Amie and I made a final decision in February of 2016 to pursue our calling in the mission field (9 months ago). The first real step was to SAVE and SELL EVERYTHING! It all had to go if we were truly serious about being the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and broken world outside of our American borders. Beginning in April (7 months ago), we began purging our possessions primarily on local “buy & sell” Facebook groups and yard sales. Amie and I sold our furniture, appliances, camping gear, clothing, tools, vehicles, a trampoline, etc! It was pretty much everything we owned of value including all firearms. Mahalo to all of you who supported us by purchasing our possessions. Sentimental knick knacks and other things we couldn’t sell were either donated or stored in a 10’x16′ storage building back home in Mena, AR.
Mahalo to Jr & Amy Ledbetter with Outback Barn for allowing me and Darrell Hughes to build a storage shed at their shop in Oden. Not only did the Ledbetters donate ALL of the material to build it but they even delivered the shed too!
So, what comes along with selling everything you own?… Fundraisers of course!
Our ministry went from an infant crawling stage to a walking stage when we had our first official fundraiser at the Daisy Room in May (6 months ago). Mahalo to those who attended “Revolution With The Renards”. I imagine that you remember how nervous we were! It was an awesome learning experience and we were able to gain some local awareness of our plans and we were also blessed with our first monthly doner. Mahalo to Richard and Trudy Johnson! You will never know how much encouragement you have given us.
There were other fundraisers such as launching the sales of T-shirts online. Mahalo to all of you who purchased a T-shirt. We even rented a booth at the Lum & Abner festival to sell the T-shirts. Mahalo to Ethan Rodgers and Grant Guthrie for helping us man the booth. Members of Grace Bible Church showed tremendous support by purchasing the majority of the remaining shirts. Mahalo to the GBC members for all of your love and support.
After all of the yard sales and fundraisers were over, Amie, the girls, and I temporarily moved into Roger and Barbara Genung’s guest house in Mena. It was a much needed refuge for our family due to the fact that we no longer had household items such as furniture and appliances. Mahalo to the Genungs for opening your home to us! We love you so much!
All of the preparations mentioned so far led us up to officially beginning our missionary training at Beautiful Feet Boot Camp in Choctaw, Oklahoma. July and August was an intense experience for us. The challenges were REAL and we made some life long friends within our community of Boot Campers and staff. Training filled our metaphorical “tool bags” for the mission field. Mahalo to all of the staff and students at BFBC22! Yes, even you Eric!
After a couple months of intense training, we graduated from Boot Camp on August 31st. Leaving our community of Boot Campers and staff was so emotional. Amie and I haven’t cried together like that since then. When we got back to Mena, we were once again blessed with a place to stay. Janis Schull’s offered her guest house to us for the first couple weeks of September. Once again, it was a refuge that we really needed and a breath of fresh air to have our own kitchen again (even if it was temporary). A HUGE Mahalo to Janis for all of your support and opening up your guest house to us! We love you so much Janis!
Before we left for the long drive to California, we had our last fundraiser at Glen and Barbara Gowdy’s home. Mahalo to the Gowdys and to Larry, Judy, and Jessica Kropp for everything you did for the “Launching Nate & Amie” campaign. Another Mahalo to everyone who helped staff and show up at the fundraiser and mission meeting at the Gowdy’s. Amie and I experienced some amazing support from members of Grace Bible Church, friends, and family during the short time between Boot Camp and leaving for California. We were able to meet with so many of our supporters for warm encouragement and good homemade food.
Up to this point in our ‘marathon’, there were an abundance of people who joined Amie and I on our journey. I have mentioned several people in this blog but I would like to take special recognition to Adam and Eunjung Anderton. They have been involved with EVERYTHING that I have mentioned so far. The Anderton’s worked hard in ALL the fundraisers and assisted us with ALL of the yard sales. They have gone above and beyond with support behind the scenes and even came to visit us during Boot Camp. Even to this day, our local mail is being sent to their home. A HUGE Mahalo to you Adam and Eunjung for your friendship, support, encouragement, and LOVE!
