our Norwegian friends
Ensuring a good hand-over of our roles to our replacements
Visa approval for Norway and Ireland
Vehicle to use while in the US (Oct-Jan)

Thank you for reading, thank you for your support, and thank you for your encouragement during our time in Norway.
Dave and Jo