Monday, October 22, 2007

Home Assignment Reflections

Missionaries are afflicted with a most bittersweet event: Home Assignment. While it is ever so painful to leave the land of your birth to serve our Father overseas, the sweetness of following Him as He leads us through highs and lows is worth it. Just when you get used to this new life, it's time to return to the US for Home Assignment. What is that? Mainly, it is where God holds a mirror up so you can see how much you and everyone else have changed. Other than that, Home Assignment has been different things for us over the years. This summer, it fell into a couple of categories: money, family, churches, friends and a little vacation.

I went back to the US ahead of the family to try to check in with as many churches and supporters as I could (to cut down on the travel for the whole family) and to try to raise some more money. Money has become a big issue in Europe since the dollar has dropped so drastically of late. Over the past four years we have lost about 40% of our buying power. That’s like taking a pay cut without even trying. If you are wondering whether seven weeks is too long to be away from your family, my opinion is absolutely yes. The time was successful in that I met with quite a few missions committees and people. I wish I could have spent more time with each of our supporters (and that Kristi and the kids could have been with me). On the bright side, there were quite a few people willing to put up with me by myself.
God was incredibly merciful to us and our account shows it. Many of you increased your financial support and we gained several new supporters during our time there. We are praising our Father for His care and for blessing us through you.

Once the family arrived, we spent most nights in West Liberty, Ohio at my parents’ house. That was a huge blessing for us. They stayed in a camper in the back yard and gave us the house. As hard as it is to not have your own place, Mom and Dad were wonderful in making us feel welcome. The yard between the house and the camper was turned into the croquet playing area, so most days saw several games and stiff competition. We also had a road trip to Alabama to visit my sister Wendy and her family. They are awesome and we love being with them. We had one other trip—a flight to Denver to visit Kristi’s mom Pat, Kristi’s aunt Marsha, her grandmother Helen and their friend Bev. They bent over backwards to bless us. The food was spectacular. I spent time during both of these family visits to help with computer upgrades (not mine, to Tim’s chagrin) for Wendy and Bev. Between my limited abilities and phone calls back to my friend Denny, we were able to get them set up with new computers. A small token of my thanks to them for the way they bless my family.

I wanted to give our sending church, Grace Chapel in Ohio, a large chunk of my time while I was there. They’re so important to us as that’s where I grew up and they have encouraged us so much over the years. We got to spend a few Sundays there and I don’t think anyone was seriously harmed during the Vacation Bible School program I helped to lead. I hadn’t done that in about 10 years, but Andy McGill was masterful as he carried me through the whole week.
I like preaching and I got to do quite a bit of it. Everyone got to hear from Acts 11:19-30 and think about how they are engaging in missions. Maybe God stirred some people to think and act.

There were some sweet times together with friends—like we hadn’t been apart. We have some great friends and it’s unfortunate that we only get to see them every few years. More than once we said, “If we didn’t live in Budapest, we would probably spend a lot more time with them.”

Home Assignment is a wonderful experience, but a difficult animal to tame. Expectations, demands, blessings, doctors, dentists, emotions at the surface most of the time, and oh yeah, vacation. Well, I think that’s what happened when we came back to Budapest. Posted by Picasa

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