I am always behind the camera and rarely staring down the aperture gullet. I rather like it that way until I need a photo of me, say for the headline of my fresh new blog. Kira was nine months old in that photo and now she’s five years old. I’d say it’s time to get a few photos of me with our Ugandan family. This trip I’ll put this on the top of the list…well… close to the top because we have a fantastic new project:
I’m weeks away again from embarking upon another adventure to work with Kirabo Seeds in Uganda. This could be one of my most exciting trips. Someone special will join me on this trip, and not just anyone who is interested in having an experience in Africa with third world cultures and finding protection behind our establishment. This isn’t someone who thinks orphan care is so sad and comes bearing a basket of pity. (by the way… I don’t take people like that with me. So if you have ever travelled with me I am not describing you.) This isn’t someone who is temporarily enamored with our work because it is the means to a great adventure, no this is someone who is willing to quit her job, sell her things, leave her friends and extended family behind, work along side her husband to pack up her family of two ittty bitty girls and MOVE their life to Uganda.
So here’s the big announcement: Darren and Mary Beth Cameron are taking the missionary position to join Kirabo Seeds, serve God full time and live in Uganda for a few years. I am giddy with excitement to see how God will put their gifts and talents to work in our organization. I have so much happy anticipation my feet hover over the floor as I imagine the possibilities. I’ve been a lonely sailor on the entrepreneurial seas of this organization for three years and we’ve survived some squalls I care not to remember. We’re experienced enough now to know we need some help on the ground if we are going to grow.
When our family moved from Scottsdale, Arizona to Katy, Texas about seven years ago the first call we made to prepare our sons to move was to the local Young Life office in Katy. This guy was getting married and he was hard to catch. But we had a sophomore (Donny) moving in the middle of his school year so we needed to hook him up with Young Life before we even moved. Craig had a lunch with Darren who promptly took Donny into the fold at Cinco Ranch High School. We remained involved in Young Life through his high school years and we often hosted meetings or pool parties. That’s how I came to know his wife Mary Beth Cameron.
We had an instant spark of connection. She was in law school and a newlywed and as our son Donny (who is getting married in August this year) is about to learn, newlyweds have lots of unanswered questions. Mary Beth and I mutually fell towards each other into a mentoring relationship. Usually I was the mentor, but there were times when I learned so much from her. I was a cheerleader during her bar exam (which she passed on the first try!) She was with me the day I got my first picture of our daughter Kira. Mary Beth was our lawyer who finalized our adoption here in America. And sadly when we moved to San Antonio, our mentoring relationship shifted into neutral.
What we didn’t know in all those happy memories is what God had planned in advance and we are only now beginning to see. Since moving away she and Darren have added two beautiful girls to their lives. Darren continues to work with Young Life and Mary Beth is now managing a local company while lawyering on the side. What she’s been asking God for since I first met her is the opportunity to serve HIM full time.
Early this year when Mary Beth had a conference to attend in San Antonio we arranged to connect and catch up. It was like we just saw each other yesterday though it had been over three years. While we were laughing she shared how drawn Darren has been to Africa after his two trips serving there with Young life. He even made a joke before she left and said, “do you think Tonya would hire me to work in Uganda?” When she shared this joke with me I stopped laughing. It hadn’t occurred to me. They were perfect. I swallowed, the color drained from my face, and my eyes locked eyes with her and I said, “Yes. In fact we’ve been praying and seeking a full time missionary family for a year.” We stared at each other for a moment. I didn’t say more because if I did I would pounce on her, wrestle her, pin her until she said YES I’LL GO. But I was thinking faster than usual and all my mind could find were three recurring thoughts, “why didn’t I think of them sooner?” and “they are absolutely perfect”, and finally, “oh God please let us have them for Kirabo Seeds.”
The big problem that sat between us was clear. What we want doesn’t matter as much as what God wants. And God would also have to clang a gong for our husbands in the same way he did for us. So we left it as an official offer to consider the job in a serious way. I wrote an email to Darren inviting him to consider the opportunity.
A few weeks later Craig and I invited them to the house to spend the night so we could answer their questions. We didn’t want to pressure them so we expected to remain neutral and wait to see if it was what God wanted for them, for us, for Kirabo Seeds. Darren sat down, crossed his arms and said, “We’re going.” We screamed! Then we talked the night away making plans, dreaming, and wondering what will God do with us all. Now that they have told all their bosses, family and friends we are free to share the good news.
So, Mary Beth will join me in May on her first trip to Africa, knowing she has committed to living and serving there before ever touching it. I can introduce her to the family, the culture, and begin to help her plan how to make her life there. After that trip, Craig will take Darren with him and have a similar experience. Our goal is to get them moved early Autumn. While I’m in Uganda next month I’ll blog all of our fun for you to experience with us. I’m anticipating a wild adventure together. I can’t wait to see her fall in love with the kids and team. (she already has, but I get to see it realized.)
I’ll end here and apologize that I put this announcement before the wonderful description of the Easter celebration the children had last weekend. I promise to blog the story next Thursday. For now celebrate with us as we thank God for bringing the Cameron family to Uganda. Please share your encouragement for them and leave a message, they will be able to see all the cheering and it will mean a lot to them. This blog has been the primary tool God has given me to use to grow this ministry and I’m thankful for all of you who tune in.