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Gennaro Family Aimsite Blog
July 19, 2016 11:59 am
Published in: Mobilizing

“Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11

 We have now been back in California for a YEAR and I can just NOW say that 1) we know where we LIVE, 2) I know what I DO, and 3) the “cup” my Father has given me is indeed refining me and making me whole.

 “People of (the Gennaro family), who (now) live in (San Diego), you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:19-21

        It’s important to note that there are OTHER verses from this chapter that apply to this time of my life AND that I’m not proud of the fact that the chapter title ALSO applies, “Woe to the Obstinate Nation.” Let’s just take a minute to look at the definition of “obstinate” and some of the synonyms:

ob·sti·nate; ˈäbstənət/adjective

  1. stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.
synonyms: stubbornunyieldinginflexibleunbendingintransigentintractable,obduratemulishbullheaded, stubborn as a mule, pigheadedself-willed,strong-willedheadstrongwillfulcontrary,

OUCH… I clearly recognize that God doesn’t waste a THING and that the HARDEST lessons are learned in the hardest ways. The “cup” He has given me often contains things that are hard to “swallow.” This particular season of transition, loneliness, grief, and trust is TEACHING me (note: I’m still learning) to BE STILL, to WAIT on the Lord, to LOOK and LISTEN for HIS direction, to BELIEVE that He has HEARD my cry and is IN THE PROCESS of answering, AND that it is ALL for my GOOD.

Here are the things God has revealed as I have “taken a long drink” from the “cup” my Father has given me this last year and the ways He has directed:

  • We now LIVE in San Diego, California, in a house that God MIRACULOUSLY provided for me to buy EVEN in this market and EVEN on my income. Friends and partners, He has clearly told me to share with you that He is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than we can ask or imagine! I don’t often tell you about the ways God provides BEYOND what I need because, honestly, I depend on the faithful giving of a LOT of people and I feel accountable to them to be a good steward AND to work for the Lord with fervor and excellence. When He provides abundance, I sometimes feel guilty about it. HOWEVER, you have to know that He takes what you faithfully give and MULTIPLIES IT for His glory! This house is beyond what I expected and more than I thought I would ever have again. Why? Because that’s just how He loves and THAT’S Him keeping His promises to me as a widow and to my children who needed the security of their OWN place.  I am learning that the verse that says, “the Lord is your husband” refers to THESE aspects of God; not just a loving Father, but a husband who PROVIDES and CHERISHES. This is the part of God that gives me “treats” that are beyond my need.
  • In the same way, as I’ve already shared with you, He has blessed me with a new assignment with Africa Inland Mission that is perfectly suited for me, allows me to be a mom (although I still need LOTS of prayer and help!), and uses our testimony and my gifts to MOBILIZE a new generation of people to GO to Africa. I have had to grieve AGAIN. Leaving Lesotho and then leaving Kenya grieved my heart. It wasn’t a relief to leave Africa, it was a drink that was like a bitter medicine, something I HAD to “power down.” It was a letting go of what I THOUGHT was God’s purpose for me and the people and a place that I deeply love. This isn’t the plan I had when we moved to Africa in 2011, but it IS a good plan and the RIGHT one for THIS season. This last weekend, a friend described my role as a mobilizer with AIM really well, “Why add when you can multiply?” I am ONE, but can now be a part of sending MANY.
  • Just this morning, I was reminded that the “cup of suffering” God has handed me is the “tool” He is using to make me WHOLE. In the words of the devotional writer, “TRUST Him and never push away the instrument He is using, or you will miss the result of His work in your life.” This is about to get deeply personal… The hardest thing I’ve had to drink from this cup has been my singleness and the loneliness that is present so much of the time. I didn’t CHOOSE this, I CHOSE to be married for life, but because the marriage commitment is until death, my marriage ended when Chris died. For a long time, I was ashamed of having a hard time being single, but I’ve realized that God MADE me the way I am, to desire and need a partner. My best friends tease me that I have so many “best friends!” Lisa says I have at least 57!  All of my “people” have ministered to me and been an amazing support to me through all of this, but I need a PERSON. Most recently, this most sour drink has shown me that it is the ingredient He has used to show me who I am, to reveal my new identity that is now more tied to HIM than ever before, to show me the “me” that stands alone and vulnerable before HIM. Even as I type this, I KNOW that my attitude needs to change. I still want to BEG Him to bring an end to the waiting, to let me HAVE what I want already! BUT, my moment-by-moment spiritual discipline is to just DRINK this cup He has given me, NOT in a guzzling mess with my nose plugged in avoidance of what He has given, but rather with a long, steady drink that allows me to taste it and glean all that He would have me learn from this time.  I’m trusting it IS just “for a time.” :0)

I know we ALL have a cup to drink from and that it’s not always full of sweetness and bubbles. He IS doing a new thing. That was His promise to me from Isaiah 43:18-19 way back in January of 2015. It’s been “springing up” ever since and this last year has been just the beginning. Cheers, friends. Let’s suck it up.

 

July 13, 2016 11:36 am
Published in: Uncategorized

A snapshot of my journey of faith over five years

GoodbyeSanDiego     I wasn’t quite ready to write a reflection and update a couple of days ago. There was too much simmering in my mind and so much to process after waking up to a Facebook memory that reminded me that it had been five years since we moved to Africa the first time. My post on July 11, 2011 read:

“This is the hardest stinkin’ thing I’ve ever had to do, but HE IS WORTHY! Remembering why we’re doing this…Jesus DIED for us and is worthy of praise from EVERY people, tongue, tribe and nation. Oh, that those we will soon meet will see His love for them and WORSHIP!”

