As I sit here in Greece, I finally have the opportunity to write a post about retreat!
The IT department has been in the process of upgrading our internet speed for what seems like decades, and therefore our internet isn’t working consistently. And when it is working, sometimes we are blocked from viewing our own blogs! While this is very frustrating, it is also a lesson in contentment and patience. I don’t really NEED to be on-line. I do, however, want to keep all my prayer warriors up-to-date with our lives…We’ve experienced some answers to prayer, and I really want to say THANK YOU and give you a little update on what happened at our first retreat.
Each year all the WGM missionaries in Kenya gather in one place for a time of spiritual renewal, rest and relaxation. This year was the first year we’ve been invited (we were in the States last year at this time), and we were delighted to go!
The trip to the coast of Kenya isn’t an easy one. First, we had to drive to Nairobi…Well, we rode to Nairobi while our Kenyan driver took care of the actual driving. Then, we spent the night at a guest house in order to get the airport at a decent time. It was a short flight from Nairobi to Malindi. Then, we took another van from the airport to the resort. Finally we arrived at our destination!
The climate along the coast is very different than the climate we enjoy in Tenwek. The heat almost knocked us over as we departed the plane. My already sick body was not happy that we had to live in the hot humidity for over a week! However, by God’s grace, I not only survived the weather but I also enjoyed most of the time there.
Along the Indian Ocean, the low tide leaves a huge area to explore. I’m not sure the boys truly appreciated this experience. (Don’t they know that very few American kids get to walk out on the Indian Ocean to see tide pools filled with life??) Once we pranced around the seaweed, we saw eels, fish, crabs, starfish, a puffer fish and lots of other stuff. (I tried to post more pictures, but it’s taking too long to upload them…Aaron posted some on facebook, so I hope you saw them there!)
The pool and the ocean were amazing, and that’s where we spent the majority of our afternoons. The mornings were occupied by classes. Aaron and I learned about Jeremiah from Stan Key, our guest speaker. The boys attended a spy themed VBS program, which they loved. They even performed a few songs for us at the closing ceremony. Too, too cute. (I’d post the video, but I’m not even trying to upload video!) Some other special events included a baptism service in the Indian Ocean (how awesome is that!?! I was bummed that I’d already been baptized!), a sweet communion service, and a graduation celebration for the two MKs graduating from RVA. Overall, a wonderful time!
The one thing I took away from the retreat was something Stan Key taught on Lamentations. Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in response to his grief over the fall of Israel. Lamentations is an alphabetical list of all the things he was missing. Stan suggested that we use the same format to help us process our grief. When Stan was preparing this message, he had no idea Aaron and I would be in his audience, he didn’t have us on his radar…But God did. Stan had no way of know that I was having a hard time that week, that I was missing Hannah so much that it physically hurt, that I really needed something new to help me work through this new wave of grief…But God knew!
We serve an amazing, personal God! Our God loves us and cares for us so tenderly and deeply. I’m always amazed how He helps me each and every day. Aaron and I both felt prompted to start lists of what we miss about Hannah. Today, I started one with the boys. I thought it would be a good thing for them to work on, especially as we anticipate another person entering our family. They seem so focused on the moment and/or the future, which is good. However, I never want them to forget their sister and to never think this new baby will replace her. Once they’ve completed their list, I’ll post it. I’m sure it will be priceless!
I’ll close with what I’m guessing is the most popular verse in Jeremiah:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11)
Praises and Prayer Requests:
1. Praise God that I am feeling SO much better! After 2 weeks of severe nausea and mild weight loss, I am feeling great. I’m tired, but what first-trimester pregnant lady isn’t? I’m showing A LOT! It’s pretty obvious that this is my fifth pregnancy…My stomach muscles aren’t even trying to hold anything in! Thank you for praying me through those 2 horrible weeks and for your ongoing prayers to sustain me throughout this pregnancy.
2. Praise God for a wonderful retreat! Thank you for praying us there and back!!
3. Praise God for this opportunity to be in Greece! Thank you for praying for us as we travelled. Aaron and Jacob both threw up, but we managed to make it to the conference without changing clothes. Praise God! Noah just threw up a couple of times, so please pray that he’ll be back to normal by the morning…AND that Levi and I won’t get whatever this mysterious bug is!
4. Praise God for His creativity! Each time we visit a new place, I’m once again amazed at the diversity of the human race and beautiful array of landscapes. It’s a privilege to witness each culture and place as we travel.
5. Please pray for the boys. This is the first time we’ve been out of Kenya in a year, our first time in the first world in a year. It’s a little overwhelming. Please pray that we’ll enjoy this time away from Tenwek, but that we’ll also look forward to being home. Pray against greed and selfishness. Pray for contentment and peace and thanksgiving. Pray for Aaron and I as we navigate this new wave of consumerism, that we may have wisdom in leading the boys through it.
6. Pray for Tenwek Hospital. Many of the long-term doctors from Tenwek are in this conference, so please pray for the visiting staff and the long-termers who are left to fill in the gap.