In 1999 my (Ally) mom came back from a mission trip to Brazil. It was the first time she had gone on an international mission trip. I remember seeing the sparkle in her eye and her ever growing passion for the nations. I was only 9 years old when I was first introduced to the idea of international missions. While my opinions of global missions have matured and grown over the years, my mom’s love and passion to see the nations come to know Jesus stuck with me.
In 2012 my mom was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. We were told then it would be terminal. It’s been 5 years since she was originally diagnosed and my mom has continued to beat the odds; living days, months, and years past what any of the doctors predicted. When Mom was first diagnosed there was a temptation to stop doing anything normal but as time went on and life didn’t stop, we continued to function normally. Our family celebrated big events like marriages and babies and job changes. Life has a way of not stopping for illness and my mom followed suite, continuing to work full time while being on radiation and only taking a short break for chemo. Her likeness to Wonder Woman is uncanny, sans the jumping and kicking.
In the last two weeks, my mom has rapidly, and shockingly, declined. She has moved in with my sister and gone on 24/7 care. I say this not for pity, because she would not want any of that, but because it has a real impact on our date to leave for Africa. My mom has always supported our desire to move to Sierra Leone. When I told her of our hopes she responded with, “I’ve been waiting for the day you’d tell me this.” I have never felt the need to explain leaving my mom with cancer for 90+ children who are my family too, it made sense to my mom and it’s always been clear to me.
However, our leave date is approaching and her condition is steadily declining. People have continued to ask me, “What are you going to do?” Charles and I have wept, paced, wrestled, and cried out for hope in these days that seem clouded with a foggy darkness. As I was processing with a friend and mentor I told her, “I don’t think I have an option on what to do, I just need to do what is right in front of me.” Right now, my mom needs the combined care of my sister and I. She needs both of her daughters to be present and willing to care for her in what will inevitably be her last days. Even as the doctors tell us the months are few, I know my mom has continued to beat the odds, in her illness and her personal life. But right now, it’s not our place to know the time but to be faithful in the unknown.
Charles and I hold our calling to Sierra Leone with a closed fist knowing that the Lord has indeed called us to that place. However, we now hold our timeline with an open hand, knowing that the Lord will make clear the month, day, and hour we will arrive on the shores of the country that has claimed our hearts and has been feeling more and more like home every minute we’re away from it.
Since the beginning of our thoughts and plans to go to Sierra Leone the Lord has continued to bring the story of Abraham to our mind. In Hebrews 11, verses 8-10 we see,
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
We’ve taken much solace in the fact that, we like Abraham, will reside in temporary homes unsure of where we are going, or how long we will be there until the Lord says otherwise. We are thankful that this time of transitioning into places and spaces we don’t know is teaching us to be ever hopeful for the day we can be unite with our Savior forever. For now, the concept of home has become fluid, and we know our only place of rest and renewal comes from being with our Father.
Charles and I wanted to post this to update all of you who have been faithful to pray for us, to give your resources to us, and to continue to encourage us towards the calling we are certain the Lord has for us. We are thankful for the continued generosity of our friends, donors, and complete strangers. We will continue to keep you all updated on our plans for leaving and how the Lord chooses to work in the coming days and weeks.
We long for the day when we can walk on the red dirt roads of Freetown, hugging and holding all the little ones our hearts ache for. Just as deeply, we ache for cancer to be no more and sickness to be defeated. We hold desperately to that hope knowing one day they will both be true.