Wow. We have already been home for a month and a half. For sure, it has flown by! Our last few weeks have been met with an endless supply of encouragement from guests visiting our home, mostly missionaries preparing to leave for the field or fresh off the field on home assignment like Beth & I.
What a huge blessing these visits have been and thanks to Beth’s parents for letting us fill their home with people so frequently! For our friends who have not left for their selective fields yet, we were able to offer some advice and encouragement, and for those returning on home assignment we were all able to share and exchange stories of what the Lord has brought us through during our first term overseas. There is really no one who can understand the uniqueness of what we do apart from others who are doing the same thing. We can be an encouragement and strength to one another in this way.
Also, last week my sister and niece flew out to see us and some of her friends in Ohio. It was good to see them both since it had been over a year since we last saw them (even though it felt like a lifetime over in PNG). Besides being family, she (and her husband) are very thoughtful supporters of ours. My sister sent us care packages while we were overseas, kept our blog up when we couldn’t, printed and mailed our newsletters and faithfully prayed for us. She wanted to go overseas herself when she was younger, but for various reasons was not able to. So now she sees her role in missions as supporting others to go, an extremely important role! Every missionary needs someone like that! By the way, did I mention that my sister and her husband are also getting me laser eye surgery when we are in Oregon this coming August? Praise the Lord for His provision.
Speaking of family, two of Beth’s siblings are also home for the summer. Abby is home from Missouri where she worked at the Missionary Training Center and is planning for her upcoming wedding this July. Davy is home from his first year of Bible school at New Tribes Bible Institute. We are very happy to see them and be able to spend time with them over the summer, as well.
We have a couple of days with no visitors, so we are doing everything we can to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Beth had a check up this past week and was thankful to hear that the baby is doing perfectly well and is on the smaller side (as opposed to Jude’s 10 pounds at birth!). We are thankful that at this time baby girls head is in the right position and continue to pray that she stays that way and that Beth can have a safe and speedy delivery. We have picked up a few tiny outfits for her and it is just so weird, because we are so used to buying clothes for a boy. Its like we don’t even know how to shop for a girl! The Lord has provided some things we needed for the baby which we are very thankful for. We were given a pack n play for her by one friend and supporter and some hand-me-down clothes have been trickling in too! We are both so happy to be having a girl and pray that we will make the transition from one child to two with ease and grace for each other.
The current parenting trial we are facing is finding a few days where we are not going anywhere so we can start potty training Jude! Hopefully we will find some time soon…so this should be interesting. 🙂
We are taking this time to make some logistical adjustments to our budget, now that we have another baby on the way. Our recommended monthly support needs will increase because of this. Also, our organization is now recommending that we have 75% minimum of our monthly recommended support (while requiring it of new members). So we will be crunching numbers to see where we are at these days and trust the Lord with those details. Thankfully after we arrived in Papua New Guinea, we saw some increase in our monthly support.
Overall, we are doing well. To be honest, it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster readjusting to life here. Some days we are doing great and staying encouraged, while other days we are discouraged for various reasons. There’s a great book called Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo that has a chapter about “reverse culture shock” or the challenges missionaries face when returning to their home country. “The stress of coming home is another issue. There is a mental stretching as new ideas and ideals gained on the field are incorporated into the old- which isn’t old anymore since it is also new and strangely different… Yes, the home scene with its people, places and things… has changed. But more dramatically, [you] have changed- socially, emotionally, mentally, physically and most of all spiritually. And because these changes happened to both so gradually, you…are only slightly aware of them. But as you meet, the changes in each other appear drastic.” The author hits on some of the more subtle issues we, and other missionaries coming off of the field, may be facing in our lives during this time of readjustment.
That’s all by way of an update. As for the goals for our time here, the main thing is adjusting into life with two kids instead of one, potty training Jude (and training in some other areas) and collecting things we need to take back to the field with us. Also, we hope to raise money for our house building project, and see our monthly support increased for our return to the field. We also would like to attend a marriage conference at some point, just for personal enrichment.
Here are some other personal goals I have during this time:
- Take a boat safety course
- Visit Xenos Christian Fellowship in Columbus, OH
- Take a speed reading course
- Finish the writing class I started almost a year ago 🙂
- Collect relevant discipleship & church planting resources for the field