The Scenic Route to Missions: Our Call to Missionary Acres

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When I was a kid, most of our family road trips involved missed off-ramps and wrong turns. We affectionately dubbed these mistakes as “taking the scenic route.”

And in many ways, our call to missions has been full of twists and turns as well. So, my husband and I decided that we took the scenic route into the ministry.

Since it’s December and a great time of year for reflecting, we thought it’d be a good time to share more of our story with you.

For a long time, we didn’t understand how God was working in our lives. Bryan felt called to serve in a full-time capacity, but no doors ever appeared to open.

So we continued to serve where we were, learn new things, gain experiences, and pray that God would reveal His plan for our lives.

Now that we have a direction, it’s amazing to see how all of our seemingly random jobs, household projects, and life experiences all fit together with a single common denominator:

To prepare us for service at Missionary Acres.

Here are a few of the important highlights.

Construction

Growing up, Bryan helped his family build their house. He learned how to frame rooms, run plumbing, hang drywall, and do all the finish work.

In the Navy, he worked on the electrical systems of airplanes. He’s an amazing electrician, and has transferred his knowledge from S-3Bs to homes.

In fact, he’s completely rewired most of our house. You see, we’re currently living in my late Grandmother’s home. It’s over 100 years old and had a mishmash collection of knob and tube, and old aluminum wiring when we moved in.

In addition to updating the wiring, we’ve worked together to remodel the majority of the home. With some help and guidance from experienced family members along the way, many rooms have been gutted and completely updated.

Bryan also helped complete a construction project at our home church. He helped some other men turn space in the church into a prophet’s chamber.

Construction is something Bryan enjoys, and is good at.

And at Missionary Acres, he can put his skills to work for God. The current houses need to be updated and maintained. As additional respected heroes of the faith retire there, new homes will need to be built.

It’s amazing how God uses experiences from childhood and beyond to prepare us to serve Him in the future!

Management & Operations

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Bryan put his GI Bill funds to use. He opted to study business administration at Washington State University, utilizing their online courses. He graduated with a major in management and operations and a minor in human resources.

Since then, he’s worked in several industries gaining valuable experience tracking inventory, managing people, doing project management, and collaborating with Fortune 500 companies.

Bryan’s knowledge and skills will be valuable at Missionary Acres. There will be a lot of projects that need oversight. He knows how to network, and make connections within the community. Since many supplies used at Missionary Acres are donated, this will be an asset.

Auto Maintenance

Since college, Bryan has job-bounced a bit. At first we couldn’t figure out why. But now we realize that he had several things he needed to learn before he was ready for service to God.

After college, our state was in the middle of a recession. Jobs weren’t plentiful. But Bryan found one job: at a quick lube chain.

He quickly worked his way up from lube technician to store manager, learning a ton about vehicle maintenance as he went.

While he left the auto industry for a few years, he’s currently back in it. He’s been a service writer for over three years now. In this position, he acts as a liaison between mechanic and customer.

He schedules appointments, orders parts, and explains necessary repairs to customers. His understanding of vehicle diagnostics and the inner working of cars has grown tremendously.

When we were visiting Missionary Acres on a survey trip over the summer, God gave Bryan first-hand experience understanding why it’s important for him to have this knowledge.

One of the church vans was having electrical problems. Bryan was able to diagnose a bad alternator and get a new one installed.

This saved a tow fee and labor from a repair shop, and kept the van running to collect children during VBS.

There are multiple vans, tractors, and other equipment on the Acres that need routine maintenance and as-needed repairs. God has prepared Bryan to help with these tasks.

The scenic route to missions. The call of the Tanner Family to Missionary Acres.

Teaching

My husband isn’t’ the only one God has been preparing for service at Missionary Acres!

I grew up with one career goal: to become a teacher.

After high school, I graduated with a degree in elementary education with a major in reading and a minor in special education.

I taught for seven years before coming home to homeschool our kids. I’ve also taught Sunday School. I like to say that teaching is in my blood! 😀

Evangel Baptist Church, the church located at Missionary Acres, has an active youth ministry. I am eager to put the teaching skills God gave me to work there.

Writing

In 2015, I launched a freelance writing business. My goal was to put my skills to work from home to help with the household budget. I’ve added virtual assistant work and blogging to my resume since then.

God’s taught me so much through the process of starting and growing a business. I’ve discovered how much I love arranging words to tell a story and share information.

I’ve learned how to use social media, and maintain a website.

I’m looking forward to speaking to the residents at Missionary Acres, and recording their stories in written form. Modern day mission stories aren’t as easy to find as the ones focusing on those in the past.

Also, the church on site doesn’t yet have an active web presence. I could put my computer skills to work there, helping to create a website and update their Facebook page.

And More…

I can come up with several other ways God has uniquely equipped my family for ministry at Missionary Acres, but this post is getting long. Here’s a quick peek at some others before we move on…

  • Experience maintaining grounds (we do live on a farm!)
  • Cleaning knowledge/experience (I cleaned cabins for a local resort in high school)
  • Record keeping for VBS and other events
  • Community outreach
  • Care-taking ministry (one of our children is severely disabled…)

Putting the Pieces Together

With all of the experiences and jobs, our lives sometimes felt a bit like a puzzle that we were building without the picture. We had these random pieces, and weren’t quite sure how they fit together.

On top of that, we felt that God had called Bryan into the ministry. We assumed that meant he’d be a Pastor or Evangelist, or even a secretary or something in a church.

We never dreamed that missions were in our future.

As I mentioned before, we have a disabled son. He has Angelman Syndrome, and requires some specialized care. Leaving the country and our medical system wouldn’t make sense. 

Additionally, we have a large family. Going on deputation would be a challenge.

But things that seem impossible to us are made possible by God. He found a special mission field, right here in the US, that needs us.

When Ron and Joy Hemsworth presented the ministry of Missionary Acres to our home church, for the first time in our lives, all of the dots in our life started to feel aligned. It was like we were finally seeing what the puzzle pieces were supposed to look like.

We saw how we could serve God there, and be a blessing to the saints who have so faithfully served in the ministry throughout their lives.

It’s exciting to see how God is working. We are eager to put our God-given abilities to work at Missionary Acres.

Trusting God

Our duties at Missionary Acres will likely change over time. And we know that God is preparing us for those unknown tasks, without us even realizing it right now. We know we will learn a lot on the deputation trail.

One thing is certain. We serve a God who loves us and has a plan for our lives. We may not always be able to discern what that plan is.

But, we can trust God.  Even on the scenic route.

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