You want to send us where?


So if you have been following our lives for the past year, you know that we have been anxiously waiting to hear from the Peace Corps (PC) regarding our placement of service (if you have no idea what I’m talking about you can recap here).

This past Monday we received a call from a PC placement officer to talk about a potential match for our skills (it turns out that placing a couple, especially one with two different jobs, is more difficult than a single volunteer). Michelle and I were stoked. We had been waiting anxiously, checking the mail obsessively, and now we would learn where we would live for the next 27 months (something we had been preparing for the last 9 months).  Gary (not his real name) got straight to it, “We would like to send you to the North Africa/Middle East region starting in September.”

*Silence*

I looked at Michelle’s face and immediately could see and sense her heart had broken. Gary explained to us some of the particulars and about their process, but then focused on the true issue at hand, “I can sense that your energy is not the same when we first started this conversation.”  He was right. For me, I was disappointed with the news, but was open to the possibility. My battle has always been accepting that I could actually live abroad for two years (something I have fought with myself for a long time) so for me, where we go wasn’t as important as the fact of actually going.  For Michelle, it has been a dream of hers for so long to live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Before Monday, we had believed and convinced ourselves that this was the story that would happen for us but now, at least for Michelle, it felt like that dream was shattered.

We asked to have some time to make a decision. If we accepted we would leave in September. If we didn’t accept, what would we do next?

It’s not that we have anything strongly against the region, there is just no particular draw, no sense of call or excitement when we thought about it. At best we could see how interesting it could be, but there didn’t even seem to be a sense of wanderlust.

Needless to say its been a challenging week. We took walks. We prayed. We spoke to friends abroad. We spoke to former PC volunteers. We prayed some more. While we had hoped for a clear, distinct, yes or no, everyone was encouraging, supportive, and truly believed that we would be blessed in whatever decision we made. Everyone gave us incredible insight, love, and support.  It boiled down to two things: 1st. Do we say yes because it’s a great opportunity even though we are not excited about the placement? Because its something we feel like we have to do? Or, do we say no and start all over again, wait for something else that we might be more excited about. Each had its pros and cons.

We decided NOT to take the placement.

We spoke with Gary today and explained that we tried to embrace the idea of going to the region we were selected for, but that it didn’t feel right. We were both scared that this would mean our PC opportunity had passed but to our relief, Gary appreciated our honesty and thoughtful consideration and assured us he would work to try and find us another placement. So we are back in the waiting game. I give PC credit, they know their process well and have been very honest with us from the beginning. They told us not to quit our jobs (which we did), not to give up housing (which we move out this week), they told us anything can happen with our placement (which it did), and they told us it can be a long process (which it might end up being, 9 months and counting). We had been telling everyone about our PC service to Africa, and that we would be leaving in July (our awesome families were already putting together going away parties) and now, it’s almost back to square one. We are still committed to seeing if we can get a PC placement, but the next time those programs would leave would be after January 1st, 2012!!!

So what’s next? Great question.

For now we are going to explore other opportunities to serve abroad. We will take a month and a half to travel, and from June – December we will need to find a place to live and find additional employment. Currently I work part-time for Relevant Studios and am happy that I will be able to stay there longer.

So thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being with us on this crazy journey. Life before Monday was a lot different than life after Monday, but really, we are doing well. We are thankful for the privilege to be even on this journey and as history has shown for both of us, surprises like this are not uncommon. I mean, we did meet and get married and believe me, we did not plan on that to happen. God is good. He has been and is always more than faithful to us and I hope that we can have the courage continue to trust in His plans. So here’s to whatever might happen next. We will keep you posted, and next time, I’ll have Michelle write because she’s more concise.

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17 thoughts on “You want to send us where?

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  1. Are you familiar with the Peace Corps timeline? The North Africa/Middle East country leaving in September is Morocco (the only other country in that category is Jordan, I believe.) That’s really not so different from Sub-saharan Africa – I’ve read some of the Morocco blogs, and life there doesn’t seem so different from life in Senegal or Benin or wherever. Just throwing it out there, in case it’s a decision you could ever reconsider.

    But best of luck to you anyway! It’s definitely best to only take a placement you’re comfortable with.

    1. Thanks Kelsey for the information. We wish you the best with your placement process and all of your future endeavors.

  2. Sorry to play the guilt card but what if that was where God wanted you? Remember now, South Africa is where you wanted to go. When I went on mission I wanted the far off exotic places that were out of country, where no one really spoke English and I could actually use my passport, you know what I got? Alaska! Needless to say I was bitterly disappointed but I still went and you know what? No regrets! I had a blast AND I ate well. And you know that’s a big deal for me. But you know what else I got from this? Trusting in God, who in the end knew what was best for me. So like Kelsey, I hope you guys can reconsider. South Africa will happen, just not now. Doing God’s will is sometimes never easy, look at Moses and Jesus, to name a few, neither wanted to really do what God asked but they still did it anyway. And look at who they turned out to be? A great leader and an awesome Savior! I’m just sayin’! 😉

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Jewels, you know how much I have always appreciated your heart to go and serve. Michelle is right and maybe you are right too. We thought and prayed a great deal about this and felt a lot of peace about the decision after we made it. I think one of the most difficult things is to truly know and understand the will of an infinite and all powerful being, meaning, I don’t know if there is a “right” decision. We can only do our best to do our research, search our feelings, and make the “best” decision for ourselves. There are too many ways and possibilities that God can use the decision we made, but I don’t think this hurt us negatively. If anything the process has made us stronger and as Michelle said open to more possibilities. Ultimately, it was our decision to make, and we feel great about it and have been thankful for our PC Placement Officer who understood how we felt as well. Anyways, just wanted to say thanks. We can talk about this more when we see you in Hawaii. I still need to learn more about your time abroad too.

