Saturday, December 29, 2012

Current Opportunities at HOPAC

Anyone interested in joining us at Haven of Peace next year? There are many opportunities for teachers for the 2013- 2014 year!


Opportunities (beginning August 2013)

  • Primary Principal
  • Primary Teacher (G3)
  • Secondary Art Teacher
  • Secondary Biology Teacher
  • Secondary English Literature Teacher
  • Secondary Math Teacher
  • Secondary Economics/History Teacher
  • Special Needs Teacher
  • Music Teacher
  • PE Teacher/Sports Coordinator
  • Service Learning Coordinator
  • ICT/Computer Teacher
  • ESL/EAL Teacher
  • Librarian
  • Systems Engineer

Friday, December 28, 2012

Online donations & address request!

We are not officially listed on the CRWM donation page, HOWEVER, if you would like to make an online donation, please visit the link below. There is a box you can click that says, "I would like to designate my gift to a person or project not already listed."

When you click that box, it will give you a place to put our name/mission. You can put "Marc & Gretchen Driesenga - HOPAC, Tanzania" as the information.

Thanks for your consideration!

Also, we are currently working on our mailing list for our newletters/updates and our first letter If you would like to receive it, please message me your home address at

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spring Break 2013

Marc was able to meet with our Global Engagement Team (GET) from church last week to share our mission & vision for our upcoming move and work in Tanzania. He was very encouraged by being able to share and invite others to join in and partner with us.

The GET approved funds for Marc to take a vision trip to Dar Es Salaam and HOPAC over spring break this year. He will be going for about a week and will possibly be staying with the current Bible teacher and his family. He will get to spend time with Gil (Bible teacher) to go over the Bible classes and curriculum, meet with administrators, look for housing/vehicle and just get a feel for how we can best prepare for our move, including what we need to take and what we can leave behind.

I am so thrilled that he gets to take this trip and equally excited that I can stay home. As much as I am completely excited to move and begin ministry there, the thought of an 8 hour time difference, long, long, long flights and only being there for 6-7 days is not appealing. I'm not a fantastic flier/traveler, so if I'm going to travel that long, I'm staying put for a while. :)

So, who's going to come hang out with me and the kids while Marc is traveling the world?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Craft & Vendor Show SUCCESS!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated in our Craft & Vendor Show! We were hoping to raise $1,000 - $1,500. We fell right in the middle and consider that a huge success!

My first fear: not finding enough crafters/vendors to participate
Reality: I had people emailing me up until the day before asking if there was still room. I had to turn a few people away. We had exactly the number that fit well in the room we were using.

My second fear: no one would come.
Reality: We had a steady flow of people ALL FOUR HOURS! I'm pretty sure the advertising we did was very successful and almost positive we could have stayed open another hour or two and remained as busy.

My third fear: it would be a huge failure altogether
Reality: We feel SO affirmed with how things went. We had AMAZING help by a few key friends and family members - thank you all for your incredible support and help. We could not have done it without you!

Shout outs to:
* Mom & Dad Z
* Mom D
* Sister Em (and boys)
* Bro DeWayne & Sis Leah
* Kelly B
* Reitsma M
* Jun
* Jenna W
* Denise M
* Mark & Rachael VW
* Everyone who made baked goods
* a few of my students and others from church who had booths and/or donated items to be sold or auctioned off
* all the crafters/vendors for participating and donating so many amazing items
* CRWM for getting our brochures/letters ready in time!
* Nancy M for donating jewelry
* Jenny H for donating an autographed book
* Chad K for donating cat scratchers

Really hope I'm not missing anyone!

We are so grateful for all of your support!


Stealing a post

The current Bible teacher at HOPAC and his wife have been at HOPAC for 10 years this year. They are leaving after this year for a year in the states and then heading back to Tanzania to work with a different ministry. They (mostly she) have a blog that I've been stalking. :) I read this post tonight & thought I'd share it. She has a way of describing the beautiful, awesome and meaningful aspects of life there, but also the challenging and heart-breaking parts. The rats and humidity parts get me...ugh.

