When I became involved in missions, I expected transitions to become easier over time. On the one hand, logistics, such as packing, are much easier. During my first international trip in 2002, I was robbed in-country and had limited cash for my return trip. Half-way home, in Miami, I found out I had too much luggage (i.e., gifts for everyone I possibly knew) but not enough money to pay the extra fee. A check-out official had pity on me, used shrink wrap to bind two together, and counted them as one item, telling me that, in exchange, I should find a Latino boyfriend (!). Happily, this part of travel is now less eventful!
On the other hand, the part of transitions that gets more difficult are the good-byes. Living overseas has allowed me to form beautiful friendships with unforgettable people from different countries, and it is impossible to simply move on without missing those I have grown to love, serve with, and learn from. One of my favorite Bible passages is when Paul says good-bye to people in Ephesus, where he spent three years teaching them and living among them (Acts 20). Paul and the Ephesians knew God was calling him elsewhere and that they would never see each other again; the good-bye was painful and emotional precisely because of the beautiful way God had knit their souls together during that time. This reminds me that, while painful good-byes are a part of missions, forming deep relationships with others is always worth it, even when we would rather avoid the pain.
This Sunday, Fernando and I start a new chapter as we travel to the U.S. In the midst of seemingly endless final details, it started feeling much more real yesterday, when we said good-bye to our church in La Ceiba. Although we plan to be back by the end of this year, it's hard leaving behind those who are our family here.
Here is the new church-building in process. Praise God the church now can meet at its own property!
Fernando preaching in Garifuna, with translation to Spanish
As we prepare to be away for awhile, we are also looking forward to saying "Hello!" to those we will see in the U.S. (I can't wait!!). We also are asking the Lord to prepare our hearts so we can accomplish all He has for us and make the most of our time with everyone we will see. We know God will do great things we can't even imagine yet.
We would really appreciate your prayers for us in the coming days. If you'd like to pray, here's what we have coming up:
- Pray for our health; we're fighting colds and don't have much time to rest.
- Pray for final details - meetings, errands, packing, etc.
- This Saturday, Alison will teach at a church youth event and say good-bye to the girls and to the teachers.
- On Sunday (6/9), we will fly to Houston. Please pray for everything to go smoothly at immigration and customs.
- On Monday, we will rent a car and drive to Kerrville and attend orientation with CTEN Tuesday-Thursday (6/11-6/13).
- On Friday (6/14) we will drive to Dallas to visit friends and share at a church on Sunday (6/16).
- On Tuesday (6/18) we will drive back to Houston and fly to Seattle.
- Pray for safe travels, provision for expenses, and for open hearts to whatever God has for us each day.
Once we get to Washington, we will let you know what we'll be up to. In the meantime, thank you for making this transition with us through your prayers. We are excited to see many of you soon!