November is nearly at an end. What a whirlwind of a Fall it has been. As this is a blog post and not one of our monthly newsletter updates, I will spend a little more time going into detail on what the Fall has looked like for us as well as what lies ahead. Read on to the end for an exciting update on Grove baby #3.
As most of you know, I left my full time employer of 5 years, Veterans United Home Loans at the beginning of October to officially go on staff with our local church, Karis. I can definitively say this was the hardest decision I've made in my adult life and no small step of faith for us as a family. I find it difficult to put into words just how much the company and the people there have meant to my wife and I and our girls over the years. I believe in the mission of the company and love the people very much and want to see them succeed for many years to come. Ultimately, I thank God for His goodness in giving us the last 5 years with VU. So why the big change, that is the question, right?
There are a number of factors that make up the answer that I will try to elucidate here. Personally, I have been wrestling this season with the reality that God presents Himself in scripture as a good Father who provides for His children. I don't mean wrestle in a bad way though, just that I'm really taking time to explore what that means in my own heart, my beliefs and the way I live my life as a follower of Christ. While some of this ongoing process has been difficult and perhaps arduous at times on a personal, introspective level, I have found that His grace and faithfulness continues to be more than sufficient. Another factor is our trajectory and hope to be living in Tokyo by next year, 2018. As the year has progressed it has become clear that we must continue taking steps (sometimes by faith, other times by 'sight') in order to see that goal become a reality. The third factor in this decision making process is seeing the proof of God's provision! Through our team of past and present ministry partners I am able to step away from my full time job in order to focus on ministry partner development as well as personal development in order to be sent well from our church here in Columbia to the church in Tokyo (Soma Fuchu). Not only that, but I've also started ESL teaching part time through an online company that will allow me to work in Tokyo!
The only little hiccup that was thrown in to the above factors in making this change was finding out from Leanna the day I gave my official notice that she was pregnant! To be honest, this is not something we were trying for, but again we are learning to trust God as our good Father and trust in His timing in all things. But can you imagine moving across the world with three little ones as opposed to just two?! This adds a bit of fear factor for us.
What's surprised me since stepping away is just how busy we still are! I thought maybe we would get a little breather, but I thought wrong. I've had multiple speaking engagements from preaching Sunday morning to giving a class on budgeting to college students and more. But the busiest part of the Fall for us were the two weeks we spent in Kansas City with Crossworld, a missions agency whose vision is: Disciple makers from all professions bringing God's love to life in the world's least reached market places. We started the application process with them shortly after I returned from the Gospel Coalition Conference in April and they invited us to attend their Candidate Orientation as a family. In faith, we said yes and I cannot under state how valuable those two weeks were for us in our preparations for life on mission for God's glory in Tokyo. We were given a double suite at their guest house with plenty of room for us and the girls. they provided meals for us and had daycare provided with child care workers throughout both weeks while Leanna and I were in class.
Our days were full with classes in the morning followed by interviews and assessments in the afternoons. These included language and Bible assessments as well as interviews with counselors. The first week was difficult as the time with the counselors was very intense and introspective (more so than I'm normally akin to); however what stood out the most to me during the first week is the amount of genuine love and care that was shown from the kitchen staff and child care workers all the way to the president of the organization. There was also great value in building relationships with the other candidates who felt similar calls to disciple making in different parts of the world, relationships I'm confident will last for years. Not only that but there was a wealth of experience from the staff members who themselves have spent years if not decades making disciples in cross cultural contexts. They spent time getting to know us and being open about their experiences, both good and bad, in their ministries. At the end of our time they provided us with detailed Personal Development Plans as well as a coach that we will work through and follow up with in the coming months as we prepare our hearts and lives for life overseas.
Since then we have been getting back into a routine at home. Evee is enjoying school with her classmates. We've joined a new missional community with our church to continue intentionally doing life with during the rest of our time in Columbia. Verity is a fierce little two year old who is not afraid to share her feelings... at the top of her lungs... at any time of day... or night. We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with Leanna's family at Echo Bluffs State Park which was absolutely beautiful. We had great weather (and saw wild horses & bald eagles too!). On top of that, Leanna just had a Dr.'s appointment and ultrasound. We thank God that baby Grove is healthy and on schedule. Little Jacob Dietrich Grove will be joining us in April 2018! We are excited to meet this little man and Leanna has already gotten an outfit for him.