As most of you that know our family, know we were missionaries in the early 2000's. My husband surrendered in '02 to the mission field. We raised our support in exactly two years and made our way to the Canadian arctic. I had just found out a few weeks prior to our departure that I was pregnant with our 6th child. We lived in the town of Inuvik serving under veteran missionaries, Steve and Lois Donley. After our daughter was born we moved to the village of Aklavik at the end of the summer of '05. It was definitely a change of lifestyle for us. As hard as it may have been at times we always knew that God was with us and would get us through. We really did love it there, we loved the people and we loved the land. It is beautiful. It was mid December when our youngest daughter (now 5 1/2 months) fell gravely ill. She was medi-vacked to Stollery children's hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. She had bacterial meningitis. She did survive, but because of the health issues she developed due to the meningitis we had to move back home to the states.
While this post isn't actually about that time, it does give you a feel for why I am passionate about missionaries. While I was before being a missionary wife, I became even more so after being one. I loved missionaries before, obviously I have a deeper love and appreciation for them now. 💗 This post is about the time after we came back home to California.
I remember when I told my husband that I didn't think I could go back to the arctic. It was one of the hardest things I had ever told him. I had been praying about it, I didn't want it to be an emotional decision. I wanted it to be real and from the Lord. We worked so hard to get there, we loved the people and the place. We had planned on raising our family there, growing old there, and even dying there. God had other plans, I didn't understand all I knew was I needed to be here with my family getting the support only they could give. I poured all of myself into Grace when she was in the hospital, through all the surgeries, all the diagnosis', all the decisions I had to make without my husband because he was hundreds of miles away in a arctic village with our 5 other children, I gave all of myself and more. It didn't really start effecting me until after she got out of the hospital. When we came home for what was supposed to be a short "healing" furlough, it hit me full force. Being in my parents home surrounded by the people who loved me and knew me the most, it just hit me. I was finally able to deal with the emotional roller coaster that goes with that kind of traumatic event.
When I finally told him, he was angry of course. I didn't blame him then and I still don't. It was a very difficult thing to hear from your partner, your cheerleader, the one who has been encouraging you through all of this. Deputation and missionary life is very difficult on the missionary. It's all on him, he does all the work, all the phone calls, preaching, teaching, answering questions, etc. He's the one that pulls his wife and children from all they know and takes them to a foreign land. Yes, God calls and enables, but he has to obey and follow. His decisions effect everyone he loves the most. So for me to tell him I can't go back, not right now is devastating. After a few weeks of him praying and seeking council, he made the decision that we would not be going back. We knew that because of our daughters health needs we could no longer live in the arctic part of Canada, we would have to be near medical facilities that would help in the care for her. He had been called to the people of the arctic, not the cities. It was at that time the hardest decision he had made, to leave Aklavik and move back to California.
After about six months of being home we had been having some issues in our marriage. He admitted that he had been blaming me for us leaving the field, I knew that of course, he just finally saw it for what it was and admitted it. We dealt with that and some other things that will come up in a marriage after years of being married. Married life is not easy, it's a lot of work, but it is so worth it! So, now we were at a place of trying to figure out what do we do next? We never planned to come back to the states, so we were at a loss. Our church at the time hosted an annual church planting conference. After sitting through that and talking to other pastors my husband felt led to plant a church in a neighboring city. Sister churches came out and helped canvas for three weeks before our first service. The first year was good, God seemed to be blessing, things were happening. My husband had to go back to work, because, well, we had to eat. 😉 By the middle of the second year my husband started talking about stepping down from pastoring. He really felt the Lord was leading him to do this. Of course, me being his cheerleader, I figured he was just getting down on himself (he's a glass half empty person, while I'm the glass half full person). I would get somewhat angry at him when he would mention it, so of course he stopped after a while. That's when things started unraveling. He started slipping into a depression, home-life was getting harder. I was becoming a single mom, he didn't want to have much to do with anyone. On top of that Grace was 4 yrs old and very difficult to handle. She lost her hearing due to the meningitis, so communication was difficult to say the least, she has emotional issues, and she is behind cognitively. Life was horrible. I couldn't really tell anyone all of this, all I could do is go to my Savior. He is the only one that I could pour my heart out too. Well, while pouring my heart out to Jesus, He started showing me my pride in all of this. If I was to be very honest with myself (which is usually very difficult) it was in part my pride that would discourage my husband from stepping down. That's hard to admit, but it's true. God was really working on me, it's not easy when God shows you your sin and chastises you in the process. It does feel good however to get things right with Him. He is such a loving, caring Heavenly Father.
