Below is an email I've sent out to my supporters and prayer warriors tonight, March 25, 2015.
This is a long email, but I pray and hope you would all take the time to read it.
Thank you, firstly, for all your prayers and encouragements through this season of waiting for my visa. I am so blessed to have so many of you supporting me through this.
I found out last week that my visa application was denied, which came as quite a big shock for myself...simply because my eyes had been so focused on the expected outcome, I hadn't stopped to truly think about any other outcome.
I decided to take this past week and really come before the Lord in prayer and surrender, seeking Him and considering every avenue and option for my next steps before sharing all of this with you. Not because I didn't want the encouragement, but because I had questions with the Lord that I knew needed to be answered before I let you all know. As you can probably assume, this past week has been a pretty emotional one for me.
Just after sending my final bits of information and application for my visa, I was up one night having a hard time sleeping, worrying and wondering what the next steps might bring. Even with my focus on Scotland, I had always known that this denial was also a response.
As I prayed and opened my bible that night, He gave me these verses:
As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. - Psalm 18:30-33 NKJV
My prayer that night was one of surrender: knowing that, whatever the outcome of this time of waiting, I knew I could trust that His way is perfect and He would make my path straight (as Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us). If my visa was accepted, I would gladly jump on that plane and settle into life in Scotland. If it was denied, I would accept it as the closed door that it was and trust Him for my next "ministry placement". As hard as it was to submit that prayer to Him, I knew it was one I did with complete surrender.
So, long story short: I will not be returning back to Scotland as a long term missionary. I will, however, be making plans to go back on a short-term visitors visa to visit with, encourage, and say goodbye to those I've come to see as family over there. I won't have closure with the ministry the Lord blessed me with in Scotland until I can go back and truly spend time with the church family I've come to know, love, (and over the past 7 months, miss terribly) in Scotland.
As it turns out, the day I found out about by visa, those verses came back into my head and even in the midst of my mourning, sadness, and confusion, I had a peace in my heart knowing that this was the Lord's chosen path for me right now.
I also took a good long look at what the Lord was doing in my life at this exact moment and, through that lens, I saw multiple doors of ministry opening up for me at Shoreline and here in America that I couldn't ignore...opportunities I am even getting excited about! So, as hard as the news was, this realization did made the shock of having my visa denied a little less disheartening.
There are many "what now?"s and "why?"s and "what if?"s that I don't have the answers to right now. What I do know is that the Lord is still writing this story of mine and I am going to wake up each day and enjoy what He has for me. Will it come with tears? Yes. Will it come with doors that don't open when you want them to and doors that open when you didn't expect them? Yes. God's plans are always greater than our plans, we have only to trust in Him and walk in the path He has set before us.
So, what happens now? Please continue to pray for me. My ministry in Scotland isn't finished yet, as I will be heading back there within this next month to visit, say goodbye, and collect the rest of my things there.
How can you be praying?
- Firstly, for the Lord to provide other believers to step up into any needed roles in ministry in Alness. It's been such a blessing to hear updates about the church in Alness and how the Lord has already grown and blessed them since I left. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters there as they continue the Lord's work!
- For my final (short term) ministry trip back to Scotland coming up. I don't know dates or the duration of my stay yet, so please be in prayer for those details. I will continue to keep you all updated as I know more information.
- For my next steps. After I return from Scotland, I will continue to stay on serving at Shoreline, but will also need to take the time to settle back into life here in California. Please pray for that transition (I've been here for 7 months, but haven't actually been treating this as home: living out of suitcases and travelling a lot, so the transition back to California as home will be a big one).
- For sensitivity and wisdom as I attempt to respond and answer questions regarding this new direction the Lord is taking me in.
A note to my financial supporters: I am so grateful for how you've supported the ministry the Lord has called me to over the months and years. All the funds donated through Shepherd's Staff over my time here in the states has been held for my return back to Scotland. So, although my long term stay in Scotland is not happening, these funds will still be used for my short term trip and will continue to be used to help me return and settle back in the states. Shepherd's Staff is aware of this new change of plans and will be working with me to close my account with them after I return. Their policy is to continue collecting funds for up to 90 days after a missionary returns from the field as a transition period. My situation is a little different, so I will continue to keep you all informed as to any changes with my account as it comes up. If you have any questions at all regarding funds donated, or anything else in these regards, please don't hesitate to email me.
Again, thank you all...for every prayer, every smile, every email, every encouragement. I hope that as we finish out this season of my life together, you will have been encouraged and grown closer to the Lord through it as much as I have. I am so grateful for each of you. Thank you, again and again.
With love, joy, and tears,