There’s something bigger going on
There’s something bigger than me
There’s something bigger going on
We’re on the train again, this time back to Toledo, and I finally have time to write. As I reflect on everything God has done during this trip, I am reminded of this IHOP chorus. I’m struck by the bigness of God’s plans, plans so complex but so perfectly arranged that it’s a small matter for Him to orchestrate all the details of our move half way across the country.
There are so many things I could say about this trip, so many details I could recount, so many stories I could tell, but what I really want to convey is how amazing God is in the way that He worked through our uncertainty and made the way so apparent to us. We arrived in Kansas City full of questions and fears, uncertain of even the point of this trip; now we’re on our way back to Toledo with a job, a place to stay, and a confidence that God has directed us right where we need to be.
There are nine things in particular that God used to give us direction and confirm this move:
1) My first job interview (Wednesday)
I had my first interview Wednesday morning, our very first day in Kansas City (this was with one of the employers who had called on Monday). The interview was for a position with a before and after school care program at an elementary school. The job would include working with kids pre-school through grade six. The interview went amazingly well. They liked me and my resume and my answers to their questions. I liked the job description and the organization and the two people who interviewed me. I walked out of the interview excited and feeling sure that they would offer me the job. But there was one catch: they really wanted someone who could start on Monday (meaning this past Monday, March 8). I explained my situation to them and was afraid that the extra time I would need to move would probably lose me the job.
2) Derek’s support in finding a way to take this job (Thursday)
Derek was supportive and agreed that it sounded like the perfect job for me. We discussed ways that we could make it work, even if I had to start on Monday. I’ve heard of people moving in a weekend, so I knew it was possible. If we found housing, I could stay in Kansas City and start work and Derek could go home, pack, and join me back in Kansas City when his two weeks were up at work. Or I could find temporary housing, then go back to Toledo over spring break (the end of March) and move back with Derek. We agreed that it would be possible to work it out, but I was still overwhelmed at the thought of just staying in Kansas City, especially without Derek, and wasn’t sure if I’d be willing to do that.
3) The opportunity to rent a room from a Boiler Room couple (Friday)
But then God opened up housing for us. Two days in a row we’d stopped to pick up a man, Abel, on our way to prayer at the Boiler Room. The first day we stopped to pick him up, I recognized his house as the same house where I’d stayed when I was in Kansas City three years ago! Then as we rode in to the Boiler Room that second day, Abel started talking about how he and his wife Maria wanted to rent out rooms in their house. Rent would include the room, utilities, internet, and even some of our food. Derek and I wondered if perhaps this was our sign to step out in faith.
4) Peace (Friday)
During prayer that morning I prayed about the job and the room with Abel and Maria. By the end of prayer, I really felt that I was supposed to call the after-school program to say that I could start on Monday and then just see what happened. God reassured me that although it would be hard, I wouldn’t regret it. So Derek and I prayed together, then I called and left a message for one of the women who had interviewed me. As soon as I made the call, I was flooded with peace. Somehow that phone call finally opened my heart to surrender to God in all this. I felt like I didn’t have t o strive to figure it all out, to make it all work; the only choice I had to make was the choice to surrender to God, to say yes or no to the doors He opened. I realized the freedom that comes from opening my hands and surrendering to Him. That call was really the profound turning point of the trip for me.
5) A job offer (Saturday)
I waited all day Friday but didn’t hear back from the program. I knew they wanted to fill the position that week, so by Friday evening I assumed that I probably didn’t get it. Still, I felt strangely at peace with everything. I had done my part in faithfully job searching and house searching and I felt like I really didn’t have to worry, regardless of whether it worked out to move or whether we ended up staying in Toledo. So on Saturday, instead of doing more job searching we went down to the International House of Prayer to spend some time with God.
And then the after school program called and offered me the job. Not only did they offer me the job, but the woman said that she felt that I was the right person for the job, so she would hold the position for me while I went home to pack and take care of things.
Derek immediately called Barney’s and put in his two weeks notice and called our landlord to let him know we were moving. I called my family. Then Derek called Abel to set up a time to go see the room.
6) Our visit with Abel and Maria (Saturday)
Saturday evening we went over to Abel and Maria’s house to check out the room and get to know them a little bit. We talked for a couple hours and were really encouraged by it. Abel is from the Ivory Coast in Africa and Maria was a missionary there for several years. They met there and have been married almost a year (though they’re a little older than us). They described the African church, how it’s more like a family, how the people there don’t just come together once a week but really share life together, how it’s so full of faith and the Spirit, how they see the miraculous all the time. It’s been hard for them being back in America (especially for Abel who had never lived here before) and they really want to see church like that here. They desire to open their home and live in community. So much of what they described from Africa and what they desire for community here matches with what the Lord has put on our hearts, it made us really excited to live with them and learn from them. They also told us about CPx, a simple church planting program in Kansas City through All Nations (they only have two training centers: one in South Africa, run by Floyd McClung, and one in Kansas City) that Maria went through and Abel will be going through this fall. That fits with a lot of what Derek’s been reading about and looking for, so he’s praying about possibly going through that three month training in the fall. The whole thing felt set up by God.
