Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our Story...or some of it!

I got an email a couple of weeks ago from someone asking me some specific questions about our story and our journey to New Day. As I composed a response, I thought it might be a good idea to share here in case anyone else has wondered how we got here, what life is like for us and our children, and what God is doing in our lives!

Towards the end of seminary, we began praying about the next step. We missed Zambia and talked often about the children and what it would be like to come and really invest in them. However, you have to have money to do that, which we didn’t have! A few months later, Blu’s older brother (a businessman in Mexico/Costa Rica) told us he was selling his company and wanted to give us $150,000 to start an orphanage in Zambia, but that he would only give the money if WE moved to Zambia to run it. We prayed so hard about this, asked Wes & Laurie (our co-directors) if they would join us, and started getting really excited. I struggled after a few months with the call - our kids were 2 and 1 at that time and I began to focus on what a life away from grandparents would look like - a life without t-ball, ballet, prom, etc. On the day we resigned from our church and announced we were moving back to Zambia, my stomach was in knots, but the special music that morning was “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” At that moment, I felt such peace, knowing that I would rather have Him - in Zambia, in the USA, or wherever, as long as I had Him.

On a day to day basis, our lives are insane. Running a nonprofit is a ton of work, and as my mom recently commented, it’s like we are running a ton of different businesses at once - leading a church, 4-5 weekly village Bible studies, a volunteer guest house and hosting volunteer teams, running the school, taking care of 32 kids, keeping the staff happy, working alongside other missionaries - it is a busy life that’s for sure! We have found that we have to go back to the USA every 19 months for 5 months just to keep our sanity and get rest! For us, the only time we can get away from “work” and get any amount of rest is to physically NOT be at the orphanage. Blu spends most of his days leading Bible studies or heading up construction projects. I spend most of my time teaching school, doing the orphanage finances, communicating with people back home, and of course taking care of our kids.

Uprooting our family to move to Zambia wasn’t too bad. Our kids were 4, 3, and 1 when we moved here, so this is really all they know. Their lives are full of Zambian friends and American friends, iPads and playing in the dirt, airplane rides all over the world and sometimes not leaving the orphanage for 3 months at a time. I know some mission organizations don’t allow older children to make the transition overseas because of how hard it is emotionally, and I can understand that. Because our kids were so young, they have NO trouble transitioning back and forth between cultures. It will be interesting to see if this continues as they get older.

I don’t technically homeschool the kids - I always thought I would, but they attend the New Day School. I do teach them Math from 3rd grade up, and they have American teachers for Language Arts and Social Studies. Now that my oldest is in 6th grade, he has an American teacher for Science as well - so he basically has Zambian teachers for elective classes. They LOVE being at the orphanage school with their friends. They go to school every day, wear uniforms, have homework, etc, similar to a private school in the USA.

As for how the Lord continues to work now that we’ve been here awhile, I can’t think of any time in the last 6 years of New Day being in existence that things have just been smooth sailing. I feel like He constantly keeps us humble and allows us to be in situations where all we can do is completely trust in Him - whether this is through broken down vehicles, the death of one of our orphanage children, the stroke of our co-director, power outages or water problems, or just the every day frustrations of living in a 3rd world country. But God has been faithful, and He has been good. We would do it all again in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

Wife, Mom, and Nana said...

Your whole family is living as Jesus would...those who humble themselves will be exalted. I hear your heart that living in a third world country is hard in so many ways. Yes, y'all are sacrificing an easy life in the USA, but oh look at the rewards...Zambian children walking around you because of your family choosing they would rather have Jesus than anything: silver or gold; riches untold; houses or lands; than anything this world affords today. Since our age and health prevent us from coming to you to help, we luv reading your postcardscards how our donations feed you and house you and support your work for Christ.
Bless! Debbi & Mike Bartlett