The minute the wheels of the airplane touched US soil at the Detroit Metro Airport, James was officially a US Citizen!
Immigration went well and we are ALL in the states - in Michigan. Happy to be together as a family again.
The lyric line from Together At Last
from the musical, Annie, keeps singing through my mind "together at last, together forever..."
so nice to be with our daughters again. I know we will journey separtely again as they grow on in their adult life, but for the moment, I am enjoying the refreshing fellowship of our family being all together.
Today, May 28, we are leaving the Philippines after being here 11 years, 6 months, and 2 days! What a journey it has been.
Pray for our safe travels and good transitions!
We have emptied our house and moved into a mission guest house for our last few days here in the Philippines.
That made getting rid of refrigerators, furniture, air cons, and household items easier since we were no longer needing to use them.
We've visited Jerard's grave for the last time,
Talked with many to say '"so long"
James is spending lots of time with friends
I've had a last class celebration with my Bible Students. I gave them each a sarong as a symbol of remembering that God is our shelter and covering
I've enjoyed eating a halo-halo
We've been celebrating with friends, writing notes of appreciation, packing
And in 5 days we board a plane to start our journey to the USA. We are so thankful for the 11 years we've been here. It's been life-changing.
The process of leaving has been filled with so many blessings - James' visa approval, being able to get Kurt and James on the same flights Ben and I were already booked on, someone to care for our dog Lacie, the ease with which we obtained James' approval sticker for leaving the country from the Commission of Filipinos Overseas, selling off items, and many graces throughout our days
It's hard to put in words the halo-halo (mix-mix) of thoughts and emotions at this transtition time. But overall, I rest in God's leading and guiding. He is my Abba Father and He is faithful.
I look forward to the journeys God has for us. This journey has been filled with many ups and downs. I am so thankful we've taken this path and I rest in God's continued leading, grace, and love.
Our family went to Manila for the weekend. I've been wanting to see Old Manila, also known as Intramuros or The Walled City. This was part of our preparation for transitioning to the US – seeing places in our host country we'd like to see before we leave.
Looking at Fort Santiago in Manila on Saturday; the ingenious of man to build such strong structures, caused my heart to sing in praise to my Saviour and God.
Psalm 62 played in my head:
He is my fortress Psalm 62:2.
Oh God, You are my God
My lips praise You!
You are my rock and my salvation
My fortress, my strong tower
You are my shield and my strength, I worship you.
In silence do I find You!
My soul thirsts for You!
You are my strength and shield
I love You, my Abba Daddy!
I will not be greatly shaken
Shaken, yes, but always firm in Him.
Thoughts start streaming about my 11 years in this country. Looking at those strong rocks and amazing architecture, my soul blessed my Saviour.
I have entered my last 16 days here in the Philippines, and since May 1, knowing we leave May 28, I've been having a full range of emotions. Thankful beyond words for all the experiences, yet looking forward to coming to the states to be near family and friends. Though, I must admit, the transition will have many challenges to establish a house of our own for our family, purchase a car, decide what school to have our sons attend, where to live, etc.
This journey has definitely answered a prayer I started praying when our first child was born. I started praying that my children would not know just “white, middle-class, Americana.” I desired for them to see beyond the suburb. And we all have been blessed with that ability on our missionary journey.
We moved here in 2006 with no idea what was to be on our path in Davao. But oh, the wonderful people here I've fallen in love with, the stark reality of rich and poor, extreme poverty, extreme joy, rising to challenges and responsibilities, intense reeducation of what is really important. The being a “minority' and never really “fitting in”.
As I reminisce about the lessons learned on the mission field I have been shaken. In quietness and trust I've learned to wait.
I've been reshaped, remolded. I'm not the person I was 11 years ago. I have grown stronger by seeing so many ministries bear fruit and by working through some difficult and persistent trials personally, relationally, within our family, and with colleagues. And I've learned so much along the way. I've been driven by winds, pillaged by evil intent, laid waste by emotional traumas, and healed – in the shadow of my loving Abba's wings. My soul clings to Him and He upholds me.
A book is in the works on my missionary journey musings.
I have looked upon You, Daddy, in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:2).
Hewn from strong rock, tall tower reaching the heavens. Our day tour so hot, each of us so thirsty and drinking refreshing bottles of water. My soul thirsts for You, Dad.
He is my strong tower.
In the shelter of His wings is healing and shade and rest. He is my rock, my redeemer, my salvation, my fortress, and my water of life. In Christ alone.
May 18th marks the day my son, Jerard, went home to be with Jesus.
In the midst of all our good-bying I also feel a deep thankful sadness remembering Jerard.
Recently, my Facebook account popped up a memory I had posted four years ago shortly before Jerard died.
As I read it I was filled with such thankfulness for being Jerard's mom, for God gifting this special boy to me. I thought I'd share the memory I had posted four years ago with you all.
Reflections on Caring For Jerard
It is interesting having a child who is total care.
Jerard spends a lot of time now lying on his side or stomach as we are fighting an almost continual pressure sore near his tail bone.
There is something special about taking care of Jerard that is hard to explain.
While some may view his life as useless, there is a peaceful, thankfulness I feel in tending to his needs. He lies there, totally vulnerable to whatever may come his way.
and I start thinking, vulnerability, it can be hard to be vulnerable in relationships. Weaknesses are hard to admit. Jerard is weakness embodied.
I know that God is glorified through our weaknesses but often I just want to show the strong side. Jerard’s life brings God glory in his weakness. And caring for Jerard brings me closer to my ABBA.
Just as David prayed,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).”
I approach God more openly in the most broken times. He hears my anger, tears, cries for mercy; .... and He hears praise, thankfulness and my cries to know HIM more. There is like a hunger that wells up in my soul desiring to be closer to my Heavenly Dad.
Like the song writer says, “I want to know You, I want to hear YOUR voice, I want to know YOU more….”
For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (1 John 3:20)
I don’t know what God’s plans are for Jerard, but I do know I am thankful for Jerard. There are hard times, and we’ve been close to breaking, but maybe, just maybe it takes getting us to a breaking point before we finally learn to let go of our plans and lean fully, trustingly in God’s arms.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Ps 131:2
and Isaiah offers a beautiful picture of God holding each of His children in HIS arms….
he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (40:11)
Just as Jerard trusts in my arms picking him up to bathe or hold or feed, I am asking God to teach me more of HIM through this blessing of our weak, vulnerable, fragile son, Jerard.
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11)
2012 - 2018 COPYRIGHTED material used from "Missionary Musings" by Beth M. Symanzik, unpublished (yet)