We have a BIG announcement from our founder, Erica Rust, this week! In November 2017, as our founders, Erica and Jason Rust, took a step back from their full time roles with The Raining Season, Francis Pyle stepped in as our new Executive Director. Now, after 2½ years, we are entering another season of change, as it is time to once again hand over the reins. Tomorrow, Lori Pyle will officially step into her new role as Executive Director of The Raining Season, and we could not be more thrilled.
Read what Erica had to share:
It’s interesting how life changes. It’s also interesting how life’s landscape looks after 11 years in Sierra Leone. I think about how much has changed in my own family… and then I look at how much has changed within TRS, and I am blown away by the journey. It’s definitely had its seasons. We’ve spent time in the dead of winter, where struggle and pain abounds. We’ve spent time in the summer where the light is so bright, and the beauty surrounds us on every side.
The most beautiful part… we have a few good men and women who have joined us on this journey. In my mind, we have 4 types of TRS partners. We have those who have stayed through EVERYTHING. Nothing will keep them from the work. It’s surprising actually, given that…non-profit work will be the HARDEST work you’ll ever do if you do it right. If you give it everything it demands of you… you’ll end up a bit frayed and torn, but overwhelmingly certain your weary bones did what they were called to do. Sticking it out isn’t easy though, and sometimes it can be impossible. That brings me to the 2nd type of TRS partner. I think about those along the way who wanted so badly to climb the mountain with us… but life shifted and for lots of reasons… they stepped away. I think about those who adopted children and their own homes became mission fields… and those mission fields took everything they had… They served in Sierra Leone, and then they brought Sierra Leone home. What hearts they have. Next is the 3rd type…I think about those who stepped into TRS, and it served as a catalyst for work in other areas of the world. They learned their hearts could stretch like rubber bands, and their arms grew wide… they spread themselves further than they ever thought possible and truly are living out the great commission by serving EVERYWHERE they can.
Then we have the 4th kind of partner…
We have the partners who gave 200% to the climb. They were there on DAY ONE. They put their feet in the dirt, and they served in EVERY area they were needed. They volunteered, they worked for free, they traveled over and over again, and then they adopted. Like I said, their homes became mission fields… and the mission work kept them living in the dead of winter as I like to call it. Between the work in Sierra Leone, and the work in their own homes… they grew weary, and they woke up one day in pieces. Realizing that their heart got thin in the fraying, and turned to ash. They had no idea how to put it back together again. You see, I get these people…. because I’ve been there, where they are.
This brings me to the reason I’m writing this letter to all of you in the first place.
I’m here today to announce a change within the organization. I’m here today to talk about Lori Pyle. A woman I am privileged to live life with in so many ways. Let me tell you a little bit about her and what makes her so beautiful to me.
Lori is the wife of our current Executive Director, Francis Pyle. Speech pathologist and Mama to 6. Lori was on that first airplane. She was there when we launched TRS. She gave birth to the vision right there alongside me. She raised money, she trained staff, she launched programs, and she traveled more times than I can count. There were seasons where she left her family and spent months with me in Sierra Leone fighting to shift law and open the doors to adoption. Once our program launched, she served countless other families as they wandered through their own adoption wilderness. She did all this while trying to be a mother to her own children, both biological and adopted from Sierra Leone. Her mission field at home was daunting and difficult. Her kids struggled in ways I can’t begin to explain… all stories that are not mine to tell. You can imagine the weight that she carried on her back, trying to manage it all. Eventually, she just couldn’t carry it anymore, and she stepped away. I vividly remember the ache I felt when I knew she was gone… and I know the ache in her heart was that much worse. I wasn’t sure how I’d move forward without her. Since her departure, there has been a void. You see some people leave spaces when they go… spaces NO ONE can fill. I guess when you are woven into the fabric like she was, that’s what happens.
When Francis took his leadership role a few years ago, I was on cloud 9. First, because he is INCREDIBLE, and I knew he would give the organization what Jason and I never could. I also knew he would fight for it with the same heart we did. So, he was the perfect fit. Secretly, I hoped that by having Fran in the thick of the every day…. Lori would one day find her way back to us.
And she has. I’m in tears as I type this. I have prayed for this moment for so many years. Not for myself, but for her. I always knew the day she called me and said, “Erica, I’m ready to come back home to Sierra Leone.” would be the day our organization would start the next chapter. And that time has come.
Due to changes in Francis’ career, he has had to make the difficult decision to step back from his daily duties for TRS. We will miss him dearly, but we know he isn’t completely gone. He will still be volunteering and supporting this organization that he’s loved so well for such a long time.
When looking for an interim, most were at a loss at who to choose… This organization is a giant, and it would take someone with the knowledge of the past, grit for the climb, and vision for the future to take the reigns.
That brings me back to Lori.
Lori called me a few weeks ago and shared her great big heart with me. She shared how she knew it was time to step back into the ring. As she spoke about her dreams for the future and how she’s healed from the wounds of the past…. I knew it was God. I knew he had called her for such a time as this. When we hung up, I cried. The ugly cry.
It felt like an awakening and a rebirth of sorts. I don’t know what it will all look like… but it will be INCREDIBLE, I have no doubt about that.
I am so excited about what’s ahead and couldn’t be more thankful to have Lori Pyle steering this ship. I know our Co-Founder Osseh has missed her immensely…. and to see them back together again… side by side… makes my heart EXPLODE with happiness.
Cheers to what’s ahead… and to Francis and Lori…. I adore you both and can’t ever say enough words to express my thankfulness for the love you have shown me and TRS. You are the BEST! Now let’s climb this mountain, shall we!!!
Erica Rust, Founder of The Raining Season