Where is Home, for the Holidays?
Last Christmas, we were in St. Lucia and we REALLY missed our kids when they all got together, while Merle and I were so far away. So we arranged to be here this December, but plans changed and changed again. I ended up coming back early to check on Delores, and then Grandma Sally passed away suddenly, so Merle caught the first flight back, the week before Thanksgiving. We were thrilled to have all three of our kids go along to Ohio for her funeral, which was such a blessing and provided closure for all of us. We were not able to all be together for the funerals of our other parents, as we were on the field, except when my father passed away, and we happened to be Stateside. This is one of the most difficult decisions - who gets to go back for the funeral. Normally, we only could afford to send the one closest to the parent. It is painful to be across the ocean and not there to see all the relatives or cry with everyone else over the loss of a precious life. This is one of the sad costs of being on the mission field. But it was really a blessing to be together to celebrate Grandma Sally's life, to look at her house one last time, to see her Christmas tree all set up with the ornaments with each child's name, that they didn't know existed, to see their pictures on her bedside table. Grandma Sally made quilts and afghans, and always sent a hand-painted Birthday or Christmas card to all of us and supplied a little cash for a treat for the children. It was always special. And perhaps the most special Birthday card was the one Lydia received after we had returned from Ohio, held up in the mail. It even had the familiar $5 bill tucked inside.
On our drive home, we decided to do a family event and visit The Ark Encounter in Kentucky as it was really right on the way home. I think it was an impactful couple hours for everyone!
The Temple Family opened their home to us again, as we invade their space and cause their kids to give up their rooms for us. They are very generous and accommodating, treating us like family. They may have gotten more than they bargained for as Merle is going to Man-o-War Caye on December 31 to do hurricane damage repair for Samaritan's Purse (as he did in Barbuda last fall) in January and February, and Jenny will be hanging back in McDonough.
We are trying to build in time to be together as a family, without a home to celebrate, but Paradise Mountain Ministries was so generous as to let us stay in their guest rooms last weekend to at least have a day or two together. With all the kids working or going to college, their schedules are all different, as you probably have experienced, and it makes it especially difficult to celebrate this special time together.
Lydia and I went to watercolor painting classes and constructed and decorated a gingerbread house for fun, while Merle worked really hard to extend water lines to Delores' trailer because her well had gone dry. He and another neighbor were out in the freezing rain and mud up to their knees! Then he replaced the deck at the Kennesaw house as the renters had a sewer problem and had to pull off the deck to repair the problem. Lydia's car needed a great deal of attention and repair since it had such a wobble. Then the shipment turned out to be even more expensive as we had to pay all kinds of fees to receive it on this side of the ocean! Merle had really worked to keep the expenses down and do things himself, but in the end it cost just as much as the first quote of $7000! Yikes! If you have anything you could give to our ARM account before the year's end, we would be so very grateful. Thank you and God bless you!
We finally have all our belongings on one continent, though it will remain in storage! Except the piano, being stored indoor at the Temples' home. These best of friends invited us for Christmas dinner and games! We received the opportunity to move into the Jonesboro Mission house for a couple weeks until mid-Jan. We will then move back to the Temple's home but it gave relief to have their kids in their own rooms for the holidays and gave us room to get organized and have beds for Hannah and Allan to join us.
We hope your Christmas holidays are full of love, family, and friends, and especially some deep reflection on the child in the manger who grew up to die for us all and the whole world. Pray for those who are suffering persecution this season, and don't have such a comfortable life as we are blessed to experience. Merry Christmas! God has blessed us - everyone!