“The LORD directs the steps of the Godly, He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” -Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)
These verses have never been so personal to our family as they have been this past year. Where can we begin to describe the goodness of our Savior shown to us every step of the way? In no way can we boast about anything or take credit for what the Lord has done. From the day we left the village at the end of April until this very day we could write volumes on all the ways he has provided for us. When we have become discouraged he is always there to hold us up by our hands and to remind us of his tender care for us.
June 6th found us running through the airport, masks on, luggage in toe, dodging crowds of fellow travelers, running haphazardly through the airport to make our connection from Chicago to Omaha. We had been substantially delayed and now we were in serious danger of missing our flight. We knew that many family members were waiting our arrival in Omaha and we hated to think of them returning all the way home without us. We arrived out of breath at our gate, only to see that boarding for our flight was closed and the plane would soon be pulling away from the gate. Then, a surprise. A passenger on the flight had gotten sick on the plane. A cleaning lady was going to board the plane. They opened the flight back up and we were allowed to board along with her. As we walked down the narrow aisle to our seats and sat down the realization of what had jut taken place washed over me. What are the odds? Then just gratitude. Thank you Lord.
If anything else this would be the over-arching theme of the last few months back in the US. We spent a month in Iowa with Neil’s parents, and with Neil’s Grandma Mummu. It was a time of physical and spiritual rest. We saw the Lord take special care of our son, Micah, through the love of his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. When that time came to an end we had no idea what would come next. We had hoped to head to Idaho in July but the Lord had other plans for us. We weren’t able to find a house ready for us in Idaho when, quite suddenly, a place in Hot Springs South Dakota opened up for us. It turned out to be a lovely furnished home where we could just be a family. An added bonus was Neil’s sister and her family lived just down the street from us, and Micah had a lot of fun playing with his cousins. The details of how this space opened up showed us yet again how God was caring for us. Then, just as we were about to head to Idaho for the second time we got news that Neil’s Grandma Mummu had suffered a possible stroke and was in the hospital. Soon, once again, we found ourselves retracing our steps and going East instead of West. The Lord gave us one day to see her alive on this earth, and the next day she had passed away. Words fail us to describe how thankful we are that we were able to spend that month with her in Iowa and then to be there to lay her to rest. We could easily have been 10,000 miles away in Tanzania. After the funeral we knew the time was finally right for us to head West. We had received news just days before that our duplex was ready and waiting for us. It was a week ago today that we arrived in Idaho. Since then we continue to watch God take care of us through his people.
After leaving Tanzania at the end of May we passed through South Africa on our way back to the US. While we were there, we met with our South East Africa leadership and did an end of term debrief with them. We were able to start working through and processing our time in the village and the challenges we faced. With the help of our leadership we were able to come up with a list of some things that need to come together before we can go back into the village. Among those things were our need for co-workers, Micah’s schooling, and Rachelle’s health. Now that we are back in Idaho and getting settled we’re starting to look forward to what’s next for our family. God’s placed us in a spot where we are forced to rely on him to provide for these needs before we would go back to Africa. In the meantime, we continue to be connected with what's going on in Tanzania. Neil is preparing to take some online seminary classes. We are both looking forward to being a part of our local church again. However, if we’ve learned anything during this past year it’s that we can make our plans but it is truly the Lord who directs our steps. We’re excited to see where he takes us and what he has in store for us.
As we close this letter we want to thank all you who have supported us so generously above and beyond our needs. We’re thankful that we’ve been able to meet up with some of you and are looking forward to meeting up with the rest of you. If any of you would like to be in more contact with us, here is Neil’s US phone number: 208-301-4426