As we are getting everything packed up the kids have enjoyed helping to sort through things. Occasionally they find items that are intriguing and wonder what in the world they are for. This role of film for example. At 12 years old, our oldest knew what it was, but these two had no idea what to make of it. I remember my Mom and Dad laughing when they had to explain things that were routinely used in their childhoods and now it’s my turn to laugh. I wonder what things my kids will have to explain to their children in twenty years.
The future MKs at the park
We met the Swanson family shortly after we moved to town seven years ago and have enjoyed their family over the years. Gina is a speech therapist and has worked with our little guy this past year.
This past spring they started feeling God wanted them to move to the mission field, but they weren’t sure where He would take them. In June they finalized plans to move to the Philippines to work with the urban poor and they leave the end of this month.
It’s been nice to have friends who are walking the road of transition and packing and paperwork the same time we are. We will miss them, but are thankful for technology that will help keep us in contact as we all move around the world.
An evening with Gina
After taking inventory of the luggage we currently have it became clear that we’d need a few more pieces. The bags used while living in Israel probably wouldn’t make it on another international trip in one piece and our family size has long since outgrown the number of carry-on luggage we own. There were a few family and friends that gave us a suitcase or two, but as I looked for luggage sales it seemed like we’d need a small fortune to purchase the remaining bags.
A couple of months ago Nathan’s second cousin . . . or is it first cousin once removed? . . . Anyway, Nathan’s dad’s cousin Ed called and said that he had some extra luggage we could have. We recently stopped by and enjoyed visiting with Ed and Joani and then saw there was quite a lot of extra luggage. He gave us our pick of what we needed. Now we’ll just have to figure out how to get all of us along with all of our bags to the airport.
This has been a huge blessings and just one more way God is providing as we prepare to move.
Reunion time fun with Papa
Following a summer trip volunteering with children with disabilities in an orphanage, I returned home and got a job working with children in the US with developmental disabilities like cerebal palsy, autism and Down syndrome. Several of these children I remember quite well. Some because they were fun to work with and others because they had behaviors that were challenging. “E” was a little boy who was challenging and much of that stemmed from difficulties in communicating what he wanted and needed. He worked hard with us to learn.
In July we attend my family’s reunion in Idaho. This was first time in probably close to 15 years that all of my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents were together in one place. It was a great time to see everyone again and to have the newest generation together. It went by far too quickly, but the final weekend we spent together at a camp ground. On that same weekend was also a camp for adults with developmental disabilities that attended with the company I once worked for. I saw “E” and several other campers that I had worked with when they were children. As I stood in the dining hall I watched as “E” approached one of the staff and told them what he wanted. He communicate clearly. There was no tantrum, but a calm interaction. It was thrilling to watch this young man who had come so far since I had known him. He still has his challenges, but there were many people who have walked beside him to help him make such progress.
Kudjip Nazarene Hospital has the opportunity to help people with disabilities as they seek medical help, however, there aren’t a lot of resources available once they leave the hospital. Dr. Erin recently wrote about a 12 year old girl named Anna who is paralyzed and came in to have bed sores treated. Would you read Anna’s story and pray for her. I am thankful for the help she is getting at the hospital and am praying for someone to step in and help when it is time for her leave.
On the ride home from bringing our second son home from camp I told him that the neighbors were holding a yard sale with some of our things and he’d probably see toys he recognized. These were toys that hadn’t been used in awhile.
Truth be told I’m surprised and disappointed to see how much stuff we have sitting around the house that hasn’t been used in awhile.
But anyway, I stood in the kitchen when he raced in with a little panic in his voice. “Mom! You didn’t tell me you were selling the pictures! Did you sell the pictures above the piano? I liked those pictures!” I didn’t think he’d notice, but I should have known. He is my observer. Not much escapes his attention. He’s the one who stops us to look at the sunset or the beautiful view on a drive. He notices the tiny grasshopper silently perched on a twig. And he’s the one who noticed the pictures were gone.
Up until now moving has been a fun idea, but an abstract idea for the kids. As the abstract begins to turn into reality I expect there to be more times that the kids feel the loss of a move. That Nathan and I feel the loss. This is the only home most of our children remember. The only home that some have ever known.