Of course we had no idea what the next five years held for us. I have said many times that IF I would have known what was ahead, I never would have taken that step of faith. What I KNEW without a shadow of doubt, though, was that what we were doing was because Jesus was worthy of that obedience AND that we were stepping into a season where Chris would finally get to live his calling, passion, and dream to be a missionary and to use His gifts to build God’s kingdom.

As I look over that status and pick it apart, a lot of things stand out. One thing that highlights the fact that God answered that prayer is, “those we will soon meet.” There are now precious faces and names that quickly flood my mind as I remember living in Molumong. They became our neighbors, friends, and family as we did life together in that small place many people have never heard of. We loved them deeply and they received us well. So many of them loved us and generously shared their language, culture, families, and resources to help us live there. We were in it for the “long haul.” If you’re on Facebook, you can look back on my post from the other day and see that both of my Basotho sisters commented there. God knit us together tightly through some intense life circumstances.

There’s a whole book brewing in my mind. That’s probably why I don’t sleep very well. My brain has a hard time shutting down. Journal entries, notes, and scribbles fill numerous blank books that hold my intimate prayers and thoughts through the hardest, but most deeply spiritually rich days of my life. I’ll save the nail-biting stories and gory details for the book. J

What I want you to be left with here, is the bottom line. I’ve said it hundreds of times as I have shared our story. GOD.IS.REAL. The words from the Bible have become absolutely clear to me as His truths have gone from being words on a page that I have TRUSTED to be true, to clear promises and descriptions of the One True God that I have now SEEN with my own eyes and experienced in my daily life. Here are a few that are worth repeating over and over:

Psalm 139:16 – God is Sovereign and holds the number of days in His hand. He sees the whole, big picture from the beginning of time and into eternity.

Romans 8:28 – He works ALL things for the good for those who are called according to His purpose. That’s a hard one to wrap your brain around because losing your husband, father, son, friend isn’t good. But, God… There are Basotho people who told me that they hadn’t seen love like Chris loved, and that was Jesus’ presence in him. I have had to lean on God like I never have in my life and I’m closer to Him because of it. God DID heal Chris and He is WHOLE and Home. We prayed that he wouldn’t have to live in a broken body and that God would prepare us for whatever testimony He had for us. That testimony STILL leads people to Jesus AND is mobilizing people to the mission field. It doesn’t make the loss easy, but shows me that God hasn’t wasted any of it.

Isaiah 43 – Just go ahead and read ALL of this one… WHEN you pass through the waters, river, fire, ANY trial or storm, God promises that He will be with you, the waters won’t “sweep over you,” and that the fire will not “burn you or set you ablaze.” It doesn’t say, “IF,” friends. It’s WHEN. No level of sacrifice or obedience will “earn” you a ticket to easy street. You’ll go through hard times and God WILL help you through it if you know Him and receive His love, help, and gift of salvation.

There IS a happy ending… Revelation 12:10-11, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

The end is near. I feel like Paul when I say, “It’s not that I have attained all of this, but I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” I’m LEARNING more and more that I have to take every anxious, sad, weak, doubting thought captive and replace it with the TRUTH I know about God. Monday, in one of those perfectly timed devotional readings (Streams in the Desert), I read this quote –

 

“Unbelief looks at God through the circumstances, just as we often see the sun dimmed by clouds or smoke. FAITH puts God BETWEEN itself and its circumstances, and looks at them through HIM.”

 

I am moving forward by making the conscious choice to BELIEVE God at His Word. He is working behind the scenes on my behalf; He loves my children and me more than I can fathom; He sees and hears my most intimate needs and desires; and He CARES. He reveals His presence to me so faithfully daily as I SEEK Him. I’m always on the look out for Him in my days. He has provided so abundantly for us!

While I have a new assignment as a Mission Mobilizer with Africa Inland Mission and am based in San Diego, CA now, I STILL get to be about the business of TELLING people that Jesus is worthy of our praise AND sending a whole new generation of people to live out the love of Christ cross-culturally. It is a thrill to me to see God weave together a beautiful new life for us. While I still have very strong desires of the heart that I am waiting on the Lord for, He is weaving together a beautiful tapestry that will someday be complete, detailed, clear, and GOOD.

Put on your faith glasses and discover Him with me. The view is WAAAAY better when you look at your circumstances through the “filter of Truth,” from GOD’S perspective.

 

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and ENJOY SAFE PASTURE. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; TRUST IN HIM and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. BE STILL BEFORE THE LORD AND WAIT PATIENTLY FOR HIM…” Psalm 37:3-7

 

Thank you to all of those who continue to support us through your prayers AND financial giving. I am still a fully supported missionary with Africa Inland Mission and am always grateful for new partners who are committed to reaching the unreached in Africa. Explore our website to see all that God is doing, get guidance for prayer, and/or give. us.aimint.org/give

Note my updated e-mail address! michelle.gennaro@aimint.org

AND follow me on Facebook (Michelle Michaud Gennaro) and Instagram (meeshgennaro).

 

 

May 19, 2016 4:25 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

change sign

Isaiah 30:20-22 New International Version (NIV)

20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You all know I love a good story and THIS one is a good, long God-story. I’m not sure whether to take you the long way around or just cut to the chase. It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you. You see, God has been weaving together a perfect plan and all of the details had to be placed JUST so before the finished product could be revealed.

I’ll give you the punch line and then those of you who like the long story can read on so that you can see how God beautifully considered every detail.

I have made a three-year commitment to serve in a full-time capacity with Africa Inland Mission as a Mission Mobilizer. I will be based in San Diego, but the states I am responsible for will be CA, HI, and AZ. I will be looking for places God is already mobilizing people toward missions (training programs, discipleship and/or ministry schools, universities, small groups, campus ministries) and developing and nurturing relationships with those people in order to recruit and prepare new missionaries who desire to partner with God in reaching the unreached in Africa through AIM. AIM’s strategy is particularly focused on those people groups who have yet to have a gospel witness. I will also have the privilege of walking alongside these people as they are appointed, trained, raise support, and GO.

