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It’s been almost exactly one year since we become official missionary appointees with Baptist Mid-Missions. It’s amazing how much the Lord can direct in a year.
In July of 2018, we were anxiously preparing for a trip. We planned to fly into St. Louis, Missouri, drive down to Missionary Acres at Silva, and then drive up to Cleveland, Ohio for Candidate Seminar at the Baptist Mid-Missions Home Office.
Since that was nearly a year ago, we wanted to take a few moments to reflect on God’s provision during the previous twelve months. At times, it feels like our progress is so slow that a snail would beat us…but when we look back and put things into perspective, it is incredibly clear that God is at work and we are on His time table. Which is exactly where we need to be…
To help us remember all that God has done already, here are a few of the specifics He has accomplished in the previous year.
Being Able to Attend Candidate Seminar
Simply being able to attend Candidate Seminar last year was a huge victory!
So many things had to work out first, and there were times that we felt like it was too much. It honestly felt impossible that all the pieces would line up. But, when God is orchestrating things, He can make the impossible happen!
Here’s a peek at some of the obstacles God helped us overcome in simply being able to attend:
- Finding childcare for eight children, including one with a severe disability. Three sets of grandparents and our oldest daughter (who was 16 at the time) stepped up in a big way. They watched all of the kids the entire time we were gone, which was such a blessing.
- Funding the trip (thank you so much to our sending church, Chewelah Baptist for taking on this expense!)
- Being under the debt threshold (we had a bit of help getting under the required $18,000 cap)
- Getting time off from work (Bryan’s only allowed five days off each year, so being able to take the additional days was a huge answer to prayer!)
Wow – God is so good!
We were even able to add a couple of days at Missionary Acres onto our trip. That was the first time Lisa had seen it, and it is amazing how right it felt stepping out of the car and seeing the Acres for the first time…
Attending Candidate Seminar
Despite being exhausted from traveling across the country and trying to make our west coast minds operate on Eastern Time, Candidate Seminar was a life-changing experience. We met several members of the Baptist Mid-Missions family, grew closer to the other families in our candidate class, and truly began to understand the important role of a mission board.
At Candidate Seminar, we learned about:
- How God is working through missionaries around the world
- Branding as a mission family
- Communicating with donors and potential donors
- Charting a path to full-time deputation
- And much, much more!
- Had time to create our first slide show and present it to our class
- Shared our testimony in a church Sunday evening
- Preached in a local church Sunday morning (well…Bryan tackled that one! :D)
- Contacted a pastor for the first time
- Sketched out our prayer cards and what our display table could look like
- Connected with other missionaries on deputation and home on furlough
- Learned more about practical logistics of traveling on deputation
- Were challenged to continue to grow our own relationships with the Lord during our ministry
- Were officially approved as missionary appointees
Trying to sum up the entire experience of Candidate Seminar in a couple of paragraphs doesn’t work. It was very hands-on, and we spent most of the evenings doing “homework.” We learned so much, were challenged, and most of all were inspired to trust God.
Waiting on a Baby!
Lisa was several months pregnant when we attended Candidate Seminar. One of the challenges to us getting rolling quickly after getting home was knowing that our family picture shaped the branding for everything. We wanted to use the same colors. And ensure things looked nice.
Of course, we couldn’t take a family picture until after baby was born. So we read some of the books on our required reading list, started this website, and learned a ton.
Waiting for baby to arrive was hard, but looking back, God used this time to let some of the ideas from Candidate Seminar sort of simmer. We learned so much in a short time, that it was a bit overwhelming. Having some space to ponder and talk and pray was important.
And praise God, Tyler Nathanael joined our family in mid-October 2018. He’s such a fun baby!
After taking some time for recovery and adapting to life as a family of 11, we knew it was time to push down the gas pedal.
Bryan began earnestly contacting churches in January of 2019. What we didn’t realize at that point was that many churches schedule a year in advance. So many pastors have asked us to contact them again in the fall.
There are cycles to deputation, and we are starting to learn some of them.
Using only his short lunch break was hard, but Bryan worked on contacting churches. We were able to take part in a missions conference in February, and present our ministry in a couple of churches over the spring.
We had heard the statistics that for every 100 churches you contact, you can expect to hear back from 10 of them and present in one of them. Of course, we naively believed that those numbers weren’t true. Or at least they wouldn’t be true for us.
We were wrong.
It was discouraging to learn that they are pretty spot on. Bryan often has to call and email multiple times before he can actually connect with a Pastor.
We’re learning some ways to speed up this process – social media is proving to be the fastest way to connect. (When a church has an active social media presence at least…)
But we are so thankful for the meetings we’ve had and the ones we have scheduled. We’re also thankful for the Pastors who take time to respond. A “no” is better than no response, because we can take them off our list of “try again!”
Excel and HubSpot have both proven to be valuable tools for this part of the process.
Growing the Side Hustle
The Lord is graciously growing Lisa’s side hustle! And we’re currently looking at side-hustles that could be a good fit for Bryan’s skill set. The more flexible income we can generate, the sooner Bryan can quit his full-time job and devote more time to deputation.
And that is the next step on our deputation journey.
Getting Out of Debt
Did you catch above that we struggled to reach the maximum debt threshold last year?
Well, praise the Lord, we are now completely debt free! Not having student loan payments helps us minimize our expenses while on deputation, and is just a wonderful feeling.
What a difference a year can make…We paid off $18,000 in a year, and nearly $30,000 in the past two.
We used a tax refund and the income from a huge curriculum writing project that Lisa took on earlier this year to accomplish this. We were planning on buying our 15-passenger van so we didn’t have to drive two cars on deputation.
But, when we looked at the numbers we realized we were going to have exactly enough to completely pay off the debt. And after praying, we knew that this would be the better long-term decision.
So we are back to square one saving for a van, but it was worth it. And we are so thankful that God provided these funds.
Moving to 4-Day a Week Employment
In May of 2019, Bryan’s boss allowed him to move to a four day a week schedule. This was completely unexpected, and very appreciated. God can direct in ways we didn’t even think about!
Having Mondays off allows Bryan to get into the groove contacting churches. It also means we can travel a bit further, since we won’t have to be home for Bryan to go work Monday morning. Instead, we can travel on Mondays.
So Many Provisions this First Year as Missionary Appointees
There are so many other ways that God has provided for our family over the past year. It seems just when we are most discouraged or worried about something, we get an unexpected donation, an encouraging card, or a friendly email from people. And those are so refreshing. And they feel like a little reminder from God, as if He’s saying, “Remember, I’ve got this. You can’t do it, but I can…”
And we fully trust that God will indeed get this large family of ours down to Missouri to serve at Missionary Acres. We are looking forward to being there. But, we are learning the importance of trusting in God’s process and timeline.
Do you have any questions about how this past year? Or about being Missionary Appointees in general? Go ahead and leave them in the comments and we will do our best to answer.
Want the Tanners to Present the Ministry of Missionary Acres in Your Church?
Interested in learning more about Missionary Acres, or having the Tanner family present this ministry in your church?