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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5–6

I have a friend in the U.S. who shared a simple formula to calculate the time to complete his home projects. Given the amount of time he estimated, he’d multiply that by seven, and maybe result in the actual time take to finish his projects. The same seems to hold for Kenya as well.

Although it’s not comfortable to talk about one’s self, we are encouraged by fellow missionaries to sometimes share what life is like in the field. We get used to dodging potholes, cows and people on the roads, stocking up on supplies, things taking more time and locking up the house early at night. We learn to be flexible. Yet sometimes God gives us “opportunities” to rely on Him rather than ourselves.

As our fiscal year ended, things became busy with finalizing the status of projects, identifying needs, coordinating support, posting online, preparing for the next year, writing thank yous to project donors and visiting project sites. Family life continued with school, weekly chapel with missionaries, after-school sports and activities, boy scouts and evening devotions. Life’s humming along, and we’re running to keep pace.

Then our truck stops working. For a week, mechanics troubleshoot while the vehicle remained in the office parking lot. Between borrowing cars and taxis, we try to continue family life. (Lord, thank you for diligent mechanics and helpful friends.)

Then a sad event within a partner church. We coordinate with missionaries as we work with church and community leaders. The days were filled with emotions, grief, delicate discussions and prayers. (Lord, please heal this community.)

Then, the water heater breaks (this will take two weeks to fix?), the uphill water tank springs a small leak (drain water from house?), a visa for a trip is now required before I depart in two weeks (Lord, please give the embassy workers time to help me), when driving home from the most wonderful ballet ever—ok, I’m biased, three kids and Jenn were deeply involved in it—I made a wrong turn into a less than stellar neighborhood, and my GPS quits (God, please lead us out), our international driver’s licenses become due for renewal (Lord, we trust You’ll provide help) plus a few other challenges (Lord, please grant us patience).

Then I got sick, flat on my back. And all the tasks must be done before I depart to visit our missionaries and projects in West Africa. I had read Psalm 27 the week prior and some images came to mind: in the day of trouble … conceal me under His tent … Lord is my stronghold … army camped against me … I will not fear … wait for the Lord … be strong, and let your heart take courage … wait for the Lord! Through all of this, God was showing me to trust Him and put all things into His hands.

It had been years since I had taken a long hot bath, but suddenly it seemed like a good idea. I huffed four large kettles of hot water upstairs (remember, the water heater broke), but now aching muscles were able to move. A friend helps to drive, so I’m able to apply for visa. I get stuck in the same bad neighborhood again, but God provided an easy way out. Problems become easier to deal with. Setbacks with drivers license occur—“Come back Monday”—but the psalmist says “take courage; wait for the Lord!

Although our primary role is telling people about Jesus, there are many blessings and challenges that are part of missionary life. Even long-term missionaries encourage us as they share stories of blessings from situations they experienced. Roadside vehicle assistance, trustworthy relationships with local mechanics and community leaders, helpful people in government offices and prayers from friends were unexpected blessings. It’s not just those we serve who need Christ; our missionaries joyfully rely on Him too!

John Wolf is the Africa Region Project Manager for the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. He and his family, with the support of LCMS churches like Saint John’s, are serving in Kenya. Please keep them in your prayers! We encourage you to follow their family blog,, which is also where you can sign up to their mailing list and make donations.