As the school year ended in May we were praying and asking the Lord how He would have us spend our summer. It had been over 3 years since we had traveled as a family out to visit loved ones out west and we really wanted the opportunity to take advantage of the summer to see family and connect with supporting churches in Oregon. Through the Lords perfect timing (very last minute it turned out) He provided what we needed to make the trip. We quickly packed and made plans to be gone most of the summer with the help of many friends who agreed last minute to take care of our animals, others who agreed to help watch our house and others who lined up house sitters for us. It was a bit stressful but everything came to together in time and we left Chihuahua at the end of May. We were all so excited and thankful for the chance to make such a long awaited trip!
We left behind the dry dessert mountains of Chihuahua, camping along the way and after traveling through Phoenix and southern California we made our way up to Vacaville, CA to touch base with a few of our friends and supporters in the area. We spent time with Aimee, our dear friend and former co-worker from when we served among the Tigak people of Papua New Guinea. We also got to see our good friends and old language consultant from out there, Chris & Erin Lujan and their kids. It was very special for our families to catch up since we had not all seen each other since Papua New Guinea (Although Beth had seen them when she visited on her own a few years ago). While in Vacaville, we also got a chance to connect with several friends and supporters and our time was so so special. We were so happy to be there and we enjoyed every single precious moment!
We continued North and headed to Portland next. Tom grew up in the Portland area of Oregon and most of his family still lives in the area. We made it to Tom’s sisters family just in time to attend our nephew’s Graduation awards ceremony that evening! It meant so much to us to be there for this special moment in our nephews life. We are so very proud of him and were blessed to be there, clap for him and cheer loudly for him as he accepted many awards for his hard work.
During our time in Oregon we stayed with Tom’s sisters family and although they had only just moved into their new house days prior to our arrival and still had towers of boxes filling the house, they set us up in a cozy little borrowed camper out front. We were overjoyed to be with family again and it was just such a gift! We were able to see all of Tom’s immediate family, connect with some churches and see a few friends. The biggest focus of our time was just to soak up as much family time as we possibly could. When you live far away from loved ones you find that it’s the little things you miss. Just being together at home, helping around the house, experiencing special moments like kids loosing teeth (both Jude and Iris and their cousin lost a total of 5 teeth while we were there!), birthdays (Iris turned 7), and just making memories sometimes even the stressful ones like cars breaking down, home repairs and medical stuff. We just loved being together.
We made so many memories together and the kids were in heaven getting to have so much space outdoors to run and play, make mud pies, catch newts and see so much gorgeous wildlife. There is no doubt that Oregon is breathtakingly beautiful!
Overall, this trip was very encouraging for our family. During our visit to the area, we also had our Spanish teacher and very good friend Paty visit us from Chihuahua! It was so kind of her to come and we had a great time taking her around Portland and making memories with her there!
We also saw the Lord provide for us in some awesome ways in Portland! One of the biggest provisions we saw in Portland was a new computer for Beth. Her computer is eight years old, and we had just communicated this need in our last email update. A very generous friend purchased the computer for her and we are so very thankful. We are thanking the Lord for this provision, and the many other gifts He gave us through other friends and family while in Portland. Ok, here comes a LOT of pictures!
Another thing that happened while we were in Oregon was that we found out that Jude needed glasses! He had been suffering from headaches off and on for the last few months and complaining that things were blurry if they weren’t super close to him. My sister-in-law had a friend who was able to give Jude an eye exam and the results were very clear that our little guy is near sighted! Thankfully Jude was very excited about getting his glasses, especially when he realized how much they helped him see! He said, “Wow! I have never had better vision in my life!” 🙂 Iris is also thrilled to have her big brother in glasses; she doesn’t feel so alone now. So now both our kids are sporting glasses but we are thankful Jude’s eye sight needs are much less complicated than Iris’!
After about a month in Portland we began our journey back down south, and stopped in Grants Pass to see some of our friends from missionary training and PNG, Matt & Christine. These friends of ours were also part of the group that were headed to Cambodia before God closed that door for our families. It was so great to see them and spend time hearing about where the Lord has brought them!
We had not planned on heading back through Vacaville, but the Lord surprised us with the huge provision of a second vehicle from some of our friends there! We had been praying about the need for a second vehicle to use around the city of Chihuahua because of our new ministry roles and we had even begun communicating the need for support for this need. However, the Lord saw fit to just drop His provision in our laps and we are so grateful to Him and to the family who gave us this gift. It is amazing how God uses people and circumstances we could never have even imagined to provide for our needs!
After Vacaville we drove down to L.A. to visit Beth’s aunt and uncle. We had a wonderful, albeit brief visit in their home and were thankful for their generous hospitality.
We then made a short trek over to Ramona to meet up with Beth’s brother Davy and his family. In spite of the intense heat we camped for two days with them and had a great time. Because of the blistering heat, we spent most of our time at the campground swimming pool! It was so good to see them and see how the Lord continues to use them and grow them as they make plans to serve him overseas.
We finally made it back to El Paso were we stayed and helped by watching our mission guest house for about a week while the normal guest house managers were away. It was a good experience and a privilege to serve in a different capacity than normal booking rooms, managing the calendar, doing airport runs, trips to the post office, cleaning rooms, doing lots of laundry and just serving other missionaries practically.
We take for granted how important this role is and are thankful to our friends who manage the guesthouse, Torre and Narah Meissner, for their faithful service to their co-laborers in Mexico.
The Lord worked out the timing so perfectly for our time in El Paso because my parents had just made their big move from Michigan to New Mexico so while we helped run the mission guest house, we were also able to help them move!
We are so excited to have my parents closer now! It was great to be there for this big transition for them and help them as much as we could. We made some fun memories too!
Before we knew it, it was time to return home and we ended up having quite a long process at the border getting all our permits updated for our now 2 vehicles. Even though we were melting in the heat, battling flies as we waited in lines and had a few “hiccups” along the way, the Lord was gracious and allowed everything to go through as it should and after about 2 hours we were on our way home.
It is so good to be home and as we unpack and get resettled into our lives we are blessed by amazing memories of all our Father allowed for us to experience on our trip. We are very, very thankful!