It’s ironic that the last sizable post on this blog included the sentence, “Through the difficulties and joys of this time, it has always been clear that this is where God meant for us to be.”
It’s still true, even though He’s since called us back to America.
Most of our readers already know how we learned earlier this year that God was calling us back, how He used a specific challenge in our family adjustment to life in South Africa as the “paper and ink” to convey His will that our time of living there was complete. The details weren’t important; only the message (carefully considered with guidance from mission and church leaders) that He was sending us back.
God has been so good to give us peace with it in the time since, and to give us loving friends to help convey that peace. He has carried us through the heartache of accepting it and leaving friends and the home we’d made there, and through the stress and difficulty of purging and moving and settling again. It is still bittersweet at times, like when I search through photos and see friends and colleagues and beloved places, but we know that His will is perfect and that He has reasons for sending us there and reasons for sending us back here. And there have been many blessings, like being back together with our family and friends here.
It has been hard to update this blog. What to say that hasn’t already been said, that most of the people who care to read this haven’t already seen, that can summarize without being glib or maudlin? It’s necessary, though, to place some marker here, something to acknowledge the events of so much time and the effects of so much change.
We arrived back in our homeland in the middle of August, spending a few days with Tracy’s step-mom and my parents and handling immediate tasks like phones and car insurance and moving into temporary housing with a friend of some friends. Then we drove to our missionary organization’s headquarters in North Carolina for debriefing (a standard and valuable part of their process for returnees). We got to see the eclipse near but not in the path of totality (I think it was about 98%), which was breathtaking and awe-inspiring. We got to visit with Tracy’s sister and nephews for the weekend afterward. We got used to driving on the right side of the road again, which was pretty easy with so many miles to practice. We had a few more days together, and then the kids started school. We found interim housing of our own, which took a lot of time and trouble and help from friends; we’re still watching for the more permanent home we’ll need in a few months, but we’re grateful for what we have. Tracy resumed work as a physician assistant at a local hospital’s emergency department.
I’m still assigned to SIM South Africa as their communications and media relations officer and am mixing telecommuting with plans for a couple long trips a year. This year’s trips are easy to schedule due to some specific events, and the director and I have been able to have video calls to discuss duties and publications and schedules. It’s amazing what modern technology allows and how we’re able to use those for God’s purposes. No surprise, really, as “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV).
We’re grateful that God still has a role for us in His great commission and that our partners are standing with us in prayer, encouragement, and financial support. And we’re grateful that for a time, God’s plans for us allowed us to live full-time in Africa, learning and growing as well as sharing and helping, and meeting people who are now in our hearts and perspectives forever.
There will be a brief flurry of posts this week, as we have some special events to share about from the annual missions celebration being held by one of our supporting churches. After that, we’re hoping to share more regularly here, probably including some reflections on our fourteen months in South Africa, and there is still much work ahead, new stories to share about what God is doing in and through His workers around the world. Including us.
To God be the glory, hallelujah, amen.