In our second post of this Epic Road Trip, we are thankful for so many things.
After our visiting of friends, family, and support in Wisconsin we journeyed south, crossing a few state lines along the way. On December 1st we travelled through Illinois and into Missouri, where we visited friends from our home church, Evangelical Bible Church of Dickinson, ND. The Toews family and their friendship has been missed, and it was so good to catch up with them and see how the Holy Spirit is active and working through them in Sullivan, MO.
On the morning of December 2nd, we awoke to celebrate Kaiya turning 11 years old. We had a wonderful gluten and dairy free breakfast at Rooster in downtown St. Louis, and then hit the road for Louisville, KY. We again crossed Illinois, and the southern tip of Indiana on the way, picking up a few more state lines in the process. As we finished the day of travel we were able to pick up some birthday treats at a gluten and dairy free bakery in Louisville.
December 3rd we were able to complete the birthday surprise for all the kids when we drove out to Encounter the Ark in Williamstown, KY. The life-size reconstruction of Noah’s Ark was incredible, and the exhibits told the story of God’s redemptive work to restore His relationship with man. It amazes me to see the many ways that science has come to the point of confounding the scientists, leading them to elude to the seeding of life on earth from some other life, or finally conceding that there must be a designer. As scientists search for this source of “Intelligent Design”, God’s fingerprints on the history of the world are here for us to behold, and our family chooses to honor the only God who is mighty to save, and always proves Himself true. We are thankful for the many scientists who poured in their talents to provide the scientific evidence that so clearly supports Biblical creation.
On December 4th, we continued on to our amazing hosts in Nashville, TN. The Rickstrew family was such a great match for us, and it was wonderful to share time with them to see how God is leading them in the raising of their children and the management of their household. As we have said in any place that we have encountered those who have dedicated their lives to Christ, their faith is evident by the love that they have for the fellow saints.
In Nashville we were able to meet with a specific doctor of functional medicine who will be able to support us remotely as we travel to Uganda, and also another physician who previously served with his family on mission to Uganda. We have gained some amazing connections in Christ, and God has built for us incredible resources through the body. We enjoyed a wonderful time in fellowship with the families near Nashville, and look forward to continued growth in those relationships. We even enjoyed a concert and time of fellowship with the body as provided by Nathan Clark George, a very gifted man of God with a heart that is turned toward Him. Of all the people to meet on this trip, Nathan was previously the pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lemmon, SD, and actually performed the marriage ceremony of our Associate Pastor at Evangelical Bible Church in Dickinson, ND. It is a small world in the network of believers. Please check out Nathan’s latest CD and support him in his ministry of music.
The 6th of December we departed Nashville by airplane, heading even further south to Marco Island, FL. This would be our last time to visit my parents prior to us leaving for Uganda, and we enjoyed the time of rest and refreshment with them. We treasured the time here, seeing our kids experience the Gulf of Mexico with their grandparents. We spent time together in the boat, at the pool, and at their wonderful church. Our close friend from high school and from our time in Colorado Springs came down to join us for a few days, so it was good to catch up with Hank Gray during this time, as well.
December 9th was a special day as we celebrated the shared birthdays of our son, Benjamin and my mom. We’ve now entered the teenage years with Benjamin, just in time to leave the country for Uganda! This little change also meant that Benjamin will now have to take off his shoes for the security line at the airport, a major milestone and coming of age for a young man.
On December 11th we attended church service with my mom and dad at The Family Church on Marco Island. I’ve enjoyed getting to know this body of believers through the fruit that is being harvested in my parents. I’ve seen my parents’ lives and devotion to God change as they have been sharpened by the body of believers who are alive and active by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the elders and pastors of this church, and feel that in them we have further relationships with believers in Christ who would not be afraid to challenge us and encourage us to live our lives worthy of the calling of Christ. By their grace we had the opportunity to share our calling, but most importantly we shared in a time of prayer for my parents who will share in this struggle as we move so far from them. I’m so thankful that my parents will have this body of believers to support them as we go.
Our time in Florida also allowed us time to visit with Isaac’s birth family. This is now the second time that we have been able to meet with his siblings, and it is always so great to see these kids interact. It is important to us to maintain these relationships and allow the siblings to see that their brother is well cared for, and that this adoption does not make these relationships illegitimate. We hope that some day we might have the opportunity to have some of these siblings visit us in Uganda. In this way, we hope to share the love of Christ with the rest of Isaac’s family.
We took off from the paradise of South Florida on the 16th, landed in Nashville, and logged some more miles before coming to a resting point in Memphis. Once again, the network of believers allowed for us to find like-minded believers in Christ who were excellent hosts. We were able to share how God had moved in the lives of each of our families. One thing that stood out to me in this time of fellowship was how we all face adversaries when we walk through open doors in Christ. As we follow after Him, we follow in the way of denying ourselves and taking up suffering in exchange for the glory of God. Whether it is through adoption, foster care, missions, or even simply sanctification in the secular world, open doors for ministry are always met with opposition from the enemy. I am realizing, too how important it is to fellowship with the body of Christ no matter where we find ourselves. We are built in faith as we share our sufferings and God’s victories.
In our final day for this post, we travelled through Arkansas to arrive in Tulsa, OK. We had a great time meeting with the Jackson family in Siloam Springs, AR. Grandpa and Grandma Jackson are the parents of our co-workers in Uganda. We really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing another perspective from parents who have watched their kids engage in a culture across the ocean from home. While we gained valuable insight, we still haven’t solved the mystery of why Nathan is the way he is. I guess we may never know.
As I write this post we are again in fellowship with those from our home church. The Young family left our church and Dickinson, ND a couple of years ago, and are now living here in Tulsa. It is so great to visit with those who have shared interests and relationships. Perhaps one of the greatest blessings has been the fellowship shared between our wives. These women love each other deeply, and hold one another up in steadfast prayer. They do not shy away from truth, and through a trusted relationship they are not afraid to speak that truth when needed. We are so thankful for the Youngs, for their prayer, for their support, and that they represent Christ right where they are, no matter where that is.
It was a long post, but there was much to update. This time of travel has been bittersweet. There are many new relationships being built, good-byes being said, and a season of lasts to be enjoyed. Thank for reading and for continuing to support us in the journey. We are still praying that God will provide a buyer for our home, a three year old to be potty trained, monthly support to be raised, and for journey mercies.
As we have heard from some of you, we have added to our morning prayer list and continue to pray specifically for those who have requested it. Please let us know how we can hold you up in prayer by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last, please forward this email and blog to any that you feel might be encouraged or edified through it.