I write about our life and our work on my blog
I started the blog just before our move to Russia as a way to journal what we were experiencing and keep our family, friends and supporters up to date with our lives and work. My husband had given me a black pearl ring for our 20th anniversary and I am a knitter. So I changed black pearl to black purl, (a purl is a stitch in knitting) and a nitpicker is someone who looks at the minute details of everything. I just changed nit to knit. It’s stupid and our sons who were teenagers at the time thought is was worthy of an eye roll or two but I thought it was clever.
We share a common belief spiritually which we see as the glue in our bond with one another. We have been a couple for 32 years and we will celebrate our 30th anniversary on December 13th of this year. There isn’t really a specific formula that we follow for our relationship. It was founded on friendship. Then we became high school sweethearts. We met when we were 15 and started dating at 16 and got married at 18. We work together, we talk and laugh a lot together, we encourage one another…we are still best friends. We don’t have a specific formula for our relationship. We just kind of stumbled on a rhythm that works for us. One day at a time is how we live and love. We don’t have a lot of stress at this point in our lives and that helps!
This is a tough question because we are not traditional missionaries. We felt called to take the work we were doing in the area of working with people in recovery from drugs and alcohol (Tom) and their families (Alida) from California to Russia. Basically, we had people who shared that vision with us to the extent that the work we do is funded by a variety of individuals and a few churches.
Tom was on staff at our church in California as the Pastor of Recovery. He was asked by another pastor to go with him to Russia to speak on the topic of Christianity and the Twelve Steps. As they were on this speaking tour in churches and at support groups Tom felt he was being called to Russia to do recovery work and teach pastors and churches how to effectively work with people in recovery through counseling and the12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
How was it like residing in Russia?
It was an adventure. Think of all the things that you do in a day. Things you explain to people, places that you shop, simple errands that you run. Now imagine doing all of those things when you cannot speak the language or read the packaging on items in the store! I had to carry a dictionary with me to the market when we first arrived. I spent two and half years in language school and two and half years working with a private tutor. Life was exciting, hard, stressful and joyful. We either used public transportation or walked everywhere we went. So we had to interact with people and function in society as best we could. Most people were very friendly and glad that we were making the effort to speak their language. So we got help everywhere we went and met some fascinating people along the way. As far as relationships with people it can take years for someone to call you friend. And everything there done is based on relationships. We were there for five years and we were blessed to be called friends by some truly incredible people.
What brought you to Belize?
When we found out that the Russian government was not going to renew Tom’s work visa we sent out a letter to our supporters asking for prayer about our situation. We were stuck in Istanbul, Turkey at the time waiting to hear the news. One of our supporters had just returned from a trip to Belize and he believed that we could be useful there. We didn’t even know where this country was…we had to Google it! We talked about it and prayed about with some friends of ours and felt that Belize was where we were being led to go.
No. I thought Tom was going to be a Marriage and Family therapist and we would live happily ever after in our house in California. After five years of working in a psychiatric hospital Tom felt led to leave there and go to work on staff at a church. He was there for 10 years. And then we went to Russia. I never imagined being a pastor’s wife or a missionary.
I have learned that I have so much more to learn. I don’t have all the answers and never will. My being an American or a Christian is not always looked on favorably because of the stereotypes that go along with being those things. I have learned that my rights as an American only truly exist on American soil. I have learned to slow down. I have learned to be kinder to myself and those around me. I have learned that I am mentally stronger than I thought I was. I have learned that I have something to share with others in my sphere of influence. I have learned that the hardships I have gone through in life are truly universal.
You can support us through praying for us and for the counseling center we started. We need financial support as well…we don’t charge the people we see for counseling. We are working with abuse victims and victims of sex trafficking. If you would like to partner with us and provide financial support for our work here in Belize please send your tax deductible donations to:
for Tom and Alida Sharp
P.O. Box 279
Sanford, NC, 27331
donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
Or if you would like to give a simple gift directly to us you may do so through PayPal.
just use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you like pancakes?
I love pancakes and have my recipe memorized!!!
Spend the day in bed reading. Or at the beach reading. Or on my front porch reading…well you get the idea. Wherever I am reading would be involved!
Helping people move from being stuck to unstuck emotionally, spiritually, relationally and so on is my life’s purpose.
Pismo Beach, Ca. The waves, the smell of the ocean and the scenery truly take my breath away.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
My faith…I read and I meditate daily on scriptures or on sayings and various words. My word for this year is joy. I am inspired by finding the joy in each life lesson that comes my way, or just by appreciating where I am right now.
Like the Nike slogan…Just do it. Just get started in some way.