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"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." ~Proverbs 16:9

The end of an era-

After 11 years and 4 months of being on the field as a missionary with Bethesda Outreach, my time as a member of the Bethesda team is officially coming to a close. We knew this was a possibility a couple of months ago, but we were hopeful that a new arrangement may be worked out that I would be able to stay with Bethesda from the US, but in spite of great efforts by all,  we have not been able to come up with a suitable arrangement for that. There is still a LOT of unknown, and I am definitely feeling that struggle. What I do know right now: God is in control and He has a plan. I will be on a plane back to America on the 25th of April, and will be saying goodbye to my home and my family in South Africa.

My sending church has been fantastic! They are excited to have me back in the States and are looking forward to getting our own ministry to orphan and vulnerable children in the Lafayette area off the ground.

BOMI will continue to receive support for me and pay my salary out of it for at least a few months (my sending church, BOMI and I are still discussing how long this period will be) until I am able to get together with leaders at my church and come up with a clear direction for the future. Additional funds not needed for salary will be available to me as I find housing and transportation and incur other moving costs. I do plan to visit with all of my supporters when I return and have a better understanding of what is next.

As for the future I, and others who know me, believe that God has been stirring my heart for the past few years to have a more hands on approach and involvement in orphan care - to do orphan care not only help others do so. I do not fully know what this looks like as of yet. Many ideas have been thrown around, but nothing is officially decided.

As God brings it to mind, here are some specific ways to pray for this transition period:

·         I covet your prayers for my sending church leadership as they make decisions at the church level for where I might be best used in ministry.

·         Please also pray for the Bethesda families and children. Though I view myself as replaceable, I have built lasting friendships and have become a trusted member of the family for many of them. Though I still hope to come back for visits in the future, it will be different for all of us for me not to be here on a regular basis.

·         Pray for Heather! Heather and I have walked every step of the road at Bethesda together since we stepped on that plane 11+ years ago. For 9 years we have shared a house, pets, and more importantly hospitality opportunities. It will be a big change for her as well!

·         Pray for me. My heart breaks a little every time I think about leaving. There have been lots of tears. They come without warning sometimes (like as I write this update). Pray for me to be thankful for the time I have spent here and to be excited for whatever God has for my future. I know He has a plan and it is better than the one that I had envisioned. Pray for me to trust Him and not lean on my own understanding in this process.

Recently I heard a song when I was on an outing with some Bethesda visitors. I remember hearing the song several times on Christian radio when I was in the States on sabbatical, but it didn’t really resonate at that time. I know really nothing about the singer or any of his other songs, but portions of this song really explain what the last two months have been like in my heart. There are absolutely no words to express how much this process has hurt and how much my heart is broken by leaving.

From In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson-
In the eye of the storm
You remain in control
And in the middle of the war
You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor
When my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm
Verse 2-
When my hopes and dreams are far from me
And I'm runnin' out of faith
I see the future I picture slowly fade away
And when the tears of pain and heartache
Are pouring down my face
I find my peace in Jesus' name
 

Timeline-

19-22 March- Heather and I will make one final trip to Kruger.

1 April- Lord willing, Heather will get occupancy of her new flat and we will be able to gradually move her in and sell off or donate any of our belongings that she doesn’t need or that I am not bringing to the States.

18-22 April- Easter weekend. Heather and I will continue to do what we have done every Easter since we have arrived and help out one of the families by hosting their youngest children while the rest of the family is at a church conference. This will also be my last Sunday at my church here in SA. I have enjoyed being a part of the Central Baptist family at the Hill. I will miss being involved in music ministry here.

25 April- Flight departs for US

26 April- Arrive in US

28 April- My first Sunday back at KSBC in Lafayette.

30 April- Heather will put my dog, Ranger, on a plane for the States.

30 April/1 May- I will travel with my mom to Washington DC to fetch Ranger at the airport and bring him back to Indiana.

6-10 May- Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) annual Summit in Louisville, KY. I am looking forward to attending this summit. It will be my first time attending. I am excited to learn and grow with others involved in ministry to orphan and vulnerable children both domestically in the US and internationally.

18 May- Speaking at a ladies conference.

After all of this, I hope to have a bit more direction on the next steps and be able to start a schedule of visiting with my supporting churches and individuals to bring them up to speed personally about what God has done in the last two years at Bethesda, where Bethesda is headed, what their needs are going forward, as well as where Kossuth and I are headed in the future as we explore what ministry to orphaned and vulnerable children looks like nearer to home. If you would like to schedule a visit, please let me know and I would be happy to get you on the calendar for some time in May-July.

 

Thank you for your faithfulness in praying!

Blessings,

 

Tonya

This is a photo from about Easter time my first year in South Africa. The young lady I am holding is now in middle school and the young man is now a working adult. 

A Note from KSBC Missions Deacon-

Dear friends of Tonya,

South Africa and Bethesda’s needs remain great. The government’s denial of Tonya’s work visa does not make sense in my view. Still, God is faithful to surround and protect the ministry and Tonya through the changing season. As the Mission Team Deacon of Kossuth Street Baptist Church, Tonya’s sending church, I can absolutely affirm Tonya’s strength in orphan and vulnerable child care. She is a picture of what we hope others in our church can learn from and imitate as she imitates Christ in her service to the most vulnerable. Please continue (or consider an increase) in financial and prayerful support as we help her discern the next phase of her wonderful career. God is greater.

Sincerely,

Daryl Starr

New email address in use soon!
auntietlsmall@gmail.com
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