So this whole story began about 10 months ago when my husband Trent and I found out that some close teacher friends of ours were going to teach in Malaysia for two years. The conversation with them about thier upcoming trip sparked something deep within both Trent and I. When we talked about it, we both agreed that looking into teaching abroad was something we felt called to do.
Fast forward to the beginning of January (we are major procrastinators)… by this time, we realized our time was running out if we were going to do this; we both wanted to, but sometimes we struggle with following through with our “great ideas.” Anyways, we signed up for an international school database/recruiting website and started the process much later than we meant to. We looked at the list of international job fairs and the only two that were in the United States were in mid-February and June. That’s when we started to panic! If we were going to attend the one in February, we would have to really scramble to turn everything in, and if we were to choose the one in June, it would have left us with very little time to get things ready before our departure. Getting accepted to go to the job fair involved a lot of outside factors that we had no control over, like our four confidential references (each) completing their forms promptly, sending and receiving the appropriate paperwork, getting accepted to go, etc.
At about that time, our church (Revolution Church, Selma, TX) began a sermon series called GREATER and as we were still kind of “on the fence” about whether this whole thing was even plausible or not, the words Pastor Zak spoke moved us into action. Before reading on, you should totally check the series out- http://www.revyourlife.com/greaterseries. Every sermon in this series is totally worth your time!
Anyways, one of the things that was really holding me back (I don’t know about Trent) was our house here. Since we moved in almost three years ago, we basically gutted the place. We pulled up the flooring, painted everything from the floorboards to the ceiling to the doors (in EVERY room), and we did a ton of work on the yard and replaced a lot of old stuff. We have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this place that it has really become our own and we love it. That makes it hard to leave it in the hands of someone else for the time that we would be away.
The other big thing holding us back was leaving our family. Trent’s family is so close to where we live and our only nephew is 2 and a half. We really struggled with the idea of leaving for a year or two and missing major milestones in his young life. My sister and her husband, back in Minnesota are also thinking about having a baby soon and I really want to be around for the first baby on my side of the family. Nevertheless, this sermon made me realize that I was indeed sitting in comfort and complacency all the while using those things as my excuses not to go where I felt called to go. I was shown that I needed to burn those plows if we were going to continue moving forward with this plan.
The second sermon, though, was the one that really spoke to us. “Digging a ditch” for us looked like having faith in things that we had no control over. We had to take steps of faith that all the paperwork would get done in time, that we would be accepted into the job fair, that we would have enough money to pay for two flights to San Francisco and for four nights in a hotel. Even though we had no idea what to expect, we stepped out in obedience, walking by faith, despite how things looked. We made a list based on the database postings of open positions in the schools that were attending the job fair and left for San Fran feeling pretty confident that these were our top picks. When we arrived, however, we quickly realized that our list was no longer valid: one of the schools had decided at the last minute not to come, and the others that had had openings fitting us perfectly had been filled. So, at that point, we felt like we were back at square one. It was so disappointing, but we still waited expectantly for God to come through. We began making a new list of schools that had potential openings for us. This left us with a very small list because Trent teaches special education and there are not very many International schools that have this kind of program. We started to stress a little bit, but we prayed and continued to “expect our miracle.” Throughout this whole process, we had felt called to go, but we never felt called to a specific place… that was part of the faith it required us to have in order to follow wherever he would take us. The only “restrictions” put on possible countries were put there by my mother… “no communist countries, no war zones, and no China.” So it was funny when we had four early requests for interviews by potential employers… two from Kuwait, one from Saudi Arabia, and one from China- all places that my mother forbid us to go.
So Saturday night we attended a presentation by the International school in Qingdao, China and then had an interview immediately following. We received a job offer that evening and we had signed our contract by Sunday afternoon. Before other people were even signing up for interviews, we had a job! Our “ditches were filled” and, to make it even better, it happened when there didn’t seem to be a cloud on the horizon. 🙂
Adding the whipped cream and a cherry on top to our trip, we were left with an entire day available to go and sightsee in San Francisco. Even though it was freezing, and we hadn’t brought any other clothes other than business-wear and fancy shoes, we enjoyed seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, riding the trolley, and taking an open-top bus tour of the city.
GREATER really stirred a longing deep within our souls. God used that sermon series to speak “greater” things into our lives. I am so thankful for Pastor Zak’s faithfulness to God’s word and for him speaking a much needed truth into our lives. Moreover, I hope that this encourages each person reading this blog and reminds you of how faithful God is when we are obedient to his calling. He not only provided us a job, but it is a PERFECT fit for us. I love that God from his “review booth” sees the whole game and knows the “best call” to make. His placement was far better than anything we could have picked out on our own. I also love that we didn’t have to do anything once we got to the fair… God already had it worked out… the ditches had already been dug. All we had to do was say “YES” to where he was calling us.
So, in Mid-July we will be leaving for Qingdao, China to teach kindergarten and first grade at Qingdao #1 International School of Shandong! We are super excited for this next chapter of our lives!