A beginning is a very delicate time

* The title is a quote from Dune. I know it’s in the movie, but I’m not sure if it’s from the book, too.

I am at both an end and a beginning. I am at the beginning of the journey of being a missionary. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for most of my life. But I’m at an end, too. This is the end of “normal life” (whatever that might be). This is the end of being a plain old American, a Montanan, a member of the workforce. I am already leaving my culture.

I am so excited.

My journey from “called to missions” to “itinerating as a missionary” has been a long one, 20 years in the making. I always thought I would be about 22 when I got here, not 32. I’m glad it didn’t happen when I was 22, because then I would be doing something entirely different than what I now feel called to do. It’s been a sort of gradual, gentle, meandering process of God sort of gently leading me here and there, giving me new ideas and dreams, and making me ready (I hope…*she says with some trepidation*) for the sudden fruition of my long-ago calling.

You can read about the initial development of my call here. I’ll write other posts about how my dreams have changed and grown over the last twenty years.

But here is the process I have been working through for the last few years:

Paying off loans.
“I’m in the ministry of paying off my loans so I can go into full-time missions.” I’ve said that often over the last couple of years.
To apply for AG missions, you have to not have above a certain amount of debt, because some of the money you raise in itineration will go to paying off your debt, and it’s not quite fair to ask all the hard-working people who support you to also support outrageous debt. I’ve spent the ten years since I graduated from college and the four years since I graduated from seminary paying as much of my school loans as possible, always paying more than the required amount in a bill. My college loans are almost paid off, and my seminary loans are cut down by half. God has always provided what I needed.

Being with my family.
I’ve known for twenty years that I’m going to spend the rest of my life far away from my family. After I moved away to college, I spent the next ten years not living in Montana, where most of my family lives. Soon after graduating from AGTS, I suddenly felt the need to move back to Montana and spend a few years with my family before the rest of my life happens.
I’ve been here longer than I anticipated, four years. I’ve worked with my mom, lived with my dad, seen my two sisters married, met my baby niece and two nephews soon after their births, visited with my younger brother on his return from Iraq and Afghanistan Army tours, gotten to know my other younger brother as an adult, hosted Christmas at my house for the first time, been involved in my younger sister’s in-laws’ ministry, and been present for three deaths and many weddings and births.

A portion of my family. Photo by Dan Hockensmith.

A portion of my family. Photo by Dan Hockensmith.

Getting my ministerial license.
A minister’s license, if not ordination, is usually a prerequisite for full-time missions.
This was a journey in and of itself. There was an application process, multiple references needed, a test to take, two interviews, and finally approval and the licensing service. In the interviews with local pastors and district leaders, I found that telling them why I wanted a license when I wasn’t going into pastoral ministry and describing my calling moved me deeply and made me cry. I tend to find this a little humiliating, but the fact was that the men I was talking to could see my passion for my unusual calling, and God gave me favor in their eyes.

Applying for Assemblies of God missions.
This was such a process that I’m going to write a whole blog post about it. The short version is that it took more than a year from the time I first asked for an application until the time I was officially approved by the World Missions Executive Committee on October 18, 2013. The long version is…it was ultimately a good process.

Categories: Blog, The Journey Tags: , , , , .

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