Psalm 73:23-28 Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Indeed, those who are far from you will perish; you put an end to those who are false to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, to tell of all your works.
We were stirred this morning by the beautiful bells of St. Jakobi Kirche bright and early. I will miss these bells. I am not sure why, but they give me comfort and peace, though I do wish they were a bit later than 6:30 am! We enjoyed a nice breakfast and then made the long 30 second walk down the stairs to church. It was nice to be in this church again, but I am also excited to get back to our church in Madison, where I understand what is going on during the service. Jeff helped Johannes after the service today and then I took all the kids to Susi and Renee. They were gracious enough to have our children over for dinner tonight so Jeff and I could attend a concert at the church without being interrupted by misbehaving kids!
Jeff and I have talked a lot about going back to the States. I will be honest, I have been hoping and wishing and praying for God to lead me down a different path, but He has not yet; as of now, all paths lead to Madison. So that is where we will go. I will say that it is comforting knowing that we now have a place to live when we return, but there is still so much up in the air. Not to mention that pain in my heart knowing that tomorrow we are leaving these wonderful people and this beautiful place that has brought us so much joy. We have one more day to enjoy them and I know that this time goodbye is going to much more difficult.
As I look around at our belongings, I have such a wide range of emotions. I am so relieved that this is all we have because I know I can pack it up in a couple of hours. And yet, I know that by packing everything up we are going to have to say, yet another goodbye. I am not sure who said this to me, but it is very fitting as we close out this year, we have had a year of ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’. God has put people in our lives that have made a lasting impact on us and I am so grateful for the ‘hellos’ to these beautiful people and then the heartbreak of the ‘goodbyes’ is always too soon, but the ‘goodbyes’ always lead to another ‘hello’. It is an amazing cycle that is wonderful and difficult at the same time. Tomorrow we say ‘goodbye’ to Schonebeck’ and then hello to our family in Arizona. For tonight, this will be all. I will do my best to put my faith in God and his way. I will work hard to trust in His path, even if it is not what I would choose.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
Every place we have served we have seen a rainbow. If you believe in signs then you no doubt will recognize this one as the sign God gave to Noah following the end of the great flood. I always thought rainbows were beautiful but since taking on this journey and being blessed with them at every stop I have appreciated their significance that much more. It also isn’t so much that we have seen rainbows as much as when. They have typically come toward the end of our service time and while this may simply be coincidence I have long thrown such notions out the window. So it was that today, the last day of our service in Romania, we had a late afternoon storm which gave us a brief, not terribly vivid, but evident rainbow.
The day started out like just about every other we have had here. I did my last shift at the hospital while Sara did some sorting and baby bundles in the support center. We left the kids at home to enjoy their last day of playing with the Catos. My shift was rather uneventful, passing out diapers, snuggling with babies, the usual. I was particularly grateful though that Ann told me to pick whichever babies I wanted since today was my last day. It isn’t like you have favorites but it was still a nice gesture on her part.
As it turns out my babies were particularly sleepy apparently because both cuddled up and promptly slept when I had them. I felt really calm and peaceful about that. This whole time I have been working I have wanted those babies to know they are loved and cared for even when they have been alone and away from their parents. I felt like they felt comfortable in my arms and that is why they slept. We didn’t play but I knew they felt my love for them which is why they were okay to simply let go and get a power nap.
I said my goodbyes to the staff and to Ann and Joyce and then picked up Sara. We made a quick stop by the store for a few items to get us through our last evening and then headed home to pack up. I ambitiously thought we could get this knocked out in two hours or fewer. I was incorrect. On the positive side it was only four or five hours and we only had to panic slightly when we realized that we underestimated the number of bags we would need. But in the end we took a deep breath, recognized the challenge and overcame. We got the house more or less straightened away, made especially difficult after realizing the girls had managed to spill an entire tupperware of chutney on the kitchen floor and then used all of our paper towels to clean it up. We gave the house a good once over and then enjoyed a quick birthday celebration for Martin, our neighbors’ one year old. Sara and I had a final meal of Dodo’s pizza and then we headed off to enjoy a relaxing night of sleep, prepping for the next day’s travels.
All in all despite a few hiccups the day was very peaceful, calm, and reassuring. We knew that God had placed the path before us and we needed only follow it. We had made the most of our opportunities and we felt made a contribution to the mission of FFR. The rainbow I think was God’s way of reminding us that His covenant remains and is true. I hope that it was also His way of showing us that the path we have taken is consistent with His plan. I look forward to the next rainbow, wherever it may be.
Jeff and I got up at 3:45 am to see Lachlan off. He and Clifton had the long drive to Delhi where they were going to explore for a couple days and then Lachlan was headed to Australia and Clifton back home to the mission.
Jeff found a new running partner in one of the girls here on the mission, so they took off on an afternoon run around the mission and they soon had quite a following.
This week we also got to celebrate lots of birthdays; I guess with 68 kids in care on the mission, birthdays are a frequent happening here.
The last couple of days I have been working on organizing several cabinets in the office that were full of school and project supplies for the kids, as well as office supplies for the staff. This has been quite an undertaking and I really hope it pays off for Priscilla and Katie who regularly use it to get supplies for the kids’ school projects. There was so much stuff just shoved into these cabinets that there is no way to find anything. The bottom two shelves have come along nicely, but there is still a lot of work to go!
Most people would read about this job and not think much of it, but for those that really know me, you probably understand how much I love this kind of project. I think it is the process of taking everything out and putting it all back in a way that is functional. The reward for the work is instant and I love it!