         There are a number of key threads in this tapestry that I don’t want you to miss, so I’ll just highlight those:

  • God used key people within the Body of Christ who were in positions of authority in my life to guide and direct me, beginning with the suggestion that I prayerfully consider a longer, one-year Home Assignment. That was the first whisper of direction that I heard.
  • The next guidance came through hardship. It became clear that we NEEDED to be here as a family in order to support each other, have some stability, and work through more transitions and grief.
  • Through all of this, God was opening doors to speak in many different contexts: churches, small groups, women’s retreats, mobilization ministries, events, etc. He was also using the comfort I have received to comfort others in helping relationships. Eventually, I realized he was actually USING me here and AIM leadership saw that same thing.

I have seen God’s hand so clearly in my life over the last year. First, “working in my heart to will and to act according to His purpose.” I doubted that for some months at the beginning of 2015. I couldn’t tell if it was MY desires or HIM working in my heart at first. In hindsight, I can see that He WAS stirring in me and preparing me for change. Way back in January as I was struggling through the transition of leaving Olivia in California and returning to Kenya without TWO of my kids, a very dear friend comforted me with these words, “God will bring all of your hearts to the same place at the right time and you’ll know what to do.”

That didn’t happen until the very end of March as we prepared to leave Kenya with our belongings. Two of the kids, at separate times, said to me, “Mom, I’m ready to go.”

We’re now back in San Diego and finalizing housing, learning the hard lesson that you should NEVER say “never.” The rental market is pretty bad here now, so I have had to prayerfully consider all of the houses that fit our needs whether they are for rent OR for sale. I am thankful for many friends and family who are well-suited to come alongside me and help me through these major decisions.

NOTE: I wrote THIS prayer request in April and am just proofreading it to send it out today… Please pray that God would reveal EXACTLY where He would have us live and the neighbors He would have us know.

I can’t wait to keep you updated as we continue to WATCH GOD WORK.

Thank you so much for your continued support through all of these transitions. I will remain fully supported in this new role, trusting God to provide for the added expense of living in Southern California. Please know how much I appreciate the sacrifices YOU make to keep me serving Him. There is a quote from John Piper on the wall of Mexico Caravan Ministries where I frequently speak that says, “Go, send, or disobey.” Thank you for being obedient to send me (even if it means HERE)! THIS is the purpose for which God has made me! I’ve never been so sure of it!

           

 

 

March 16, 2016 2:45 am
Published in: Uncategorized

   desertlandscape                                                                                                                             Photo: Lyle Detwiler Photography

You know me…There are many words before you get to the update! Keep reading! This is a journey, folks! 

This last weekend, because of changing circumstances, I had a long day trip up to the desert where Jed and Joseph were with the MVCFnext youth group for their Winter Camp. As it turned out, I made the drive up by myself, which allowed me a time of solace that I don’t get very often. Actually, it would be more honest if I said that I don’t TAKE time for solace much. As the landscape changed from city to desert, it was like God took me on a little tour of my life.

The radio went scratchy and civilization thinned near Barstow, CA and my mind wandered back to my childhood. Those were roads I had been on before and forgotten. My dad grew up out there on the edge of the desert. My paternal grandparents, Marge and Ted Michaud, lived in Banning for as long as I remember. We would visit “Grandma and Grandpa Sparky” (I called my grandparents affectionately by the names of their dogs), pulling into the driveway lined with rocks and decorated with cactus, wagon wheels, and other things that held stories I’m sure. As I drove through Banning this time, I laughed a little to myself and remembered what Nathanael said of Nazareth in John 1:46 when referring to Jesus, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?!” In the same way, as I let the memories flood my mind, I asked, “Banning! Can anything good come from here?!” You know the answer. YES. Good came from there.

My dad came from there and he has ended up in Maui. Not bad, “Gerdog!” He also found His Maker and so did I. It’s often perplexing to me to look back over our crazy life, through many different seasons and landscapes – I was recently teasing my mom about the time when my parents ran Pentz Store, a bar and restaurant with a gas pump out front where I learned to shoot pool, pump gas, and choose the songs on the juke box with the local hippies. Push the fast forward button to today and I continue to find myself a sojourner through many different places, meeting ALL kinds of different people, but now bringing Good News and Truth to broken people like me. Yes, good things come from barren places.

As I left Banning, the desert seemed to take over quickly. The wind picked up and the vegetation slowly faded into a light brown backdrop of desolation. I couldn’t help but think about the Israelites wandering through the desert and the many places in the Bible where the desert is used as a picture of loss, disobedience, despair, and hopelessness. I have even used it to describe myself in the dark times of my grief. But as I drove through there on Saturday morning, it was like God opened my eyes to see the truth of my life and the way He has carried me. I am NOT like the desert. Even in the darkest times of sorrow, He has been so close to me that I have never felt the barrenness and dryness that characterize the desert “wasteland.” It has surely been HIS grace and HIS faithfulness to me that have made that true.

One of the most profound blessings and sources of strength in this long season of weakness has been God’s Word. He has spoken to me so intimately through it and I have journaled my prayers and the messages He has whispered to me, filling many blank books with conversations and cries to Him. Psalm 1:2-3 comes to mind, “But (her) delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law (she) meditates day and night. (She) is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” There is a note in my Bible next to that verse that says, “beginning prayer journal today.” HE has kept me from withering and being completely dry. HE has led me through seasons of ABUNDANCE rather than dryness and I am so thankful.

