All in Central Asia

When 'good'byes feel more like 'bad'byes

“At some point just before midnight, I realised that we would never again be in a setting like this to celebrate the new year,” remembers Loïs. “Our friends will get married in the spring and move to the USA. Our other friend just got divorced from her local non-believing spouse and will, together with her son, move back to her family in another country. Again a year of goodbyes.”

When did this place become home?

“If I am completely honest, I think I spent our first two years in Central Asia longing to go home to our home country (or even to the USA where we had lived for a short while),” admits Beth. “I would pray: Your will God but deep down I was hoping that His will was that we wouldn’t be here long.”

Every last apricot

“We were strangers, and they called us over to bless us. They didn’t have to give us anything—let alone everything—but they did it with smiles on their faces. They didn’t know us; they didn’t expect anything in return; they just gave,” remembers Nicole.

Celebrate the Light

“Christmas is about Jesus and celebrating His birth, and I’m realising each year that it doesn’t really matter if we’re eating roast chicken or horse meat or whether we’re with special family or up on stage singing. It’s a joy to celebrate the Light coming into the world,” shares OMer Beth.

Thy will

“Whatever season we are in, whether it is in the leaving our homes to go abroad for the first time, sending loved ones out to the ends of the earth, or some other part of our faith walk, the sacrifice isn’t in the things, it is in our will.”

Acceptance and then achievement

“With the helplessness has come the realisation that I’ve been depending on my works a lot,” shares OMer Beth. “It’s great to have tear-jerking stories of all the families our disability project is helping for our newsletters. I like feeling worthwhile because of the difference I am making in somebody’s life. What I do outside of our home has given me worth and significance.”

Hats

“I do not recall wearing many different hats ever. I only used them while travelling in some hot countries. Of course, I couldn’t survive without one during our Missions Discipleship Training in South Africa. Not just to protect myself against the sun in the desert, but also to cover my hair on bad-hair-days during long outreaches, without comfortable showers,” shares Loïs. “These days I only count one hat in my wardrobe. Nevertheless I have the feeling that I am changing hats all the time. My different roles make me do so.”

Choices and questions

“Did we pray enough? Did we ask the right questions? Did we challenge them enough? Should we have invited them to spend more time with us? Did we fail?” These are some of the questions that OMer Beth wrestles with when a friend marries a non-believer.

Taking time to rest

“I remember when our boys were younger you could just see their tiredness in everything they did, but they still didn’t want to go to bed. ‘I am not tired!’ But the moment they lay down, they slept. Even for us as adults, to rest can feel like a punishment or a sign of weakness,” shares OMer Loïs. “But there is no need to feel like that. God Himself created a day to rest.”

The hardest part is taking the first step

"What they don't know standing at the start of that escalator, is that once you get both feet on, you’re carried. That you don't actually need all the answers, you just need to start the journey," shared OMer Sarah. "I think stepping out into overseas work can be a bit like stepping onto an escalator for the first time. We talk a lot in the Faith about stepping out, but what does that mean? I guess it means going forward, not remaining in one place."

Leaving Egypt

"And yet, in this season of my life, I read [the Israelites] moans and I have compassion," shared OMer Sarah. "Yes, being thousands of years removed from it, and knowing the whole story, we can look in disbelief.  But in that moment–yes they had been freed from slavery–but they had also left their homes. They had been in a place where they had grown, where their parents had grown and died.  Where they had roots. Where they knew the streets, and the places to rest. Maybe the best place to buy bread, or the best place to watch the sunrise. They left a place of memories of seeing their children run and play and laugh. They left their homes where their children had crawled and walked for the first time, and where they had sung praises to God together."