Liz here. Tomorrow marks four weeks since we returned home from our crazy cross country trip. We have wanted to share a final update on the trip before moving to the next phase of building this resource center. We talked about what to write. We prayed about how to share. We didn’t know what to say. I’m going to do my best…so here goes!
At last count we travelled 11,000 miles between Aug 29 and Oct 16. We went through 2 oil changes (those big vans only need it every 5,000 miles), stayed at 11 KOAs and 17 WalMart parking lots. We spent 3 nights with friends in Tampa, a night in a church in Cape Coral, one in Nevarre Beach, a night in Oklahoma, and two weeks in Sacramento. We visited with friends and family. We spoke at churches across the country and met with different ministries. We watched an amazing skate ministry called Ramp 48 in Fort Lauderdale, FL during their Tuesday night Bible Study and learned from them. We were challenged, we grew, we fought, we laughed, and we drove!
People ask us, ‘How was your vacation?” But this wasn’t vacation. Others ask, “How was your trip?” and we wonder, “Do they really want to know? How much time do they have?” It was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. We worked hard and did things that don’t come natural to us. We stepped out of our comfort zones to share our hearts’ vision (the thing that keeps us going through blackest night) with people we didn’t know. We drove through places we’ve never been and we brought our 7 kids with us.
The trip was amazing. We were able to see 36 states in all. This country is vast and varied. It is beautiful and heartbreaking. There is poverty and great wealth. Fundamentals and pentecostals. Democrats and republicans. Black skin, white skin, and every shade in between. Deserts, valleys, mountains, rivers, oceans, great lakes, forests, canyons, mesas. After completing a 2 year study of American history, this trip brought it all to life. Talk about living history!
But we had three goals when we left New Hampshire jut as my garden was reaching peak production. First, to see our country; to build a pride of homeland that will carry our kids into adulthood. Second, to see Ism’s family who live in California; to build a pride of family heritage that we can share with our grandchildren. Third, to see support raised for God’s vision; to build a youth resource center in Derry.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we met our first two goals. Those were the easy ones. The driving force behind this trip was the third goal though. We wouldn’t have made this trip if we didn’t feel God leading us in this direction. As we travelled and shared the vision with pastors and people from churches we were met with great excitement. Most folks received the vision and were excited to become a part of it. All are praying with us toward the goal. We were blessed financially along our path. This money was used to pay for gas (we got about 10 miles per gallon) and campsites at the KOAs. These were our only expenses as all our food was already taken care of and we brought everything else we might need.
Though we were loved incredibly, when we did our final calculations we still brought in about $1400 less than we were given. Now we owed money to our home church. Sadness filled our hearts. To add to that, we weren’t able to raise enough monthly support to continue pursuing this vision full time. We gave our all for the vision God put in us and followed His voice but still we felt like failures. But how could we say that to people?
We’ve spent the last four weeks praying, fasting, and talking with our mentors. Where do we go from here? We haven’t abandoned what God has called us to do, but how do we continue if Ism works a full time job and I’m left to care for the kids, their schooling, and our home? We don’t have all the answers, but we do know one thing. This vision has been put in our hearts by God and it hasn’t changed. Even if our lives change, He hasn’t. So for now, Ism is looking for work that will provide for our family. I am rescheduling our day in an attempt to make room for small ventures the kids and I can use to bring in money. We will continue to move forward as the Lord allows. The first step is our 501(c)3. A lawyer friend has offered to help us with that. Once completed, we will have a board to help with advising and can take tax-deductible donations directly. From there we will continue to raise monthly support to cover our salary and from there to build the center.
Would you continue to pray for us? That God would lead us in His next steps. That we would hear His voice clearly. That the money we need to move forward comes in. That impatience doesn’t capture our hearts or those of the folks who will invest when all is ready. That above all God’s will is done. Would you also take a minute to share our vision with someone you know? When considering your giving, would you keep us in mind?
We love and appreciate you all.