Now, I am preparing for my next journey. Thursday morning we’ll leave for a VISIT to Kenya where we will pack up and process through another change of seasons. You see, God has led me one baby step at a time through this transition… a one-term Home Assignment turned to a one-year Home Assignment, and that has turned into a new assignment with Africa Inland Mission that uses my gifts and experiences in a way that will fill a critical, strategic role in the organization. I can’t wait until the details are worked out and I can announce all that God has done to guide us gently into a season of serving HERE. Not only that, but He has brought ALL of our hearts to a place of KNOWING that this is, indeed, what God would have us do. He has shown me that HE knows what all of us need even before we can sense it ourselves. He loves each of my kids just as He loves the unreached and He desires for THEM to know and trust Him too. He has provided for a season of stability in order to continue the healing process WITH our extended family AND still participate in reaching the unreached in AFRICA!

Thank you for your continued faithful prayers and support even as we have been on THIS side of the ocean! I will continue to need that support in this new role and will get you all of the details as SOON as I know them too!

I will end with this from Psalm 66:8-12, which was recently placed on my heart for a women’s event where I got to share my testimony:

 

“Praise our God, all peoples,

let the sound of his praise be heard;

he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

For you, God, tested us;

You refined us like silver…

We went through fire and water,

But you brought us to a place of abundance.”

December 5, 2015 4:21 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Burdens and Blessings

My life is an oxymoron. I guess that’s way better than BEING a moron!

ox·y·mo·ron

ˌäksəˈmôrˌän/

noun

a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g.,faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).

Yes, contradictory emotions, experiences, truths, and circumstances are happening all at once in my life. While there are too many to share with you here in this small space, I’ll give you peek into just the last few weeks. If you feel like you’ve been on a roller coaster when you’re done reading, well, you have a little idea what life is like for us in this season!

  • We are now “home” in our passport country for a season. People say, “Welcome Home” and part of me feels that way. There is another part that is at home in Africa.
  • Our hearts are still healing from Chris’ earthly absence and, yet, God continues to show us how to L-I-V-E, and laugh, and love.
  • We are planning Joel and Julia’s wedding while grieving the loss of Joel’s father too. BUT GOD has knitted our families together in a powerful way, particularly doing a beautiful work in the two mamas (Julianne and I) as we walk this road together.
  • I have responsibilities beyond which any one person should bear, BUT GOD is, step-by-step, providing for that and guiding me. He has allowed me to see a glimpse into the way He is working behind the scenes on my behalf.
  • My heart continues to have intense longings that keep me on my knees, BUT He is drawing me closer and closer to Himself and leading me toward a place of surrender. He speaks clearly to me through His Word AND through His people and the message remains clear: “Trust me, BE STILL (or calm down, or chill out), I will provide ‘in the fullness of time…’”
  • In many ways, I am in the most difficult season of my life, BUT GOD is giving me PURPOSE and even granting me favor beyond what I deserve or expect. I am broken and weak, yet He has allowed me to be honored with things like an award from PLNU, bursting open doors of opportunity and connection that STILL have me marveling at His ways!
  • I am often painfully lonely, BUT GOD has blessed me with new friends with whom I have a deep connection, other women who share this journey, deep and amazing renewal in old friendships that bring joy to my life, and people whom God is bringing to come alongside each of my kids.
  • We are in a time of “limbo” as we wait on Him in so many ways, BUT the pieces are starting to come together! According to His grace and mercy, He is slowly revealing a plan. Stay tuned along with me as it comes into focus.
  • I have a bit of Grinch in me even as I look toward the Christmas season with all of its traditions and blessings. There’s always a empty place by my side and life just doesn’t have the sparkle it used to during these times, BUT GOD has reminded me, as recently as last night, that He is EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US and that the PRINCE OF PEACE has come. He brings JOY TO THE WORLD and to my soul. Now, THAT I can celebrate!

So, with renewed strength, I welcome this season of oxymorons! He was born to die and His death brought me LIFE. I will LIVE, despite death, and I will do it abundantly in His name!IMG_2559

This picture was taken this morning as Julianne, my “sister mom,” and I hiked and processed together.  We’ll be mother-in-laws to each other’s kids and God has brought us together for the tough AND joyful roads.  We’re choosing to celebrate because that’s what our guys taught us to do!

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Thank you for standing with me!

Michelle

 

 

 

September 24, 2015 10:29 pm

joelandjulia

Exciting news!!  Julia is engaged!!  She will marry Joel Wallace, her sweetheart since 8th grade on January 15th, 2016!!  We are all so excited to officially join the Wallace/Gennaro clans!

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the LORD of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the TIMES set for them and the EXACT PLACES where they should live. God did this SO THAT men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For IN HIM we live and move and have our being…”

 (Disclaimer… there was a slight delay in the publishing of this post… my apologies!)

At some point in the last two years, God made this passage, Acts 17:24-28, one of my “peace verses.” It resurfaces in my mind during transition. It’s fitting that today, the two-month mark since our arrival back in California (9/17), those words are banging around in my head again. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been that long, for part of me feels like I have just awakened and realized that it’s time to embrace this place and intentionally DIG IN to what God has for me here.

Transition is no joke. For me, the most prevalent “symptom” of transition is a general feeling of fogginess and confusion. Imagine packing up your family in a few weeks, moving to a new country, and going from working at a break-neck pace in a fruitful ministry to a schedule that is in “flux.” Home Assignment is meant to be a time to rest, reconnecting with family, friends, and supporters, catching up on ministry-related projects, raising more support as needed, and seeking the Lord for the next term of service. For me, it means doing a lot of speaking. I learn so much about myself during these times. Unfortunately, I usually learn about the parts of me that are still weak and broken.

