Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Adventure Begins with the "MOMENT"

Our new adventure began with an incredible time Sunday, January 13, 2011, as Darleen and I had the opportunity to say our goodbyes to the church family where we had given over 20 years’ service. There were moments of tears and joy as we hugged necks of friends and family. As the nights grew close to the day of our departure, we at our “to do list” one more time, hoping everything was taken care of! As we spent our last dreamful night at Tom & Karen Nolan’s home, we said very little about the MOMENT lying ahead, the hardest one we still had left… the morning of our departure. It’s Time!! The alarm went off and we got all our heavy luggage to the airport, praying we wouldn’t hear the words, “Sorry, your bags are overweight and you’ll need to take something out!” But God… was gracious as the agent at the ticket counter just gave a quick look at the scale and continued on. As we finished checking the luggage and walked back to our carry-on bags that Tom was watching for us, it began to happen… the MOMENT.. was drawing nearer. Some of our friends arrived to send us off, friends whom we have had the privilege, over the years to laugh and cry and serve with. Our daughter, Jennifer whom God gave to us when she was only eight, and is now a young mother of three, was there. As we said our goodbyes to her we were praying, “God, give her strength to be the women and mom You desire for her!” Then there was little Zayden, with his amazing, continuous smile and big brown eyes looking around as if to say, “What is going on?” Then the “MOMENT” walked up… She stood next to her “Mimi” and “Popo” with a look of wonder in her eyes and asked the same question she had always asked when we would leave town…“How many days? How many days will you be gone?” Makayla, our 6 year old granddaughter who has lived with us most of her life, (and, oh my, how attached to her we are) stood there with those big brown eyes wondering how many days before her Mimi will be there to scratch her back, read bedtime stories, and then say their prayers together before bed… or how many days until her Popo tickles her and plays “Who’s That”, or how many days until he asks to dance with his Princess! Yes, that is the MOMENT we were ALL NOT looking forward to.
But, as we hugged, cried, and kissed goodbye, God quickly hugged us and gave us strength to walk away as HE said, “It will be alright. They are in MY hands and have always have been!” We checked through Security, headed to the gate, and off we went to the new adventure of God’s calling on our life….AFRICA…. We arrived Saturday evening in Johannesburg, South Africa, to be met by fellow missionaries from TEXAS, Dave and Liz Even from FBC Mckinney! We piled into their Toyota bucky (truck), then off to Camp Eden were J-Life Training Center is located. Its about a one hour drive from Johannesburg. We were greeted by John Abrahamses and his wife Lorna, who are the founders and directors of J-Life Africa. We got settled into our cozy little room, that will be ours until we are ready to move to our duplex located at Camp Kimmid, about 60 km from here. We were awakened by a beautiful sunrise at 4:30am!!!! The view is breathtaking here at Camp Eden.
That afternoon we met with the J-life training staff and trainees. They are an amazing group of people from different countries and cultures across Africa. They have a heart to Advance the Kingdom by way of discipling believers to become “Discipleship Makers”. John told us the group this year is smaller than past years, but they represent six countries across Africa and they want to be trained for the Kingdom work!
One of my first African experiences was getting to drive! Well, first of all, the steering wheel is on the right side and they drive on the left side of the road! Darleen prayed a lot and took pictures as I drove. It’s going to be her turn soon! We were fortunate that where I drove the traffic was not so heavy!
Keep us in your prayers as we continue to study the DNA of J-Life Africa Ministry, learning the different cultures, and start working across 9 different countries in Africa. We are doing well adjusting and ministering to students at J-Life. It has taken some patience getting used to the slow internet connection, but we are so thankful for our iphones, on which we can do all our emailing and facebooking!
We want to say thank you to all our church family, staff, and friends across the USA for your prayers and financial support to keep us here doing what God has called us to do. We are humbled by the love and encouragement from everyone, and do not take it lightly! Please continue to pray for our daughter and our grandkids- give them hugs and tickle Makayla for me! Below are some pictures:

If you are not on our email “Prayer Team” and would like to be, just send me your email address to: we will added you to the team!
In His Grace
Billy & Darleen
Giving Thanks to all our Staff and Church Family
At Alamo City Christian Fellowship

Pastor David Walker sharing some thoughts as
the Church sends us out to our new assignment..

Church Family Praying over us.

Our Daughter Jennifer saying her goodbyes to Mom!

The "MOMENT" Makayla giving her Mimi Hugs Goodbye..

My Baby Bear Giving her Popo Hugs Goodbye...

Some of our friends who were able to meet us at the Airport to send us off..

"Thank You PJ and Kristi for the pictures"
Next Blog "AFRICA" the Ministry Begins....
Thank you for all your prayer and support to "Advancing His Kingdom International".
In His Grace
Billy & Darleen