One of the in-house characterizations of our Mission, AIM, is “Always I’ll Move”! In our 35+ years of overseas service we moved about 7 times – a lot of missionaries have moved many times more than that during their years of ministry.
A continuation of our last blog, “Our Move to Kenya”, surfaces. Always you settle in to your new situation and ministry but, in the back of your mind, there is always the thought that sometime soon there will be another move. And for us there was! This move took us out of Africa. The Mission’s international office was moving and, since we were part of its staff, were to move with it.
And its new location? England. There had been some consideration to moving the office to The Netherlands. Perish the thought! I was sure I could not learn another language! England was preferable because at least there they spoke English, the – “Kings” English.
So, the decision was made. Packing – and major downsizing! – was done since office and personal effects would be sent to England by air freight. I was called to England by the International Secretary (Director) to help him with the locating and purchase of office facilities and houses for incoming staff. What a job!
Location in Bristol, in the west of England was settled. After looking around for suitable office space to lease, it was decided to purchase and renovated a cut-stone block building and utilize that. Little had to be done to get it ready – it had 6 large rooms for offices and several smaller rooms for secretarial and general purpose activities. And, it had a basement (of sorts) for storage. We found out later that the U.K. had a law called “The Law of Original Purpose”. The original building had been built as a home for unwed mothers, I believe, and, if those living in the neighborhood objected to it now being used as an office, they could invoke this law and we would be in trouble. So “disturbance insurance” had to be paid – a one-off payment which was held by the country’s Finance Office, to alleviate costs of any such a possible application of law.
Several residences were located and purchased. Funds realized from the sale of Kenya properties provided the needed finances (the United Nations was just moving an office complex into Nairobi and that drove up the sales prices of residences!). The house purchased for our use overlooked a “Green”, a park-like expanse on the front side.
Work in the International Office was much and varied. As administrative officer and treasurer, I had to keep track no only of international finance but also the oversight of the office procedures and the Mission’s entry into new areas of ministry in Africa. Carol’s work involved accounting and tracking ofoverseas (Africa) ministry projects. Maybe these responsibilities wore us out but these jobs and oversight enabled us to travel to areas of Africa where we had never been before – Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Sudan, Congo, Indian Ocean Islands and points between.
We enjoyed these 4 years of ministry. Of course Africa always beckoned but the knowledge that we had an expanded part of the Lord’s work was not only a challenge but a rewarding challenge. And, I trust, we learned a lot. Not only “Britishisms” (telly=television; underground=subway; coach=bus; loo-bathroom; roundabout-traffic circle; boot=car trunk; lift=elevator, etc. I could go on and on, but! ) but also the wider scope of what the Lord is doing in Africa-wide (and world-wide) ministry.
Psa 37:23 refers to steps being “ordered by the Lord”. I am sure that includes the stops between the steps. As Carol and I look back on those steps – and stops – we give thanks to God for His continual presence, His protection and His provision.
Great and Faithful is our Loving Lord!