Over the last two months, I have been crying out to God for clarity and direction. He has been so gracious to use me in this time despite my weakness, brokenness, and confusion. FINALLY, over the last few days, He has revealed ways He desires to use me HERE in this “in between” season. I share these things here, not to “toot my own horn,” but to praise God for His faithfulness to answer my prayers that 1) my suffering would not be in vain and 2) that He would be glorified in my life AND in my brokenness. As a fully supported missionary, I am honored to represent my partners BOTH while I am in Africa AND when I am here Stateside. Another part of that is that I feel accountable to you to be “on task” and faithful to live out my call of obedience to proclaim God’s faithfulness to ALL Nations, including America.

Here are some of the ways He has used me lately on THIS side of the ocean:

  • Comforting those with the comfort I have received. (from 2 Corinthians 1) This has been both a privilege and a faith-builder. I have found myself coming alongside my friends in the death of loved ones, through cancer journeys, and in the midst of depression and suicide.
  • Mentoring and equipping. Almost immediately upon landing in San Diego, I found myself across the border in Mexico. In the first four weeks, I had at least five opportunities to speak into the lives of young people who were either experiencing cross-cultural missions for the first time OR preparing to GO into missions themselves. This gave me such purpose and comfort. It was as if I took a deep sigh of relief when I crossed that border into a more third world setting. The sights and smells of Tijuana were somehow more familiar to me, making me feel as if I could more gradually ease out of my life in Kenya. In addition, God was so gracious to allow me to see some of the fruit of previous times I had spoken in that context. Even in the depth of my sorrow and grief in the loss of Chris, He used my blubbery testimony to change lives and SEND people out. What JOY it gave me to learn that God is continuing to use Chris’ life to build His kingdom! It has also been an honor to mentor a dear friend as she and her husband prepare to GO in the coming months.
  • Challenging and encouraging the Body of Christ. God has affirmed His desire to use my speaking and my testimony to both challenge and encourage the Body of Christ here. I have had a number of opportunities to speak to different groups at my own home church and am (even now) on a plan on my way to speak at a Women’s Retreat in Maui! I have also thoroughly enjoyed meeting one on one with friends and FACE-TO-FACE with Facebook friends who share the same journey as I do. This has been a HUGE blessing for me! In November, I will be the “missionary in residence” for Africa Inland Mission’s “Connect Week,” participating in the orientation of new candidates preparing to leave for Africa in the coming months.

Thank you for your faithful prayers for my children and me throughout many seasons. I know that God brings unity through our partnership and that He is glorified when we stand together. Please continue to pray for God’s direction as I seek to glorify Him in this time of waiting, seeking, and growing.

“Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20

Michelle

August 8, 2015 3:49 pm

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Well, we have arrived in San Diego, California for our one-year Home Assignment! Those of you who have already seen us will say, “You’ve been here for almost three weeks!”  Physically, that is true, but I feel like it has taken this long to mentally and emotionally FEEL like we’re here.  Actually, buying food at Costco made me realize that we’re HERE for awhile!  Africa trivia:  The whole cart of stock-up food from Costco was LESS than a stock-up grocery trip in Nairobi, Kenya!  Yes, imported food is expensive!

NOTE:  PLEASE CHANGE MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR RECORDS TO michelle.gennaro@aimint.org!

I thought it important to share the details of our Home Assignment with you so that you would understand both our journey AND what the purpose of this time is.  While we were packing, I came up with a short “vision statement” for our time here, “Make new memories, cherish the old, PROCLAIM what God has done, and seek Him for our future.”

Having this constantly before me helps me to remember that God has ordained this time to CONNECT with family (especially my adult kids and extended family), re-connect with my church family, friends, and supporters, and really seek the Lord on what He has for my future personally, in ministry, and in the missional picture of what He is doing to reach the Nations.  While this IS specific, I still struggle to come to grips with this “sudden” shift in my purpose.  Living and serving at Rift Valley Academy is an intensely busy, stretching, and fulfilling life and it feels like that has come to a sudden stop.  Perhaps answering these “Frequently Asked Questions” will help YOU know why we’re here, why we STILL need your support, and HOW you can pray for us during this season!

1)  Where are you staying and how can I contact you?

We are staying at the Mission House at our home church, Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church, in San Diego, CA.  You can reach me at this NEW E-MAIL ADDRESS:  michelle.gennaro@aimint.org or on FACEBOOK – Michelle Michaud Gennaro.  You can read previous updates at cmgennaro.aimsites.org.  Private message me if you need my phone number.

2)  How are your kids doing?  Where will they go to school?

All of the kids are well!  They were a big part of the decision to be here for a year.  It is time for us to be together as a family.  Julia is about to start her Junior year at Biola University and works at Disneyland as an attractions hostess in Tomorrowland, the SAME job I did 30 years ago!  Stay tuned for updates about her!  Olivia finished her Aesthetics program in Maui, Hawaii and is currently with us in San Diego.  She is preparing to take her CA State exams and will then be a licensed Esthetician (facials and waxing) and will begin the job search.  The other four kids will attend Mt. Everest Academy, an Independent Studies site through San Diego Unified School District.  I am praying this gives them a safe, small group environment in which to learn and a flexible schedule for the traveling I/we need to do.  They are involved in two different youth groups, so they’re making new friends and nurturing the old ones!  Jed will be a Junior, Silly a Freshman, Joseph in 6th, and Duane in 5th.

3)  Do you have to get a job?  What about your support?

