Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Home Assignment

Often times since being home people ask me the same handful of questions. Probably for lack of knowing where the conversation should go. What do you ask a long term missionary that visits home?  

Q: When did you get home? How long are you around THIS time? When do you go back? Will it be safe? When will you get to come back “home” again? Do you like it over there?

Isn’t it true that we are always jumping to what comes next? Though, I have a question for myself… something that I am waking up every day and asking since arriving in Port Orchard:

What am I doing while I am here? What is MY home assignment?

How am I being used and letting God use me for His glory in this unplanned endeavor? How can I continue to serve and be a missionary even while I am on “furlough”? My job and my mission don’t stop and doesn’t depend on which side of the globe I am currently on. Truth of the matter is I have been just as called to Port Orchard as I have to Uganda. What makes this any different? Culture? People? Weather? Well if we are being honest the answer to those are a loud yes. But my call to be used for the Lords glory and to further the kingdom is just as strong here.

First of all we need to address the elephant in the room: Why am I home?

Currently Uganda is holding presidential elections and as a safety precaution Empower a Child had asked us to leave the country until elections are over (Lord willing in the beginning of March). In the past there have been riots, street mobs, tear gas, abuses of internationals, and they just want to be over prepared. This also gives all the volunteers a break and a chance to see their families. It is proving to be a lot less stressful than I had imagined. I was really battling with whether or not to come home and the night before I got on an airplane I had no peace about coming back to the states. I knew that the Lord would lead but just felt like there was not going to be anything for me here. I struggled to pack up all of my things on the other side of the world and fly all the way home after I had just been here in October. I was looking forward to spending time with my family over the holidays but I wondered if I would find a good fit while I was home. If I would be able to pick up a normal lifestyle without feeling completely lost. Would I be able to voice my opinions and be heard? Would the cultural differences scream at me?  Would the worship services at home differ from Uganda? Would I be able to adjust again? Would I find myself being THAT girl that goes on and on about Uganda and people would avoid spending time with me?  Even though I have travelled home so many times each time I come there are a different set of challenges.

It seemed all too much. The better option in my mind upon receiving this news was to rent a small room in the middle of a village in Uganda and hide out from all the crowds for a couple months. That would have seemed to be the most logical option in my mind at that time.

But away I went and found myself on Christmas Eve- standing on the stage of my home church. In front of all of the people that have invested into my life and who have encouraged me in every stage of my life. What an overwhelming rush of thankfulness that covered me that night. I look back to every stage of my life and see different faces of people who challenged me to be who the Lord has created me to be. It is so beyond me to be able to be here and look at what the Lord has for me.

While I am home I have been given the awesome opportunity to work part time as a nanny for a sweet family that has two kiddos. I am blessed to spend three days a week getting out and earning a little money to be able to move around a bit. Because I am only working a handful of days a week it has opened up some time to spend with family and friends and catch up with the people who I love over here. The only challenge I am facing is that I am really bad at sitting still and being idle. So I am finding myself constantly standing in front of my calendar and filling every hole. My calendar is right on the wall next to the family calendar and we are constantly cross referencing our programs (Or schedules as you say in America) during the week.

I have also had the privilege to help Megs and Gates do a little wedding planning.  A special time that I did not think I was going to get. Last week Megan and I got together with one of our childhood best friends to plan for the bridal shower and other wedding details at the Victorian tea room, for those of you that know the spot, know it’s a place that we have visited every year on our birthday since we were toddlers. It was so strange and sentimental to sit in the building that we have sat in for years and now we are planning her wedding. I walked through an all too familiar and favorite department store- Target with Gates and Megan! As we walked through they pointed out different things that they hoped would one day be in their forever home. It’s the moments like this that I realize I miss so much of when I am in Uganda. Getting to spend this month at home has given me the chance to watch Megs grow up so much and I have such a pride for the woman that she is growing into. She turned 20 years old this week and we are Irish twins which means from January 11th to January 26th we get to be the same age. How cool is that? How could God create two completely different people and have them be the same age in the same family for two weeks out of their lives. Okay. That was a bit dramatic. But seriously? How cool? So cool. K I am done.

What’s the plan you ask?

I will be here in Port Orchard until February 7th and then I will fly to England for a month to hang out with my best friend Porsche and her family. On my way there I am going to take a pit stop in Italy to see the Blair family. We are gonna run around the country wreaking havoc on the country. I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for our time together.

Havoc: To inflict or execute, especially in vengeance or passion; to hurl or drive; as, to wreak vengeance on an enemy; to wreak havoc. I had to Google the definition because it sounded super cool in my head but I wanted to be sure that I was getting the right thoughts out on this blog without getting too crazy or out of hand. I read a quote earlier this morning, “A friend who guards her words is a gift. May we thank God for that kind of gift, and may we BE that kind of gift.” Lysa TerKeurst, Author. This is the kind of friend that Porsche is. Even when we are thousands of miles apart and our what’s app call is cutting in and out. She challenges me to be this kind of friend on a regular basis! Can you say that you are this kind of friend to someone?
You can also be keeping her in your prayers as it would be so awesome for her to be able to make her way over to our neck of the woods so she can meet all of you at Megs’ wedding!

We are planning on returning to Uganda on February 29th (Yay for a leap year) and continue in ministry. 2016 is going to be a big year with lots of big changes and I am so excited to be a part of it. Thankful the lord has been gracious enough to allow me to have another day to serve Him. To bring him glory in a way that I could not have yesterday and I will not be able to tomorrow. I am looking forward to letting the Lord lead and just follow in the direction that he has for me. 2015 was a year all about seeking the Lord first. Pausing amidst any trial that I faced and seeking His face. As we enter 2016 the theme for this year is all about being genuine. To really pour into people. Can you say that you have genuine relationships with the people that you interact with on a regular basis?

So as I close out this blog and as I sit here in the Port Orchard Coffee Oasis I want to challenge you to be bold in your faith. Be a missionary right where God has called you! Ask me hard questions. Grow deeper rooted relationships with those people that you interact with on a regular basis and be a leader among your peers and in your community. Share Gods love with that person sitting next to you. We need to stop the church from becoming dead. God has called us to something so much higher than ourselves. If there is an area of service that he has convicted your heart towards- go for it! Serve and set the example for those that are looking up to you. Meet with fellow believers and challenge each other to have real authentic faith.

We all have a Home Assignment. What is your Home Assignment?


  1. I cannot find the right words to tell you how much you inspire me, Shannen! Wow! Every time I read your blog I come away not only inspired but more convicted about living my life 'outloud' for the Lord! Funny, your Dad has a way of convicting me also every time he preaches!
    At this season of life my home assignment is caring for my Mom. She will be 90 in June! I cherish every day and have loved watching how the time we spend together and our shared love for the Lord blesses not only both of us but Steve too!

  2. Hey, can't believe we'll miss each other by such a short time...it would be really neat to exchange stories and encourage each other along the journey. But hey, if you decide to stop over in Vienna on your way back/from Uganda sometime, you're welcome to! :)