We stepped off the plane in Maseru, Lesotho full of excitement, ready to begin our experience. We were eager to meet the team and see what God is doing in this small country at the south of the African continent. Six months before we were looking up Lesotho on a map to find this country we had not heard of before. Despite being unfamiliar with Lesotho, we were familiar with MAF. We have been serving as Advocates for 5 years; and working toward applying full time in the coming year. In 2013, we visited the base in Tarakan, Indonesia. With our MAF background we felt like we had a decent idea of what we were in for on our vision/service trip. Expectations however are seldom accurate, and it was a blessing to be able to replace what we imagined with the truth and specific images of what God is doing in Lesotho.
Being able to visit someone in their home is a great gift. To be welcomed into a home is to get a unique view into their world – the place where they have their favorite books, pictures they cherish, and their style on display. To be brought into a home is to be brought into a private world where you can learn and grow faster in relationship with someone. As part of our vision trip, we were able to visit several of the MAF families in their home and get a beautiful glimpse into the life of a missionary pilot.
We came to Lesotho wanting to help with their annual family conference and see a day in the life of a missionary family. We received that and so much more. During our stay we met a new culture, saw new ministries growing, saw God’s love in action, and learned more about ourselves. Mostly we experienced how God works in diverse ways and saw his relationship with people in action. Often in our daily life we can miss seeing God move because it becomes mundane or normal. This trip allowed us to step out of our routine and the familiar so our eyes could open to how involved God is in reaching people.
From the first time we learned about the trip, we got to see God work building our trust and expanding our view of Him. We had to trust Him with our finances, our children, and our talents. It seems people going on mission trips always end up with the funds somehow and we were no exception. Being on the requesting end of a newsletter was a difficult place for us as are generally the ones sending a check. It stretched us in a new way to ask for support. We really did feel so blessed and unworthy to receive the support we did. It was humbling and we realized how God does want us all to work together. He created us to be a team and thrive in relationship with each other. The conversations we had in discussing our plans for the trip opened so many doors even before we stepped on a plane. Even conversations at the chiropractor organically led to MAF as the main small talk in May and June is “What are you doing this summer?” At this point our dentist, mom’s meet up group, chiropractor, and coworkers have been able to hear about MAF just from that simple question.
Along with our finances, we had to trust God with our daughters. We left our two girls, ages 2 and 4, with family while we were away. While it was nice to know they were enjoying the pool with cousins instead of with us for the 36 hours on airplanes – we did miss them as this was the longest we had ever been away from them. God reminded us He is their creator and father; He loves them even more than we can. It forced us to remember they are a gift we are responsible to care for, but ultimately, they are His. We have to daily release their care to Him and seek Him in what is best for them. Working through this is a struggle against anxiety that taught us to release our desire for control over to God, and we were thankful for the grace and mercy He gave us through the process.
We signed up to lead worship and the children’s program for the Family Conference, which was a leap of faith in a new way for us as well. There were many new stretching experiences that made us lean into God’s strength. Often as we prepared, we felt too inadequate to lead, but God would remind us that our main objective was to show up with His love for everyone and He would lead us. We knew God was with us because amid our fears we could lean into Him and experience peace. Beyond that we experienced the joy and wonder of growing closer to Him and seeing more of His creation.
Being able to listen to the families in Lesotho made the idea and theory of MAF come to life for us. As Advocates, and soon to be applicants, we’ve spent a lot of time learning about MAF and imagining what it would be like to serve, but that cannot match stepping into a base and living it. Hearing families’ daily struggles, what it was like for them to move, why they continue to serve, and all the ways God reveals himself in their lives gave us a bigger picture of MAF, our world, and mostly God. Being at a base allowed us to talk with several families and hear how different all their stories are. It opened our eyes to how big God is to use so many people and circumstances to reach a common goal. Every family has unique stories of God working, not only in getting them to Lesotho, but in what they are doing there now. Each person has a ministry in Lesotho that is so well suited to their gifts. It was encouraging to see how God used each person specifically.
Along with getting to speak with the American MAF families, visiting Lesotho gave us a special opportunity to speak with MAF national staff. They are fluent in English, so the language barrier was minimal. This was completely different from our time in Indonesia as we don’t speak Indonesian. Getting to communicate directly with the national staff was extremely valuable. Without a communication gap, we could talk with the Besotho about why they chose to work for MAF, their struggles, and their hopes for the future. As Advocates, we’ve been asked about the response MAF gets in the countries where they serve. Now we’ve had a chance to hear firsthand what they think of MAF coming to their home. We also got to see examples of the relationship the government of Lesotho has with MAF. We had assumed that all relationships with governments and MAF were strained at best however in Lesotho they have a great relationship.
It was so helpful to have conversations with people actively in the global field of MAF, but mostly we got to see a bigger view of God’s work. We saw His work in us before, during, and now after the trip. We saw what He has done and is doing in Lesotho. The work that has been put into building relationships with the Basotho is being blessed and directed by God’s hand. You can see God’s love and determination in the staff to reach the people around them. The new program for Lesotho flying pastors is one example of how God is using the people to expand His ministry, but there are so many exciting ways His love is spreading in Lesotho. Because of our visit we get to bring that news and joy back with us and share it in our community. Our family has commented how much more driven we are since our return to grasp onto opportunities and relationships. The fire for God’s Kingdom is catching and visiting a place and people where you can see it growing spreads that fire. We will always remember these firsthand experiences and look forward to the day we can not only make more of our own but allow others to visit and bless them as we have been blessed.
By Advocate Grant Mugge