Harvest Time

Today is my twenty-ninth birthday, and I am sitting here in my new bed in my new home in the Czech Republic. This, my golden birthday, is the first birthday I’ve ever spent away from my family.

I’ve had a long season at home with my family. I love them a ton and miss them every day. They made me a birthday cake and gave me presents before I left. We even had a cookout for dinner. But still, not being with them on the actual day just feels strange, like I’m missing something incredibly important.

In the months before I moved to the Czech Republic, a lot of people specifically asked me what my mom thought about me going on the mission field. Moms and daughters often have a special bond. What did my mother think about me leaving, about me going so far?

A few weeks ago I asked my Mom to write an answer to that question. I’ve been waiting to release her reply, unsure about the right timing. Well, it was good for me to go back and read it today, so I’d like to let you all know what she had to say.

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The question comes to me, “How do you feel about Caity going to the Czech Republic?”

I feel like a groan is becoming a song.

Caity and I have shared a long season together – 28 years! Who ever said your child should not be your friend? She has been a friend in every way to me. If I had to count the ways, number one would be that she provokes me. She provoked me when she was little; she provoked me this morning.

My first memory of her provoking me happened when she was coming into her tweenhood. Dan and I were resting on the couch watching TV. Caity came out of her room to get something. We hit pause. She knew that routine, of course – a show just for adults. As she reached her room again, she turned around and asked, “Why should you be watching that if I can’t?” 

Boom.

And this morning – this morning I was able to share with her how God had called me to rewrite this guest blog post. Her words about my first draft had proved prophetic and scriptural. 

Boom. Starting again.

Through many years of praying for Caity, I have hoped for this day. She has been raring to go for some time, and yet not – not going. Hard. Waiting is just so, so hard! We don’t see why, we don’t see what God sees. 

God saw that she wasn’t going alone.

And now, after 28 years of running the race together, here comes the fork in the road! This is true joy. The loss only brings the joy, the song, to fullness. This is what my purpose is – to cast my children, to shoot my arrows, into the harvest field.

Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

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I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for my family. They encouraged me on every step of my journey, and they never once tried to hold me back from following God’s plan for my life. Yes, we had tears at parting, but we parted knowing this isn’t the end. We still have our whole lives ahead of us, and eternity after. I feel so blessed to go out into the harvest field with so much support from back home.

I love you Mom, Dad, brother and many sisters. You guys are amazing. Thinking of you today!

Mission Update – March

Hey everyone! Time for another update. And boy, do I have news! Not only do I have less than two weeks before I move to the Czech Republic, but I’m now a licensed minister under Grace Covenant International, and … engaged to be married! If you like pictures and extra details, then keep reading. I’ve included enough and to spare.

Conference and Licensing 

On February 21, I threw my suitcase into the back of my newly repaired car and headed off to Kansas City. I made it to Keifer’s parents’ house without incident, where Keifer and I were reunited after five months apart. That evening, and for the next couple days, we attended Grace Covenant’s annual conference. Keifer and I were responsible for filming the sessions throughout the week. I’ve never enjoyed sitting in the back of a room during a conference. I prefer being up front, especially during worship sets. But sitting on my stool in the back by the door gave me a whole new perspective on conferences, and the people who tirelessly work behind the scenes to keep things running. It was an awesome experience.

My View from Next to the Camera Man (aka Keifer)

Thursday afternoon was the time set aside for missionaries to speak about their work. Keifer and I were given fifteen minutes for a presentation. At first we planned to split those fifteen minutes between the two of us, but then we decided to pull together and give the presentation as a team. Keifer created a few slides as visuals, and when it came time to speak we tag-teamed back and forth, each telling different pieces about our work and the kids that are so important to us.

That evening, after a time of worship, a few of us were called forward to be recognized. Tyler and Callie Franca and myself were officially licensed under Grace Covenant International, and Keifer was commissioned as a Grace Covenant missionary to the Czech Republic. The ministers and the congregation prayed over us, and the evening ended with an awesome message and more worship. I felt honored to be recognized as part of the Grace Covenant family, and excited about moving forward into the mission work that lies ahead.

Licensing – Tyler, Callie, Dallas, and Me

Funds and Fundraising — Two More Weeks!!!

Now, with less then two weeks until Keifer and I fly back to the Czech Republic, my mission work is getting closer and closer. I’ve sorted through my belongings, packed what I can’t carry with me into boxes for storage, and gathered together almost everything that I want to take with me to Europe. Next week will be spent trying to make it all fit into my suitcases.

As far as fundraising is concerned, February has turned out to be the quietest month of all. As you can see from the chart below, I’ve received $55 more in monthly support pledges between January and February, and I still have $1,265 left to raise before I can consider myself a fully-funded missionary.

Though I am well below my support goal, I will still be moving to the Czech Republic on March 22. God has a plan for me there, He knows what He’s doing, and I know that He can provide. My hope is to close the gap a little more before I leave, and raise at least half of my support. If you, or someone you know, is interested in partnering with me in my work in the Czech Republic, would you please let me know? You can find information about supporting me in the “Partnering with Caity” tab above, and I’m always available to answer any questions you might have or send you any other information you might need.

Visiting Supporters

After the conference, Keifer and I and his best friend Andrew made a special trip across country by car to North Carolina to visit as many of Keifer’s supporters as we could. We stayed in a different city and a different bed each night of the trip. We visited Huntingdon, IN, Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, and two different towns in North Carolina. Everyone welcomed us with kindness and hospitality, and I made so many new friends and enjoyed so many good conversations.

Traveling to North Carolina

The final stop on our supporter trip was my hometown in Iowa, where Keifer preached at my church on Sunday and I got to show him off to a few of my friends. I’d never had the chance to hear him preach before, and wondered what it would be like. Perhaps I’m biased, but I thought he did an excellent job. He preached from his heart and made things very clear. I’m glad I get to be teamed up with such a good speaker.

Keifer Preaching

Marching Forth Together

Just before heading to Iowa on March 4, Keifer proposed to me. We’d made a quick stop at my favorite place in Kansas City, the Mid-America Nazarene University campus where the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop is held each June. I thought we were making the trip for old times’ sake, and his proposal took me completely by surprise. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am to have him in my life, and how glad I am to be moving forward with him into all that lies ahead. He’s taught me so much over the years, not just about mission work, but about what it means to follow the Lord and how to be a friend. We haven’t set a date yet for our wedding, but we’ve got some ideas in mind. Please be praying for us as we discuss details and make preparations.

Engagement

The next time I post, I’ll be in the Czech Republic! Thanks for being part of our journey.

Until Next Time!