Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Joyful Reunion

Oftentimes on the mission field there are many new hellos as well as a lot of goodbyes.  We are transient. And we find that over time we begin to measure our friendships in thousands of miles instead of just a few.  We find that when we are in Africa, we dearly miss our friends in the US; and that when we are in the US, we dearly miss our friends in Africa.  This past weekend was one of those rare oasis moments where our African friendships and US lives overlapped in a beautiful and refreshing way.

Last Friday, Anna and I hopped in the car and drove to visit the Johnsons and Ann in western NC for a mini Bundibugyo team reunion.  The Johnsons have relocated back to the US and Ann was visiting on HMA (Home Mission Assignment).  Travis and I spend the afternoon building an IKEA bed for Aidan, while Anna visited the kids at school with Amy.  Ann came over for a yummy chili dinner and we stayed up late playing games and talking.  All very normal things. But so refreshing when so often our life feels transient and not normal.


The next day we headed out to a state park to see the partially frozen waterfalls that we had heard about.


(I tried to convince Aidan to give me a piggy back ride up to the top)


(the partially frozen river was so beautiful…and so cold!)


(ice on the trail is just a new kind of slide)


We loved the day, we loved the hike, we loved the hot-chocolate, and we loved the deep fellowship with good friends.  We are thankful to God for this time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Sabbath and traffic tickets

My stomach lurched when I saw the blue lights in the rear view mirror.  It continued to sink as the siren flicked and I pulled over.  I wasn’t sure the reason, but the officer quickly informed me that I had not completely stopped at the stop sign a while back.  But something was different.  My heart wasn’t following my stomach in this downward spiral.  Usually at this moment I’d be on the brink of tears, flustered, with all kinds of worries.  I sat there while the police officer made his verdict in the car behind with an overwhelming feeling that it would be OK.  I was hoping that he would let me go with a warning, but even when he brought back the ticket with a hefty fine I felt a certain kind of peace.  I was bummed for sure about the amount of money I have to fork over, but I didn’t cry or try to defend myself.  I couldn’t even think of any questions to ask.  Strange!  As I reflect on the event, it’s as if I hear the voice of my Father in heaven saying, “I’ve got you, I’ll provide what you need, You have a perfect record in my book.”  But why was it so loud and clear this time?

Josh and I have been reading a book called Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn.  We have been reading about all the things we are to cease from on Sabbath.  Two weeks about we read about ceasing anxiety, worry, and tension.  This past week we were reminded to cease our trying to be God.  During the week we are going to have worries and cares, things to think on, hard work to do.  Dawn makes the point that when we take a day to lay aside our troubles we are better able to do this in the week.  It’s like Sunday is a day to practice without so many distractions.  Sunday is a day to cease providing for ourselves and trusting God to take care of us even if we can’t “get it all done.”  We acknowledge that He is God on Sunday, we thank and worship Him for taking care of us,  and our hearts are more equip to do this throughout the week.  It hit me!  That’s what was happening in my heart!  Just two days ago I was practicing, I was taking time to surrender control of our schedule, our time in the US, our funds for return to Uganda, our relationships with friends and family.  I was encouraged as I took time to remember and be thankful for His working in our lives and faithfulness to provide for us up to now.   When I got pulled over and things seemed out of control, the Spirit helped me surrender this too!  The thankfulness was fresh.  Memories of his faithfulness were fuel for the Spirit.

I am also happy to report that God has provided an attorney at our church to represent me.  He IS looking out for me!  My heart is full of thankfulness again.  Grateful for provision in this matter and grateful for Christ whose perfect record I have.  Grateful to be loved by such a gracious God.  Grateful for his Spirit who reminds me of this truth over and over.

Monday, January 06, 2014

On the road... AGAIN?!

In 3 months of marriage Josh and I have put about 5,000 miles on our car!  Our first trip was to Gainesville, FL to attend a missions conference at one of Josh’s sending churches.  I remember thinking, “Yes! A road trip!”  The 7.5 hour drive to Jacksonville for the first leg was a breeze!  The roads were SO smooth, traffic was SO organized and we there were SO many choices for lunch stops and clean bathrooms along the way… Yay America!

When we got into the car to make our SECOND trip to Philapelphia, I was less than thrilled.  We were however armed with snacks, sandwiches, and The Fellowship of the Ring audio book.  Had we been the seasoned road warriors we thought we were, we would have also checked the weather report before we left.  While the miles ahead of us did not excite, I was looking forward to the week at World Harvest.  After interviews we hoped to be reappointed to return to Uganda as a couple.

The trip was smooth until we hit Richmond VA.  The snow was coming down, but the salt was doing it’s thing and we pressed on.  Snow was falling heavily as we neared DC.  Apparently this had been going on for quite some time, evidenced by abandoned cars facing strange directions on the shoulder and in ditches.   At this point we were considering alternate options and came pretty close to calling my sister Rachel to see if we could ride out the storm at her place in DC.  But with our optimism and Josh’s steady, determined driving we decided to continue.

As we entered Maryland, snowy precipitation continued to fall.  The windshield wipers starting to complain about being made to work under the extra weight of accumulating ice.  We rejoiced as we entered the tunnel taking us under Baltimore’s harbor.  Somehow being under all that water was not as alarming as the roads covered with the slippery winter mix.  I always cringe at the high toll prices going through Maryland.  On this day of travel we got our monies worth!  You couldn’t drive 10 miles without passing a snow plow faithfully driving the snow off the roads and scattering salt.  Josh and I marveled at the fact that we could actually continue in this frosty mess, comfortably in our little heated box.  In Uganda people stay home if it rains; it’s just silly to move about.  Perhaps lack of technology has made them wiser… 

We started to make better time, maybe even 40 miles an hour, then the fateful sign “Traffic accident ahead, all traffic lanes blocked”  we slowed to a stop and waited… and waited.  People started to get out of their cars for smoke brakes and chatted with other travelers, pretty much a parking lot.  By this time Josh and I both needed a pit stop and had eaten through most of our snacks.  Hunger pangs were setting in.  Fortunately Maryland toll money seemed to be work its magic, the accident was cleared and road opened again.  The closest service center was closed for remodeling, next stop 20 miles!  Wendys and a busy rest stop were a welcome sight.  I stepped out in my little flats.  Immediately snow went over the side and started melting on my bare feet. (Oh how I wanted to be back at the equator!)  

Recharged by food and encouraged Maryland’s snow removal we decided to try to make it all the way to Philly.  Things continued to go well until we hit the PA border.  There was an immediate change in road conditions.  The roads were heavily covered with snow.  The only “help” was large signs over the road saying, “Warning, dangerous conditions, drive with care.”  One would think this was obvious, yet some lunatics disregarded the signs and pretended that it was like any other night.  I am sure that Josh’s hands were starting to cramp as he gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.  We were so close at this point.  We signed with relief as we drove up to our host’s house and saw the warm glow of her lighted windows.  What a start to the week! 

Our car resting after the journey
While we will most likely never encounter a snow storm in Uganda, this trip seemed to be another preparation for life as missionaries.  You never know what each day will bring.  We were reminded that we are constantly living at the mercy of our Creator.  Life isn’t safe, but our faithful Friend is constantly beside us.  I am happy to announce that our trip was not in vain.  We WERE reappointed to return to Bundibugyo with World Harvest!  This news was all the more sweet as we considered the journey to get to this point.  We are thankful for another chance to trust Him and thankful for the safety He provided with every snow plow and in the absence of them. 

snowy Philadelphia