No, I am still active with Africa Inland Mission and this is a PART of my assignment.  The word used for missionaries who were temporarily “home” from the field used to be “furlough,” which means “leave of absence.”  AIM does not use this term, but rather “Home Assignment” because we are still representing the organization, actively speaking in multiple contexts, connecting with supporters and/or raising needed support, and often carrying out assignments for the organization in THIS context.  For this reason, my support and salary continue and the expenses generally INCREASE because of paying rent, etc. in the States.  So, I still need your monthly support!  Actually, I am SO THANKFUL for the part you play in keeping me serving both in Kijabe, Kenya AND here!  My support level is strong, so I will only need to raise about $175/month while I am here!  I still stand in AWE of the way God has provided through the obedience of the Body of Christ!

I am doing a lot of speaking here in San Diego and in Mexico with Mexico Caravan Ministries and Radius International.  If you would like me/us to visit YOUR church, feel free to contact me!  I’ll also be speaking at a Women’s Retreat in Maui in September!

4) How ARE you?!

A friend on our Uganda team used to say “FINE,” Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.  Thankfully, that acronym doesn’t TOTALLY fit!  While grief is a long and emotionally intense journey, I can say with confidence that we are all doing well with God’s help.  Each of us handles it differently and we address the needs as they arise.  Jed is currently having some more counseling and I saw my counselor this week to work through some transition stuff and just have a “check-up.”  She said I’m doing well and that I don’t need her anymore.  That’s good news, but I DID schedule an appointment for next month just in case!  🙂  It has been 2 1/2 years since Chris went Home, so we have managed to learn to live in this new family arrangement.  He will always be missed and cherished, but the Lord has answered my prayers and kept His promises to carry us and to “work all things for the good” AND to use our suffering and testimony for His glory.  We are learning more and more what that means to us personally and seeing Him do this.

5) How can I pray for you?

– That this time would be purposeful and achieve the goals we have set for this time.

– That the connections I/we make would lead to ETERNAL connections, so that God would use THIS time to reveal Himself through us and bring people into the Kingdom.

– That my kids would connect well and thrive in this new school setting.

– That God would make clear what He would have me do in the future, especially after Jed graduates.

– I also covet your prayers for me personally.  Chris and I had talked about marrying again if something happened to one of us and I find myself ready to begin that part of my journey.  Please pray with me for someone who would, as Olivia says, “fit right into our family” and be a partner in ministry and life with me. You can imagine all that this entails and the emotions and wisdom it requires.  Yet, I truly believe that God SEES my heart, loves me, and knows how long I can handle all of this in “singleness.”

2 Chronicles 20 has been such an encouragement to me over the last couple of days and has given me the COURAGE to obey God in taking steps of faith in the above areas.  Here are some of the things God has reminded me of through this passage:

“God HEARS ME and SAVES ME…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon YOU… Do not be afraid or discouraged… The battle is not yours, but GOD’S… STAND FIRM and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… DO NOT BE AFRAID; DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED… God out to face __________ and the LORD WILL BE WITH YOU.”

A couple of additional highlights:  The Lord fought their enemies ON THEIR BEHALF as they SANG PRAISES TO HIM and the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was AT PEACE, for his God had given him REST ON EVERY SIDE.”

You may pray this passage for me!  Rest on every side sounds like EXACTLY what I need!

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Gennaro kids (minus Julia) with their cousins on the Gennaro-Hill side.  Note:  they’re ALL crazy when they’re together, but Jed’s face is especially wacky in this picture!  That’s not his REAL smile!  Whew!

DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE MY E-MAIL ADDRESS TO michelle.gennaro@aimint.org!!

July 1, 2015 1:48 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

IMG_3812It’s July!  That means we leave Kenya in TWO WEEKS for a YEAR LONG Home Assignment. Today it dawned on me that I have ONE MORE DAY in the classroom with my students, finished grading their research papers AND tests, helped tear down the set from the play, and realized that I better start packing!  Some of you may be hearing this for the first time, so I thought I’d better give you an update before we show up in California and you wonder why we’re lingering…

It’s fitting that I came across the Steven Curtis Chapman song, “Take Another Step,” yesterday.  As I welcomed July, a month I have anticipated for a long time, it made me remember all that God has done to guide and direct me over the last couple of years AND think of some things that may help you understand us as we acclimate to being in the States again.  Even though I have a LOT of words, they sometimes fail to describe my life and the processing that happens on a daily basis.  Here are SOME of my reflections:

– Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  This next thought isn’t an original thought, I must have read it somewhere.  God lights our paths step-by-step, just enough light right in front of us to take the next step.  That’s GRACE.  Sometimes I’m tempted to know MORE about what He has planned for me, but then I realize that if I had known what was coming when we moved to Africa, it would have crippled me.  It’s WAY better that God lights the path right in front of me.  That’s what He did with this Home Assignment and I have had MANY confirmations that it’s simply time for us to be “home” for a while.

– A colleague and friend of mine recently described “home” in a way that resonated with me.  She said,

“It is not easy saying ‘good-bye’ to home and arriving back to our passport ‘home’.  Home is that relative term of ours that describes our physical place in Kenya and our emotional place in Canada.  This really is a crazy way to live.”

So, as we come “home,” just realize that we have MANY emotions that we’re processing.  We’re SUPER excited to see all of you!  We can’t wait to experience familiar things, taste all of our favorite foods, and make new memories.  However, we’ve also come to feel like Africa is home, first Lesotho and South Africa, and now Kenya, where we have lived even longer than we lived in Lesotho.  We leave behind friends, pets, and a place we’ve come to love.  We’re also not “with it” on what’s been going on!  It’s winter here and summer there, our clothes are all faded, and we don’t even know the latest styles!  I’ve even been driving on the other side of the road for quite a while!  Patience and grace will be required as we adjust.

