Called to Stay + Called Together =
Today marks 28 years of marriage to the man of my life. Ours has been a missionary marriage since day #1. When we started dating, while both in Bible college, Byron let me know of his missionary call to the country of Brazil. It was to let me know - Date me, might marry me, will go to Brazil. I took it seriously as I had felt called to missions at a young age. In 1985, I traveled to Brazil with Byron to see if it and he were for me. I remember thinking after the trip that I really liked Brazil, and Byron, too. We started making plans to marry and to get to Brazil. We were married in 1987, but it took a few more years to get to the mission field.
Our wedding was simple. We were married at Chamblissburg Baptist Church in front of the parsonage. Pastor George Law counselled with us before we were married. He seemed concerned about my "independent spirit," but married us nonetheless. In the bulletin passed out that day and the clip for newspapers, it was stated for all who didn't know already that Byron and Michele felt the call to go to the mission field together.
It took a while. I finished my college work at Piedmont Bible College that year after we married while Byron worked. Then I started teaching while he finished his degree at Piedmont with a stint at Missionary Aviation Institute as well. We looked to go to Brazil before Byron was all done with school, but a certain pastor advised us to finish first. It was good advice. While living in Winston-Salem, an old pastor called us up one day and asked if we didn't need a mission house to live in. Move we did. That move really began our deputation as it all seemed more real and started our push for the mission field.
In 1991 we were accepted with Baptist Mid-Missions. For three years we traveled up and down the highways and byways of North Carolina and Virginia, determined to keep our support base local. It took three long years of deputation and presentations just to hit 80% of our monthly support estimate. I was teaching at a Christian school. Every year at contract signing time I said, I won't be here next year! We were ready to go with enough money or not, because we were called.
We had a full schedule of deputation meetings all over North Carolina and into Virginia. We traveled on Wednesdays as soon as I was done with classes at the school and many weekends. Sometime in the spring of 1994 a plea went out for teachers at the MK school where we hoped to work in Brazil. Somehow we convinced the mission board of our frugal-ness and great desire. In August of 1994 we arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Byron says we arrived with 6 suitcases and not much money. In 1998 we left for our first furlough with two baby boys, a new church planted and mostly built, and the same amount of money each month.
In those years before we went to Brazil, somewhere in between all that driving, God blessed us twice with the possibility of our first sons, only to see the pregnancies end around three months. Funny though, we trusted God's timing and didn't worry. It was hard, but we kept going.
Flash forward to 2015... we've seen some rough times over the past two years. We faced the questions over these past two years of whether to go, to quit, to come back, to leave, to stay.... But God is always good and somehow He has helped us to keep on going. We are still called to serve together. Many things have come to question that call over the years, but we are here and we are called. We are thankful. I am thankful. Thankful for a man who doesn't always know what to do with me, but keeps on going. Planning to keep on for another 28 years, se Deus quiser!