Entry for April 18, 2009
It’s truly hard to believe an entire 3 months have passed since our return to our homeland. Africa seems distant from us most days, but it always remains close to our hearts. We have only just begun to digest our experiences over the past two years as we prepared and finally left for our first term of overseas ministry. It seems like we lived an entire lifetime in that brief window of our lives, but we know it was only the beginning of something for which God had been preparing us. Now a new chapter begins as we look forward to the future of this ministry and the hope of the possibilities.
The transition back to life in the States has not come without its share of challenges and frustrations. It’s amazing how much can happen in a year. During our absence, the state of our country, and even the world, seemed to have been altered. Our own state seems to have been altered as well as we developed new perspectives during our time in Africa causing us to look at our world differently.
Yet at the same time we were shocked, perhaps even disturbed, by how quickly the busyness of America consumed our time and thoughts. Much like our initial transition to life in Cameroon, we were bombarded by conflicting emotions as we tried to make sense of things we had forgotten about our own culture or no longer understood in light of our experiences. Although we cherished the creature comforts of the developed world, we felt shame for our wastefulness and lapse back into consumerism. The joy of smooth roads again was exhilarating, but the excessiveness of the oversized American vehicles and lack of public transport was perplexing. We struggled to understand how a country so rich and powerful now found itself on the brink of another great depression. We failed to understand how there could be so many people and so few relationships. The contrasts were overwhelming.
Our time overseas had come at the cost of several sacrifices, including the abandonment of our jobs and depletion of our savings. These were to be expected. However, we did not expect to encounter the changed economic state that confronted us. For a brief period, we found ourselves jobless and homeless—a place we did not expect to be in upon our return. Our situation was further complicated by the fact Tiffany was pregnant, and our health insurance had ended with our term of service. When we thought the situation would not get any worse, we had a miscarriage.
I don’t share these things with you because we are in search of sympathy or to depress you. We thought our greatest struggles would come in Cameroon, but we found God continuing to mature us in the U.S. as we faced some of our greatest physical, emotional and spiritual challenges right at home. We were taken to new territory as we were reminded of how much things are out of our control even in an environment where we thought we were “in control” again. Our greatest time of instability came when we desired stability the most. Our greatest disappointment came immediately after our greatest moment of joy. Our greatest test of faith came when we thought it had already been tested.
God uses whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in to bring us closer to Him. Although we may want to look at our lives as phases of God working more and then less, He is always at work in us. We were reminded that God uses our experiences to impact us just as much as He uses us to impact others through those experiences. We often tell others we are normal people following the same extraordinary call He has bestowed upon us all. We can only hope that our stories and experiences will be an encouragement to others to step beyond their spiritual comfort zones to see how much more God can use us when we are willing to let Him. The cost is great, but the rewards are far greater. And by the way, don’t worry—we are neither homeless nor jobless at the moment, and we’re looking forward to the next attempt at a baby(:=