26 September 2011

the epic story - part 2

So we are sitting in our home - our home in South Africa, grieving that it is truly time to leave - our hearts seizing up when we think of what it is going to feel like to say goodbye - excited but anxious at what it might be like to move back to the US again, when this email comes inviting Billy to spend a season at Turame Microfinance Bank in Bujumbura, Burundi.

Billy's first reaction is a wistful joy. He'd love to go, he's had a longing in his heart to spend time living into that project since we were first approached with the opportunity in 2007 - and even before that, when he visited Rwanda for the first time in 2005. He loves the great lakes region, he loves the culture and color and smell of rich earth - and he loves IT systems and networking and going in to a mess with the challenge of cleaning it, streamlining it and teaching other people to use it best. he loves that. But he knew he wouldn't want to move our kids to Burundi - not now, not as teenagers, not with the recent civil unrest, not for only 6 months, just long enough to settled and then get uprooted again. So he had a moment of dreaming, and then smiled sweetly and dismissed the idea.

I wrote an email to my sister laughing at the new thing that had gotten thrown into the mix of "oh my goodness, we don't know what is coming next" ..... and within a few hours, my sister was on the phone with me saying "We think the kids should come live with us while you and Billy are in Burundi- all of them - we've already figured it out and it will work just fine."

and she really meant it.

Prayers, discussions with our life-long friends who journey this thing out with us even from far, so many tears, so many questions, so many "what if? .... " how can?...."

but deep in our spirits, we knew this was our path. We knew that we could say no - we could take the easy road and simply go home to Michigan as a family, find a job, buy a car (knowing that nothing would be as simple as it has seemed in our romanticized visions of home we've carried for the years we've been away). But we also knew that doing that would damage something inside our souls - the part that has committed to the promise of always listening - and always saying yes to that next right step. The part that led us South Africa in the first place, and now was leading us away. That voice of God we depend on so greatly.

so we said yes

we said yes and a whirlwind occurred. Our goodbyes and packing up 4 years of a life in Africa would have to be quick for use to make time lines work for the kids to start school at the beginning of the Michigan school year, for Billy to join Turame when they were asking for him to arrive. Within 3 weeks of finalizing that decision, we were on a plane home. Three amazingly full weeks of hosting an international friend, mourning the death of our favorite mama, stepping away from projects and responsibilities, making arrangements for things to carry on in our absence, being intentional with our goodbyes, packing up our house, sorting out things for traveling and for arriving in America and Burundi. Three weeks that are kind of a blur in my memory, but a beautiful blur filled with goodness and love and family.

I flew first, arriving at JFK with the kids and stayed for a week with Billy's dad and sister and dear friends. And over Labor Day weekend, we filled my sister's van with 5 adult sized people, 1 baby, 2 dogs, 9 suitcases, 4 carryons & a dog crate and drove from New Jersey to Michigan.

By that time, Billy was already in Burundi, beginning a new season in our lives.

... more of the story to come tomorrow


  1. Trace, I really appreciate your words here in regards to walking a new path. How you questioned and sorted, but how "but deep in [your] spirits, [you]knew this was [your] path."

    I've been experiencing much of the same thing these last months moving away from Mars--a place that has grown me and that I have loved like no other--into an experience with the Anglican tradition which seems to be where I need to be right now. It has been a similar process of wondering, thinking and questioning all the while knowing that this was the path I was being called to. It encourages me to hear how God works in similar ways among us--even as He is calling all to and from different (and the same) places all over his good, green earth.

  2. Sarah, thanks for that. A lot.
    You know, Rob gave his "this is why i'm leaving" talk last Sunday at MH, and that brought me a ton of solace too - when you are walking through something where even though you know it's right, it's just so hard - it's fortifying to know that other people have walked (or are walking) simliar journeys. I'm proud of you for taking the next right step even though it's hard. let's live true to encouraging each other. xx


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