Wes and Stacy Yoakum met each other at Texas A&M University, while attending the same church. After seeing each other every Sunday and bumping into each other on campus a couple times, it wasn’t long after that they started dating. After a mission trip together to Asia, it was only a short matter of time before wedding bells were ringing. Little did they know what BIG plans God had in mind for them.
After Wes graduated, he took an engineering position, and shortly after, Stacy became pregnant with their first child. It wasn’t long before God was knocking at their door — they received a call to join a missionary team that was heading to Lima, Peru. Wes and Stacy felt God’s call to serve in missions — God calls on everyone in different points in their lives and this was their time. Wes left his engineering job, and together they packed their belongings to carry God’s word and grace overseas.
Together with the missionary team, they helped start a new church and a nonprofit that aids developmental work in the poor neighborhoods of Lima. After two more children and five blessed years serving overseas, they knew their time as missionaries was coming to a close. In July 2014, they ushered a new season into their lives.
For Wes and Stacy, it was hard to leave and bittersweet. After five years, they had formed good relationships with both Peruvians and the other missionaries on their team. “Our kids were in school, and they really enjoyed their friends and teachers. Our church was still growing, so it was really difficult, but it was good to see our family again,” Stacy said. “A lot of missionaries struggle with leaving the mission field, and it’s the same thing — the joy of going home, but the sadness of leaving that part of your life behind. It did make it easier for us to leave, knowing that what we had been doing for years would be in the hands of our teammates; knowing they were continuing the work made it easier for us to leave.”
The period of re-adjustment can be difficult for former missionaries. What was once home, might not feel like home any longer. “I was really fortunate to accept a position as an engineer in the Brazos Valley, while we were still in Peru. I had a job waiting for me, which is often not the case for many missionaries. So it was a big blessing,” Wes said. “There are a lot of new things that we’re getting to do now for the first time. I’m coaching a Little League team for my kids. We don’t have work on the weekends, so our Saturdays and Sundays are full of different activities and doing things like teaching a high school class at church.”
Stacy adds, “Each Monday night, I co-lead a college girl’s Bible study and have a fun time full of fellowship. I love that I’ve been able to come straight from a ministry position overseas to serve in my home country. Other than that I am chasing around my three boys all day.”
The transition has been easier on Wes and Stacy than on their three boys. “Some people don’t realize this, but our kids, our third culture kids, they’re not Peruvian or American. They are their own cross-culture. Coming back for them was hard, they were leaving their home,” Stacy said. “When we first got back, others would ask if we were excited to finally be home; but it didn’t feel like home. We have been back for almost a year now, and even though it’s our home country, it’s taking a while for it to actually feel like home again. Plus, we’re still in the process of adjusting and learning things about the culture again.”
Wes and Stacy finished serving overseas, but they have never finished serving God. Coming back to the United States wasn’t the end. In a lot of ways, it is only the beginning.
They have moved forward into another season of their life to serve God’s kingdom. Missionaries and churches must work together to insure that these are seasons of fruitful labor, as we await the great harvest.
article by Ariel Rosentswieg