As my husband and I are embarking on this journey of faith regarding these two upcoming missions trips, I realize there has been a gap of time since I used to write and share more frequently. Since coming back to the states from Jordan, I have stepped back from social media. It has been wonderfully and entirely refreshing. Not a moment of my day is spent focusing on what my life appears like or trying to capture it for show, or randomly seeing people that God led me to in past season of life but now are now longer in relationship with me anymore. A relationship based solely on shared photos does not impart to me relationship. I live in a reality where the people who know what’s going in my life are people I’m in relationship with. And I like it that way.
Unfortunately, that does cause a bit of distance despite the constant availability of archaic phone calls. I even find any attempt to communicate an internal reality via text is a road that ends only in reducing something to facts and can leave me frustrated. You have the dichotomy of being so close to connection with another human being yet you feel still so far from being valued or seen, this being said by a person who feels love through quality time.
Even in my workplace a looping email exchange that takes days to get clarity on intent could be solved in a 30 second two-way phone conversation. But alas people are fine with being impersonal, so I try to communicate love as much as possible in systems of speed and distance. I find myself dreamily longing for the generation of passing time by sitting on the front porch but I also know this was largely due to the inconvenience of a home without temperature control and lack of available entertainment.
All of that to say, I love the ability to communicate and share this way on the internet. Words have power and ideas change the world. I can release anything, anytime of day, to be accessible by almost anyone in any country. And here I am writing to you.
Joel and I moved out to Redding, CA on the invitation of property management. Within a few short months, Joel found ourselves sitting in front of families that were telling us the same experience we had listened to hundreds of times in the Middle East. “I thought I was just leaving for a few days. I only have the clothes on my back. I have lost everything.” The Carr Fire ripped through Redding taking over 1,000 homes with it in the span of days. People lost their lives and hundreds of people since have been navigating the ocean of grief and loss, attempting to persevere in resiliency.
We got hired to distribute financial aid to these families. We did it as thoroughly and orderly as we were able. What is new for me personally is still being part of a communities long-term recovery process a year and half later. Still I sit in meetings talking about peoples need for fences, cars, homes, garages, medical care, basic sanitation, counseling, healing, and justice. Every week since it happened I sit in meetings with other people–good people–who keep caring about others. When they are tired, overworked, under-appreciated, critiqued, and challenged…still they care. I have found myself running alongside some of the most relentless good people I have ever met. These are the people on which communities are built and sustained.
My husband each day has a slightly different role but is running in this same army of restoring hope here in Redding. Each day, one tree at time, he is a part of a crew of gentlemen of heaven that are clearing people’s properties of the skeletons of the day of their devastation. Each day he walks families one step closer to regaining normal, regaining home, through removing the black, burnt trees that cast shadows but provide no shade and promise no future of fruit or life. He is a part of a transformative band of men that every day wake up to serve someone else’s journey of healing.
Each day through their work, these forestry crews say, “You are worth it. You are worth our service. Your future is worth the investment of our time here. But let us give it to you as a gift. Let us serve you without any expectation of getting something from you. Just receive this kindness. You are worth it.”
We both are doing lots of other things. I am helping to grow a department and doing weekly and monthly things that cause the cogs of the wheels in Bethel Church to continue to churn as the ship of their vision moves through the sea of culture and time. I am just one tiny, unnoticeable part, easily replaceable, yet unreplicable. And so here I find myself, working alongside people with their own mighty callings, and displaying Christ around me. I watch people, learn, grow, forgive, lead, and follow, all as our hearts lead us from day to day, offering our work up as some sort of surrender to a plan God alone sees.
This all was vague and ambiguous but it precisely articulates the feeling of our present reality. Unsurprisingly, my husband is still fun. Everyday he makes me laugh. Everyday he continues to grow and renew himself and leads us both back to the basics of goodness and charity and security in God’s everlasting, ever-loving kindness. Where else would I want to spend my days? Definitely not wasted in the valleys of worry, shame, doubt, regret.
God still sets mystery before us in the things we see dimly but do not know fully. We know we are invited on these trips abroad but we don’t know to what end or what purposes he will weave through them. We are excited to see him around every corner, both here and in the nations. On our El Salvador trip alone, I think there are only four other Americans. All the rest are beautiful sons and daughters of God from different nations. What a privilege to be by their side as God displays his faithfulness and his goodness to them and they grow in both trust and faith of this tangible presence.
After I said all that rant in the beginning about the impersonalness of relationships based only on photo sharing. Here are few photos to share LOL. Blessings