About a month ago, we contacted our home church in Adrian, MI with a need to borrow someone’s car for a short trip we were thinking of making down to Missouri, upon our return to America. A few people offered their car’s to us, but one couple in our church really wanted to rent a car for our travels. They wanted to make sure we were comfortable and safe in a reliable vehicle. We were so thankful for his offer, and it ended up being a huge blessing… and an opportunity to ride in style! 🙂
Planning the timing of this trip seemed difficult because of how close Beth is to her due date. However, the timing worked out perfectly where we would be speaking at our sister church & supporting church, Ogden, in Adrian on a Sunday, then prepare for our trip on Monday and depart on Tuesday to return the following Monday; a six day trip which we returned from this past Monday at midnight.
Our first day of traveling landed us through Ohio into Aurora, Indiana at a missionary retreat center called Baan Sabai (which is Thai for “tranquil house”). “Nestled in the hills of southeastern Indiana are 72 acres of hardwood forest and creeks. Surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation, and abounding in wildlife, peace and tranquility just go with the territory.” Baan Sabai is a beautiful log home, large enough to host several families to stay at a time. How do I describe the atmosphere of this place? Warm, cozy, inviting, relaxing. Oh, and kid friendly, too.
This missionary retreat center is a ministry of Paracletos, Inc. Our friends, Dave & Irene Lewis started Paracletos as an answer to a huge need in missions: pastoral care for missionaries. Having spent a number of years as missionaries in Thailand, they saw first hand the needs for this shepherding ministry. Not only are they shepherds at heart, but they also train others, whether it be pastors, church mission teams, or individuals in how to best care for their missionaries. It really is an incredible ministry.
Anyways, back to our story. So we stayed with them for a couple of days and it was great. It was very relaxing and our time with them was so encouraging. Because they are shepherds at heart, we were able to open up to them and share openly and personally about the ups and downs of our last eight months in Papua New Guinea. Because they have been missionaries themselves, they are able to empathize and understand the struggles we missionaries face in ways that most people can’t.
Our time was both edifying and refreshing, and we could go on and on about it. The only downside was that we did not have much time to stay because of the length of our trip. Needless to say, however: if you are someone in ministry (whether overseas or stateside), and you need time out to get refreshed and be encouraged, you gotta check this place out: http://paracletos.org.
We hit the road again early Thursday morning to head to Missouri. The drive was pretty uneventful, other than the fact that I got majorly irritated because it seemed like every hundred miles there was major road construction. What’s up with that? Does every town in America need to be in the middle of a road project?! (Is this reverse culture shock?)
Anyways, we made it to Missouri in great time. Jude did fantastic being in his car seat for so long. I also did fantastic considering I drove the entire time, just without the car seat! 🙂
In Missouri, we stayed at our mission’s training center. This was great because most of our business being there would take place on this campus. Our reasons for going to Missouri were five fold: 1) Share an update at one of our supporting churches, Fellowship Bible Church, 2) Connect with our former staff advisors Pat & Luann Brown, 3) Reconnect with some of our fellow missionaries living there for mutual encouragement and edification and 4) Be available to any of the missionary candidates heading to Papua New Guinea to ask questions or hear some of our insights, and 5) See Beth’s sister Abby and her fiance Nathan. (The only reason we put family last is because we had just seen them a week earlier and had some great time together)
We were only there for three full days and it flew by! Being at the Missionary Training Center again felt like being at a huge family reunion. Because of the short nature of our visit we were unable to see all of the “family” we would have liked too. 😀 The people we were able to see were wonderful. We were able to accomplish most of our goals, but still there were some more people we would have loved to spend some time with. Thankfully we were able to spend some good time with Pat & Luann, our staff advisors from when were in training, though still mentors/disciplers to us in a lot of ways. We praise the Lord for their continual investment in our lives.
We had an excellent time sharing at Fellowship Bible Church in Eldon, Missouri this past Sunday. We had been a part of the body there for our last term of missionary training, and have been so encouraged by how well they keep up with us and pray for us while we have been on the field. A few months ago the church picked us up for financial support, too, so they have been an incredible blessing to our ministry. It was great to see everyone there, and to have the opportunity to share briefly in the service, while being given the entire Sunday school time to show pictures and share about our experiences overseas. We are really blown away by all the love and encouragement we receive from our three supporting churches.
Bright and early Monday morning we headed back to Michigan. After a full day of driving, with one nap somewhere in Illinois, we arrived home after midnight safe & sound. We are so thankful to the Lord that He made this trip possible and for our safety in traveling. We’re also praising Him that our time was refreshing and an encouragement to us. We hope we were an encouragement to others as well!
Now its time to settle down a bit and prepare for the baby’s arrival…