When you look in scripture it is clear that God uses trials and struggles to build us up and shape us into the men and women that He wants us to be. Often it isnʼt until after the trial has ended that you can look back and see how the Lord was working in each situation. We have found this to be very true and is a good description of what we have been experiencing since we last wrote. We have faced various trials and struggles and are just now beginning to learn what the Lord was trying to teach us during this time. In our weakness, He is strong. There wasnʼt any one major thing that went wrong, it was more a matter of every week or two something else breaking or needing repair. Things we couldnʼt put off, like the fridge and washing machine. While the van was in the shop to get the brakes replaced, the brake line broke on the car. As we watched the unexpected bills from vehicle repairs and broken appliances pile up, and our bank account shrink, we started to feel a bit overwhelmed and it seemed like our prayers were bouncing off the ceiling. We realized very quickly just how little control we have over life and just how important it is to turn what little control we do have over to God. He knows what is best for us and has promised to supply all of our needs. God has shown us through this time that we need to trust in Him, not in the balance of our bank account. It was a hard lesson to learn, but one that has brought us peace and a deeper sense of security now that its truth has sunk in. We have also been challenged to not use our financial situation to limit God. When we have a month with low support, it is tempting to cut back our giving, instead of giving in faith and trusting God to bless our willingness to give. There is a fine line between stepping out in faith and waiting for God to provide versus using common sense and making a wise decision. Sometimes the two donʼt seem to line up at all, at least from our limited human perspective. Which brings us to where we feel this has all been leading us. Australia! It may seem like a random answer, but for our family it makes perfect sense.
Blair and I have both had the desire to work at Teen Missions Australia since we first visited the base in 2000. We loved the property and could really picture ourselves living there full time. After joining staff in 2001, the first team we led was the Preteen team to Australia in 2002. We then arranged to work at the base from January until May of 2003, and during that time we were able to experience what it would really be like to live there. During those five months we had many conversations about the possibility of making Teen Missions Australia home. We had every intention of coming back to the United States and getting what we needed together and heading back “down under”. God, however, had different plans and He made it clear, even before we had made it out of the country, that we wouldnʼt be returning as soon as we had thought. Due to a misunderstanding we had unknowingly overstayed our visas and wouldnʼt be allowed to return for two years. It was a bit of a shock and we were a little disappointed; but once we got back to Florida it didnʼt take long for us to get settled into life here. Over the next few years we had two more babies and became comfortable with the idea of staying in Florida. We even looked into buying a house a few times, but nothing ever worked out. We have talked about Australia from time to time over the years, but always decided that the timing wasnʼt right and we wouldnʼt be able to afford to go. God has used our circumstances the last few months to shake us out of our comfort zone, and we began to pray that weʼd be willing to let go of our possessions and be willing to go anywhere or do anything the Lord has planned for us. Just be prepared – you may not always get the answer youʼre expecting! The cost and logistics of moving a family of six to Australia seems like an impossible task, but God has shown us that it is time to stop limiting what He can do and step out in faith, allowing Him to provide everything we will need. We feel that He is asking us to go long-term, possibly four or five years, maybe more.
So what will we need? The biggest thing at this point in the journey is prayer! Itʼs a huge decision to uproot your family and start over on the opposite side of the globe. We would greatly appreciate your prayers throughout the process. Pray for wisdom, favor from the Australian government in processing our visa applications, a smooth adjustment for our children and for all of the financial aspects of moving. Pray especially that God would work in the hearts of those whom He may be calling to join our financial support team. Many of you may not realize that all of Teen Missions staff are faith-supported missionaries. That means that Teen Missions does not provide a salary for anyone. From the director on down, all of us depend on the generosity of churches and individuals to meet our living expenses each month. Before we can go we will need to increase our monthly support to cover the higher cost of living in Australia. The current exchange rate is $1US = $1.09AU, but almost everything costs more since most things need to be imported. We will also have a number of one-time expenses such as airfare, visas, purchasing a vehicle and health insurance. If the Lord leads you to contribute on a one-time or monthly basis, or if you have any questions, please donʼt hesitate to call or email us. If you would like more frequent updates on this latest phase of our journey with Teen Missions, you can find our blog at http://hamesjourney.blogspot.com We are still in the beginning phases of this journey and are very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Our plan in the meantime is to continue working at the Teen Missions Florida base. We had anticipated leading the Florida Surfing Team for the summer of 2010, but due to a lack of interest the team was recently canceled. If the need arises we may be placed on another team; but for now we are content to stay in Florida on summer staff, helping keep the offices running while most of the staff are serving on teams overseas. We are also hoping to set up a number of speaking opportunities over the next few months as we expand our support base. If you are interested in having us share about the ministry of Teen Missions or AIDS Orphans and Street Children with your church, youth group or a small group meeting, we would love to come see you! We were able to see many of you over the Christmas holidays and were so blessed by the words of encouragement and generosity of all we stopped to see. Thank you for blessing us with warm beds, yummy food and wonderful friendships! The Lord is good! It made what could have been a very stressful traveling experience much more enjoyable. We hope to see many more of you in the near future!
We pray the Lord will bless each of you and make you a blessing in the months to come.
With Grateful Hearts,