““the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart.””
The Road to Character by David Brooks
The quick answer at this very moment is that we are at a conference in Colorado Springs with Missions Training International on cultural re-entry and missionary renewal. By the time it is published, we will be back in Dallas.
Why haven’t you heard from us or seen us? Most missionaries come on to their home assignment and hit the road visiting their supporters and churches. We have not done that (so far). But I can promise you that we want to get out to see everyone! But we have taken a different approach to our home assignment this year that makes traveling harder. The biggest travel obstacle is that we have placed the kids into school in Dallas for this spring semester. We did this for a few reasons. One is that they get terribly bored in the US when they do not have the rhythm of school and the stimulation of learning, which leads to a less peaceful home (all parents can relate!). They have been attending the mission school in Peru which actually was more like a Peruvian national school in regards to curriculum. This school was an undeniable blessing for our family, but it had not been preparing them for academics in the US, and the kids needed a little catch up. They are doing great, but the difference in expectations has come as a bit of a shock. Overall, one month in, I think it has been a blessing despite the difficulty of being outsiders in new schools in new systems. However, to the point in regards to travel, we now have a normal life governed by the demands of the academic schedule. We cannot travel as easily. When we do make the rounds (as we really hope to start doing soon), it may be that we travel without the kids. That is easier for us parents, but less satisfying to those who would wish to meet the whole family. Overall, we hope to do most of our travels with the whole family, but we hope you will understand if we cannot. In the meantime I am starting to work a little in order to supplement our income to pay some debts including school costs for our kids that are not a part of our CHSC budget. I also want to work in an American context again for the polishing of skills it provides. This work will be primarily rural ER shifts in the north Texas region where I will work 12 to 48 hour shifts (yes, I am wondering about those 48 hour shifts). I am looking forward to the work! Allison is busy doing everything like all of you awesome mothers out in the world. What would we do without her and you! For now that is where life has us as we look to the future to see where God would lead us in our decisions as we consider life away from Peru.
(This was written three weeks ago, but not posted by accident.)
We have been in the US of A for three weeks now and it has been a whirlwind time. Here is the shorthand version: week one: work on getting the kids in school— tours, testing, interviews. Week two: kids start school, Will and Allison go interview in Meeker, Colorado. Week three: family life during the week: school, homework, dinner, sleep; on the weekend, Mom and Dad go to interview in Bend, Oregon. Now we are waiting in the Redmond airport during a long delay.
The Lord has shown His great faithfulness is so many ways. Supportive friends at church, excellent school environment and compassionate teachers, enjoyable time with our parents, welcoming reception on returning to BSF, spontaneous times catching up with friends. In this post, I want to thank Him publicly for our beautiful house.
Will had put out a prayer request on the blog, letting people know that we needed a furnished house or furniture and a house in the Dallas area. The very next day we heard from a friend that her church, First Baptist Richardson, had some houses for missionaries and she thought they could accommodate us, rent-free. I got teary reading her email. Within twenty-four hours, emails were flying between Peru and the house caretakers. All was arranged. The house is maybe ten blocks from Ruth, Will’s mom, the house where we lived last year, so we know the neighborhood and we have Grammy close by. We are only about 15 minutes from my dad and about 15 minutes from the kids’ schools. Here in the metroplex, that is a miracle. We have three bedrooms— twin beds in the most boyish room, a double in a room with a big closet that has become a doll world, and a nice master bedroom with a cheerful color scheme. When we walked in, we were astounded to find a beautifully decorated and updated house with everything we could need and even food in the fridge and the pantry.
A couple of days later, I was amused to read in Nehemiah 9:25 “They took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.” Reveling in God’s great goodness we are. We have a generous Father.
I am reading the book Happiness by Randy Alcorn (yes, still reading). He makes the case that you could substitute “happy” in the place of “blessed” consistently if not always in the Bible. For example in place of “Blessed is the man who endures temptation” you can read “Happy is the man who endures temptation”. It feels different doesn’t it. Less sanctified and more real. And it opens up a whole new way of thinking about the promises of God.
Below are some good quotes about communal living in a counter cultural way from the article The Idea of a Christian Village by Rod Dreher from Christianity Today Magazine. And while I found them helpful, I was thinking about how sometimes it is hard to find people to live communally with you. You cannot do it by yourself! But one thing you can do is commit to being community toward other people. For some that is easy as they extend friendship easily. For others of us it is harder either due to being introverts or to our social laziness. But the commitment should be for us to involve ourselves in the lives (in the best way) of our fellow Christians, walking out our faith and our struggles with one another.
Traditional, historic Christianity—whether Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox—ought to be a powerful counterforce to the radical individualism and secularism of modernity.
We seemed content to be the chaplaincy to a consumerist culture that was fast losing a sense of what it meant to be Christian.
There’s something weird when none of the communal parts of your life are overtly Christian.
. . . you may visit your house of worship only once a week, but what happens there in worship, and the community and the culture it creates, must be the things around which you order the rest of the week.