29 May 2009

This just in...

Just got off the phone with Dan Wessner who informed me that there's been a flurry of email traffic between him and An Giang University and that things are 'moving forward'. While that in itself is nothing new (things have been moving forward since February) it the first real news I've had in several weeks. If things get finalized soon, it looks like Dan and I will travel to Vietnam sometime in the first two weeks of August. We will spend a day in Ho Chi Minh City and then two or three days in Long Xuyen and Can Tho meeting with the appropriate people there. So, while nothing is concrete yet, I take it as a hopeful sign that we are starting to make plans.

The timing of this phone call could not have been better! The waiting and uncertainty have been driving me pretty crazy as of late. For someone who's always been slow to make decisions, I'm incredibly impatient once the decision's been made and the transition period begins. Right now I'm just ready to be there. I'm overwhelmed with the thought of all that will need to be done once I get final approval, but I am even more excited about doing something new. I find it hard to believe that in 2 months, I may find myself half-way around the world. New context, new language, an 11 hour time difference from home, rice paddies and palm trees as my view instead the Shenandoah mountains or the hayfields of home. As intimidating as it is, my excitement increases as time passes. I know it's going to work out. I've been living with the anxiety of not knowing how or when it will happen for the past six months or so, but I don't think I've ever actually doubted that it is going to eventually work out.

Logistically, things seem to be falling into place on the homefront as well. A meeting with my SST on May 14, allowed me to introduce what I'd be doing and the Vietnamese partners to a core group of people from Johnstown and Harrisonburg. We talked about funding and covered the whole endeavor with a prayer for wisdom, guidance and a sense of peace as this process progresses. Now that things are looking more certain, I'm thinking it might be time to make this public. I've been hesitant to do any fund appeals due to the uncertainty of whether I would be offered a position or not. I only need to raise around $5000 since I already have the bulk of my necessary support comitted already. So, it looks like my project for the weekend will be to come up with a fund appeal letter and list of those to whom I'll send it.

13 May 2009

Caught in a Holding Pattern

I'm beginning to chafe under the weight of not knowing. My resolve and sense of calling has not diminished, but I find it harder to remain as optimistic as I have been in the past about this dream of returning to Vietnam becoming a reality. The uncertainty presents me with an interesting conundrum and an opportunity to step out in faith unlike any other I've ever experienced.

I have been walking this return to Vietnam journey for several months now and have managed to come through some of the initial challenges stronger and more certain that this is where God is leading me for the next stage of my life. What I assumed would be a simple two year MCC assignment has morphed into an incredible opportunity to shape my own experience into something much deeper. It has forced me to explicate my reasons for wanting to return and to work at sharing that vision with others. It has humbled me as I have and will continue to ask others to join with me in this endeavor. It is bringing me into a community of support and accountability that will help me adjust to a new environment; it's providing a necessary root system as I branch out. For all of this, I am grateful.

And yet, I struggle because even as I plan and prepare there is uncertainty. Much of what I speak of is still waiting for approval in Vietnam. Both An Giang and Can Tho Univeristies seem hopeful, but have yet to officially offer me positions. The timing seems so right and it appears that Providence is moving, but the questions remain. This uncertainty makes it hard to move forward. How do I ask people for money if I'm not sure I'm going to get offered a position or receive a visa? How do I prepare for the future if all of this effort is for naught? These questions temper the excitement I feel when I think about this dream becoming a reality but I refuse to let them paralyze me into inaction. Instead, I'm moving forward with faith that this is where God is leading me. My first support team meeting is Thursday and I'm excited for the opportunity to get others as excited about this opportunity as I am.