Well hello there...it's been a while, hasn't it? Excuse the delay, but between the time warp of the last week and the difficulty of getting onto just about any US website here...it's taken a bit of time to write an update. But here we are.
(I feel like we should throw in a "Thank You" and "Amen" in there too.)
Here's our life in bullet points...
*We have LOVED getting reconnected to people here. In fact, as I write, the girls are all down the street at the lake with one of their old local friends (and his mom). We have spent hours of time in conversation with people already, and are savoring every bit of time with them. The connection that we feel to people here (and they to us) is such a precious treasure...what a gift "reunion" is.
*The girls have adjusted fabulously! Thank you for your prayers in this regard. They all have various degrees of memories from this place, but they have slid back into life here like fish to a stream. It's been a joy to behold.
*Something else fun for the girls - June 1st was Children's Day, and business at the restaurant that night was booming. The girls - especially Lydia and Michaela - whole-heartedly plunged into restaurant work, bussing tables, charming the locals, entertaining their kids, and even helping wash the dishes. They were awesome! Every time I think about them working, I can't help but laugh at the stereotypical nature of it all. ("I went to school, and then during holidays I worked in my parents' restaurant." HA!)
*The mountains here are just so beautiful. There they are, every day, at the end of every street, outside every window of my house, firmly, stoutly jutting into the clear blue skies...I missed the mountains. (Strangely, gratefully - we haven't had any difficulty adjusting to the altitude - yeah!)
*This last week we've spent a fair amount of time getting settled into life here - our lives even before James's diagnosis were a bit hectic, and then added to that our hasty departure...so you might imagine we didn't leave our home in the best of conditions when we left. I will say this - it's amazing what kind of deep feelings of "home" result for me by de-cluttering my house and getting rid of all the old things. (Think flour, toothbrushes, torn clothes, broken toys...) I am sure if any of you ever had a summer home or cabin on the lake you can understand...if you multiply it by about 100 times the dust! (How does dust get inside cabinets and drawers?)
*"Home" also feels like making your family breakfast out of the kitchen you helped design - a first for me this morning. We've already been here a week, so it felt like a major accomplishment! That my precious (read: imported) stand mixer and oven still work are small miracles that I do not take for granted.
*James invited all the local shepherds to our restaurant last night to treat them dinner, encourage them in the work they do, and to reconnect to local work here. I think they spent about 4 hours together. When I woke up this morning, I found myself marveling that God has truly rejuvenated him and given him strength for the tasks before him. What a joy!
*Also not taken for granted - James preached last weekend and will preach again tomorrow morning at his local fellowship. I can't help but be reminded that in the weeks leading up to our departure to Thailand nearly 2 years ago, James had given up preaching. He was too sick, coughing too much, and had all but lost his voice. Immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness...
*As I've driven around town, I can't help but notice how much has stayed the same. Things aren't just vaguely familiar...so much is nearly exactly how we left it. (But not the local Walmart - it's been remodeled and is an absolute disaster.) It's been fun, too, to walk into places and be recognized by the shop keepers and restaurant owners. Lots of good conversations reconnecting with locals.
It is good to be home. We're savoring every bit of time here, and feel that even though we are busy, these weeks will be quite restful to us.
Do continue to remember us - of course it's impossible to be here, doing the work we do, without encountering spiritual opposition - it comes out in feelings of fear, discouragement, and being generally overwhelmed by the work that needs to be done. ("Where do we start? Will it even make a difference? Is real change possible?") Yes, we are loving being back, but it is not all rainbows and kittens. There are real people with real problems. There is a western restaurant with nary a westerner to help run it. (wink) And there is a local church comprised of many young believers that is trying to move forward in faith without a shepherd.
So ask that God would continue to fill us with faith, strength, wisdom, and courage for the days ahead. May He redeem the time we have, and may He be glorified.
Thanks for remembering us...
~james, kristen & the girls