Three weeks ago we left our home. It’s hard to say if it was three weeks to the day, because we sort of left in stages, but it was that Friday that I drove away from an empty house with a four-year-old in the back seat crying disconsolately about never seeing his friends again. Those last few days took more out of all of us than I had ever imagined. I knew it would be a lot of hard work emptying and cleaning our house, packing and loading our Uganda-bound possessions, making last minute trips to the doctor, dentist, etc. I knew that the kids would feel the strain of how busy I was with all the “extras.” But I did not anticipate the emotional impact of Greg leaving the job that he loved and saying good-bye to family and eight years worth of relationships. As we finally drove away the next Monday afternoon—initiating our five-week travel tour before our departure—I turned to Greg and confessed, “I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t want to see anyone. I just want to crawl in a hole somewhere. I have nothing left to give.” Fortunately, the reserves of the Holy Spirit are not so easily drained.
The Lord had plans for these weeks of travel that I knew nothing about. We have been served and cared for, cooked for, cleaned for. Families with many children of their own to care for have shared their lives, homes, meals, hearts, struggles, fellowship, communion and family devotional times. We have been humbled by their generosity and inspired by their examples. We have been prayed for by so many, sent on with practical gifts (hand-made dresses for the girls, vitamins, essential oils, seeds to plant…) and strengthened by words of encouragement and wisdom. The Lord is good.
There have also been moments of challenge. Two days after we left our home I stopped to buy diapers. When the smiling cashier asked for my zip code I responded with a blank stare. Nothing at all came to mind. For at least a week I had to pray constantly for God to renew my vision. I felt not only uprooted, but aimless. Yet God has been faithful, and my feet feel grounded again—even without a zip code ;).
We began almost immediately to see the affects of upheaval of routine and home-life on our children. Our mature thirteen-year-old became loud and attention-seeking. Our almost eleven-year-old “little mama” was completely focused on her own desires. Four-year-old Ethan tantrummed frequently and became the target of his little sister’s frequent hitting. Their sinful natures, always present and in need of discipling, got turned on high. I was grateful that a few weeks before a friend had warned me about the temptation to discipline out of embarrassment when staying with other families. Greg and I prayed for right motives and for wisdom to train their hearts with grace and consistency.
Jeremiah 12:5 has frequently come to our minds: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” The words of the Lord to Jeremiah have reminded us that these challenges are small and that, if our hearts are right, they will serve as training ground for greater ones to come so that, whether settled in a home or on the road, we can “run and not be weary,” “walk and not faint.”
“They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31