And here's a token picture...so it's not ONLY wordy...
A few weeks ago, we were excitedly contemplating returning to our home in the Philippines...ready to resume our ministry there that we love.
Then, without warning, our landlord decided he wanted our house back...Ok, we thought, we will have to move. But just to a different house in our small town. It was hard for us, because we had grown to love the house and location where we lived. But, as we talked, we knew that God was in charge. We knew and were able to talk to our kids about the fact that He had a different plan, perhaps something even beyond what we could even imagine. We knew God was up to something...we just didn't know what!
We didn't know how right we were.
About two weeks later, we had a Skype meeting with our leadership in the Philippines. And the meeting made losing our house look like a really SMALL change. This change includes having to move, not to a different house, but to a different ISLAND.
To all of our wonderful friends in Malaybalay...it breaks our heart that we will not be living in our wonderful town together anymore. We literally had in our minds that we could happily live in Malaybalay for the next 20 years...and maybe longer. But because of a change in our ministry, we have to move to a different part of the Philippines. To us, right now, it is a form of grieving that we are experiencing---and a great feeling of loss, because we have grown to love our home and our friends who live there so much. Malaybalay is a place that we loved raising our kids.
If we could, we would be excitedly coming back in January to our Malaybalay Runners group, our wonderful Balletomane ballet school, our Muay Thai/Boxing group, our church and all our other friends.
But God has different plans...a friend just posted this quote by C.S. Lewis, and I think it is really true for us right now:
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
It is really hard to move, but we trust in God-- who knows the beginning, the end, and all of the emotions in between. He is in charge and we really see how he has been orchestrating this whole thing.
So, why the change?
To make a long story short, our mission has always tried to run two language and culture programs in the Philippines; one for the Tagalog language, and one for Visayan. Our ministry has been to run the Visayan program.
But, the leadership has seen (and we understand) the need to consolidate our programs. Partly, it is really difficult to keep two programs running, with the missionaries and language helpers that need to be kept on staff on two different islands. Also, we really want to work more closely with the National NTM missionaries. Lord-willing, this change will create a better place for all our new missionaries to begin good relationships with our National NTM missionaries soon after they arrive in the country.
So, we have been asked to head up consolidating both programs to the island of Luzon. Our ministry has essentially not changed, just the location. We will still be language and culture coaches for new missionaries arriving in the Philippines. At this point, we are not yet sure of our new location, as we are still in discussion with field leadership as to where the best place to locate will be.
Everyone will start with studying Tagalog, which is widely used throughout the country, and then after their time there is done, they will continue studying language and culture closer to their future place of ministry, with regular help and input from consultants.
For most locations, this means they will keep on studying Tagalog, but if they go to the Visayas region, they would switch to the Visayan language. (After they do all that, as usual, they will still have to learn a tribal language!)
As we said, it is extremely hard for us to think of moving our family to a different location, and saying goodbye to all of our wonderful friends in our town. It's also hard to think of going back to Tagalog after getting to really like the Visayan language! :) But, we see God's hand in this, and ultimately we want to live and be where God wants us to be.
We would REALLY appreciate your prayers as we go forward with this!
We also will have a lot of moving expenses we were not expecting, and a much higher cost of living--- If you would like to make a one-time gift to help with moving expenses, or would like to support our ministry regularly, check out: http://blogs.ntm.org/brian-johnson/give/
This quote kind of sums up a bit of what we are feeling right now...
Thanks for your prayers and support! If this post has only managed to create more questions, please write us with any you might have...we'll try to answer them!