On August 28 we will board an airplane for Bolivia. For months we have been holding off on purchasing tickets (see our last post), so we are celebrating the fact that we have a move date! But at the same time we are grieving a great deal of loss—loss of relationships, belongings, opportunities, and pretty much everything that is familiar to us.
The last six months have been good, but difficult. We have had great times of fun and fellowship with friends and family and visited churches that have encouraged and supported us on this journey. Unexpectedly, we had a great deal of time with my brother's family, and our children really enjoyed their “cousin time”. We've enjoyed many of our favorite places in Ohio, and shared those experiences with people we love. But we've also had to say goodbye to those same people. We've had to sort through everything we own and part with belongings that are important to us, or that are attached to special memories. This process has taken longer and been more difficult than we expected.
There are lots of books, tools, and insights to help missionaries (or anyone moving cross-culturally) cope with the transition to life in a new, unfamiliar place. We’ve taken advantage of some of these helpful resources, but also missed out on some potential opportunities. We want to be well-equipped, but it’s our conviction that no matter how prepared we are we won’t make a successful transition unless we are walking with the Lord, relying daily on His Spirit and meditating on the truth of God’s Word. This is not to downplay the importance of preparing for the future, but is a recognition that we can never be fully prepared, and that only God’s grace can sustain us through unforeseen trials and difficulties.
I didn’t anticipate that, after seven years of preparation, this would be the hardest moment yet—the time when I would be most tempted to give up and retreat to the comforts of suburban America. We've persevered through resigning from a good job, raising financial support, leaving three homes behind, years of training—even an airplane crash! But the thought of quitting has never seemed so appealing. So we daily trust in the Lord, knowing that He will sustain us day by day, looking not to our ever-changing circumstances and feelings for comfort and peace, but to a loving and unchanging Savior who carries us each step of the journey.
Surely there will be more difficult times to come, and we appreciate your prayers for our family as we face this transition and the many challenges yet to come. We will continue to grieve the losses we are experiencing, but celebrate the future that the Lord has prepared for us. We want to trust that the best days for our family are yet to come! The future may or may not be what we envision, but in all things let us cling to Jesus, trusting in His love and goodness, having our eyes set on the hope we have in Him!