Daughter SK has a story to tell and because she's a gracious sort, and because she knows me (smile) she's allowing me to tell it.
In the almost two years that SK has lived in the Bay area, she's loved a whole lot about her life. She loves living with her 'bestie' from college, a woman who knows her, gets her, and has a wonderful family who has welcomed SK in as one of their own when she's too far away to celebrate holidays with us. She loves the amazing kids she gets to rub shoulders because she's become a Young Life volunteer. She loves the new friends she's met down there, women with kindred hearts who love life so much like SK does. She loves the church she's in that is as diverse a place as I've seen, a true picture of the gospel lived out in full glory, week in and week out. She loves just being in that wonderfully rich cultural environment that is the whole San Francisco Bay area. She's drunk the marrow out of all kinds of things because she lives there: from Oakland A baseball games to avant-garde theatre productions and everything between. I never know what she'll have been up to when I talk to her in a week.
What she hasn't loved is her job. Not even a little. And she's given it the old college try, as my Beve would say. She works in a small office for two men who are in their forties, running the property-management company they own together. SK is a people person. She likes being part of a team. This lone-woman environment hasn't suited her from the beginning. It's done little more than paid the bills for her life. So, as you can imagine, she began searching for a different job about a year ago (maybe more). She got a whole lot of call-backs from applications, a whole lot of interviews, even second interviews. I can't tell you how many but it was plenty. But she never got hired. The answer she always got (IF she got an answer, which is a whole different story--why is it that companies don't feel the need to tell people they haven't been hired? BUSH league, if you ask me!) is that she just didn't have enough experience.
Let me ask you, as SK has asked (over and over), how exactly is a person supposed to GET experience if someone doesn't take a chance and hire her the first time?
This continuing job search left SK discontent, doubting, impatient. You can imagine. Maybe you've been there. She began to wonder what she was missing. People kept telling her to be patient, that God had exactly the right job out there for her. Maybe you've heard those words before. Maybe you've SAID those words before. They're hard to hear for a person who is only seeing closed doors. It's confidence-destroying, I know that. To continue to go to job interviews with a sinking feeling that it'll end the same way is a hard thing. She stopped telling people (i.e., Beve and me!) about those interviews; she just didn't want to talk about them any more.
And finally, she got to the place where she said, "OK God, I'm just going to live today for today. I'm going to be present in my life." That is, so what if the job was not what she wanted, so what if it was hard and her bosses constantly gave her mixed messages and she had to tell people hard things, like "You're evicted!" She decided she's just live in the moment and trust God.
As she's been doing this, something else was at work a long ways away.
SK got an Facebook message from a woman she was friends with when they were freshman in college, first figuring out who was who and what was what behind the Pinecone Curtain that was their University. They drifted apart before they settled into their sophomore year at that school, and haven't been in touch since. So when I say it was a message out of the blue, I mean it was about 7 years out of SK's horizon. This woman and her husband live and teach at Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. That school needs choir teacher for the 2015-16 school year, and this woman (whose first name is the same as SK's and married name is ours except it starts with R rather than W. This could cause some confusion...) thought of SK.
Left field, right? SK was blown out of the water. She hasn't thought about teaching choir in years, though she has a music minor, has been in a truckload of choir since she was old enough to sing. She did imagine it back...well, back when she and the other S were friends. AND, it was always her dream to live and work in a third world country back then. She wanted to take a year off from college to live in an orphanage in Mexico, actually. So it wasn't a difficult thing to see that perhaps God was in this. At least in this enough to apply. She sent her resume off to the school superintendent, then hesitated over her experience. That dratted experience again. She has no teaching experience, of course. And that's the sticking point, isn't it? She does have plenty of worship and ministry experience. Those were also important parts of the job.
It was a long, convoluted road of emails, phone interviews, etc. but the day SK was packing to leave here after Grampie died, she screamed from the bedroom, "THEY want me to join their team!!!" And then she began to praise God. The superintendent told her that He knew from the first few moments of their conversation that she was the right one. THAT'S how our God does it!
So SK is busy preparing to go to Kenya now. She must be there in August, so will come home in mid-May for a couple of months to get ready. The job is considered a short term mission with a year's commitment (and the possibility of a year's extension if she wants). She's talking to choir teachers, job shadowing them. I mailed off her viola last week because she has to sharpen up those skills too, since she may teach some private strings lessons.
And she has to raise support--that's a big hunk to bite off, of course. But SK tells us she's certain God is in this. Here was a door where she wasn't looking that God practically shoved her through. It's a pretty powerful thing to see in one's life. Usually we only get hints about what He wants from us, where He intends to lead us next. But right now, for this next year, at least, SK is being led a way she did not choose. But she's leaning into it gladly. So gladly.
The Rift Valley Academy sits on a hill above the Great Rift Valley and is the perfect place from which to view it in all its splendor. I have poured over pictures of the Great Rift Valley since I was a little girl and first fell in love with the animals of the African plains--elephants and lions especially. To think that SK is going to live one of the places I've most wanted to visit on this planet thrills my heart. To think that God so intentionally called her there makes us both wonder what He has in store, what treasures she'll discover high above that valley. He is purposeful, our God. What He'll do through SK, what He'll do for her. What she'll learn, what she'll teach: these are all part of the ways He'll lead her this next year when He leads her where she did not expect but now cannot wait to go.