Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sustaining Us

We will be moving to Kenya in two weeks, which makes us excited and nervous...and busy.  There is a lot to do, and three little boys who need a lot of attention are not conducive to getting things done.  But somehow the packing, the visas, the international drivers licenses, the will, the prescriptions, the mailings, the phone calls, the taxes, and countless other things still need to get done.  We've successfully gotten the vaccines, the physicals, the bills, the shopping, the newsletter, and countless other things in order.  It's incredible how much needs to get done.  We don't just need to pull things together for Kenya; we need to pull things together for life.  For instance, we need to make decisions about our computers: fix them or replace them?  We also need our files organized in case we need someone to access them while we're gone.  And then there's the paperwork for Eli's loans and my scholarship from grad school (which is directly related to our service on the mission field).  Everything takes time, time, and more time.  And usually emails and phone calls.  None of which is easy to do with three little boys running and rolling around.

But God is gracious and He is sustaining us.  This past fall, when we had a newborn and were training for missions and constantly on the move, we clung to Psalm 55:22, which says, "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall."  We are clinging to that verse now too, grateful for the promise of a Father who cares for us and sustains us.

In the midst of the busyness right now we are also trying to keep with up relationships and say goodbyes along the way.  It's not easy, emotionally or logistically.  We had to say goodbye to Eli's parents last week, which pained us more than we can express.  Even while they were here for a final visit we were fielding emails and phone calls from people wanting to connect with us before we go.  It means the world to us that so many people care about us so deeply and care about what we're doing, and we love connecting with people, but man oh man it's really hard right now.  Emailing and calling and getting together takes time and we simply don't have much of that in these final days before departure.  We have to be very selective in how to connect with people (or not) as we try to pull everything together before we leave.  So let us simply say this: thank you for reaching out to us, and please be patient with us if it takes us too long to get back with you during this time.  We're trusting the Lord to sustain us as we continually cultivate relationships in this season of busyness and final preparations.

I thank my God every time I remember you.  
In all my prayers for all of you, 
I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel 
from the first day until now, being confident of this, 
that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion 
until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:3-6

Thank you for partnering in the gospel with us, for encouraging us, and for cheering us on.  We truly pray with joy when we remember the immense support we have.  May the Lord continue His good work in you, as well as in us, and hopefully we'll have the chance to connect soon and encourage one another with the work He is doing.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Headed to Kenya!

It's official!  We're headed to Kenya!  We bought our tickets this past week and will be flying on Monday, March 28 - just over three weeks away!  Our boys are excited and have been talking about Kenya all week.

Now that we have tickets, the reality is sinking in.  We're excited to go, we're nervous to go, and we're wondering how we'll get everything done that still needs to get done before departure!  Now that we have tickets, we're also being reminded of why we're doing what we're doing: there is hope and healing in Jesus, and we have the honor of sharing that Good News with the sick and vulnerable in Kenya.  The kingdom of Jesus looks like this: "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor" (Luke 7:22).  On March 28 we'll have the privilege of officially joining the work God is doing to further build the kingdom in Kenya, and we are delighted!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dodgy's Last Ride

Today we said goodbye to Dodgy, the 2003 Dodge Status we've been driving for the past twelve years.  I first started driving her in January of 2004, after I returned from studying abroad and needed a car to get to my off-campus job.  My parents blessed me with this car and she faithfully got me through college, through Eli's med school years, through residency and beyond.  For many years Dodgy was our only car, and my 6'5" husband willingly squeezed into that small car time and time again because it was our only way to get from Point A to Point B.  Despite all the bumps and bruises she acquired along the way, Dodgy served us well...all the way to Africa.

During the grad school years, we started praying that Dodgy would last us until we returned to Africa.  Our eyes were set on Africa even then, and we wanted to live in such a way that was financially responsible (to minimize debt in the years before eventually heading back overseas) as well as being content with what God had already provided (instead of expecting and asking for something else).  In light of that, we thanked God repeatedly for our car - which was the only car we drove during those four years - and prayed repeatedly that Dodgy would last until we could return to Africa.

God did not disappoint!

Time and time again, He provided the means for us to repair Dodgy when she needed it.  We were living on loans during grad school and couldn't afford a new car without taking out more loans, so in His goodness the Lord was repeatedly faithful to provide the money to repair Dodgy instead of replace her.  And break down she did!  But we offered our willingness to keep driving her as long as He allowed us to, and He kept offering to help her get fixed.

Even though she wasn't a perfect car, we were content.  Despite the many times people asked, "You're still driving that thing?" we laughed and said yes, we're satisfied.  We don't mind getting around in a car that's too small for Eli, or whose driver door lock hasn't worked for approximately six years, or whose exterior has been rusting and falling off from years of driving in Midwestern winters.  In other words, the condition of a car is not what matters to us, and we hope that value will serve us well no matter where in the world we are.

Dodgy took us many places, and on many road trips, and built up many miles, and she never left us stranded on the side of the road, thanks be to God.  We've been praying for at least eight years that Dodgy would last us until we returned to Africa, and ultimately the Lord let us drive her until last month, when she had her last ride just two months shy of our departure for Kenya.  Eli was driving Dodgy home from work at the urgent care when the driver-side wheel started acting up enough that he put the hazards on and made it slowly back to the house.  We knew it wasn't safe to drive her again in that condition, and it was finally not worth putting money into repairing her anymore.  For the first time since I began driving her twelve years ago, God officially put the brakes on.  In essence, He said, "I've heard your prayers and I've seen your content hearts.  I've provided for you with this car.  Dodgy has seen you to Minnesota to Chicago back to Minnesota and then to Michigan.  And now her job is done because I'm sending you to Africa."  We cannot thank God enough for His faithfulness to us, for literally providing for us with this car as well as further preparing our hearts for what lies ahead.

We donated Dodgy to an organization called Mother Waddles, which will use the car in whatever fashion they see fit to help the poor in Detroit and Southeast Michigan.  Our final prayer as the tow truck hauled Dodgy away this morning was that He would still use her to bless someone else, however He sees fit.  To God be the glory.