By Dotsie Corwin
Go. Serve. Love is excited to welcome Dotsie Corwin. She comes from a long line of missionaries and Christian workers, but it was the illustration of an unbalanced number of people carrying a telephone pole that impacted her and her husband to commit to a career in mission. Thinking of only one carrying the pole on one end with the rest on the other, it made sense to spend their lives where there was greater need.
Dotsie and her husband, Gary, are members of SIM (formerly Sudan Interior Mission). After serving in Ghana for several years, they joined SIM’s International Staff where Dotsie worked in Communications for 25 years.
She loves “intentionally grandparenting” their four grandkids; cooking; and mowing the lawn. And we happen to know that her freshman year of college, she tried a little rebellion by climbing the forbidden water tower on campus.
Our group clustered together for a farewell photo, babies in arms, toddlers clinging to strollers, and the airport wind whipping around like a mini cyclone. The time to leave for Africa had arrived.
It’s an image that’s stuck in my mind now for over 30 years. I have the actual photo, though I don’t need it to remember.
These friends were, and still are, a pure gift from God to us.
Our friendships began in a church small group, when we were young and having babies around the same time. We shared together in sponsoring two Laotian families as they moved to our town. Together we laughed, played together, and cared for each other’s kids. We cooked great meals for each other. We did life together through all its ups and downs.
And when the time came for us to gather resources of prayer and finances in order to go as global workers to Africa, they came alongside us.
They babysat so we could do what we needed to do. Our friends stored things we were leaving behind in their attics. Some helped us pack up diapers, clothes and books into our “missionary barrels.” They celebrated when our church ordained us and commissioned us to begin our journey of service to God. They started to give every month to our support account, and they prayed.
And then they came to say good-bye.
What We Did Well
My husband and I live life with a “ministry mentality.” I saw myriads of ministry first-hand growing up in a pastor’s home. My husband caught the vision through life experiences.
From the early days of our marriage we were involved in our church and in others’ lives in a variety of ways. We poured ourselves into young people as we led our church’s youth group. This meant having them over for meals, mentoring them one-on-one, and investing our time in them, when we could have been doing our own thing. Wherever we lived during those early years, we built into others’ lives.
So as we gathered resources for our work overseas, those who knew us well from our investment in them turned it around. They invested in us financially and in prayer. We raised our support quickly and more than a few of those early supporters have been with us all these 40 years of ministry.
We’ve worked hard to keep in touch with our team through regular letters, both through printed (now emailed) newsletters, and by writing personal notes. Each special financial gift (above regular giving) is acknowledged with a hand-written note. People say our good communication has kept us well-connected with them.
That was something we did well.
What We Didn’t
But we regret our packing days.
We made the mistake of getting advice from only one other missionary. In hindsight, we should have asked for a broader perspective.
We packed far more than we needed to bring across the ocean. The country we were going to was in economic despair most of the time we were there, so our things were useful, but we could have managed without all that we brought.
It felt awkward “bringing America” to Africa, as if African things weren’t good enough for us. We had an open home and shared what we had with others around us, but we always felt a nudge of regret that we didn’t do things better.
We still feel that regret.
What’s Not Over
But my story isn’t over yet.
God can use what we do right and what we don’t do so right. He is author of it all.
Our years in Africa went on to have some very challenging times, and looking back I wonder how we kept going. But through it all we learned and relearned one very basic but profound truth: God does not make mistakes.
Everything that comes into our lives serves a purpose.
It may initially look messy when we make mistakes, and it will certainly never be picture-perfect, but He creates beauty out of both our strengths and weaknesses.
That truth is embedded in my heart and soul.
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