July 12, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

In her classic novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë writes through the person of Jane, “I was weary of an existence all passive.” How easy it is for us, no matter our age, location, or service in life, to settle into a passive or complacent life, getting caught in the repetition of everyday and forgetting what it means to live life on purpose, for a purpose!

We were reminded of this a few months ago after hearing Erika’s uncle preach on Christ being our family redeemer. During the sermon he mentioned how often our prayers for our children tend to be limp. We fall into this pattern of asking God to…”keep Johnny safe at school” and “keep Johnny safe at baseball” and so on. While we can and should ask for God’s protection over our children, how many of us stop there! Our prayers are shortsighted and small. We stop short of asking God to do BIG things in their lives, especially if that means allowing them to go through trials and suffering.

As he spoke, our hearts were being convicted and our habits challenged. We found ourselves asking what our prayers for Isabella include, and an even bigger question weighed on our hearts, “What kind of life are we modeling for her?” Are we, in fact, settled into an existence all too passive, falling into a shortsighted, “safe” pattern of life, or are we living by faith and expecting great things from God? In C.S. Lewis’ classic,The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the children implore the beavers on whether or not Aslan is “rather safe.” With an emphatic reply, we learn that Aslan, a representation of God, is “not safe, but He is good!” And let me tell you, we serve a good God! Whatever our location, we are called to walk by faith, with our utter dependence on God.

As we pondered this reality, our hearts were convicted that we might not be in the place God has called us to be. And so we began praying and seeking and trying to discern with new eyes and a fresh understanding where God wants our family to be serving him.

Though it has been on our hearts for years, through much prayer and Godly counsel, we feel that now is the time that God is leading us to step out in faith and to serve Him with Josh’s family in the jungles of Venezuela. A couple of months ago, Josh’s dad, a missionary with a primitive group of Indians in the Amazon rainforest of southern Venezuela, shared with us about the current needs in the village. The more we thought and prayed about those needs, the more excited we became to be God’s instruments to help meet those needs. Our main ministry will be with the youth of the village. There is currently a critical need to start a ministry for the young people. This will be the main focus of our time and energy. Additionally, with her extensive background in education, Erika will be assisting teachers and students in the Yanomamö school, and Josh, with his experience in the computer field, will also assist with the IT needs in the village, something very different from the States! On top of all of that, we will both be assisting in the day to day needs of the village, as the base is severely understaffed and in urgent need of help.

Our plan is to leave on August 17 and serve until the end of December, with the option of remaining longer if possible. We will be located on the banks of the Padamo River in a village accessible only by boat. Life is definitely different in the jungle – electricity comes from a generator, and with the current fuel rations, the generator is only run for about 4 hours a day; temperatures can hit a high of 130°F during the day; bugs (very large ones!) and snakes (yikes!) will become a daily part of life; and there are no grocery stores—I’m not sure what I’ll do without fresh milk and ice cream! 🙂

Cosh (View of the Village)
Cosh (View of the Village)

Would you be willing to stand with us in prayer as we set out on this journey? We know that we can’t do this in our own strength or understanding, but we serve a BIG God who can do “immeasurably more than we could ask or even imagine!”

Here are a few ways you can specifically pray for us:

  1. We have about a month to prepare for our departure, and as you can imagine, there are lots of details included in that!
  2. We are still working on raising support for our family’s ministry/living expenses and plane tickets.
  3. We are finishing up our paperwork for travel—Isabella’s Venezuelan citizenship and Erika’s visa. Pray that this can be accomplished quickly and seamlessly.
  4. We will have a huge adjustment to life in the jungle! We covet your prayers for this transition!
  5. We so desire to serve the Lord well! Please pray for our ministry and all that entails. Please also pray for Erika as she adjusts to a new culture and language. Though Josh speaks Yanomamö like he does English and also speaks Spanish quite well, Erika took German in high school….this should be a small indicator of how much prayer she needs!
Yanomamö Children
Yanomamö Children
Making Kasava Bread
Making Kasava Bread

Thank you for taking this step with us and bathing us in prayer. Would you commit to regularly praying for us? Perhaps some of you would be willing to pray on a specific day every week, or a specific day every month. It is our hope that we could have specific people praying for us every day of the month. We understand how vital prayer is to our ministry, and we are so thankful to have others partner with us. Please visithttps://joshanderika.wordpress.com to stay updated about our journey and to subscribe to e-mail updates. You can also find out information about how to support us financially. We are excited to share our adventure with you!

By His Grace,

Josh, Erika, and Isabella Dawson

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