We know we will experience both the good and the bad, the rewarding and the challenging, the beautiful and the ugly. We are confident in the Lord's leading and know he will be faithful through it all.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's Official

As of last week, we have been officially appointed as partner missionaries through Christian Reformed World Missions.

We are working on getting our little pamphlet of information together, and hopefully by the end of the week should have the information needed for people to begin making tax-deductible donations.

Our craft & vendor show is our first official fundraiser and is happening THIS SATURDAY! I'm thrilled with having 35 crafters & vendors coming - now my fear is no one showing up to shop! I'm reminding myself that the Lord has led us and will provide, and trusting that all the advertising we've done will bring in the crowds! :)

If you're reading this, please come to Plymouth Heights CRC on Saturday, December 1st from 9am - 1pm and shop til you drop!

Monday, October 29, 2012




9:00AM - 1:00PM



1800 PLYMOUTH AVE SE, 49506

This craft and vendor show is a fundraiser to support our family moving to Tanzania, Africa through Christian Reformed World Missions in July 2013.

 Crafters and vendors will include:
* Blessings Unlimited
* 31
* Miche
* Tupperware
* Just Jewelry
* Lia Sophia
* Tastfully Simple
* Oragami Owl
* Scentscy
* Premiere
* Life Expressions
* Bring them Joy
* Pampered Chef
* LaVa Babies
* and MORE are being added all the time!

There will also be home crafted goods, such as beaded jewelry, handmade cards, hair clips/bands for kids, knitted and crocheted kids hats, sweater mittens, baked goods and MORE!

Come start your holiday shopping while supporting a GREAT CAUSE!

If you're interested in having your own booth, there are a few spots available. Email me at for more information and an application.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Budgeting Woes

I thought making and maintaing a budget for 'regular life' was difficult - whoa, was I wrong!

As part of this adventure, we have to create a monthly budget and think through all the 'start up' costs of us moving to Tanzania. This budget then adds up to become our yearly fundraising goal.

There are obvious items from our current budget that we will need to keep on the new budget: food, utilities, rent, tithe, student loans, etc. Then there are new items that I'm somewhat overwhelmed thinking through - medical & life insurance to start. We've always been handed a policy through one of our jobs & told 'here is what it covers, here's what it doesn't & here is how much is taken out of your check'. We've never had much of a choice. I never knew how incredibly overwhelming it is! Not only do we have to navigate the many options out there, we have to consider things like emergency evacution, coverage in the US and Tanzania for when we're home during the summer, and do we want/need maternity coverage.

Then there are little things, like diapers. How much is a pack of diapers in Tanzania? How do you find this type of information out? And is it practical to continue with cloth, or is the humidity too much to compete with for line drying? And if we can use cloth, will we even have enough luggage space to bring them?

And because of our specific situation, we will be considered 'self-employed'. We have to budget in self-employment taxes to our monthly budget. Huh?

Just one of many tid bits that feel a bit overwhelming right now. It probably doesn't help that I feel this pressure (from myself) to have this all done before baby arrives.

We could certainly use your prayers as we try to make wise and faithful decisions regarding money and budgets!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Church letter

Here is the letter we gave to the congregation yesterday. Not easy/fun to's going to be tough to leave after 6 years!

Dear Church Family,                                                                                                               October 7, 2012

This past summer marked the beginning of our family’s sixth year of being a part of the Plymouth Heights CRC family. We have a deep love and appreciation for the community that surrounds us here at Plymouth Heights, and are incredibly grateful that the Lord led us here years ago. We have recently sensed the Lord calling us in a new direction and we wanted to share with you our plans for the upcoming year.

This past January, we began a conversation regarding a Bible teaching position at Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC) in Tanzania, Africa.  In June, Marc interviewed with them and was offered the position in July.  Two weeks ago, after setting some preliminary details in place, Marc accepted the position of full time high school Bible teacher.  Part of our excitement about this particular position is that I will be able to continue using my gifts and skills by doing a variety of youth ministry tasks on a part-time basis at the school as well.  While we will be employed through HOPAC, we will work as partner-missionaries with our sending agency, Christian Reformed World Missions.