  3. The following is offered based on my assumption that you two really want to serve in the Peace Corps:
    Did you include in your considerations the fact that the Peace Corps has just had a significant budget ‘hit’ for the remainder of this year and will likely get an even bigger one in the coming year? This will likely have a negative impact upon the placement process from now on until the economy improves.
    A serious, and probably unintended side effect of the lengthy application process with extended periods of no communication is that an applicant can fall into believing that the nomination will become the invitation. This leads an applicant into slowly focusing on the nominated region and closing off the possibilities of receiving an invitation to any other region. This is an unfortunate and self-defeating process.
    Passing up an invitation (for a couple no less) with what Kelsey added to the perspective and with the budget reductions in mind, seems quite risky if you two really want to serve in the PC.
    For what it is worth, I wasn’t thrilled to hear the destination which Placement had in mind for me, but I accepted their judgement and have learned more specifics about my assigned country and am now increasingly excited and even more motivated to begin my service.
    I suggest that you re-think Kelsey’s comments and do some research while there is time to call the Placement Specialist back and change your decision. Or, risk it all on an unknown outcome.
    Best wishes!

    1. Thanks Lew and congrats on your PC invitation. We wish you the best in your service. A lot of the things you shared with us was also shared with us by the PC Placement Officer and weighed heavily into our decision as Michelle mentioned. We have nothing but respect for the PC process, and while we still look forward to the possibility of serving with them, we want to feel that it’s “right” (however we define it) for us. We do not want to commit our lives to serving just because we feel we ought to, or that this is the only time that we may get a placement with PC (regardless of the knowledge of the budget crisis). We want to serve with all of those things, but also with the desire, the support from family and friends, and the personal knowledge and belief that again, this is the “right” decision for us the way you have decided it is the “right” decision to serve for you. Thanks again for your comment and again, best wishes.

  4. Chau, thanks for your support. Everyone else, I don’t know what to say. This was a difficult decision and we both feel a sense of relief having made it. Honestly, I don’t really appreciate second guessing or having regrets on a decision that we feel we put a lot of time, energy, and prayer into, not to mention consultation with people who we feel truly know and understand us. We are very much aware of the risks involved in this choice, and we accept them willingly- I might even say joyfully because they open up more possibilities.
    I also want to clarify that South Africa is not “where we wanted to go,” it was the country we thought was most likely to be our placement based on our original nomination. We are open to and excited about the vast majority of Peace Corps countries. And yes, we did know that the placement we have turned down was most likely Morocco.

    1. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to give the impression of second guessing you! I’m sure it was a hard decision to make, what’s important is that you’re both really good about it.

    1. Thanks, Melissa. Yes, we are good friends with Major and Karen Treadway who are with MCC in Indonesia. When we first started looking at opportunities, MCC was on our list but didn’t have job openings that we were interested in/qualified for at the time. Then we got the PC nomination that we hoped for, and any other searching fell to the way side. Now we’re definitely looking at MCC again. It would be nice to have the spiritual support side of things when we serve.

  5. Michelle (and Jedd) —

    I wish you the best of luck no matter where you end up and what you decide to do. I think the name of your blog is very fitting for your concluding decision in this whole thing. It’s obvious that all that you do is very deliberate and intentional and I have no doubt that you will end up in a great place spreading your joy, wisdom, sense of humors, and amazing nature with those who need it. The Moreau Center and UP will miss you, but we were definitely lucky to have you!

  6. All I can offer is the old adage- God works in mysterious ways. Just because you were offered this opportunity doesn’t mean that it’s the one God wants for you. You’ve always been good a listening to your “calling” and making the decision that allows you to best utilize your talents and abilities. Selfishly I am happy to have you both around for a few more months, but I know I am just putting off the inevitable. Your dream of living abroad in service will come in its own time. Love you guys! Anything you need please let us know 🙂

  7. Let me know if your travels take you to Bolivia! I’ll have a house with several guest rooms, so all are welcome! Who knows…maybe South America is where you’re meant to be 🙂

  8. Michelle – You are one of the most careful, deliberate thinkers that I know. You are never quick to go down a path without considering the impact to yourself and those around you. That is really a gift in this fast paced, impulsive world we live in. I am supportive of yours and Jedd’s choice because I know it is the right one for you. I am so glad you both trust yourselves and God that much. I love you guys. 🙂

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