Monday, August 31, 2009

The next installment... how it all began!

ZOE Children's Home 2009
The following is the recount of what has happened since that night back in March...

The following morning we questioned each other, "Were we both still 'feeling' this?  Did we agree to pursue this option? (working overseas was something Dave had always said he'd never do!)"

Every day for the next week or so, the answer kept coming back from both of us "YES"!

So after we'd seen the ZOE DVD we did two things.  Firstly we starting asking ourselves things like, ‘could we even take our children with us’... ‘was this even a reality?’  And ‘who are these people working at ZOE?’  One of the first things we discovered was that there were missionary families involved at ZOE and that they had children (some children were even born over there).

I then stumbled across some of these missionary family's blogs.  I read with excitement about what was being accomplished in Chiangmai and it was amazing.  I emailed one of the 'moms' over there and shared with her what Dave and I felt that God was saying to us.  She suggested that we contact the ZOE head office in the USA and get some more information.

After emailing and asking if we could come and see the home etc. we were told that if we wanted more than just a quick tour (if we felt God was speaking to us about this move) that we would need to apply to work at the home.

This was  a big moment in our journey.  How can you apply without seeing the organization?  Without meeting the people?  Without checking to see how they ran things?
However we pressed on. ..
We were sent out application forms and after weeks of writing them (about 20 pages of typed information) we finally emailed them off.  We had no idea how long we'd have to wait for a response,  but thankfully the founders Mike and Carol were at the USA office that week and were handed our applications immediately.  They contacted us within two days and arranged a Skype interview for that weekend.  We couldn't believe it!  It was becoming a real.

The interview was phenomenal.  We seemed to hit it off right from the outset.   We were able to gain more of an understanding of the work they work they were involved with.
They told us that they are very cautious people, especially when it came to interviewing people to work for ZOE however they felt so excited by our applications. This was really encouraging for us because obviously we have felt so strongly like God has been speaking to us so it was great to hear their reactions and hear how God is answering their prayers as well!  We felt such a connection with them through the way God was working in all our lives, given the fact that we are in totally different parts of the world.  
Carol said that when she read our applications, she threw her hands in the air and screamed.  Hearing our voices at the beginning of the interview, she exclaimed that she couldn't believe we were actually real.  She told us that we are the exact people that they have been asking God for and that we were "heaven sent".  
We felt that we were taking a massive leap of faith and acting in total obedience to a calling God has placed on our hearts.  We had not yet even seen ZOE or walked around to experience the work first hand.  We liken it to some degree to the reading we have both been doing on both Moses and Aaron when God spoke to them. 
All He required was their obedience to His calling and He continually revealed His mighty hand. Over a period of time, they began to see the details revealed.
The night before the interview David had a bit of a moment!  He felt quite troubled that he may not have what the organization needed and was thinking that it may be just Andrea that would be the one ZOE needed (being a trained teacher) and concluded he would be happy to be home-dad if that was what was required.
In the interview, Mike spoke specifically to David and listed a number of areas that they would love to get him involved with.  Both Mike and Carol were running a successful business when God spoke to them and called them to this work.  They took a similar step of faith and it's so inspiring to hear the 'God honoring' principles they have put in place.  
Mike also mentioned that ZOE could gain from the experiences that David  had in business as they look to establish a range of micro business units as the organization seeks to become self sufficient.  Mike and Carol said that at this point they wanted David to work for the organization full time and were extremely happy for Andrea to be mum to our kids and if opportunities presented for her and she was able to assist, that would be great but they were extremely respectful of her role as a mother.  Obviously this lines up with exactly how we saw the next few years for our family. 
We discussed the amazing 'holistic' vision for ZOE: their 80 acre land purchase, Gods opening of grants of millions of dollars to allow them to custom build of a new facility to house orphan and at risk children, a business school, safe houses, bible college, schooling for 0-18 year olds and more!

The next month or so, leading up to our 'scout trip' in July, was filled with preparation.  Preparation of our hearts, preparation of our parents/ family for what we were going to find out and preparing ourselves too for what would be massive decision.  We knew something was happening by the resistance we got when trying to organise our trip.  I'll never forget the night we needed to book our flights... from lost passports, to Spencer screaming uncontrollably (totally out of character), the Internet continually dropping out and then Dave's front tooth completely fell out! 

If we had any doubt in our minds before arriving in Chiangmai, we certainly did not arrive home with any.  We were blown away with how much God had gone before us.  He gave us a week full of confirmations.  From particular songs being played, bible verses being said, people saying things to us.  
He showered us with His love and He showed us that He is a God of detail.  He loves to pay attention to the little things that matter to us.  We had an amazing week and met some of the most precious people.  Their hearts and their passion are incredible. It was so inspiring to be around.  We got a great idea of how much there is to do there and they were so encouraging to us personally.  

I remember reading in that book, Praying for Purpose, that "As we pursue our God-given purpose we do not get discouraged even when it seems that nothing is happening. God wastes nothing".  For me this quote has kept me going.  It's gave me persistence during times when I've sat at Marvellous Mums, the only one there, wondering why God asked me to organise the group for no one to come.  It constantly gave me hope that God was preparing me for something far bigger than what I'd imagined.  The skills that I have learnt, the resources that I've been able to write and the experience blogging etc all from running Marvellous Mums were all for a reason.  When I was in Chiangmai I got a glimpse of how all of this will be so helpful for some of the things that I'll be able to do over there.

There are ways that I can help out working from home (like maintaining a ZOE Facebook page) as well as with teaching English, child care meetings, shopping trips for the short-term missionaries and so much more.

We also sorted out so many logistical things while we were there too such as kid's schooling, house, car etc.  These are all stories of God's faithfulness in themselves!

Since arriving home, it has been a blur of events and emotions.  I sit here surrounded by half packed boxes and 'piles' to be sorted.  We are moving to live at Dave's parent's house in a week's time.  This in itself has been such an answer to prayer.

There is too much to write about explaining how everything is falling in to place but here's a quick summary:

•Our house is being rented to a Christian family (I knew the couple from youth group days). Unbelievably we hadn't even advertised yet. They needed to move in at the time we'd hoped to be out by!

•Dave's parents can store all of our remaining furniture (we don't need paid storage).

•A GP has offered to help us prepare health wise for the move both with consultation and cost.

•Donations and pledges of money to help support us.

•Our couch sold (again without advertising)

•Very cheap flights (we leave January 14th).

•We are meeting people every day who share this passion.

•Rachael, from Sydney, called to raise money for ZOE and a great 'Australian' administrative support person.

Well as I conclude this part 2 of the first chapter, I want to thank you for your prayers and support.  Your words of encouragement help to keep us 'going'.  We serve a wonderful God.  Without His strength, we would not be doing this and He often uses you, our family and friends, to prop us up during the tougher days.  We look forward to the future with so much excitement as we feel like we've found our "groove" but also with sadness at the thought of not being surrounded by our support network in the way we've had for the past ten years of marriage.

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