I just finished reading a refreshingly honest newsletter from a missionary friend of ours. Missionaries are very prone to put forth a "good front" and not share the hard so much. My friend's honesty about his struggles, his family struggles, the fact that the honeymoon period of being in a new country is over has given me the courage I need to say I am having difficulties as well. It is hard to be a mom separated from three children while the child I'm with struggles through depression and transitional issues. It is hard to keep giving out encouragement in the face of resistance, fear, and anger. It is hard to face holidays with most of my family half way around the world from me. It is hard to be living in someone else's house and not be able to just relax. It is hard to stay patiently waiting on God's timing in James' immigration visa being granted when with my whole heart I desire all of us to come to the USA this coming summer. I don't look forward to another time of family separation even for just 6 - 8 weeks. But, apart from divine intervention on James' immigration visa behalf, we will have another time of separation while I help another daughter transition to the USA.
As my friend in his news letter stated, "This would normally be the point where I shift gears and quote some uplifting passages of Scripture - say, 2 Cor. 4:16-18 - in order to give you some inspiration. 'Look how our family is being sanctified by experiencing difficulties...' That may be true, but right now, we (I) don't feel like we're (I'm) being sanctified by these things. Rather, we (I) are/am experiencing them as practical problems to be solved."
I did call our senators office a while ago and discussed with someone knowledgeable about adoption and immigration issues my concern and frustration over the length of time things are taking to get an immigration visa for my adopted son - my son who's been in my care since he was 9 weeks old and is now 9 years old. She listened, and after I'd shared about our situation and our lawyer's advice, she concurred we were on the right track. It was good to talk with her, it settled this momma's heart a bit to know we are doing things in good order and that despite media coverage that makes it seem as if immigrants are easily entering this country, that is not the case. She said most immigration visas, even for adopted children who are not adopted through international adoption agencies, take 3 - 10 years.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. (Elisabeth Elliot)
I am willing to wait on His timing, yet moments of frustration arise even in the resting grace of knowing and believing with all my heart that "God's providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things,come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand."
I am thankful and glad when our family's mission work and adoption process encourage others, but right now, we, I, really need your prayers.
"Preserve them from every danger to which they may be exposed; from perils by land and sea, from persecution and pestilence, from discouragement in their labours, and from the devices of the adversary. May they see thy work prospering in their hands..." – prayer for Missionaries, from the Book of Common Prayer
Ten years ago on November 22 we landed in the Philippines.
I can tell you honestly within just a few hours a few of us were ready to board the next plane out of there and return to the USA. But we stayed.
And we've been blessed.
We've grown in more ways than just physically.
Walking paths where joy and sorrow meet do that to you.
Christ is all and in all. We rest in Him Alone, so thankful He has called us to the mission field.
This morning, as the sun rises, I am grateful for the reminder that there is light in the world and that the True Light rules over all the affairs of us earthly beings created in His image (1 Kings 12:15, Genesis 1:26).
I miss the 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark that is so consistent in Davao. I miss being with my whole family. I am grateful to be with my daughter as she transitions. I am grateful for Skype and the ability to see and talk with family half a world a way even if it leaves me melancholy afterwards.
I'm not able to feel settled in here with the majority of my family in the Philippines. I'm in a state of "between" - and this unsettledness reminds me to settle restfully in my Father's love, watch care, and guidance - to practice center-point living. That's my name for it. Jesus tells me, tells all of us, in Matthew 6:33 to seek Him first. Every moment of every day, seek Him.
Colossians 3, one of my favourite chapters in the Bible, reminds me to set my mind on things above - on His way. My Abba reminds me, in all my ways, to listen well, love well, be thankful, do everything - word or deed, in His name - Center-point living.
And in the moments when my momma heart bleeds profuse missing my family half way around the world, I cast my cares on Him and seek Him first.
And in the moments when depression blankets loved ones so profoundly they lose hope of another day, I seek Him first.
Those moments I dread the upcoming holidays because our family is not together, I seek Him first.
I hear the question play through my mind, "What do I understand by the providence of God?" I know that He is almighty and ever present and that nothing comes to us by chance but by His loving Fatherly hand (Heidelberg Q. A. 27) (Jer 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28. Heb 1:3. Jer 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; Jn 9:3; Prov 22:2. Prov 16:33. Mt 10:29.)
The benefit/peace of this center-point knowing that God creates and ordains all is that I can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and hopeful for the future. Nothing can separate me from His love. All things, all people, all affairs of state, government, world are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move (Heidelberg Q.A. 28) (Job 1:21, 22; Ps 39:10; Jas 1:3. Deut 8:10; 1 Thess 5:18. Ps 55:22; Rom 5:3-5; 8:38, 39. Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.).
He is our great High priest. He understands moods and hopes and despair and desire - "...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4: 15-16).
So remain confident, draw near to His throne of grace, receive His mercy and grace, know that He is sovereign over all and rest - "Rest, the Lord is near; Refuse to fear, enjoy His love" (Steve Green).
Kirsten accomplished another adult first today - she voted.
(don't worry - we didn't take any selfies at the voting place; I nabbed this photo off a news website here in Michigan)
So now, Kirsten has her driver's license, has voted for the first time, recently filled out a job application for the first time. Lots of firsts for her!
We've also both been enjoying the beauty of fall - a season that is non-existent in tropical Philippines.
We were recently blessed with a greatly discounted beauty-salon visit. Kirsten now sprouts new color in her hair, and I had highlights added to my hair.
My daughter and I went to the Secretary of State today for her driver's
license. We were talking as we drove to the office that we both felt like this
would be an all-afternoon affair like dealing with government offices can be
in the Philippines. We knew it probably wouldn't be but after ten years in the
Philippines it's hard to break those thought processes.
Her appointment was at 1:30 pm. We were back in the car by 1:45 pm.
"Did I really just get my license that quickly?" she asked me, incredulously.
"Yes. I feel like I need to pinch myself and ask 'is this real'?" I replied.
We laughed, thoroughly enjoying the efficiency, the ease, the fastness of the
whole process. We really like the friendliness and helpfulness of the clerks.
Our clerk was probably wondering what was wrong with us when, after he said
"you're all done and your card will come within 30 days", we replied, "we are
all done?!?!" "All done," he stated.
Wow!! Amazing efficiency!