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by Tania Vail
Ian & Tania Vail

Ian & Tania Vail

Transition – it’s something we seem to go through many times in life. Ready or not.

Each year in Indonesia we went through the process of submitting our application for our next one-year visa. It was fairly standard. In 2014 our submission was declined and we were told we had two weeks to leave the country. No way! Ian had just come out of hospital after knee replacement surgery and he wasn’t going anywhere. And I certainly couldn’t pack everything up and have us ready to leave in two weeks.

We sent out an urgent prayer request. Our application was resubmitted. And miracle of miracles, we were granted another one-year visa, but we were told that this was most definitely our last visa.

In many ways, things were lining up for us to return to New Zealand. Yet we hadn’t completed the work we were doing in Indonesia. Ian had begun the Deeper Bible Course there which has seven levels, and at that stage he was only up to Level 4. With only one more year in Jakarta that would take Deeper Bible through to Level 6 for the first group, but many more were still to go through the earlier levels. The teachers Ian had trained were able to teach the first two levels but not beyond that.

While away at a weekend retreat where we had time to reflect and just spend quiet time seeking the Lord, my question was: ‘Lord, is this really your timing for us to return to New Zealand?’ Circumstances were saying yes, but I wasn’t satisfied with that. In every other change we’d had, the Lord had made it abundantly clear. As I sat there that morning He graciously walked with me back through His leading in each of the other changes

  • His first call into mission work and going to Indonesia
  • His call for Ian to be Director of Wycliffe NZ
  • His call to return to Indonesia

Each of those had been quite spectacular in His detailed leading and many times we had needed to stand on that to persevere when things were hard, when we had wanted to give up. But His guidance was unmistakable. It was such an encouragement to be reminded again of the journey and all that God had done, His faithfulness, and His sure guidance and presence with us.

‘But Lord, what about this? Are we really supposed to be going back to NZ in 2015? We haven’t finished in Indonesia yet. Should we be looking at another visa option? Circumstances are all pointing to this being the right time, immigration are saying this is the end, no more one-year visas. We have our marching orders. But, Lord, you are bigger than that. I just want to know from you.’

Then God spoke again, saying, ‘Yes I am leading you. July 2015 is the right time to return to NZ. I will lead you and guide you. Don’t be afraid. Your times are in My hands. All things will come together under My guidance. Trust Me, rest in Me. I have given you My Holy Spirit to help you along the way.’

Then he told me to read Jeremiah 29:10b onwards. Verse 14b grabbed my attention: ‘I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.’

I just cried when I read that. How awesome. And what incredible confirmation. What peace washed over my being. Yes, this was when we were to return to NZ.

However, we are still in a time of transition between both countries, living in NZ for nine months and returning to Indonesia for three months of the year. This is to continue with the training of Deeper Bible teachers and also for Ian to teach the next levels to continue the process. We will do this for a few years until the teachers are trained through all the levels and can teach without Ian needing to be there.

Transition isn’t always easy. Goodbyes are hard. You are always leaving part of your heart behind. I hate packing. All the decisions that have to be made are incredibly stressful. But we’ve been here in NZ for almost a year now.  Sometimes when I’m trying to find something here – I knew exactly where it was in our apartment in Jakarta – I just can’t find where I’ve put it.

I love being back in NZ. Our family is here. I love being able to be much more a part of their lives. I love the beauty around us here. I love that I’m in an English-speaking country. I love driving here in Auckland. Yes, I’m home. Well, almost.


Return to Living Words July 2016


John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word

Verse for today

You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.