Three weeks, seven towns, twelve churches, and sixty-some hours of driving later…. we arrive home around midnight exhausted and drag the kids to bed. Morning comes, so we begin emptying and cleaning the van lost within stacks of suitcases, bags and coolers, dusted with layers of crumbs, popcorn and unidentifiable filth. Massive piles of laundry begin to mount with each unloaded bag, but are quickly washed and put away. Surprisingly, within two days our lives are completely back to “normal”.
As you all know by now, we have been waiting for our visas to arrive. Seven months we’ve waited. Thirty one weeks have passed by. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY DAYS GONE!!! But God is GOOD. He knows exactly what He’s doing. This trip opened my eyes to the goodness He prepares for us even when I think something might be going wrong, that things are taking to long. They’re not. There was someone He wanted me to meet, a lesson I needed to learn, a gift (I didn’t think I deserved) to be received. I say His timing is perfect, then ask Him to rush. I want His will to be done, but only when it’s within my comfort zone. In my mind I know better, but in practice I often fail. I am humbled by God and extremely grateful for His patience and love towards me.
All that being said, we thank each of you who prayed for us during our traveling! Our van ran perfectly and we had NO problems. Miraculously, all of the kids did well during the long drives and there were no fights, crying or tantrums. One of the days we managed to go right between two major storm systems that occurred with just a few minutes of sprinkles. PRAISE GOD!
To kick off our trip we visited the Ark in Kentucky, which we all really enjoyed! Immediately upon leaving the Ark we went to Atlanta, arriving at midnight, no worse for the wear. Joe was able to meet with several churches and we had a good visit with a friend. Two hours south of Atlanta we visited with one of our partners and they were a huge blessing to us and the kids and I got our first POWC experience, which was fantastic! Charleston was next, visiting with friends from our childhood. Joe was able to share with churches there as well and we pray God will build connections. Afterwards, up to Charlotte for a quick lunch with a friend, then over to the OBX we went.
Despite our untimely arrival, during some of the worst weather they’ve had, our time in the OBX was wonderful. We were able to catch up with a lifelong friend which was such an encouragement. Gavin and I were able to take a few short visits to the beach to collect shells. Our first time out it was 34* and super windy, Gavin asked if anyone else would be there and I told him “Just a few crazies.”, after looking around a bit and seeing no one he replied “We’re the crazies, aren’t we?”. Gotta love that boy.
Delaware. Our final destination. The whole reason this trip began in the first place. What we originally thought would be a weekend excursion, but became so much more. You see we had hoped our visas would come and would be packing to leave in April… But God knew the plans He had, the doors He would open, the opportunities we could not miss to build relationships and grow our faith! We stayed with what began as strangers, but upon leaving I would call dear friends. We were cared for and blessed by the church in numerous ways. Joe was able to share with a Sunday school class all about NTM and how they work, then during the service he taught and shared about our ministry with NTM. During that time Liam was having an all out meltdown, so I sat with him in a separate room while praying for Joe, that God would speak through him and use him.
Later that evening Joe was asked by a teacher if he would share with his high school Spanish class. He was able to tell some of his life story as well as pictures and information about Latin America. Once the students figured out he was a missionary, they began asking questions and he could share more of his testimony. Several of the kids asked to stay after class and speak with him and he was able to share more of the gospel and pray with a few before leaving. THIS is why we are still here. Some think that once we arrive in Brazil we will begin serving. The truth is; God is using us now! He leads us down His paths, through His doors, towards His people. He urges us to share, to love, to serve. Right here, right now.
One of these days our visas WILL come. We know He is working on them and He always provides. When that day comes you will probably receive an update in all caps and depending on your proximity to Ohio you may hear my shrill screams of joy, but until that day comes we will wait. Patiently.
We packed LOTS of food trays and it worked out great!
Anora loved her cake pan with magnetic dolls, plus it kept her books and food on her lap!
Gavin and Liam had cake pans and magnetic dinosaurs, but preferred their Nintendos. Oh well, I tried.
The HUGE Ark!