Kristo amefufuka! Christ is risen!
And greetings from Gainesville, Florida. I am here for a few days, preparing for the OCMC Board Meeting in St Augustine early this week, and then a return to... Canada.
Yes, Canada. Plans have changed a little. Instead of flying back to Tanzania next week, I'll spend the summer in British Columbia. When I return to Africa later this year, I will be traveling together with my wife.
Daphne Cunningham and I are getting married on Sunday, May 27th in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Let me back up.
Daphne and I met in November of 2009, at her parish in Langley, BC. She is from the nearby town of Abbotsford, and spent part of her early twenties in missionary service, in North Africa among other places. Daphne returned to Canada to pursue a degree in nursing in order to go back to Africa as a long-term missionary. When she and I met in 2009, she started paying attention specifically to the work of the Orthodox Church in Tanzania. We kept in touch.
Last year, I asked Daphne to consider joining the short-term medical team that the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza hosted during the first half of October. To my delight, she came.
Those two weeks of clinics were very intense. (Read more about the experience here: http://rjhargrav.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/st-james-2011-update/ .) I found myself saddled with unexpected responsibilities, in addition to the tasks I'd anticipated. One of the few constants during those days was Daphne's presence at my side. We knew how to support and encourage one another, as if we'd known each other all our lives. Working together- facing the world side-by-side- seemed natural and simple and good. With Daphne beside me, I was more my own self.
So at the end of those two weeks, when Daphne announced to the group that she was applying for long-term missionary service in the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza through OCMC, I was happy.
Daphne had been considering missionary service in Africa for years. It was evident that she was called to this task. And, just as I was interested in her, she also took a liking to me. After the work of the Team was over, during our excursion on the last day, the two of us had several long conversations and decided to pursue a relationship. It was clear from the beginning that if the relationship went well we were both looking at marriage.
It went well indeed. In February 2012, as I returned to Florida, Daphne was also in the state for interviews at the Mission Center. During that time she was able to meet much of my extended family. We received affirmation from all sides, and once again being with Daphne seemed more natural and more real than being without her. By the end of the month, we knew for sure that we were ready to be married. And soon.
After the wedding and honeymoon, Daphne hopes to complete the missionary training process with OCMC. After some time developing a support base in the Pacific Northwest, we intend to return together to Tanzania. As we settle into our home there, I will continue my work with the Holy Archdiocese of Mwanza as Daphne begins learning language and culture. It will be a new life for both of us, and we are excited.
The coming months will be very busy. We'll do our best to keep you posted, but you might not hear much until after the honeymoon. Daphne and I are grateful for your prayers, your encouragement, and your generosity.
As a missionary couple, our expenses together will be somewhat higher than mine have been as a bachelor. God is good, and we are not overly anxious about money. But we will need to increase our support level in order to return together to Tanzania. We are looking for about thirty parishes, families and individuals to make new commitments to giving between $10 and $100 / month, as they are able. And we are asking current supporters to continue giving as they are able.
If you would like to make a pledge of support for Daphne and me, you can do this in several ways. You can make out a check to OCMC with "Hargrave" in the memo line, and send it to: OCMC, 220 Mason Manatee Way, St Augustine FL 32086, USA. You can call 1-877-GO-FORTH and ask for the finance department. Or you can go to http://jhargrave.ocmc.org and click on "Support Missionary."
Thank you again for your prayers, encouragement and support. I'm very happy to finally introduce you officially to Daphne. And we, together, look forward to deepening our relationship with each of you.
Amefufuka kweli! Truly he is risen!
By your prayers in Christ,
PS I have been invited to contribute monthly blog posts to "The Sounding" on the Orthodox Christian Network ( blog.myocn.com ), and for the March posting I wrote a bit about how Daphne and I found each other. You can read it at http://blog.myocn.com/missions/is-god-enough-for-you.html .