Lamar and Becky Austin also deserve special recognition for their support and encouragement. Meeting with Lamar for discipleship every Wednesday was one of the many highlights of my week for several months. Lamar is an amazing mentor and friend. I truly do miss our time together. Mahalo to the Austins!
Lastly, I would like to give Larry and Joanne Johnson special recognition for joining our journey. They have opened a HUGE door for our calling to reach the unreached. Partnering with Grace Bible Church is the direct answer to a prayer that Amie and I prayed over a year ago. Mahalo to the Johnsons and mission board at GBC.
Off to California…
We left Mena, Arkansas on September 9th (2 months ago). We didn’t want to rush the drive so we turned it into a four day trip. Our first night we stayed at Beautiful Feet. It was like medicine getting to see the staff again. We miss you guys and gals like crazy! Onward we drove West to California to meet up with my dad and stepmother (Greg and Sheree Renard). We were met with open arms and open doors from Jim and Sue Thayer who offered a place for us to stay in California for a couple nights. Mahalo to the Thayers for your hospitality. The few short days that we were in California was non stop! We were already beyond exhausted from driving 1,900 miles and to top it off we woke up at 4:30am both days that we stayed with the Thayers. It was all kind of a blur.
The first morning in California we successfully put our van on the barge in Oakland so it could be shipped to Hawaii. The second morning we caught our early AM flight to Kona, Hawaii. We were so exhausted from all of the traveling that I slept over half of the 5 hour flight. Mahalo to my dad and stepmother (Greg and Sheree Renard) for making all of the provisions for our short stay in California. I wish we could have spent more time together. Perhaps we can on the way back in April?
Arriving in Kona seemed like forever ago but it has only been 7 weeks. We were met with so many challenges that I elaborated in a blog that I posted titled, “Mahalo from the Renards”. I suggest reading it if you haven’t yet. This blog can be considered the prequel to it. We persisted through all of the challenges we faced after arriving in Hawaii. Amie is currently deep into her midwifery studies with mountains of homework, clinicals, and 30+ hours in the classroom every week. The girls are about halfway done with foundation school at the university. They won’t admit it but they are having a blast with their cross-cultural classmates in foundation school. I have been doing my best at being supportive as the taxi, tending to household duties, and working in the evenings as a waiter. I am currently volunteering during the day by installing floor tiles in one of the kitchens at the university. I can’t hardly wait for my ‘sustainable living’ classes to begin in January.
Since April; selling everything we own, graduating from Boot Camp, and moving to Hawaii can truly be compared to running a marathon! It was an encouraging “ah-ha” moment when we realized that we are over halfway through the process of transitioning and training. Amie will graduate from the GoMidwife program at the end of March so we still have 5 months to go in this ‘missionary training marathon’. All I can say is, “bring it on”!
I have recognized several people by name in this blog that have partnered with us through our journey. I didn’t get permission from any person named and I hope that I didn’t offend anybody by doing so. I totally understand the servant mentality of “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. I also understand the reasoning of, “it is not anybody’s business what we do for one another”. There isn’t any big mystery going on, we are just wanting to be transparent about something. Whether I recognized you directly or indirectly, I was intentional. The reason is because Amie and I are totally vulnerable and dependent on YOU! That is how God created us to live; to be in community with one another. We can’t make it without your support.
We are extremely grateful for every prayer, every contribution, every T-shirt purchased, every fundraiser attended, every provision, every door opened, and every heart opened. This isn’t a “Nate & Amie thing”! It is a ministry partnership that you have directly participated in. It is a marathon that we are able to run together only because of your support. We are past the midway point of training only because of YOU! Mahalo to each and every person who has joined us on our journey. Amie and I are looking forward to bright and beautiful future together united to reach the unreached and do our part to fulfill the Great Commission.