We are safe and sound in the beautiful Northwest. We arrived Monday to the sight of our family and friends. Rhoda was officially welcomed to the USA and has been adjusting pretty well to her new location. Culture shock has subtly been messing with us or maybe it is just the jet lag. (I feel like an infant waking up at 2:00am and wanting to cry:) I was fitted with some new hearing aids so that has been nice to hear again. (I didn't know that the letter keys on the keyboard made sounds when you pushed down on them:)
Sweet reunioning happening with my parents, with my brother and his family, with Steph's parents, with Crossroads Bible Church staff as I popped by today for some hugs, and with Dairy Queen and her amazing Reese's Peanut Butter Blizzards.
Some quick comments about my time in England. The one word I keep using: Significant. Great talks, lots of laughter and fun, great food, and rubbing should with some amazing people. I guess another word I could use was: understood. There is something sweet about being with people who understand your missionary life. And it made it all the sweeter that I have known so many of these missionaries most of my life through the Crossroads connection. It was great to get to know them well.
Highlights included some sweet time with Manuel and Pili Corral and Tan and Kaarin Molina. I met Tan and Manuel 20 years ago in Leon, Spain when I was but a young lad of 21. They had just begun the retreat ministry out at Toral and there were about 6 young men of 15-13-12-11 who I had a blast hanging out with during my two months as a camp counselor in the summer of 1992. Well, these young boys are now men, loving the Lord, leading ministries, pastoring and leading the next generation for Christ. Manuel is in his later years of life, working hard to pass the baton to the next generation and Tan is part of that next generation, leading worship and having an impact on the entire country through his worship and through the retreat ministry at Toral. It was great picking Keith Webb's brain the entire week, learning so much about teaching and leading and coaching through his vast experience. David Bordner is a missionary in Slovenia with Josiah Ventures. He married a Slovene worship leader and together they are having an amazing ministry in Slovenia. Great conversations with the Musgraves and the Ziskas, meeting the Russian pastors, seeing Ellen from Mexico again after 20 years and meeting new missionaries from all over that I have never met was so great and all the other names I am forgetting at this early jet lag hour! I loved how I was able to be at Crossroads when they decided to focus on Spain and Russia with a lot of time, effort and money and then 20 years later to see so much fruit being born out of those decisions. Our time with Scott and Julie Blom was so fun. I had seen their names on the missionary board at Crossroads for the last 14 years but had never met them. I wish distance were not a factor because I am sure we would be great friends. They are great people. So much laughter with great, deep, important talks was the norm here. It was a wonderful time. Anyway, thanks for all your prayers.
We were very thankful for the four leader/couples from Crossroads that came over to encourage, get to know the missionaries and lead us. I have never heard of a church who would donate such time and money to love on their missionaries. I hope that many churches will try to do something like this. It was a blessing.
I will be here for a week and then head back to Zambia next week for a little less than a month before coming back for our furlough. We will be around from Nov 21 to January 11 and we look forward to connecting soon!