Six years ago in Albany, New York, I weighed my three suitcases for what seemed the millionth time, anxiously watched the scale hit almost exactly 50 pounds for each one, shed tears as I hugged my family goodbye and sat at my gate, waiting to begin my journey to teach in Germany.
I was no stranger to goodbyes, moving, transition or travel, and yet, that day, you may never have seen a more reluctant or terrified traveler. Although I knew God had called me to serve missionary kids, teaching had never been part of my plan.
What was I thinking? Who did I think I was, going to teach students French in Germany? Had I really heard Jesus correctly? Didn’t he know I had no teaching experience or training and had not used the French language in well over a decade? Weren’t there plenty of other ways to serve missionary kids?
Never have I had a more blunt conversation with the Lord. In no uncertain terms, I let Him know that the only reason I was getting on that plane was because I knew in my heart it would be disobedience to stay.
So, I begrudgingly got on the plane to Germany. Although I doubt I am the first missionary to feel this way, it is not the typical story you send home to supporters.
Even so, I am so thankful for God’s grace and patience with me. As I tell my students, He is big enough for all our fears and doubts. He graciously listened to me and then led me to His Word in Psalm 28. He reminded me that He who called me would provide all I needed as I stepped out in obedience. Even if I was reluctant.
In the last six years, God has fulfilled that promise in more ways than I can count. From giving me an unexpected love for teaching middle schoolers, to providing faithful supporters who have stood with me, to letting me work with amazing staff who help me grow as a teacher.
As a new semester begins at Black Forest Academy (BFA), I once again find myself in an airport, reluctant to board a plane. But this time, my reluctance is for different reasons.
Last December, my mother underwent surgery on her lungs and while in recovery, suffered a severe stroke, followed by two more surgeries and the fight of her life. I had returned to the United States for her surgery but quickly found myself cancelling my return flight to Germany. Thanks to the amazing support of BFA and TEAM, I spent the next eight months helping my dad care for my mom as she slowly recovered.
Still, I cannot deny the same calling that led me to fly to Germany six years ago. My heart is torn as my mom’s progress is not what we had hoped, yet to stay in the U.S. would be to say “no” to God. I feel it strongly.
I have learned in new ways the importance of listening to and obeying his voice no matter the cost. At times, it means leaving all to follow him, and at other times, it means staying to serve those closest to us.
As I look back at my life, I can see the faithfulness of a loving Father who has always proven himself to be fully trustworthy in all he does and asks — in the staying and in the going.
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” God tells his people over and over to remember.
I can look back to my childhood, I can look back to six years ago or I can look back at the last eight months and see his faithfulness in the midst of stress, exhaustion, doubts and fears. He has walked with me into the unknown, he has walked with our family through the valley of the shadow of death and he will walk with me as I return to Germany and “normal” life.
And so I move forward and will once again board a plane. There are moments when I feel excitement to return to my apartment, my students, my friends and my colleagues. And then there are moments when the thought of leaving my mother feels unbearable.
But whatever happens next, I will remember the promise God made to me six years ago — to be my faithful shepherd in each new school year and every season of life.
Black Forest Academy is looking for new teachers to join Anna and her colleagues. Find out how you can serve through teaching and education, too.