And so it begins. This month now stands as a signpost that will mark a change of course that will forever impact our lives.
We got back from our family trip to Haiti on Thursday May 7th, and after a very full weekend of events, church services, and Mother's Day, I began having a series of conversations with key people. First up was Pastor Bob Hasty. Bob was one of the first people from The Rock to meet Kim and get connected with Mission of Grace. He has led close to 10 teams to Haiti over the past 3 years, including the ones Sheena and I have been on. Bob has been closely involved in our discussions and wonderings throughout this process, and so this first meeting was really just to say "yep, we're pretty sure we're doing this."
The next day I met with Kenny Wahlberg, another Elder and leader at The Rock, and also my friend and direct report. We have had conversations in the past that hinted at this, and so he was not really surprised either. We mostly discussed logistics, expectations, and realities.
The following day I had an appointment with Pastor John Houghton, another Elder at The Rock who is a professional life coach. The appointment had been set before our family trip, and my original intention of that meeting was to discuss ways I could grow and improve in my current job. Instead it centered around this upcoming transition, and the planning and thought processes required for us to go through it.
Immediately following that appointment we had the big one. Meeting with Pastor Francis Anfuso, the founding and Co-Senior Pastor at The Rock. Over the years Pastor Francis and I have worked very closely together on many projects, and in a variety of situations. He has seen me at my best, my worst, and everything in between. We were not nervous about this meeting (although Sheena always feels the need to iron her clothes anytime we have a meeting with PF), but there is always a level of wondering and insecurity when having a conversation of this nature with a person we have so much respect for.
Pastor Francis' life message includes the practice of something that is much easier said that done, and that is to respond well in every situation. He does it better than anyone I have ever encountered. However, in this situation, at least from our perspective, he was a step even beyond that. Initially, we did not even have the opportunity to present our story for him to respond to. No sooner had the door to his office closed and he began to cry. He knew why we called the meeting, and while it is not unusual for him to be emotional, it was amazing and reassuring to see that he saw God in this as well. In his words he "could not see or think of a more beautiful transition for our family"-those words, coming from him, mean more to me than probably anything anyone else could say.
We also met with Sheena's parents shortly after this. They had known of our desire all along but we had dinner with them to discuss details and plans. Again, another very fruitful and encouraging conversation. I know Sheena was immensely blessed by the full support of her parents and their sheer enthusiasm for us as a family. I think Sheena teared up inside when her father said, "I'd like to go to Haiti ahead of time with Tass in September just to check it out and make sure it's a suitable place for my daughter to live". That is dedication and support beyond what we ever could have asked or hoped for. Her parents also plan to make the journey with us this January and "drop us off" so to speak.
I also had a conversation with my mother. She is very close to our girls and always has been, and while there was some sadness, I know she was initially very grateful that this first term will only be for 6 months.
And so with our plans and intent being known and supported by the leadership of our home church and our families, we now feel the freedom to share our story and plan with the world.
May 2015. I know we will look back on this month often in the weeks and years ahead with joy and gratitude. The month that changed everything. And I'm sure there will be times of hardship and possibly doubt, but right now-the road ahead is filled with excitement, hope, and promise. For now we look ahead.