There is still much excitement as we prepare to go, but we would appreciate your prayers as we head full-on into the transition of moving and the losses, both big and small, that accompany such a change.
It’s March and I’m standing in front of the sink getting ready to brush my teeth before bed when Nathan walks in.
“How much do we owe on our loans?” he asks.
We’ve been trying to save all we can on living expenses, so we can pay all we can on student loans. Our goal at medical school graduation was to have all the school loans paid off in 10 years. There were several large purchases that we considered which would have derailed that plan, but when we prayed about them first we knew God wanted us to stay focused on paying off the loans.
I tell him how much we owe and he hands me a slip of paper. On it is the the amount of our tax return. Exactly the amount we owe for student loans with enough left over to pay the fee for preparing our taxes. The last of the loan was paid off 10 years to the month of medical school graduation.
We will now be able to move to PNG debt free!
Eating out is a rare treat, but well worth it to celebrate paying off the loans.🙂
Traveling around to different churches has given us the opportunity to get a glimpse into the ministries God has started around our district. In the midst of all the bad news we see reported it is refreshing to see the hope God is brining to these communities. There are puppet ministries, a coffee shop ministry and churches that open their doors for other churches to use the facilities. One church took their Sunday morning service time to help out around the homes of people in the community. Another has a weekly food pantry. On multiple occasions I have seen churches that have been such a blessing to me personally as a mom of kids with special needs as they have welcomed adults with developmental disabilities with open arms. What a beautiful and hope-filled picture of the body of Christ these churches are to their congregations and surrounding communities.
Moving to PNG involves far more than treating the physical wounds and illnesses of the body. Helping people find healing through the forgiveness of Christ is also incredibly important and changes lives. Read about Robert, who faced few consequences for fighting, drugs and robbery, until one attempted robbery landed him in the hospital. Pray with us that Robert will be discipled in his new found faith in Christ.
It didn’t take a scale to know that six years of school books (two years apiece for the oldest three kids) was going to be very heavy and would take who knows how many 50 lb. suitcases to cart them across the ocean. Instead, we opted to ship them on a slow boat to PNG. In each box there was enough room to add a few extra items like kitchen supplies, toiletries, toys and towels. We were told that cribs are not easy to come by over there, so a couple of cribs made the list of things to ship as well.
Nazarene Hospital Foundation ships a container to Kudjip Nazarene Hospital three or four times a year filled with medicines and other medical supplies. They also ship things over for the missionaries occasionally, so we were able to get our boxes delivered in time to go on the latest shipment. It’s supposed to take about six months to get there, so if there aren’t too many delays we should be getting our school books not long after we arrive in the fall. I kept out the first few months of school books to take with us just to be on the safe side, so the kids don’t need to worry about having to miss any school if the shipment arrives late.😉
Do you see the mess on this beautiful little face? Messy mealtimes were an expected part of our older kids’ development, but we weren’t sure if it would ever happen for our baby girl. Her g-tube feedings seemed like a big obstacle to moving to PNG. How would we feed her when the electricity goes out? How would we get the supplies we needed? I tried a method of feeding that doesn’t use an electric feeding pump, but it didn’t work well and would get even harder the more mobile she got.
Last summer we tried weaning her off the g-tube and onto solid food. She made great progress compared to trying to wean her to a bottle. It was important to see that she could maintain her own growth curve eating orally as well as see how she did during illnesses. This winter we seemed to get sick every other week and she did well through each illness. She’s also maintained her growth curve, so we were recently able to remove her g-tube! I was surprised by how stressful the weaning process was and could almost physically feel a weight taken off my shoulders when it was time to pull her tube. I was thankful that the feeding tube was available to help keep her healthy and growing, but I am thrilled she is now eating on her own. I am also thankful that God helps us with the obstacles we face in life, whether he helps remove them or walks us through them.
Are you curious what a g-tube looks like? Here’s a few pictures of the g-tube while it was still in and after it was removed. The older kids think it’s pretty awesome that she has two belly buttons now.