I have found in my life that when one has something particularly difficult to say one should simply say it right away. So, it is with no small amount of sadness that I inform you all that in consultation with our mission director Doss Estep, we have decided to return to the US in March of 2014.
Since the beginning of our journey toward Africa in 2008, we have moved forward trusting in God's direction and timing. Along the way, we hoped that our presence in Africa would last a lifetime. Thus, we planned accordingly and it seemed that God had provided a perfect long-term outlet for our unique gifts and skill sets. However, in recent months, situations and circumstances have occurred that have brought into question the long-term viability of our current assignment in Africa. I will not go into many of the specifics in writing as I do not want to be misunderstood, but there has been a deepening sense of unrest in our hearts for several months. After our return to Africa in June, however, it became readily apparent to us that this was no longer where we belong.
Upon our return in June, we found the situation had significantly changed here for us and we began the heart wrenching process of looking practically at the possibility of a future removed from Africa. In our opinion (which is also the opinion our mission director), the long-term stability of our mission here has become too precarious for us to properly launch our oldest children in the next few years. The challenges of reintegration, college, work, and their futures would only be impossibly complicated should the family situation change rapidly due to a sudden unscheduled international relocation. In addition to considering the future of our older children, we have had to make some tough decisions concerning the education of our youngest child who has significant developmental delays. These decisions have brought us to a realization that resources in the US which are simply not available out here might be a key to his long term educational success.
So, what now?
Finishing well means closing things down in a way that is thoughtful and forward looking. This will take some time and as of this writing our plan is to remain in Jinja until the beginning of March 2014. In the following months, I plan to keep you all informed of what that looks like specifically as we proceed. However, at this juncture we are still praying and thinking that through. To be quite honest, we're still trying to deal with the reality that next year we will no longer call Africa 'home.' My goal professionally is to continue to teach at the seminary as I have been. The training of leaders is still the most effective means of changing Africa and as long as God has me in this place I will do so by His grace. Again, we are a long way from having the details worked out, but, well, we've lived that way now for some time so this is not uncharted territory ;-). Please please please, pray for us as we try to cope with all of this; it's not an easy thing by any stretch of the imagination.
In closing, I cannot stress enough to you the gravity with which we have approached this decision. While we are indeed deeply saddened by it, we are firmly resolved that this is the leading of the Holy Spirit and, as such, we will proceed forward trusting in the same God who brought us here. My chief concern in communicating this decision to our team, and then living through its reality together is that it should serve to increase all of our faith in our great God. As we have seen together throughout the years many of us have been on this Africa journey, He works all things together for good. This includes the confusing things as well as the clear. Clarity comes through obedience so we obediently trust even (and especially) when things seem a bit dark.
Thank you all for your prayers and continued encouragement and support! We need you all now more than ever.
Aaron, Dana, Nick, Dylan, Marie, Joey
The Uganda Bogans