6 weeks to go

Wow! Our time here in Chad is almost up. We have 6 weeks left in the school year and we fly back to Chicago on June 5th. Our original plan was to be in Chad for 10 months, but due to some schedule changes, we will be heading home 6 weeks early. This actually works out nicely since we start renting a home in Aurora on June 1, and Shiloh begins a high school summer course on June 11. Sidenote – my first born is starting high school – WHAT?!?!

Our time here has had it’s ups and downs, but as it comes to a close, I look back on the goals I set for myself and feel proud. I have loved just about every minute of teaching these sweet little Kindergarteners. I’m not a huge fan of waking up early, but I must say that greeting my group of 5 and 6 year olds at 7:30 every morning puts a smile on my face. So thank you to all my family, friends and supporters for sending us here so I get to teach this group of missionary kids.

Robert has completed 19 books and has a couple of more in the works. The books look beautiful and witnessing the kids at the North Kanem school reading them is such a treat. A shipment of 200 books is on its way here to be split between the two schools up in the desert. It’s amazing knowing that these boys and girls are getting an education in their mother tongue – their first language. All of you who helped get us here should feel so proud of what you have helped accomplish!

Shiloh, Huck and Weslee have done so well. They took this challenge and thrived. They have grown so much in these past 7 months. They’ve matured in ways that make me so proud. I pray they always remember our time here. I know the older two will, and they will be better people because of it. How they’ve lived and what they’ve seen will stay with them forever.

As we begin to plan for our return to the States, I do get a bit sentimental. While I have struggled to be content with the living conditions here (mainly the weather), I truly have fallen in love with the people and the mission…so much so that Robert and I talk about coming back for a longer term one day. Maybe when the kids are grown, we’ll have a second career as long term missionaries. It could happen!

Robert is currently flying back to Chicago for a job interview. He’s had a couple of interviews via Skype and now the company wants to interview him in person. He gets to spend 5 days back in the US. Lucky duck! I don’t envy his struggle with jet lag though! Ha!

God has been so faithful to us, and we know that he is guiding us while we plan our next steps. Pray we make wise decisions, end our time in Chad well, and transition back to the States smoothly.

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Two weeks in Chad

We left the USA two weeks ago. Since then, we’ve unpacked our apartment, enrolled the kids in school, and started working. Those are just the big things. The little everyday things we’ve had to adjust to have been the hardest. Jet lag was tough, but by the end of week 1, it was over. Remembering to brush our teeth, drink, and cook with filtered water hasn’t been too hard, but it does help that one of our kitchen faucets provides filtered water. I think the hardest adjustments for me have been living without air conditioning, the frequent power outages, and the bugs.

Indulge me while I complain a little:

The heat and humidity is suffocating some days. I sweat all the time. By afternoon, I’m sweating as much as I do when I work out. My hair and dress get drenched. I tell myself that the sweat makes my skin look like it’s glowing…trying to find a silver lining. Ha! I’m so thankful that we have plenty of fans. Even when they’re just circulating hot air, it’s better than no circulation at all.

N’Djamena has frequent power outages. That means that we not only lose our lights, we also lose our fans. Not good! Thankfully, our compound has a generator that comes on little bit after the power dies. That bit of time when the fans stop is miserable, especially when it happens in the middle of the night. We have had a couple of times when the generator didn’t work. One night we slept with ice packs and wet washcloths until the power came back on. We’re finding creative ways to stay cool.

The bugs. Oh, the bugs. There are these little gnats that can fit through the netting of our mosquito nets, and they bite. I made some bug repellent spray for our sheets and net last night. I think it helped. Praise God! Once dry season arrives in November, we’ve heard that the bugs and the humidity begin to go away. I can’t wait!

Ok. Complaining is over. Let’s move on to the good stuff:

I love my job! Teaching this little Kindergarten class is so much fun. The kids are wonderful – I think they all are being on their best behavior because I’m new. Ha! We have fun reading and playing and working together.

I love our house helper. It’s a common practice here in Africa for expats to create jobs for locals. We hired a young woman to hand wash our clothes, shop at the city market, and cook our lunch during the week. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day here, and with all of us working or attending school from 7:30am-12:30pm, it’s nice to come home to lunch already prepared. I don’t speak French, so communicating is difficult. Having our house helper shop and do the bargaining at the market is so helpful. We get to practice our French with her and she practices her English. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better.

Last week, we attended a prayer meeting with all the missionaries who are working with the Daza and Teda people. I feel so honored to be a part of this amazing group. Chad is a poor and hard place to live, but there is a large group of missionary families who have committed their lives to helping make Chad better through literacy and education, clean water, medical care, and of course, the love of Jesus. I love that we get to be here and assist them. They are truly making a difference in so many lives!

I’ve come to realize that for every hard thing we must endure here in Chad, there is a good thing happening to keep us going.

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Waiting for the school taxi.

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First day of school

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Dress shopping at the market.

 

 

 

A New Purpose

This quote from Rebekah Lyons “Freefall to Fly” hits me right between the eyes:

“…we walk the streets of our cities with appointments and responsibilities but lack a sense that God intended purpose for our days.”

I knew my purpose and destiny in life was in missions/humanitarian work since I was 15 years old. God confirmed that calling multiple times throughout high school and college. Because of that desire and pull on my life, I traveled quite a bit. I signed up for every mission trip I could. I raised support from family, friends, and churches. I remember living in Sweden for 3 months after college and knowing that my purpose in life was to leave the US and show God’s love around the world.

Even when Robert and I got married, we talked about traveling together and raising our family overseas. We satisfied this desire for a while through Robert’s travels with TEAM. I even accompanied him on a trip to Guatemala once. Then God called us to Chad.

We visited Chad for one month in 2014 and fell in love with the people and the mission. After that trip, we knew we were supposed to go back at some point. Our whole family was excited to plan a year-long excursion as missionaries in Chad. We began praying about when and how.

God had a slight detour for us though. He opened doors for both us to start new jobs here in Chicagoland. This seemed to take us away from missionary life. We walked through those doors and did well. We put the kids in a great school, got a cat and a dog, began to fix up our old home and develop deep friendships. We were becoming settled and comfortable and not really thinking much about life as missionaries.

Then God brought along a Facebook post that changed everything.

I saw that TEAM was looking for a teacher for a homeschool kindergarten class in Chad. I immediately emailed Robert saying, “I can do this.” The wheels started turning. We sent emails, Facetimed friends in Chad, and prayed continually about this opportunity. Every door we knocked on opened. It was like God was flashing a neon sign saying, “Now is the time for the Johnsons to return to Chad!”

So here we are in the middle of packing up our home, raising a budget, and planning on leaving in September for a mission that calls us to fulfill the purpose for our days. The plan right now is to go for a year, but I know if God opens the door for us to stay longer, we will walk through it. We’re nervous but excited to see what this next step in our faith will bring.

You can connect with us and hear more about what we will be doing in Chad at www.wearethejohnsons.com. You can contribute to our mission by clicking here.