Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Halfway through our furlough: so what are we thinking?

A flashback to July 2013...
Where we were one year ago

Life on the Nile in Africa

One year ago, this was my life. My boys spent their days running around with their little Sudanese friends, swimming in the Nile River, and helping their dad out with any project he needed "help" with. My husband was doing what he loved and was passionate about. I enjoyed drinking hot tea and coffee with my friends in the shade of a tree in the heat of the day. Was it an easy, carefree life? No, but it was our calling.

Five months after these photos were taken, the lives of everyone we know and love in South Sudan were changed forever. Fighting broke out in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, spreading quickly to many areas of the country, including Upper Nile State where we called "home".

After waiting two months to see if the unrest would die down, our family decided to come back to the States for an early home assignment. Our plan was to reconnect with our supporters and get as many people as possible praying for the situation in South Sudan. Our hope has been that peace and stability would return to the country and our region of South Sudan so that, come January 2015, we might return to our "calling" and continue doing what we love and feel God designed us for.

We have now been in the States for five months and it has been a wonderful time. We've traveled all over the country, reunited with our family and friends, and enjoyed some very special and refreshing times as a family. We are starting to hear the question, "Now what?" and I have asked myself the same thing.

Thanks to a book given to me by a special friend, I have been reminded of the value and joy of  "blooming where I've been planted."

"The Nesting Place" has reminded me to take advantage of these next months that we'll be settled in our home in South Carolina. It doesn't matter how long or short we'll be here, we can BE HOME. It would be so easy to allow these months to be consumed with thoughts of what is next, with questions about our future, with research, with shopping and packing, etc. But that doesn't feel like blooming and that definitely doesn't feel like nesting. God has given me another 6 months to be here so I want TO BE.

People might be wondering:
Do I want to just settle back into life in America for good?
Do I want to make our home in Columbia, SC my forever nesting place?

Honestly, no.
I believe this is where God wants us at least through the rest of the year. I don't know what the Lord has for our family in 2015 but I will be ready to move if that is what is next. And by God's grace we will BLOOM wherever He takes us.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Special Reconnect with South Sudan teammates

Over the 4th of July weekend, we were invited to our friends' house in the mountains of North Carolina. The couple who invited us are on our SIM South Sudan team but are on home assignment in the States like we are. They invited us and two other couples who have also served in South Sudan. It was such a special time to reconnect and hear how everyone is doing since returning from the field.

As you can see we did a lot of relaxing and having lots of fun on Lake Toxaway. There was so much to do: skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and much more!

The weather was beautiful and we all had a wonderful time - especially the boys!!

On the night of the 4th we watched a spectacular fireworks show at a nearby golf club. We spread a blanket on the grass and were awed by the huge and beautiful displays of light and sound. :)

One day we all went on a hike to see some waterfalls. They were just beautiful.

Some of the group got daring and climbed up the side of a large rock to then slide down the other side which kind of waterfalled into a small pool below. Yes, Isaac and Evan did it but this nervous mama was holding her breath the whole time!!!

At the top of the rock Eli talked them through what they were going to do

And then down they went!
It was a very sweet and special few days, spending time with friends who know what we've been through and what the transition back to the States is like. We were all able to listen to each other, encourage each other, and challenged to press on, each in our unique set of circumstances that God has put us in for now.