Hi Family & Friends —
I had a hard time deciding what to write because there has been a lot that has happened over the last four months. So I asked the kids onboard and they said I should write about why I extended for another 10 months. Here it goes…
I originally returned to the Africa Mercy in May to fill a vacancy as the I.S. Manager for one month. I arrived one month before I took the position as manager and had planned on staying one month after the new manager arrived so I could give him a good hand over. Strategically, the extra time also provided an additional support specialist in the office during a busy season for the department. I’m happy to report that the new manager, Stuart Clear, is onboard with his wife and two boys and they are settling in well. That time was a great experience!
Leading up to my departure, which was originally scheduled for August 26th, I made another choice to extend for ten more months. This might be the first time you have heard this news. I will now be onboard until June 30, 2017.
Back to the kid’s suggestion, I extended because the position I currently have as Senior Support Specialist would have been vacant if I had returned home and a volunteer had not been found in time to fill the vacancy. At the same time, we currently have two other positions in the office that are vacant (A/V Technician & Systems Engineer) with volunteers due to arrive in the next month to fill those positions.
Extending also allowed me to continue to invest in the lives of the youth onboard. And my extension didn’t interfere with my schooling, allowing me to take three online classes at West Hills College Lemoore this semester and to take two classes next semester. Because I’ll be onboard for a good amount of time, I also believe I’m supposed to invest in the young-adult men on board by leading a small group on finding freedom from sexual addictions. Those are a few reasons for my extension.
It’s easy to have a “I’m going to save the world” mentality about making these kinds of decisions to extend. God could easily have brought technical staff to this ship. The team that’s currently onboard can fill in the gaps, they are fully capable. I fully believe that and feel blessed to work with this incredible team that is onboard. Honestly, the “position” I hold wasn’t the biggest draw to staying. The community was, specifically with the youth group. While I was in South Africa I was able to connect with the kids through trips to the mall and movies. It was during those trips the Lord placed on my heart to extend. The kids have my heart right now and I am in love with having the privilege of investing into their lives.
During my last service with Mercy Ships, I was able to meet a man that had a big impact on my life. It wasn’t anything he did during the short time he was onboard, but rather an influence that resulted from the life he chose to live. His name is Wess Stafford and he is the President Emeritus of Compassion International – an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. His book’s Just a Minute and Too Small to Ignore both write of the incredible privilege and responsibility of being able to invest into the lives of the next generation of the world. You’ll be better off if you have time to read his books.
“Nurturing a child’s sense of personal worth and therefore hope and dreams for a wonderful future is perhaps the most important responsibility of every grownup in a child’s life.” ― Wess Stafford
Ultimately, the Lord affirmed through how much I care about the kids onboard that I should extend for ten more months. I’ve come to realize that a big conviction can come with a great sacrifice. I can think of no greater motive for which I want to return home than to be with my grandparents. To spend time together – talk, listen, eat, laugh, play games, and simply be in each other’s company. It’s not a sacrifice that is easy to justify, but it’s the decision to trust God, to follow Him, which allows me to see Him at work and be a part of His work in the world. That is a priceless gain, which comes at a priceless sacrifice.
This extension is a bit different from the last three months I’ve lived onboard. Continuing to stay onboard requires that I raise financial support. If you’re in the position to support me financially, please take time to pray and consider doing so. This time is meaningful to me and this kind of meaningfulness is a conviction only the Lord can place in your heart. I want those who support me to also be a part of the meaningfulness of this time I’m onboard and to understand the impact of their support.
“I can find better ways to make a living than what I’m doing. But this is a calling. This is a conviction. And I will tell you I have seen lives transformed who … turned away from complete hedonistic paths, to a life that builds its moral boundaries with a revelation of God himself.” — Ravi Zacharias
Prayer is one of the biggest ways of supporting me! I do ask that you keep me in your prayers. Some specific topics are below.
- Clear and consistent communication
- Wisdom for decisions
- Camaraderie and unity within the I.S. team
- Healthy relationships
- Healthy and clear mind
- Guidance as a youth leader
- For the development and protection of the youth onboard
- To be encouraged to push through a difficult online course schedule
For those of you who have supported me financially in the past and through prayer, thank you!