Now, my husband hadn't brought up stepping down in quite some time, a few days after I had gotten right with the Lord he brought it up (imagine that). I told him I was behind him in whatever decision he made. He was so relieved, it was obvious. It wasn't too soon after he stepped down that we started attending Central Valley Baptist Church. It was like a breath of fresh air. God has been so good to us. He sent us to a place were we could heal, and grow. We have watched our children grow and flourish. Our oldest son is an assistant pastor in Canada. He is married and just had their first child. Our second son teaches high school in the Marshall Islands at a mission school. We still have four at home, 16 yrs., 14 yrs., 13 yrs., and 12 yrs. Life is busy and good. My husband and I are in the best place we have ever been in our marriage. We work with the missions ministry in our church, he teaches an adult Sunday School class, and I teach the preschool Jr. Church. The older three teenagers serve in various ministries (bus ministry, nursery, help teaching children's classes, etc..) and Grace is healthy, learning and loving life. She still has challenges, but she is working through them.
We are still very passionate about missions, we pray God would make our children missionaries if its in His will. We love all things missions, home and foreign. We have been forever changed by our time on the foreign field, it is a part of us. We still have a burden for those in the arctic villages. They need the Gospel just like your neighbors do. This is why I love this time of the year. My autumn decorations are out, apple, pumpkin, and caramel cooking has been going on, and Thanksgiving day menu and festivities are almost all planned.But before Thanksgiving come missions conference. I have to admit when the flag tub gets brought up from the church basement I get a rush of excitement. I pray over each flag as I iron them, I love trying to remember by heart which flag belongs to which missionary (we have over 60), and I love watching my children hang them up. Missions conference is a Taylor family affair!
Part of my healing and growing was being content with where God has us. I really miss serving the Lord full time with my husband. I know it sounds crazy, but I missed helping him with people, helping with getting things ready for services or activities, and just working side by side with him. I struggled greatly with this for years. I even had jealousy issues with the missionary that took our place. When I realized that, I realized that the pride monster was creeping back into my heart. Time to deal with that, easier said than done though. God is good and patient as he dealt with me. Just this year God really worked on my heart about the mission field I live right in the middle of. California is a very anti-Bible place to live. It is very multicultural, and very much in need of the Savior. Our pastor was preaching a few weeks ago on the need around us, it really spoke to me. I complain about this state all the time, while it is a very beautiful place to live, it is equally as wicked. it is very expensive as well. While I was sitting there listening to my pastor preach, I could feel God speaking to me. The arctic was beautiful and wicked at the same time, as well as incredibly expensive (much more than here)! My heart became very burdened for my state as well as fell in love with it on a totally different level than had ever been. I am so humbled by my Lord. He loves me so much to be so patient with me such a selfish sinner.
I know this has been a long post, but this part of my story has been on my heart to share. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to share this much it just kind of happened. 😊 People always assume that the hardest time in my life is when our daughter was sick and in the hospital, understandably so. Honestly, it wasn't. I truly knew God was in control and she wasn't sick because of anything we had done, it is life, and life isn't always fair. The hardest time for me was the time after her sickness. But God in His sovereignty knew all things that were going to happen, and that will happen. So, while I live this life, I'm determined to live it for my Savior, to love my husband and follow him where God leads, love my children and grandchildren. And I will always get excited for Missions Conference!