After months of silence on the blog, I’m back to share about some big changes coming soon! You’ve been wondering what’s happening; thank you for your concern and for “missing” our posts. Now for the big news!
Lord willing, we are moving to South America! We are partnering with a faith-based organization to start a small sustainable farm and training center as a means of reaching others for Jesus. This idea has been in the works off and on for several years; we just weren’t sure of the timing and details. Our understanding of God’s vision for us continues to sharpen with each step. It’s a long story, so I will shorten it as best I can.
For years we’ve talked (at times) about living in another country, as well as prayed for clarification of our family ministry. Several of our children joined us at older ages, so for some time our focus was on their needs and bonding as a family. As we sweated and labored to clear the driveway to our new homestead three and a half years ago, it occurred to us that God may be preparing us for something else. Though an interesting thought, it got lost in the busyness and hard work of developing our new off-grid home.
Over the years we became aware of a certain country in South America, at times Silver Oak and I independently of each other. A few years ago a specific town in that country was brought to our attention. Silver Oak really prayed about it, and the whole family fasted or prayed for direction. Everyone felt peace about the move, but we didn’t know when, or exactly what our focus would be.
Last spring Silver Oak felt the Lord saying the next step should be a scouting trip. In June he and Evensong, who was 19, flew down and stayed with friends who showed them around. Evensong was the photographer and journalist, and became my “eyes.” They went cross-country by bus rather than small plane, to see more of the land, culture, and people. What a trip to remember! The rainy season had lasted longer than usual, making the narrow dirt road through the mountains exceptionally muddy. Two big trucks got stuck, stopping all traffic. For 13 hours they waited to move on a jungle mountain road with hairpin turns. They practiced Spanish, interacted with other passengers, used a jungle “bathroom,” and experienced the patience and friendliness of the gentle nationals, who never got upset. Fortunately they had toilet paper, wet wipes, books and snacks in their backpacks, and the temperature was pleasant.
Upon reaching the town I’ll call “Pueblo,” Silver Oak and Evensong spent several days exploring. They met nationals, Americans and Europeans who had lived there many years, visited shops, and attended a small Anabaptist country church consisting of nationals and former Americans. They hiked several properties available for sale, but none felt right.
Evensong received a bullet ant bite, acclaimed as the most painful insect bite in the world (the name given because it feels like a gunshot wound). She was very brave, and their hostess found Dragon Blood tree sap which made it more bearable. The next day she was fine, but there are no pictures taken of the rest of that day.
The scouting trip was encouraging and confirming, but there were pieces missing from the puzzle. Then we learned about a family who lived in South America years ago with their four children. In a bamboo house in the small homesteading settlement, the Corsons lived like the locals. Realizing the homesteaders needed more than spiritual sustenance, they began integrated development with the people of the village. Later in the US they established SIFAT (Servants in Faith and Technology), a training center for meeting basic human needs. And ECHO (the Ft Myers organization we have learned so much from) was instrumental in helping them start their training center!
SIFAT owns acreage near Pueblo awaiting development as a small-scale sustainable farm. They also have property with buildings nearer town for a vocational school. The farm will be an extension of that.
We visited SIFAT headquarters and met Mrs. Corson and her son last fall. We read her inspirational books about their family’s experiences ministering in South America and other places, and were impressed by the way they identified with the local people on their level, rather than as superiors. They dealt with adversaries in a Christ-like way, with powerful testimonies about God working through very tough times, sparing their lives and opening hardened soldiers to the Gospel because they chose to show God’s love rather than fight or kill (read about it here). Rather than going under a mission board, they had the blessing and prayer support of their home church, freeing them to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. They, like ECHO, have a holistic approach to sharing the Gospel, reaching out to people’s needs physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Here’s another great story you can’t miss.
Friends of ours moved down to Pueblo last year to start developing the vocational school and farm. They are waiting for us to join them. They learned about Pueblo through our scouting trip, and they in turn helped us to discover SIFAT! We felt like we had found a big missing piece of the puzzle!
Last May Silver Oak felt the Lord prompting him to aim to be ready to leave a year from then. The final hurdle now is selling our homestead! We would love to have another homesteading family buy it. A neighboring organization is conducting due diligence right now, interested in all or part of it. We wonder how the Lord will work this out, as we can’t go without selling. If it doesn’t sell we will know we heard something wrong or the timing is not right. Meanwhile we are preparing to move!
We invite you on a virtual tour of our homestead. Serious inquiries may contact us for more information through the contact form. Yes, we will continue this blog so you can follow our journey. :) We appreciate your prayers for the many upcoming decisions.
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Note: My appreciation to Silver Oak for editing and critiquing this post.
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