I’ve been putting off writing this post because it means a lot to our family, and I want to get it right (and well, Bedbug Patrol is keeping me hopping). And we tossed around the idea of Gabe writing the post, so the naysayers (actually just one so far) could stop naysaying. But, as Gabe would say, I’m the writer, not him. And after the one-pager I wrote to our friends at the leasing office this morning, I’m kind of on a writing roll.
Here’s the deal (my mom loves it when I say that). Our fam of five is moving to Cambodia in January (unless God would clearly shut the door he’s opened). We made this decision as a family, and we made the decision based on a go-ahead we believe we got from God. This decision has been almost three years in the making (longer if you go all the way back to our first trip to Cambodia in July 2010). And the time is right.
And now, for the big questions:
What are you going to be doing there?
I’ll give you the three-sentence elevator pitch first and then expound in a bit.
God gave Gabe a vision back in January 2012 to move to Cambodia to make disciples. To train young men and women in web design, photography, and other digital stuff, and then employ them, giving them a path out of poverty. And to introduce them to Jesus and help them grow in him.
What organization will you be going with?
As it stands right now, we’re going on our own. This may change. We don’t know. We personally know of some amazing organizations doing great work there already. We’d love to help them out in any way we can but only as we’re needed. We’ll be chatting with the director of one particular organization we love to see if there’s a fit for us there.
We understand that this makes people nervous. How can we go to Cambodia on our own and not under someone’s umbrella?
Here’s all we can say right now. God’s got us. It will be okay.
Are you hoping to swoop in and save Cambodia in a single bound?
You mean that whole White Savior Complex thing? Yeah, no.
Here are two big words God has been giving us lately: humility and trust. We’re not swooping in to Cambodia to save anybody or anything. Will we be doing what we can to help fight poverty and human trafficking and tell people about Jesus? Of course. But there is soooooo much we can learn from our Cambodian friends who are already doing that very thing.
We’ll be spending much of our first few months, I’m sure, just learning, watching, gleaning, soaking stuff in. Praying, asking God for opportunities, asking him to show us where he wants us, what our next steps should be.
So, we know what Gabe will be doing. What about the rest of you?
We’ll be supporting Gabe in whatever way we can. And learning the language. And making friends. And volunteering at The Hard Places Community (the Boys Center and Girls Center). And unschooling. And I’ll be writing a lot, because it’s in my blood and I can’t not. I’ll hopefully have the chance to tell stories and be an advocate, that kind of stuff, the kind of stuff I do right here.
Another part of Gabe’s vision is to help other missions organizations/non-profits by training young people who will then do their web design & marketing for free. And he’d like to find sponsors in the U.S. to pay these young folks a living wage to design this stuff. Then the organizations won’t have to spend $ on it.
So, you kind of have a plan. But wouldn’t you feel better if it were a little more concrete?
In my former life, I would’ve said yes. But God has had us on a path these last few years that is all about taking steps of faith, without really knowing what might happen when we do.
And last week I got the most beautiful, timely email from a dear friend I’ve only ever met online. She and her family live in Haiti and work with pregnant women, and they are some of my very biggest heroes. Here’s part of what she said:
I saw your post about the tickets to CAMBODIA. I know you are afraid and thrilled and all the feelings at once. You guys only need each other and God to walk forward. The quote of the year for me and one you need now:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
You don’t need to know what lies on the path ahead yet. It is fine to know what you know today and trust God with the darkness that lies ahead. Knowing how it will all play out and having all the answers would actually be a curse, because if you’re self-sufficient and know all the things, you don’t really need God or your husband or anyone else. The most reassuring truth about faith and life with Jesus is that everyone is on an equal playing field — nobody gets to know what happens tomorrow. Lean in hard on Jesus and go out into the darkness with your hand in the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.
Yes, I cried. So perfect. Thank you, Tara. And so many of you have written with such encouraging words for our family. THANK YOU.
What will you do about money? Are you going to raise support like missionaries?
Yes. Kind of. Our amazing church, Sanctuary Columbus, has generously offered to collect funds for us. Your donation to us through Sanctuary will be tax-deductible, and that money will go toward things like plane tickets, visas, immunizations, housing, etc. As it stands now, we won’t have access to those funds “just because.” That money will be used for specific expenses.
If you’re interested in making a donation through our church, let us know, and we’ll give you the details.
Right now, we’re not setting a goal or a number of supporters or a monthly amount we need. Some people have already given as the Spirit has led them, and that’s how we’re going to operate for the time being. Not fund-raising or asking for money at this point.
We’ve also been putting money away in our savings since March (mostly from The Dancing Elephant, but also selling other things and what have you). Since one-way tickets are cheaper than round-trip ones, we’ll be able to use some of this money for things we need to buy before we go. If you want to donate money to our personal fund, it won’t be tax-deductible. Again, contact me for details.
The girls will also be making lots of beautiful handmade cards between now and when we go, so order as much as you can while you have the chance. We won’t be shipping them from Cambodia!
What about accountability?
We’ll be accountable to our church for the big expenses, and we’ll be honest/transparent about the rest. If you don’t feel comfortable giving to us under these circumstances, we completely understand. We’d love to have you as prayer partners instead.
If you don’t raise a certain amount of monthly support, how are you going to live?
We haven’t done the regular paycheck thing in what feels like forever. We’re used to this. Both Gabe and I have earning potential (web design and writing) and the ability to do it from wherever we want in the world. Ideally, we’ll be doing less of our own stuff and more ministry/missions stuff while we’re in Cambodia, but anytime we need some money, we can stop what we’re doing and earn some.
And plane tickets aside, it’s cheaper to live in Cambodia than it is here in America.
Are you sure you want to move to Cambodia? It seems like you’re really in a groove there at Abbey Lane.
That is so true. We really are. We are loving life here and building relationships like crazy. Ever since we made the decision to move, it seems like our ministry here at Abbey Lane has ramped up bigtime. So many opportunities and friendships and great stuff happening.
We definitely hope it continues in these next four months, so we can leave on a high note. And set the stage for others to take over for us. And keep in touch with our friends when we head across the globe.
We won’t be wishing these months away. We’re asking God to help us redeem each and every day for his glory.
WHEW. LONGEST BLOG POST EVER. If you made it this far, let me know. I feel like I want to send you a present.
Any other questions? What did I leave out? Let us know!