Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
– Matthew 11:28 – 30
Greetings to you all from Mwanza, Tanzania.
Daphne, Peter Henry and I just returned here a few hours ago, after spending the last month in Nairobi, Kenya where we traveled for pediatric and other appointments, to collect our son’s Canadian passport, and to take a much needed rest from life in Mwanza. It was a very good time of recuperation and refreshment as well as getting a lot of business done.
As we have processed the challenging circumstances of the past months we, together with our leadership at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, have arrived at a major decision.
It’s time for the Hargraves to take a leave from East Africa. But we’re not leaving forever, and we’re still OCMC Missionaries.
As we have prayed, talked together, sought the counsel of trusted mentors, and communicated closely with the OCMC Missionary Department, it has become apparent that the right course of action at this time is to temporarily step out of the mission field and seek a place where we can focus on building a strong family, and even better preparing ourselves for continued career missionary service.
Life has been very full, and there’s no space to go into details here. If you’d like to talk more, we’d love to communicate one on one. We do want to be very clear that we love, support and affirm His Eminence, Metropolitan Jeronymos of Mwanza and Western Tanzania, as well as the whole Archdiocese. We are not fully equipped, at this moment, to be an integral part of the ministry of the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza; but this is not due to any shortcomings on the part of the Church. Likewise, we are grateful to be OCMC Missionaries under the very good leadership of Deacon James Nicholas and Margo Kelley in the Missionary Department. We affirm their leadership and hope to continue serving under their care for decades to come.
For some time it has been apparent to me (James) that I am sorely lacking in solid theological education. In my daily life and role as a missionary, I am often expected to have the pastoral experience and theological knowledge of a seminary graduate. Without this education, I am not properly equipped. If it were good and right for Daphne, Peter Henry and me to remain in Mwanza right now, I’d be working hard to do some kind of theological study by correspondence course or distance education. Because it is good and right for us to return to North America right now, and it makes sense that our next step should be for me to pursue a graduate degree in theology. The fact that we’re a mixed Canadian-American family complicates our situation, but we have a plan.
Here’s the plan:
We’re on our way back to Mwanza this week. We’ll spend August preparing a good departure- selling and giving away our stuff, making farewells with many people, and packing for the trip overseas. Around the 29th or 30th of August we hope to fly to Florida, where we’ll spend a few weeks with family as well as debriefing at OCMC. By late September, we’re off to Abbotsford, British Columbia. Because my son is a Canadian citizen, I should be eligible for temporary residence in the country, but I probably won’t be able to get a work permit. We’re hoping Daphne will be able to work full-time as a nurse- perhaps the same job she left last year- while I apply to seminary and care for Peter Henry as a stay-at-home dad. Daphne will study to qualify for a nursing license in the United States, and by August 2014, God willing, we’ll be off to seminary somewhere in the United States, where I would be a full-time student while Daphne works. By mid 2017 or 2018 we hope that I would have completed my graduate theological education, and we’d proceed with our next assignment as long-term missionaries. We’d love to come back to the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza, but we’ll be open to other opportunities if they arise. By January 2018 or 2019, God willing, we’d have the support we need to return to the field.
It’s only a plan. It’s full of unknowns, and a lot could change along the way. But it’s a course of action that seems appropriate to us and to our leadership at OCMC. We’re excited about the way forward and grateful for God’s good guidance in our lives.
The past year has been tougher than we could have imagined, and our God has been faithful in his love and care. He has heard your holy prayers, and we are grateful. Thank you. Thank you for your financial support, for your friendship, correspondence, communication, encouragement, and especially your prayers. Thank you.
Please stay in touch. While we’re grateful and optimistic about the way forward, we are also disappointed to be leaving so soon. We need your friendship and your encouragement. We especially need your prayers.
But we won’t need your money!
According to procedure, our OCMC stipend will be maintained during the first months of transition, until the end of November 2013. Your continued financial support through November will help us as we move to Canada, look for a place to live, and find work for Daphne. After that, we will not draw salary from OCMC until we re-activate as full-time missionaries following seminary.
In the meantime, we sincerely ask that you consider redirecting your faithful support to worthy missionaries and projects through the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. We especially encourage you to support our friend Meg Engelbach, who is preparing for long-term service in East Africa starting in just one or two months. Meg will be serving as part of a new translation project under development by OCMC initially for use in East Africa that will seek to translate liturgical and theological texts into numerous local languages. You can learn more about Meg at http://www.ocmc.org/meaganengelbach .
If you would like to redirect support to Meg you can call OCMC at 1-877-463-6784, ask for the Finance Department (or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org) and request that starting December 2013 your pledge or recurring gift be switched over from the Hargraves to Meg Engelbach. If you send a check, make it payable to “Orthodox Christian Mission Center” and in the memo line put “M. Engelbach”. (You can alternately make your donation on her OCMC webpage noted above.) However, if you would like to consider supporting other missionaries or other mission fields, then we encourage you to consult with the Missionary Department (extension 120 or 121) which will be glad to discuss other giving options with you. After November, any funds sent to OCMC in our name will remain in our support account to be used once we return to the field in a few years’ time.
Thank you again for walking with me, and now with us, over these past years. Your love has been a great encouragement and witness as we have endeavored to serve Christ here in East Africa. We are no less committed to serving Christ and his Holy Church, and we are no less than ever in need of your love, friendship and prayers. Please stay in touch.
By your prayers in Christ, with great love and gratitude,
James, Daphne and Peter Henry Hargrave