After leaving church on Sunday, September 22, we went to celebrate Bart’s 27th birthday. We knew what was coming, and we were all a little apprehensive. The next morning Bart was leaving at 4:30 to drive, alone, to Florida. My nerves were already raw when we left the restaurant to head home and pack. You see, this is our first time being lifelong missionaries. We’ve undergone training and taken many classes to prepare for what is coming up, but some training can only come through experience. Bart spent over an hour packing (Over and over until it all fit) our suitcase, the car seats, our display, toys, books and groceries into his mom’s car (which is much better on gas than our jeep). Everything we needed for our trip was set out in piles in our room. Neither of our children slept that night, and Bart was exhausted. The day after Bart left, I woke the kids up bright and early (4 a.m.) and we were in the airport by a quarter after five with an umbrella stroller and a backpack. It was a step of faith that God grew us through.
During our time in Florida we visited 11 places in 14 days. We began in Tampa and travelled to St. Petersburg to visit a wonderful woman who was in Zimbabwe with Bart’s grandparents, and then we left for Deland to see a friend from Johnson, who is now a youth pastor. Bart made awesome connections through the people we met in Deland. From Deland we travelled to Lake Butler and saw a family that traded kids with us one night a week when we lived in Knoxville so that we could each have a date night. They made connections through their church for us and again, we are blessed! We left Lake Butler and drove to Northern Florida Christian Camp. We spoke with our friends whom are now supporting us and were so encouraged to have our kids play with them as we visited. From there we drove to Jacksonville and spent 2 days with a couple who are missionaries with Word of Life. They showed us a bit of their town and we left encouraged by another young couple seeking to serve God through international missions. We drove from Jacksonville to visit my (Andi) Aunt and Uncle in Melbourne whom I haven’t seen in many years. We shared with them about the fire God has placed in our hearts to go overseas with His Word, and it was so awesome to be able to have them ask us the hard questions (as family is supposed to) and encourage us. After that we were able to go visit the Johnson University, Florida Campus (previously Florida Christian College). We drove back toward St. Pete, to Largo (nope, not the keys!) and after one church there and some time with stateside missionaries we left for the airport on October 8th. We were home less than an entire week before I left for a 4 day trip to southern Indiana, which was followed by one day home to visit with my older brother and then leave for a week in Tennessee. The week in Tennessee was bittersweet, as we said goodbye to many of our close friends, and spent time with potential supporters. In 5 weeks, I have been home 3 days.
We are constantly reminded that we are only vapors. We are here for a short time and this is not our home. We have purpose, ordained by God, and this life is to glorify Him. We are so grateful that He has chosen to let us have such incredible relationships.
We’ve become rather accustomed to living in suitcases, packing our groceries for road trips and saying prayers that the gas in the tank will last longer than anticipated. We are learning about boundaries, patience, and how little sleep we can live on. We are practicing what it means to be a family with the constant love of Christ encouraging each other when we are all tired of saying goodbye. We also have learned that our family far exceeds DNA, as our children now have Aunties and Uncles around the world. As Lucas says “You can never run out of love!”.
Last night as Hosanna played on the floor and I read our nightly Bible story Lucas began questioning me. We were talking about Saul’s jealousy of David. “Mommy, why didn’t David share what Saul wanted?” “Because Lucas, Saul was jealous of David’s happiness, his joy that was in his heart, and that wasn’t something that David could give to Saul” Lucas puzzled for a minute “But we can share the happy with people like we do with our friends!” I was so delighted by Lucas simple observations of the profound. “Yes Lucas, we can share our joy, but there are people who aren’t happy with what God has given them and so they won’t be happy when we try and give it to them either.” My heart ached to help him understand “But we always keep trying my son. We always keep trying to show them the happy God gives us.” he quickly bounded off the bed and began raving about tomorrow’s story which he knows by heart….Saul chasing David around with a spear! Lucas is beginning to understand the purpose God has given His people. It’s about sharing joy and love. To indestructible elements of life with Jesus. That is why we are here in Indianapolis right now. That is why we are going to France, and Africa. To share with people what we have in abundance…
the love and joy that comes from the Wellspring of Life!!!
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