22 Feb Where It All Began
I’ll never forget the morning my husband Brad called me from the Kigali airport to tell me something was wrong. My 1-yr old son Hutch was napping and I was in the living room packing. A shipping container was coming in three days to move our belongings to East Africa. I had everything from a newly assembled IKEA couch to three sizes of clothes for my kids to a year’s supply of bug spray. Oh…and a car.
Our garage full of possessions for our ill-fated shipping container
We spent several years planning our move overseas to pursue social business opportunities. We wanted to empower marginalized women by training them in a skill and providing fair wage income. The plan was a big dream and a huge risk. But after planning, training, meetings, mentors, research and lots and lots of prayer, we decided the risk was worth it. We ran hard after that dream. We sold our house and found one in Kigali. We registered our daughter in a Rwandan school. We even adopted two dogs that were waiting for us upon arrival. But in the end, it collapsed into a big pile of mess, debt, tears and loss.
Our team that helped us pick up the pieces after our plans changed.
The aftermath sent shockwaves through every area of our lives – most significantly my confidence. I mean, how do you recover from this? Everyone knew us as “that couple who DIDN’T move to Africa.” Shame. Embarrassment. Confusion. What do we do next? The whole trajectory of our life had been thrown off course.
Over the next couple of years, I spent a lot of time angry and sad. I also took my sweet time getting re-settled into Dallas because I hung on to every last shred of hope that I might still get to move to Africa. Yup. You read that right…get to. Although most people don’t understand it, I actually wanted to move. I wanted to get to know the people and the culture first hand. I wanted to help people in ways they couldn’t help themselves. I didn’t mind the mosquito nets or water filters. I wanted my kids to understand another culture and work with us to alleviate poverty. There was so, so much to grieve.
Beautiful Rwanda–Land of a Thousand Hills
But when the dust, grief and tears settled and I was super pregnant with baby #3 (because we like to add crazy to crazy), I realized that I still wanted to do this thing! Social business. Empowering women. Job training. All of it. But I didn’t know how to transplant my African dream into Dallas reality. I started mapping out plans for what this could look like. I created a job description and pitched it to a local church to see if it could fit into their local missions plan. Nope. I rallied my husband and another couple to see if we could get this endeavor going together. We tried it, but that wasn’t going to work either. I realized that if I was going to make this thing a reality, I was going to have to get over my fears of the past, accept the risk and go for it. And that’s where our story begins…