As we sat down to write this Matthew asked Amber, “so, how do we say this?”. Her response was simply, “we’ve always communicated honestly”. It’s served us well and we will continue to do so. Stick with us on this – it’s a long one!
As we’ve already shared, Amber and Dax will be returning to Canada in May for the birth of the Tater Tot. Matthew will be following as soon as he can at the end of June or beginning of July (we want to honour his commitment to the language school). In September, rather than returning to Poland we will begin an Unpaid Leave of Absence for Matthew to complete his MBA through the Edinburgh Business School’s Distance Learning Program.
There has been a lot of prayer, conversations, tears, lists, sleep lost, and laughs on our journey to this decision. Let us say upfront – this is not the end of our missional life. Here’s what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling led to do:
1) PAPERWORK: obviously a huge challenge for us over the last 2 years has been visas. Those little pieces of paper are a must in today’s world. Long gone are religious visas and if we look at the long-term for us in missions, further education is a non-negotiable. How we do missions is changing and we need to change with it. Add to this that a Master’s is the standard level of education in Europe. It’s hard to compete for a job for visa purposes when we’re comparatively undereducated.
2) TIME COMMITMENTS: teaching English has been a great stop-gap for us, but it is not sustainable. Our papers are linked to this job and so our schedule is not our own. The amount of time required leaves little for anything else. We cannot stress enough how many stellar relational doors have been opened through teaching and God has paved the way for some great investments into the students. Matthew’s season of teaching has been a time of investing in others, challenging their misconceptions of God and sharing honestly.
3) LEARNING FROM OTHERS: we’ve seen other Global Workers realize the need for further education in their mid-30’s and we want to learn from their experience. If we do this now, it won’t interrupt school schedules and routines for the kids (because we’ll have a family life to think of). We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and part of that is learning from their experiences.
4) DOOR OPENER: in order to be able to have a platform in both the faith and non-faith based worlds, we need to expand our credentials. Education has been, and will continue to be, a huge door opener.
5) COMMUNITY: 3 years ago we moved to Włocławek without knowing anyone, having a place to live or being able to speak to people. We have made this place our home and the connections God has provided still amaze us. In the midst of this we have been acutely aware of just how alone we’ve been while starting a family. With Matthew focusing on his studies, we want the support of a community while we navigate this season of studies and adjusting to 2 children.
In the fall we intend to move in with Matthew’s parents in Ontario. It’s a logistical decision, but it’s still a humbling one. Nothing makes you feel more grown and independent than moving into your parents’ basement. Financially, Matthew’s MBA will use the entirety of our life savings and add to our debt. We don’t share this to make you pity us, but rather to stress just how important we feel further education is. This is an investment in our missional longevity. We think of it as short-term pain, long-term gain.
This feels like the biggest faith step we’ve ever taken (and this comes from the yahoos who moved across the world 6 months after getting married). There’s risk here; not just financially, but our credibility as well: “Don’t support those Prices – they only last 2 years wherever they go”. We feel it too. We have our papers in order (and it’s at least another 6 months before we’d have to start working on them again), we are connected to the regional church, the Bible study is taking shape, our understanding of our town is continually stronger and we have friends and a relational network. It has not been all roses, but it is not easy to transition away from Włocławek.
The practical details:
- our Unpaid Leave of Absence begins August 1, 2013
- our accounts with PAOC will remain open throughout our leave
- our Head Office team has asked that financial support continue three months after our leave begins. We are still involved in ministry here, there is the cost of getting us back to Canada and we will be connecting in Canada before we begin our leave. We don’t want to carry debt into this season and your continued financial support isn’t an investment into what we will do, but rather what we are doing.
- the reasoning for the three months is that paperwork and budgets move slower than real time. They’ll still be tallying our account even after we start our leave and we want to be sure there are funds to draw on when the final numbers are calculated.
- it’s important to us that you know that Matthew’s MBA will be paid for out of our own personal funds
- if you have set-up pre-authorized payments, please contact Trevor Buehler at PAOC to end these (firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-542-7400, extension 5279)
- our credentials will be temporarily deactivated for the duration of our leave
- Amber has resigned from EMERGE and the conference in Spain will be her last. She will continue her volunteer work with Tattered Tiaras. We have also stepped down from the BC/Yukon District’s Missions Committee as we feel this spot should be held by Global Workers currently serving.
- this is not the end of you and us (we hope). We have years of relationship and our heart for missions remains unchanged. If there is ever anything we can do for you or your community about missions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We will continue to blog, Tweet and send out (perhaps) quarterly updates.
Your prayers are something we depend on now more than ever. Please pray for us and the people here as we walk out this transition. We view this next season as one of enrichment. We want to attend conferences and workshops, volunteer where possible, make new connections, and read thought-provoking materials. So another way you can help us is by passing on any information about these things. Your knowledge is a resource we’d like to tap. We don’t want to be off the radar during this time so help champion us online. Follow us on Twitter, share our blog or find Matthew on LinkedIn and help build his profile.
We’re doing this because we know it is essential to make it in long-term missions. Logistically, an Unpaid Leave of Absence can only be 2 years at the most. Missions remains the goal. We are convinced of the spiritual need in Europe. Though we won’t be there, we cannot stress enough the need for spiritual and practical investments in The Old Continent. We unapologetically champion the work of EurasiaNow, EMERGE and our fellow Global Workers. There are workers such as Kirsten Arding who is just beginning her journey as an Apprentice, much as we did, or the the tireless efforts of the Bansteevs in Russia. For more information on who is doing what in Eurasia, contact Darcy McAlister (email@example.com). Please keep your funds and prayers in Europe.
We know this is a lot to digest and we welcome your thoughts, questions and comments. Feel free to e-mail, Tweet or carrier pigeon. If you’d like to talk, we’d happily set up a time to Skype.