A letter from Nancy Dimmock in Zambia
God is sovereign over all the earth—and can throw us a curve ball any time He wishes! He has done so with our family. It is with both a sense of loss and a sense of “rightness” that we write to let you know about the recent decision to move our family to the U.S. at the end of June this year. As you know, Frank has been working as the new Global Poverty Alleviation Catalyst with the PC(USA). As this job has evolved, it has taken him increasingly away from Africa, to learn about poverty in other parts of the world and to interpret global needs to congregations in the U.S. Dividing responsibilities across continents has put increasing strain on Frank and on our family. As a result, and in consultation with colleagues at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, it was deemed best for us to join him in Louisville, Kentucky, and make it our new home base. We will make the move after the children finish this school year. Then, I have been assigned to work as a Missionary-in-Residence from July 2014, working with Frank and others in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, before transitioning out of mission service.
While the decision came as a shock, our amazingly flexible kids immediately began thinking about all of the positives surrounding such a move. Jackson is looking forward to being near family. He’s especially delighted to not be the youngest in the family, but can be an uncle to Isaiah! Isaac is crazy about American football, and this gives him the opportunity to join a middle school team and actually play. Alifa turns 16 in May and is excited about the possibility of getting her driver’s license sooner than anyone else in the family (legal age for a license in southern Africa is 18). Frank is excited about filling the lonely furlough home apartment with his family, and about our working together at the PC(USA) headquarters. Andrew was a bit more resistant to the idea. And those of you who know me well can hear me hyperventilating at the thought of leaving Africa and moving to the U.S. permanently! This is HARD. There is no question that Congo/Malawi/Lesotho/Zambia are “home” for me—where I am secure, validated in community, expanded in spirit, and comfortable. Maybe too comfortable? Perhaps God, in His mercy, is calling me out of Africa, out of my place of comfort, to a new place of ministry and challenge, where I must depend on His strength.
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” Ps. 18:30-32.
And the way is proving to be perfect, as so many loose ends and unknowns are slotting smoothly into place:
1. Housing in Zambia: we will clean and pack up the house on the seminary campus, just before its full-time tenants return from their year of Itineration assignment in the U.S. Our departure date is June 22. They arrive in early July.
2. Housing in the U.S: with my assignment as Missionary-in-Residence we can remain in the three-bedroom furlough apartment that Frank has been occupying. It gives us a year to look together for a house to rent or buy.
3. Zambia assignments: while continuing in prayer and conversation locally and with the PC(USA), God is providing for the continuation of both the HIV/AIDs Youth and the Young Adult Volunteer programs.
4. Our partners, the CCAP Synod of Zambia, have been so understanding of the need to put family first. They have said, “Others can do the jobs, but only you can be the wife to your husband and the mother to your children.”
5. I attended the New Missionary Orientation in Louisville, Ky., in early January—where it became obvious that I needed to hear a new word from God and this new call to the U.S. There I heard:
• “Perceive the Kingdom of God throughout the whole world... It is invariably at the edges of culture pushing ever outward. The West is now essentially “post Christian.” The new center of Christianity has shifted to the Global South. The West has much to learn from that new vital, growing edge (from theologian Andrew Walls).
• And from a poem called "Missionaries" (from Jiva Telling Rites): “We come as missionaries, to convert the heathens—out of the heart of Africa—we come. Charged with the faith of our fathers, and the mud and magnitude and miracles of our mothers—holding the holy text of redemptive memory in one hand and the markings of our cross-ing in the other.”
6. And, finally, our transitioning out of mission service after 30 years makes way for YOU to be renewed in your commitment to mission and to participate in the new things that God is doing in the world. God is still calling people into international mission, with urgency and passion and commitment! At Orientation I had the privilege of meeting the Ludwigs, a young family with a 2- and a 4-year-old, who are assured and excited about their new adventure in learning and service in Niger. The Thompson-Royers are heading to first-time/full-time service with the women of Guatemala. The Sundbergs, with their four children, are moving to Nicaragua. Jeremy and Luta Garbat-Welch are moving to Malawi with their 6-month-old son, to do Community Health Evangelism and chaplaincy training. It was an inspiration to be with them during the three-week orientation program. All are now busy trying to develop a support base that will enable them to fulfill their call and connect their new team of supporters with their new communities of service. We commend them to you. Please write to Nicole Gerkins (Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Funds Development Ministry Office for information about all of the missionaries that need support, and prayerfully consider, during the coming year, whom you would like to partner with in our place.
Please pray for our family as we organize another major move. And THANK YOU for your prayers, love and support through the ups and downs of our many years of life in mission together!
With love in Christ,
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 141
Read more about Nancy Dimmock's ministry
Dear Nancy, You probably don't remember me, but I was Jesse's English teacher at RVA her senior year. One of her journals that I secretly copied was about you, her hero! (Can I put my hands on it now after six moves... No, darn it!) After just reading your letter on returning to the States, I sense why your daughter admires you so much. Your words are both poignant and powerful. We were only in Kenya for five years but our hearts remain there in many ways. Returning to Colorado has been difficult but we do believe that God does not want us to be too comfortable... I did manage to find your daughter's response to the prompt "What do you look for in a church?" She wrote: "My parents were involved in an international Sunday School program and really enjoyed that when we were in the States...A final thing that is important to me is cultural diversity. I don't want to be completely surrounded by rich white Americans." This was only a portion of her answer in a June, 2006! I love Jesse and continue to follow a bit of her life on Facebook. She is precious and so values your lifelong desire to follow Christ. You go! Your struggles inspire all of us on the sidelines of your life!
Dear Nancy, You probably don't remember me, but I was Jesse's English teacher at RVA her senior year. One of her journals that I secretly copied was about you, her hero! (Can I put my hands on it now after six moves... No, darn it!) after just reading your letter on returning to the States, I sense why your daughter admires you so much. Your words are both poignant and powerful.
Dear Dimmock's, We will keep you in our prayers as your transition. Having left Kenya in 2011 after 31 years, we know that feeling! But God is good and DOES grant the desires of our hearts, and changes them. Praying for joy in the journey! In His Grace, Tim and Bonnie Cook