– We’ll probably be different than when you last saw us.  That’s because we’re changed forever.  We have learned to live in a new way without Chris.  It’s been 2 1/2 years and we still miss him, remember him, tell stories about him, and I often still tell the kids, “Your dad would say…”  He’ll always be a part of our lives and left quite a legacy.  While this is all true, you have to understand that we ALL process differently.  You can’t see one of us and assume we’re ALL in that same place.  You DO have to know that we’re healing and we’re doing well.  God has done EVERYTHING He said He would do.  He has comforted, provided, carried, strengthened, sustained…  Because of this, we’re doing EXACTLY what we said we would do on the night Chris went to Heaven, we’re LIVING.  We’re still sarcastic, we laugh, we cry, we learn new things, we still love adventure, we have hopes and dreams, and in most ways, we’re moving on.  This IS a process, though, so don’t be caught off guard if something random makes one of us cry, or get angry, or want to run away, or retreat into a room for a while (that’s not me), or go for a long run, or talk for a long time, or… EVERY Gennaro handles things differently.  This quote describes it well:

“The reality is you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same nor should you want to.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

So, while I have no idea what is in store for this year, I DO know that God has ordained this time, that He has great plans for us, and that He’s in control.  He has directed me to take THIS step of faith and trust Him with THIS bit of the path in front of me.  I will be speaking quite a bit, the kids will be in school in San Diego, and I will be asking the Lord for direction on my future. Believe it or not, Jed’s going to be a Junior next year!

Please pray with us that God would use this time powerfully to bring FURTHER healing for us AND our family; that we would simply ENJOY our family, church family, and friends; that we can make NEW memories; that God would surely shine some light on the next “section” of my path; that He would provide abundantly for us while living in Southern California; that He would help EACH of us transition well and literally bring all of our hearts to the same place as we look toward what’s next for us.  We DO plan on returning to RVA for Jed’s senior year, but all of us hold our plans lightly, recognizing that God often has OTHER things in mind!  The GREAT thing is that He is able to do more than I ask or imagine!

Looking forward expectantly,

Michelle

 

May 27, 2015 2:27 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

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I am still confident of this:  I WILL see the GOODNESS of the Lord in the land of the living.  WAIT FOR THE LORD; be strong and TAKE HEART and WAIT FOR THE LORD.”  Psalm 27:13-14

When you look at this puddle, do you see the mud and the damage to the road or do you see the beauty of God’s creation reflected in it?

On a recent walk with a friend, we dodged puddles and mud as we chatted our way down the curved and rocky road through the forest.  At this one, he stopped and called my attention to the beauty of it.  He said something like, “Look how you can see the beauty of the sky and clouds reflected in it if you look past the mud.”  We both stood there looking at it and I haven’t forgotten the profound vision it gave me that day.  The actual WORDS for it didn’t materialize until this morning.

I’ve been in the process of asking God to give me the strength to finish strong here at RVA in these critical last weeks with my students while I anticipate a much-needed season with my girls, my family, and my friends.  There’s so much I’m looking forward to and so much I’m asking God to reveal to me while we’re there that I get anxious to GET THERE.  These waiting times tend to look really muddy and mess up my  heart and mind.  There’s no clarity here.  The distance feels more vast, the loneliness feels heavier on my heart, and the future looks unclear and murky – I just can’t see what’s coming.  I’ve been seeing the mud.

When I read from Psalm 27 this morning (see above), God reminded me of three things and the picture of this mud puddle flashed to the forefront of my mind.  While we both agree that the ACTUAL experience was much more vivid and powerful in person, the impact is just as strong today.  If I allow my eyes to be focused ON THE LORD and His faithfulness to me in the past AND in the present and remember the miracles He HAS done and IS working in my life, that perspective changes what I see in the puddle.  Suddenly, the mud of the unknown is just a canvas for the beautiful, vivid GOODNESS of God’s promises for my future and the future of my whole family.  The colors come clear and the technicolor HOPE of His eternal glory outshines the dirty, messy mud of my circumstances.

The verse God CLEARLY spoke to me for 2015 is Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  

I am determined, with God’s help, to have this perspective, seeing God’s faithfulness and promises at work and letting the murky mud of the “former things” fade into the canvas for the new things God has planned for us!

Please pray for us in the coming weeks:

– For all of us in the RVA community who face incredible transitions in July.

– For Olivia’s safe travel to Kenya on MONDAY!

– For Julia as she stays in California to work for the summer.  We wish she was with us!

– For the last 5 weeks I have with my beloved students.  Please pray that God would equip me to support, encourage, and prepare them for their next season of life ALL OVER THE WORLD.

– For my kids’ transition to the school plan we have planned.  Please pray that we can get them into Mt. Everest Academy in Clairemont (San Diego, CA).

– That God would guide and direct me while I am in the States.  He doesn’t HAVE to, but I am asking Him to reveal at least HINTS of what is to come next for our family.

– For incredible time with family, friends, and our church family while we are in California.  I don’t want to dread how fast the time will go, but savor EVERY minute we have there.  Pray that God will give me WISDOM to discern where HE would have me speak and visit while I’m there.

 

May 18, 2015 11:16 am
Published in: Uncategorized

This is ONLY for those of you who want the WHOLE story!  Keep reading for EVERY detail!

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to step foot in a hospital again without memories of Chris and his illness flooding my mind – especially in the African context.  This place is different, yet the familiarity that I feel here shocks me.  I am aware of how far I’ve come – how much healing God has worked in my life.  Yet, the pain still exists somewhere there under the surface.  My prayer is that each of these experiences will help us move forward and that the pain of the trauma will continue to decrease.  Of course, we’ll never forget.

