Today I want to introduce you to one of the Missionary Mum's that I have had the chance to get to know since we moved to Dodoma. Liz is English and a primary school teacher back at home. Her husband is from South Africa and is one of the MAF pilots based here in Dodoma. They have 3 children, Joel is in Naomi's circle of friends, Ben is in Abigail's class and Esther who is only a little bit older, is another friend that Abigail enjoys playing with! Liz writes her own blog 'Tales from Tanzania' too, all about the adventures her family are having which includes insights of what day-to-day life actually means to all of us here in Tanzania but today she write for me ...
As a starry-eyed newly-wed back in the UK in 2003, I had no idea what I had signed up for, as my new husband and I agreed that we wanted to serve God together. How could I realise back then what kind of an exciting, but at times terrifying, roller-coaster-ride God had planned for us?
At that time, we were living in central London, I was enjoying a full-time teaching job, great social life, wonderful church and was within easy reach of family, I had no idea that within 9 months, Andrew and I would be homeless, jobless and facing an uncertain future in a far-flung country! I had to learn that God is a God of surprises- opening up unforeseen opportunites and leading us on adventures far beyond any I would ever have imagined!
A few months into our marriage, Andrew and I had responded to a call at our London church, St Michael's Chester Square, to commit ourselves to follow God- whatever or wherever He may lead us to. Around the same time, we were praying seriously about a new career path for Andrew, a change from the office jobs that had made up his working life to this point. So it should not have been too big a shock when a MAF magazine plopped through our letterbox "out of the blue"- randomly redirected from an old student address I had once had. Andrew picked it up. He had never heard of MAF, so he was surprised to learn about their ministry. "Look at this" he said, "a way to serve God with a practical career! I think this is something I could do...."
And the rest, as they say, is history!
We left our home and jobs in London and went to South Africa where Andrew trained as a pilot and built up a further 2 years work experience. We moved back to the UK to apply to MAF in 2009, were accepted and moved to Tanzania later that year. This path to serving with MAF has been full of change. In our 9 years of marriage, we have lived in 8 different homes over 3 different countries, gradually adding more family members on the way! We were relieved to "settle" down in Dodoma and enjoy being part of the missionary community with our 3 children.
However, I have discovered that living in one place as a 'Missionary Mum' does not rule out change! Being part of the caring missionary community in Dodoma means that friendships we build often run deep: our friends become like family as we support one another in a foreign culture, far, far away from our actual families. Then, one day, your friends announce that they are leaving - our lovely next-door neighbours moved to Uganda, another family who had become very close to us moved to Sweden, another family to America and another good friend moved on to Kenya ... We cried and we grieved. It seemed unlikely we would see them again.
God, in His mercy, sent new families here - so we all adjusted, our children have bonded with new friends and as Mums, we enjoy being together with our kids and as families. We are grateful to count Jenny, Mark, Abigail and Naomi as our new friends and were so excited to welcome them here! But now I am conscious that my own time in Tanzania is limited and one day, our family will be the ones to move on, probably to another country, as the need for pilots varies from place to place. More change. It will be painful: it will be scary: in other ways, it will be exciting. The only certainty we can really count on as Missionary Mums with MAF is this fact: Nothing Stays the Same!
For this reason, I am learning the great value of the verse below. Within this life of change that I signed up for all those years ago, there IS one true constant - my Best Friend and my anchor: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever." Hebrews 13 v.8.