In Part 1, I explained how Erasto’s persistence and confidence in God’s providence led to the sabbatical trip we’re taking. But, of course, there is more to the story.
Laura started Living Water Christian Church in April 2004. Two years ago she began to discuss the idea of her taking sabbatical somewhere around the seven-year mark. She didn’t know then exactly when the sabbatical would be or what she would do; she mainly wanted the church to establish the practice of providing a sabbatical approximately every seven years.
Last year Laura decided to apply for a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Endowment. This is an awesome program that provides up to $50,000 for pastors to take a once-in-a-lifetime sabbatical. The program encourages pastors to not only travel and study, but also rest and play, using their funding for all sabbatical-related costs including the cost of providing a substitute pastor for the church.
Laura thought that the only financially practical way she would ever be able to accept Erasto’s invitation would be to use grant funding for the travel. So the main idea was to plan a trip to Tanzania to meet Erasto and spend some time ministering with the people of Beroya Revival Temple.
I began to study up on Tanzania’s geography, air travel routes to get there, and costs. I discovered that the most common ways to get to Tanzania from the US are through Europe. In fact, if you draw a great circle route from Kansas City to Dodoma, it passes just south of Spain. So naturally, that led to the idea of going first to Germany to meet Niko’s extended family and see his town (Braunfels) and at least some of his country. Our son, Rob, was already dreaming about a trip to Germany. So we decided to include him and our world-traveller daughter, Beth, in that part of the trip.
Finally, Laura knew from the grant application that the Lilly people want to see recreation in the pastor’s sabbatical plan, so she decided to go for it. If you’ve gone to the cost and trouble of traveling to Tanzania, wouldn’t it make sense to go on a safari while you’re there?
Knowing how competitive the grant is, and knowing the odds were against receiving it, we planned, budgeted, and submitted a proposal for a trip we hoped they might fund. Not that I’m complaining, but if someone said to Laura and me, “I’ll give you money to take a trip anywhere in the world,” Germany might have been part of it but certainly Tanzania would not have been. Yet God steered our plans in this direction.
And so the basic outline of the trip was in place: spend a week in Dodoma with Beroya church; spend a week in Germany on the way there; and spend a week on safari before returning home. When you add in the air travel days, the whole trip is just two days short of 4 weeks.
We’re now more than halfway through our Germany week. I’ll fill in more details on my next post.