From the time Marc and I started dating, we have shared a longing to serve internationally and have been humbled and amazed at the doors God has opened for us. While it seems a bit daunting to pick up our young family of five and move to a place we have never been, we have felt a continual peace that can only come from our Lord. It has been specifically and repeatedly affirmed in different ways that this is the road laid out for us to follow.

While we feel this peace, there is also sadness as we think of leaving our Plymouth church family behind. We hope and pray that you will be in prayer for us and support us as we prepare our hearts and minds for this new adventure. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Plymouth Heights, just in a new manner through technology as we send updates, videos and such. As this is a teaching position, we are grateful that there will be several weeks each summer to return to beautiful West Michigan – to our family, friends, and church family.

While the timeline for this transition has not yet been determined, we are planning that my ministry at Plymouth Heights will conclude at the end of June, 2013. In the first part of July, we will attend orientation through CRWM and will likely move to Africa towards the later part of the month.

We have started a blog dedicated to update our friends and family of what is happening as we begin massive amounts of paperwork, fundraising and in all ways preparing for this new ministry while continuing our current work and ministry throughout this year. Please feel free to visit the blog and leave comments or questions for us at  

Again, we ask you to be in prayer for us and invite you to partner with us!

With gratitude and love,

Gretchen & Marc, Isaac, Hope and baby girl Driesenga


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

karibuni (welcome, all of you)

Welcome to our new blog dedicated to this crazy new adventure we're on! In July 2013, our family of five will be picking up & moving to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa!

In January 2012, I started browsing the Christian Schools International website for fun. I love to see what type of positions and schools are out there - especially international ones. I typically invesigate a school or position for a mere few minutes and feel put off by something and decide it is not an option for us. I found a few positions at Haven Of Peace Academy (HOPAC ) and started looking into it. Nothing scared me off. I forwarded the link to Marc and he looked around a bit. At first, it was more for fun and the dreaming and the 'what ifs', as we have always wanted to do something international. Marc sent an email to the school and our communication began.

Over the next several months, we continued to ask them questions about the school, the position, the culture and living conditions. We found out we were having another baby and struggled with the idea of potentially taking 3 children to Africa. We went to the DR with our church and got to experience a week outside of our own context to think, reflect, pray and ponder. Finally in June, after Marc completed the application and essays, and I sent my resume, Marc had an interview.

In July, we had the priviledge of meeting with a couple who work at HOPAC. They just happened to be in West Michigan for 3 weeks in July. Their daughter just happened to be going to the soccer camp at Marc's current school. We met for coffee for several hours and had very real and honest conversation about the joys and difficulties of living/serving at HOPAC and in Tanzania, and our hesitations and questions. As we wrapped up our time together, our new friends were telling us that Marc was "exactly what the school needed". We left with the peace that we have felt through this whole process still in tact, and having nothing we learned through the conversation detering us.

In late July/early August, Marc got the official email. The offer. The confirmation of what we already felt was coming.

Since then we have had meetings with our sending agency, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), fininshed applications to be Partner- Missionaries with CRWM, prayed, investigated insurance policies, self-employment tax questions, met with debt management consultants, talked with family and close friends, been in prayer, created a tentative budget and fundraising goal, talked with our kids, prayed, started talking about what we'd sell & what we'd store, and prayed a little more.

Two weeks ago we officially accepted the position, and we should be appointed by CRWM in the next few weeks. Marc will be the full time high school Bible teacher, and I will work part time doing various jobs like chapel planning/leading, Bible Studies, student congress and/or having youth group out of our home. Isaac will be going to Kindergarten in Africa next year!

We continue to feel the peace of God, which surpasses ALL understanding (Phil 4:7). Are we crazy for moving our family  (when we move the kids will be 5 1/2, almost 3 and 9ish months) to Africa? Are we crazy for leaving jobs we both LOVE with salaries that pay the bills? Are we crazy for leaving our extended families and dear friends behind? Are we crazy for moving somewhere we've never been, to a culture that's incredibly different than our own, to a place where the people speak swahili, where we will be the minority and there isn't a CRC church nearby? :)

Yes, I think we might be. But I'm completely at peace with that.