The first thing that struck me was that I knew my way around the hospital.  God had brought me there before – many times and for different reasons.  I remember back to January, 2013 when Chip Carter accompanied Olivia and me down to the hospital for her surgery, Dr. Newton did her anesthesia, and Dr. Hansen performed the surgery.  I have returned to visit people there in that hospital, most recently Jane, whose life was spared in this place.  I have brought my students here for tours and to see a part of Kenya they don’t usually see.

As all of these thoughts crowded my brain, I was suddenly aware that Joseph didn’t LOOK like my son.  After all of these years, it’s easy to forget that most of the time.  Here, I had to explain myself, push my way into lines and advocate for him.  People stared at us, perplexed with why he was with me.  They spoke to him in Kikuyu, tried Kiswahili, and still he didn’t understand.  Then, he finally said, “I speak English” in a perfect American accent.  More confusion.

I was made aware how much our life choices are observed by the world , even when we don’t make them intending them to be viewed by strangers.  I don’t even remember thinking about these things when we prayed about adopting the boys.  God put the desire in our hearts, we met Danyne, and we jumped into this journey with love to share.

Isn’t it amazing that your body can still function while your brain processes so much?!  I continued to navigate the halls of the hospital unquestioned.  I moved through each of the swinging doors freely, nobody either asking if I needed help or if I had permission to be there.  The inconsistency here is a blessing when you benefit from it and a curse when harmed by it.  We checked in at the “Theatre Reception Room” where a young woman informed me that they needed his height and weight.  She scratched a note on a torn piece of paper (in hindsight, I should have written his name on it – the information got mixed up later) and instructed me to RETURN to reception where they have a place to take the weight.  “Don’t sit down,” she said. “They won’t know why you are waiting.”  Note to self…

I forced myself to adjust to this context:  “Don’t be ‘polite’ as you know it. TAKE your place in the queue or you’ll never get in.”  Sure enough, two families moved in ahead of us.  As the hospital worker passed near me, I took my chance and boldly declared, “He’s going to theatre now, they require his vitals.”  The curtain opened briefly behind him and I seized the chance to put Joseph on the bench in the next spot.  There I was, one lone white woman in a sea of starting brown faces… How did I get here?  What are they THINKING, Lord?  Praise You for all YOU have done in my life to bring me to this moment!  Attitude adjusted…

The verse from my quiet time came back to me – “My ways are higher than your ways…”  The reality of God being in control and His powerful Sovereignty washed over me.  I realized that if I would have SEEN a glimpse of this journey ahead of time, I would have been crippled by fear and never moved out in faith.  The connection was made.  I cannot see the future now either and, in that moment, I grasped the Truth that it’s ok.  HE is in control, orchestrating each moment toward His eternal plan and, as the days come, opening with pink and purple shades of hope, I will face them one by one.  He WILL go before me and prepare me, just as He has prepared me for this day.

Once we were settled in the Theatre Waiting Room again, a young man came and introduced himself to me.  He had just started as an intern on Monday.  His lips quivered with nervousness. He had written the wrong name AND hospital ID# on Joseph’s consent form.  I made sure he corrected it.  “If you are responsible for him, you must sign.” More confusion about who I was.  “He is my son,” I explain again, marking the form for “mother.”

I asked him if I should PRINT my name in the blank.  His response was to say “Yes” and to write “Prince” in shaky handwriting in the blank where I was to PRINT my name.  I printed my name (the mother now known as “Prince”), thanking God that He was in control and that my doctor friend was on the other side of that wall waiting to receive Joseph and do the operation.  I could not have written this story 7 1/2 years ago when the British doctor in Kampala, Uganda told us he would need this surgery someday.

“His ways are higher than my ways…”

As I sat writing, Joseph’s name was called.  They brought him back there without me – he was FIRST in line today!  God had cleared the way.  He bravely went ahead and emerged from the dressing room in a green surgical gown and a big smile on his face.  THIS kid is a SURVIVOR.  Oh, how God loves the fatherless!

The waiting room filled with more patients, some of the same ones who were staring at me earlier.  Now, they had a chance to ASK me!  First, the Hindi woman next to me asked and we had a long conversation.  Her arm was broken from a fall and infection had set in.  She was clearly in pain and very nervous.  As we were talking, a precious two-year-old little boy boldly made his way over to me and rested his arm in my lap.  His mother motioned to him to come back to her.  He shook his head no and pointed to me.  I couldn’t resist putting my arm around him and hugging him a little.  When he looked up at me, I stared into one striking blue eye and one dark brown eye.  His right eye sparkled with many deep colors of blue surrounding lighter shades near the pupil.  His mom explained that He hadn’t yet begun to speak.  They were there to determine if he was profoundly deaf or if hearing aids would help him.  Precious boy, what does your future hold?  Then, I sat there with his mother as she received the news that he DOES have total hearing loss in one ear, but the other MAY be helped with a hearing aid.  That SHRED of hope would cost her a year’s wages.  Pray for little Ryan and his mama.  She is looking for an organization to sponsor either the hearing aids or a transplant for her only son.

The chaplain entered (this is a MISSION hospital).  He spoke to those waiting for surgery and prayed for them, “We are under His control.  He is FAITHFUL.  May His grace be sufficient for you.”

Yes, Lord.  You are sufficient for me.

Joseph came through the surgery just fine and is resting at home.  I’m pretty sure he’ll even be back at school tomorrow.  He had some memories of Chris in ICU when they put his IV in for the anesthesia and was afraid when he woke up without me.  I asked him how he got through those minutes and he said, “I told myself that we have to go through these things sometimes in life.”  God bless my kids who know so much about life, death, and grief at this young age.  I can’t help but praise their Heavenly Father for the way HE has carried them and made them into the strong young people they are today.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

I think I’ll choose to trust Him with His plan for my life… and maybe try to get on Amazing Race.