by James & Laurie Duncan
Life seems to be full of waiting. Whether we’re children waiting to grow up, an adolescent waiting to drive, a student waiting to graduate, an adult waiting to get married, have children, land a promotion, or retire, waiting is a fact of life. And even though I’ve had to wait for many things, I’m still awful at it.

 We are the Duncan family. James and I met in high school, married in college, and had our first baby before graduation. So while those things took time, there wasn’t a lot of sitting and waiting in our first couple years. However, before marriage we talked about adopting and missions, and wanted to be a part of both; we just weren’t sure how, or when.

When we first looked into adoption we were 23 and a lot of agencies wouldn’t qualify a couple so young. I remember being so impatient and thinking I couldn’t possibly wait seven years until we were (gasp!) 30, which was required at the time. Finally, we were able to start the process of adopting, four years and two bio children later. And what was “supposed” to take 12-18 months, took over two years. There were many hard nights wondering about the circumstances of the child who would be our son, and many times things looked pretty grim. But, through all the waiting, anxiety, fear, waiting, preparation, stress, and more waiting, God was revealing the truth of His sovereign control. At the same time, He was reigniting in our hearts a desire for foreign missions.

As I said earlier, God had given us a heart for foreign ministry before we had gotten married, but what He hadn’t done was show us where or how we would serve. We had tried breaking into overseas missions in several ways, but to no avail. Doors always ended up closed.  But during this time of working and having children, God had moved James from an entry-level graphic designer to a team-leading programmer, and we had begun thinking maybe our mission field would remain in our own backyard. Through the adoption of our son though, God called us to step out again into the scary unknown and pursue missions.

Neither James nor I have a Bible degree or medical degree, or gift for preaching - all things with obvious applications on the mission field. What we do have is a willingness to be used and sent where God leads, and turns out, the mission world could really use some sweet computer skills, like that of my computer programming husband! Woot!

I’d like to say we packed up and left as soon as we got the clarity of our mission, but no. We began the fundraising process and waited as God called people to join our support team. During that same time we added two more kids to our tribe because, well, why not? And so, three years after going to new staff training with our sending organization, we packed up our house, left our friends, family, amazing church body, and most of our belongings, and took our six kids around the globe to Chiang Mai, Thailand (where we added another baby!!)

There have been times I’ve wondered,  “Why now?” Why, as a family this large, this settled, with this amazing support system of family, friends, and church body, would we be called to leave it all behind? Why not before all that? Why did we have to wait until we were so established, until we would have so many we would miss? For us, I think in part, that is what we were waiting for. God wanted us to have all that support, all that identity, love, all that grounding.

Sometimes, when it feels like too much - and it often can being so far away from all I’ve known - I have this incredible establishment. Not just people to turn to and have pray for me, though I do and they’re invaluable, but I also have years of investment that has gone into me, and into us. God has used the time we felt we were waiting to prepare us, grow us, equip us, to root us and establish us in His love. All that waiting. It can be frustrating, stressful, full of unknowns, worry, anger, questions...you name it. But it is also full of the faithful handiwork of God. So while I’m not a pro at waiting, I’m learning to see and recognize its fruit, and appreciate the things God can do while we wait on Him.