24 April 2017

April Financial Update

Hey everyone, Sarah and I wanted to give a little update of where we are in raising support for ministry in Tanzania. We have seen other missionaries use the thermometer as a visual of support raising efforts, and they have been successful in using it. We also want to be successful so we're going to use it too! 

Since January, the Lord has given us many opportunities to share the ministry we will be a part of in Africa. We have been able to share with family, friends, and churches! We are overwhelmed by the number of people who share in our vision of reaching the youth of Tanzania and have partnered with us in prayer and through monthly financial support. As of this month, we have four church partnerships and several individuals that have committed to partner with us monthly! The Lord is providing for us far more than we could have ever imagined, but we still have quite a ways to go before we are 100% funded.  We are currently 39% funded and in need of $3,105 in monthly partnerships before we can move. Please pray for us to reach our goal of being fully funded by August, so that we can move to Tanzania in September!

In Christ,

01 November 2016

Pilot Newsletter

Our first quarterly newsletter dated for October and shared November 1st... Sounds about right for this season!

28 July 2016

Bible College

Another aspect of our preparation for Tanzania is strengthening our knowledge of the Bible through Bible college. In April, we flew to the Fellowship of International Missions (FIM) home office in Pennsylvania for a personnel interview. Leading up to this interview we completed a large amount of paperwork. The purpose of the interview was to introduce us to FIM staff, tie up any loose ends in our application, and establish a plan for transitioning our family to Tanzania. We took a biblical literacy test, a bible doctrine test and a language aptitude test. Following these exams and conversation with FIM staff, we recognized areas that we could improve and agreed to enroll in Bible college. We are not pursuing degrees at this point, but only taking specific classes to strengthen certain subject areas. We'll receive certificates from these courses, and have the option to apply our course credits towards degrees later on if we wish to do so. We are currently taking a class called Bible Survey which is an overview of the background and themes of each book of the Bible. We were also able to meet with our pastor a few times this summer to discuss doctrine. Our pastor is a good friend and also happens to teach Bible doctrine at a local seminary, so we feel very fortunate to have had this time with him. We'll most likely pick up a course on doctrine after Baby Brewer comes and we're settled in Auburn. Our main focus at this point is preparing for orientation in 2 weeks, and resting. Lots and lots of rest this month, especially for me!

With love,

06 July 2016

settled and resting

July is here and we are resting, praise God! This is a picture of what is no longer our home on Village Circle West. Not pictured, is a sweet little swing that we hung from the tree in the front yard and all of our memories there (Sorry, had to say it. Cue that country song by Miranda Lambert). This home allowed us to pay off our debt while living closer to our church family so that we could host our community group and others for get-togethers. It had a large yard with plenty of room for Waits to run and play, and a cute little park just down the street. This house was not a dream home by TLC standards, but I've dubbed it the "house of our dreams" because living there for two years has allowed us to accomplish tasks that the Lord laid before us. We are very thankful for our time there, and we're sure going to miss it!

All of our plans for June unfolded as well as we could have hoped for them too. We returned all of our borrowed furniture to our parents' homes, and we set up rooms for Waits, ourselves, and a nursery area for the new baby at my parent's house. We camped out in our empty-ish home on Village Circle West that next week and sold the rest of our things in a yard sale on Saturday. Thanks to some really great friends and Mobilians, we were able to sell what remained of our furniture, and 75% of what we had in the yard sale. Praise God! We've been staying with Mrs. Hawsey for a week now, and we're enjoying our time with her. I am 31 weeks pregnant (and exhausted...) at this point, so I am especially thankful to have a comfortable place to rest and put my things, ya know, rather than in plastic containers on the floor. We are looking forward to resting for the month of July. August will be busier as we'll have orientation and commissioning with our sending agency, Fellowship of International Missions, and then baby Brewer should be here by September 6th! Lots and lots and lots to look forward to. Please remember us in these next months as we prepare for orientation and commissioning mid-August and for baby Brewer coming in September.


15 June 2016

Hey June

Well, this is it yall! This month we will be moving from our home into the home of a friend from our church. We are moving this month because of leasing complications at our current home. Mrs. Hawsey has graciously offered to allow us to live in her home for two months until Baby Brewer arrives. We have agreed to assume responsibilities while we stay with her, but she is mostly being very generous to our family during this time of transition. We are extremely grateful!

There are a few things that need to happen before we move to Tanzania. First, we need to raise all of our financial support. We can begin raising support as soon as we are commissioned as missionaries on August 19th. Our sending agency will be Fellowship of International Mission (FIM). After Baby Brewer arrives, we plan to move to Auburn and live with my parents until we raise all of our support. I will no longer work at this time (I currently work part-time) and Billy will work at a local hospital. He has held two jobs this past year in effort to pay off our debt. Working less hours will allow us to commit more time and effort to raising support. Currently, we are working on something related to our efforts in moving to Tanzania on a daily basis. It feels very much like we've taken on an extra part-time job, already! 

This month we will move twice. Our parents have been very gracious to let us borrow furniture and such. Our first move will be this weekend to return these things to their homes in Auburn, AL and Cartersville, GA. I'll also take this time to set up our rooms and a nursery at my parents' house for Baby Brewer. As you can see from the picture up top, Waits is enjoying time with his cousins and Billy's parents this week while we pack. I'm sure he won't be happy to leave, so we'll drag him home with us this weekend, like responsible parents. Our second move will happen the last weekend in June. We'll have a yard sale for the things remaining in our house that can't go to Tanzania with us. This money will go towards replacing furniture in Tanzania. We'll move in with Mrs. Hawsey that same weekend.

