Sunday, January 14, 2007

If you call, I will answer

A few notes on Pittsburgh before the conference recap:

  • It snowed on Wednesday! (It dried up by noon but still, that was cool)
  • Pittsburgh is a very confusing city. It seems to be a city that you can easily get lost in. And it has a very wonky and non-intuitive layout.
  • One store owner, after he found out that I was from the South, decided to remind me of how badly THEY beat US in the Civil War. He told me they could beat us again if they needed to. I was like whatever. Bring it on.

My brain is officially full right now but it was an amazing three days. The SAMS staff was great and they have an incredible family atmosphere in their office. I really liked that. And although they are a relatively small staff they seem to be a wonderful support system for the missionaries.

There were nine people attending the conference. Four couples and little ol’ me. Quick side note - SAMS only has a few missionaries who are single (like maybe 3 out of 60).

To be honest, it was just information overload. I won’t give you all the details but just know that I was able to get all of my questions answered and I have a full handbook to review and about five books to read. It is very clear that they know what they are doing. They have done this for a while and they have a lot of wisdom and advice.

But here’s the really cool thing – Every step of the way during the conference I felt God confirm to me over and over again that yes, He is calling me to South America. No moments of hesitation during the three days at all. If fact, MY biggest problem is that I want to leave faster than I might be able to. (Remember that whole timeline in my head thing from previous post?) The bottom line is that this is a process and it may take a little longer than I had expected. God is really teaching me some patience here.

Next steps you ask?

Step 1 – Within two weeks I should know if they officially invite me to be a missionary candidate or not

Step 2 – I accept the invitation if invited, become an official missionary candidate and begin to raise funds

Step 3 – I talk to SAMS and create a plan and a budget. The plan is a timeline for when I would like to be in the field and we work backwards from there to try and make it happen. And the budget will determine how much money I will need to raise to get there and also, how much money I will need each month to stay there. (My best guess at this point is that I won’t be certified to leave until I have about $15,000 - $17,000 in my account)

Step 4 – I plan a trip back to Bolivia as soon as possible to determine the exact city that I will be working in and the exact ministry I will be working with. SAMS wants me to go back and meet with various contacts in the country to finalize the best ministry fit for me there. Basically, to evaluate a few different options and make sure that Cochabamba is where I want to be. I will probably check out ministries in La Paz and Santa Cruz as well just to make sure that I am heading in the right direction. It’s the wise move.

Step 5 – Once I finalize my area of placement, and take care of other admin details I will continue to raise money until I have enough to be certified to leave. Once that happens I would move.

One question that I have gotten a lot so far is “How long will you be there for?” And the answer is I don’t know exactly. My first term would most likely be for three years. And then I would evaluate to see if God is calling me to stay longer. The three years would each probably consist of about eleven months in Bolivia and one month in the U.S.

Basically, this is a flat out career change. A quit my job, sell my car and move to South America career change. So it’s hard to answer that “how long” question…it’s hard to know how long one will be at a new job, you know?

Anyway, there is still a ways to go but progress is being made.
I will let you know if I receive that invitation.

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