This is the 3rd part to my interview with Heather Ricks. Her family of four is getting ready to follow God’s call to Africa. If you haven’t read the other parts of the interview, please don’t miss them. I don’t know about you, but just reading Heather’s responses gets me excited about missions.
CAROL: How long will you be spending in Africa?
HEATHER: Initially, we were going to Tanzania for long term (however long it took to get the school up and running and turned over to nationals. Which could be about ten or so years).
When we signed up with SIM (Serving In Mission), we signed up for a two-year term. However, God must’ve had different plans.
After trying to raise support again, we got up to about 49 % before Jason lost his job. (The ministry was hit by the economy and had to let all the office staff go). When this happened, we had a decision to make. SIM was not paying us yet, and Jason again was put in the position of having to make money to provide for his family. It was kind of hard going to an interview saying that we were planning on leaving for Africa whenever we got enough support raised—which we we’re hoping would be less than a year from then. You can’t find too many jobs, making more than unemployment, that way.
We looked at different options to get us to Africa and provide for the family (a difficult thing to juggle). One option was the possibility of Jason getting a Bible teaching job here at a high school, and us going to Africa during the summer to teach. We already had enough money raised for that, but Jason could neither get a teaching job here nor did any of the African countries need someone during the summer at their universities at that time. So, we nixed that idea. The other idea was to see how much money it would cost us to go to Africa for a year. Because they treat one-year people as ‘volunteers’, we were able to get paid differently, thus cutting our costs by over half. When this happened, we had enough to go this summer. All we had to finish raising was our one-time expenses.
So, we are technically going for a year, but we are available for whatever. I’m through trying to figure out what’s going to happen after a year!
CAROL: Do you have any reservations about leaving?
HEATHER: Whew, do I ever! It’s always scary leaving the known and going into the unknown. What keeps me going is knowing we’re doing what God has made us to do.
What keeps me going is knowing we’re doing what God has made us to do.
CAROL: What do your boys think about the move?
HEATHER: Although we’ve kept our boys involved with the process the whole way, it hasn’t made it any easier for them. They’ve had to say goodbye to friends a lot, especially Jeremy. We were hoping we would be able to make the transition from Wyoming to Africa quickly enough that they would not grow ‘roots’. But, during this two-year waiting period, they’ve made close friends, and it is hard.
On the flip side, they do understand what we are doing. This has given us many opportunities to talk to them about how God has something special planned for them, as well. God didn’t just ‘call’ dad to go and the rest of us have to be dragged along. If I didn’t feel our boys were on board, I would feel this enough reason to abort the move. I don’t want to plow over my family because I feel like we’re doing God’s work. Our family has to be healthy before ministry can be done. We’ve had many conversations about how hard it is to move. Jason and I allow them to cry and grieve.
One thing that has helped is we’ve been in contact with other SIM missionaries that have boys around Jeremy and Jonathan’s age. They’ve been emailing Jeremy and Jonathan, so they are establishing friendships even before they move. Jason and I have learned that kids are more resilient than they look.
Don’t miss the final part to this interview on Friday!