Today's missionary mum was actually the mother of one of my Standard One students when I was living in Dodoma before. Jean's husband, Andrew, worked for MAF as the Flight Operations Manager and then Quality Manager. They have three boys and moved to Tanzania from Scotland, living in a house a couple of doors down from where we are now! Their family then moved on with MAF to Nairobi, Kenya, where our paths crossed briefly again in 2006. They completed their service with MAF after almost 11 years, returning to Scotland about 2 years ago. Today Jean shares her thoughts about 'Going Home' after living in Africa for such a long time.
From the day we arrived in Africa we knew that one day we would leave and ‘go home’. When our time to go home arrived, it was a little unexpected and sudden. Our eldest son, Andrew J was leaving school, I had a sense of calling to train as a Minister and it seemed as if all of a sudden, our time with MAF in Africa was up.
It was a hard decision and an even harder call to follow but when we made the decision to follow God’s calling for this part of our lives, we had a huge peace about. We had no jobs to return to at ‘home’; Andrew J was unsure where he would go to University, the younger two boys, Fraser and Iain would have to change schools and we had no certainty our home would be free to move back into. By faith we trusted God’s leading and arrived a little bit dazed and a little bit uncertain, back ‘home’.
That was 2 years ago. The tenants moved out of our house and although the house needs a lot of work to it (even after being back 2 years!) we are living again in the family home in Inverness. Andrew, after eight months of temporary part-time work got a full-time permanent job – working in a similar role as he had enjoyed so much in Africa. Andrew J got a place at University and is now about to start his 3rd year and has a part-time job to help fund the course. Fraser and Iain have both settled well into life in school and life here in Scotland.
Me – it’s been by faith! I completed the assessment and selection process with the Church of Scotland and am starting my second year as a Candidate in Training for Ministry of Word and Sacrament. At times it seems like a dream, having been to Africa and having come home. It is like a dream too, to continue to be with our Lord, still believing and being in his care.
It was in some ways harder to come home than to go to Africa. On return, many of our friends had moved on in so many ways and it seems as if we have started all over again living here. Despite this, we have seen God’s faithfulness to us, experienced his promise not to leave us and felt his blessings to us in so many different and unexpected ways.
We often reminisce as a family about our time in Africa, people we met, issues we faced, laughs we had. We find this hard to share with others outside the family, perhaps because so often we feel misunderstood and it is so difficult to share ‘our time’ with MAF. They are precious memories and a big part of our lives and our life as a family. We will treasure them always and who knows; perhaps God will send us back there some time.