So we will be living with them, in the exact same room I stayed three years ago. And the best part (well, okay, not the best part, but still pretty great)? They have a garden space! This’ll be Maria’s first time having a vegetable garden so we’re going to plant it together. That’s definitely a wish fulfilled for me.
7) Grace from my new supervisor to give us time to pack and move (Monday)
Even though my supervisor said that she would give me time to go home and take care of things, I wasn’t sure how much time I would have. I prayed that she’d give me two weeks so Derek and I could move at the same time, but I knew that might be pushing it. I met with her on Monday and she told me that she didn’t want me to be rushed and stressed out when I started work, so I could have the time that I needed to move. So I’m set to officially start on Monday, March 22, though I spent yesterday with the program, trying to get a feel for how things go so I can prepare for when I go back.
(I also found out at that meeting that my new supervisor is a Christian and is in seminary right now, as is one of the other new staff members.)
8 ) The location of the school
During this trip we’ve learned a little more about the history of Kansas City. One thing we learned is how racially divided the city still is. Apparently that stronghold goes back to the Civil War, when Missouri was a slave state and Kansas was free (there’s still a lot of hostility between the two sides of the city). In the 1920s, when a lot of the neighborhoods were developed, there were certain areas (especially around the Plaza) where blacks were not allowed to live. There were no written laws, but there was an unspoken rule among real estate brokers that they would not sell or rent those houses to blacks or Jews. Even now, the neighborhoods are still sharply divided by race. Interestingly, Troost is generally the dividing line between the black neighborhoods and the white neighborhoods, so I’ll be working right on that line (I already had one of my four year olds tell me that he doesn’t like teachers and only likes black people). It feels like a significant position to work on bridging that divide.
9) Unity between me and Derek
And like with our last trip to Kansas City, every step of this trip was marked and confirmed by unity between me and Derek. Even with how fast things progressed and how crazy it seemed, both of us felt at peace with the decisions we made. To me, that peace and unity (especially after all the disunity in the past several months) was a strong indication that we were following God’s will in this.
So it’s official. We’re moving….soon….next week (we’ll drive out there in a U-haul on Sunday, March 21). For the next week and a half we’ll be packing, taking care of details, writing lesson plans, and trying to see as many people as we can. And then we’re off to a crazy new chapter of our lives.
For those who are interested, here’s a quick list of what our trip looked like:
Monday (March 1):
– Packing (and lots of uncertainty about the trip)
– Two phone messages about interviews
Tuesday (March 2):
– Travel day
– Chicago (took the wrong bus, dropped my computer, almost missed the train….)
Wednesday (March 3):
– Prayer at the Boiler Room
– Interview with the after school program
– Derek’s prospective student orientation at Penn Valley
– Second interview (incredibly frustrating)
– Call for a third interview (which I declined because it was way up north)
– Alpha course at the Boiler Room
– Prayer with Ascent people
Thursday (March 4):
– Hurt my back leaning over my suitcase (really hurt it; today is the first day I’ve been able to walk without pain)
– Prayer at the Boiler Room
– More job/apartment searching but quieter day
– Dinner with the Blackwells
– IHOP awakening service
Friday (March 5):
– Abel talking about renting a room
– Prayer/worship at the Boiler Room
– Phone call to the after school program
– No response from the after school program
– Apartment visit (really tiny place right behind the Boiler Room)
– Walk in the neighborhood
– Meeting with Adam
– Move to Mary and Thad’s house (where we stayed for the rest of the trip)
– Watching “Food Inc.” with Mary
Saturday (March 6):
– Prayer with Derek
– Visit to IHOP
– Job offer from the after school program
– Many, many phone calls
– Meeting with Abel and Maria
Sunday (March 7):
– Quiet morning
– Coffee with Mark (a guy Derek met online from simplechurch.net)
– Prayer at the Boiler Room
– Boiler Room service (about hearing the voice of God)
– Dinner with Thad and Mary
Monday (March 8):
– Meeting with the after school program
– Moving day set
– Many more phone calls/e-mails
– Diner with Brandon and Kelly
Tuesday (March 9):
– Observing the after school program (morning)
– New hire meeting
– Lunch with Lindsey, Scott, and Jason at the Tracy House
– Derek’s interview
– Observing the after school program (afternoon)
– Dinner with Dave and Peggy
Wednesday (March 10):
– Travel day