"Furlough," that's what our time back in the U.S. is officially called. I'm not sure why because "furlough" simply means "a leave of absence," as if we are not working. We may not be in Brazil, but there is no slowing down when we are in the U.S. Before going back to Brazil in the Spring, we'll be tearing up the highways from OH to FL to NJ to TN... then repeat again and again.
I've written about this before but its worth repeating. As independent missionaries, we do not work for or through a mission organization. We aren't on the payroll of any organization. We don't receive a salary. This is how it works, churches and individuals partner directly with us and this partnership enables us to serve as church-planting missionaries in Brazil. Its hard work creating partnerships and its hard work maintaining partnerships. That maintenance happens through personal contact while we serve on the field and it is renewed and deepened in person when we come back to the U.S. When we are back we also need to establish new partnerships in order to accommodate inflation, living expenses and the ever increasing ministry opportunities.
The Best News
We've been back in the U.S. a couple of months now and every week or so the members and leaders of the church back in Brazil reach out to us to see how we are doing. We small talk about their family, soccer, politics, and the weather. The same as we always did when we were there with them. Eventually, the conversation turns to how they are doing spiritually and we are thrilled at some responses and saddened by other responses. Yet, the best news we always hear is that the church is moving forward and that the church has grown in our absence. Too many times the missionary believes that he has to be present in order for it all to work out. He has invested his life into something and he does not want it to fail. He wants it to succeed. A missionary knows in his head that the church is not "his" but it can be difficult to rest in the fact that it is Christ's Church and He promises to build it. The best news is to hear that He is building it.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
1 Corinthians 3:6