We appreciate the support and encouragement that we have received so far in this season. Please pray for us this week that we will be able to make wise decisions in deciding what to take to Tanzania and what to sell or give away.  

With love,
Sarah and Billy

After we're commissioned in August, I'll be able to give a clearer picture of our responsibilities at The Highlands. Until then, you can get an idea of what we'll be doing there from these three posts that I wrote during our survey trip to The Highlands last year: 

08 May 2015

Heading home

We are currently in Amsterdam with a short layover until our next flight home. We've had a wonderful week! I have taken several pages of notes of all we've learned. We picked Bob and Dee's brains every day. If they were tired of all our questions, they didn't show it. We appreciate their hospitality so much!

The most memorable part of our trip for me would be our last night in Morogoro. One of the employees at Highlands, Zena, invited us into her home for dinner. She cooked a delicious meal and she and her son, Apollo, shared their testimonies of how the gospel changed and continues to transform their lives. We were all in tears! Praise the Lord that He doesn't leave us bound to sin!

We actually started our journey home a day early. It rained most of the day yesterday causing many of the streets to flood. Paved roads are a fairly new thing so only main highways are paved, drainage systems are poor or nonexistent, and most drivers are first generation - as Bob would say. These factors combined turned our 3.5 hour drive to the airport into 9.5 hours. We did make it to the airport safely and on time, and we slept well on the plane last night. For those things we can praise the Lord! We also got to ride in a Taxi with a local Tanzanian (about Billy's age, and introduced himself as Mr. John) for the last 1.5 hours to the airport which was a fun experience.

On our way to Tanzania, we stayed in a woman's home through Airbnb. When I inquired about staying with her, I explained our trip and she kindly responded that because she has some decor in her home that may be offensive to us as Christians, we may not wish to stay with her. She told us that she is accepting of all religions but does not have a faith herself and would never want us to be uncomfortable in her home. We explained to her that we are not easily offended (How can a Christian be when our hope is in eternity??) and that we would love to stay in her home if she would have us. At the end of our stay, she explained how a conservative Christian had stayed with her once before, took offense at some of her artwork, which, obviously, hurt her feelings. She thanked us for for being kind (for being kind!) and asked me for a hug before we left. This was a reminder to us that remained with us throughout our trip, that our call to spread the gospel is not isolated to one place (Tanzania, inner city Mobile, Children's church, our work place, you-name-it) but our call is spread the gospel AS WE GO.

Since before we were married, we have desired to spend our lives advancing the gospel in a developing country. After 5 years of marriage, doors have been closed, others have opened, family dynamics have changed, our family has grown, we have matured... And given these factors, we began considering- before this opportunity came about- serving God in the US longterm instead. There is work to be done here too!

This opportunity for us to serve in Tanzania came about unexpectedly which we contribute to the sovereignty of God. While we would literally be doing behind-the-scenes work with finances and in the kitchen, our efforts would contribute to the mission at Highlands which is to see that pastors are trained, Christians are equipped with the word and the gospel is preached to Tanzanians. Our job description at Highlands would ultimately be, in Bob and Dee's words, "to work ourselves out of a job." We have seen this week that God can use us in this way if He wills, and we are willing to live in Tanzania in the future and in Mobile currently and continue advancing the gospel... as we go.

Our next steps will be evangelism training through our church, and continued prayer for our Waits. Please pray for us as we seek to join God in the work He is doing in Tanzania.


03 May 2015

Day Three in Tanzania

Today is our third full day in Tanzania. On Friday, we saw the capital, Dar Es Salaam and drove to Morogoro, about 3.5 hours. It isn't safe to be out after dark here, so we're always inside by sunset around 7:30pm. I became sick yesterday, unfortunately, but I was able to get the antibiotics I needed and spent a good part of the day resting. I'm feeling much better today, and am also more at ease knowing that there will be adequate medical care if we move here. We were able to go to church this morning, and really enjoyed the service. It was spoken in Kiswahili, of course, but we did catch the tune of "How Great Thou Art." Since I spent most of the day resting, we stayed close to home and toured Highlands Camp. The camp is beautiful to say the least. There is a volleyball court, basketball court, obstacle course, pool, waterslide, and soccer field. There is an open air auditorium and open air dining hall with a kitchen. The dorms sleep 600. There are also hostiles frequently used as a retreat for local missionaries and school teachers. There are one-bedroom apartment-type homes for employees and missionaries transitioning between housing. One is used for the women that work the late shift, so that they don't have to travel after dark. There's a little pavilion and charcoal grills that are used for smaller meetings or can be rented out for family reunions. There is an area that has been prepped for a new building. The Dodson's hope to build a bible college on this space. There are mango trees, coconut trees, banana plants, and a herd of sheep. There's a green house where they grow all of their plants. They build most everything themselves, including making the bricks. I can't help but think of Waits seeing all of these things. There's so much potential for him to learn here!

Finally, there are two homes. Bob and Dee live in one and we expect to live in the other should we move here. Below the second home is a basement with three rooms that are currently used for pastoral training as a part of the bible college. The bible college is pending credit through Tennessee Temple University in the United States. Professors from this University have come over to teach courses in the past. Bob also teaches several courses. Billy and I would have the opportunity to take these classes if we move here. This past year, Highlands served the gospel to over 6,000 youth at youth and sports camps, and over 900 made professions of faith. There are also women's conferences and pastoral conferences held each year. Praise the Lord! There is still so much to see and consider. We're continuing to pray for clarity and wisdom as the Lord continues to guide our steps.