Missionary Family on Furlough: Making an Eternal Difference
A YEAR has passed! We receive your intentions and pray for you and the things that are weighing on your hearts and minds. We love you. We are GRATEFUL for you!
We have THREE little ones now! Josiah, age 4; Tobias, age 2 1/2; and Elijah, age 1. As you can imagine, our house is ACTIVE! On the good days it’s more like – happy buzzing. On the difficult days it’s more like – combustible chaos. Life is GOOD with these three precious boys, four if you count my husband!
Josiah is our most passionate and our most contemplative. He loves to rhyme. He giggles to himself as he makes up new words and rhymes them with silly other new words. He loves airplanes, helicopters, cars, trains…anything that moves. He loves to be read to and to flip through books on his own. He is quite adept at expressing himself. He has a brilliant smile. He learned to go underwater this summer by pretending he was a Titan Triggerfish munching on a starfish. He loves the sea. When he grows up he wants to be (note: this response was somewhat directed) – A Married Missionary Scuba Diver Saint and a pilot. He is a great big brother and an excellent poddy-er! He asked me to tell you that he loves chips, Legos, and birthdays.
Tobias is our biggest helper and our most sincere pray-er. His funny character is best described in this portrait: “My mommy says, no no touch it,” says Tobias, to me (his mom!) as he lowers his chin, cocks his head to the side, raises his eyebrow, and points his finger. He is in a diaper. His toddler belly sticks out. He proceeds to straighten himself, square his shoulders and deepen his voice as he tells me in his little manly way that he is off to “fix it.” I offer to help. He stops me with his open palm and his favorite words: “I (ca)n do it!” I tell him how pleased I am with him and ask if I can give him a kiss to prove it. “No sanks (thanks),” he says, and he disappears to do his manly work.
Elijah is our biggest cuddler and our most tender-hearted. He is such a precious addition to our crew. He is very easy going with a bright smile and a quick laugh. He loves to bounce, crawl, and is about to walk very soon. I can see that he is so anxious to run after his brothers. For now he contents himself with hissing like Darth Vader, waving his arms, bouncing, and staring wide-eyed at their antics and then taking off at a mock speed crawl to catch them.
Eric is in his fourth semester of University studies. He is excelling! I have never seen someone so dedicated and focused. Beyond his coursework he is engaging in a research group in order to begin building up his resume. He also participates in a Catholic men’s group called “That Man Is You.” He’s busy!
Eric is a full time student and willingly carries the additional burden of working two jobs so that I can stay home to raise and educate our children. When he gets home from work and school we have dinner together and he plays with the kids, bathes them and we work together to get everyone into bed. After that he studies until about midnight most nights.
The thing I admire most is that he is PRESENT to us when he is home, even though he would have many legitimate reasons to withdraw (like sleep!) He builds the kingdom one college paper at a time, one gate motor at a time, one date night at a time, and one daddy/son wrestling match at a time!
Sarah has made the jump off the educational cliff… into the ocean of homeschooling. As I see it I have committed the next 30 years of my life unless God has a different idea somewhere along this path. We are in pre-K (me included :)) and we are LOVING it. We do have structured learning time two to three days a week, but really our whole life is school – from our prayers, Bible reading, nature walks, grocery store trips, play groups, etc. Every experience is a chance to teach and to learn. My consistent sentiment as I go about my days is – I am the one who GETS to do this! WOW!
It has taken some tweaking to figure out how to juggle schooling along with the million and one other daily tasks that there are to accomplish (hence, the year delay in writing to you!), but we are finally in a good rhythm. I am finally at peace with the fact that I can’t do it all, and so I just choose what is most important and let the rest go. Please don’t judge the dust on my furniture. This is all part of “the rest!”
I like to think that I build the kingdom one diaper at a time, one load of laundry at a time, one meal at a time, one lesson at a time, and one loving response at a time.
You can take the missionaries out of mission, but you can’t take mission out of the missionary!
Although our principle mission field is in the home and family, our life in the Lord means that we simply can’t keep to ourselves, even though we are not in the foreign field. Our lives are for Jesus, and with Jesus. Our love for Jesus changes us daily and compels us to serve him in tangible ways in the world and in the people around us.
Here are some practical ways this has turned out in the last year:
Ministry of witness: Active charity to our neighbors and to those we meet in the course of our daily lives; In life and word in our everyday doings. Grocery trips are a big mission field for Sarah and the kids. Interactions with colleagues and co-workers are the mission field for Eric. When people ask us the reason for our hope, we get to tell them about Jesus!
Ministry of Relationship, Hospitality, and Presence: Strengthened relationships with friends (old AND new) in which we have been able to offer support, encouragement, prayer, counsel, consolation, and a space at our dinner table. One of the great things about being a stay at home mom is that I’m present to receive anyone who knocks on my door.
Ministry of Intercessory Prayer: Deliberate and regular intercession for intentions that come our way. My favorite intercessory place is the car, perhaps because the kids are strapped down! 🙂 I’ve no qualms about singing raucous songs praising the Lord, and shouting my intentions to Him as we drive. The kids are used to it, but I’m surprised no one has called the cops on me for “drunk” driving!
Faith Camp Purity Talk: Encouragement and exhortation to virtue via a youth talk urging several hundred young women to choose purity because they are so WORTH THE WAIT!
Day of Recollection for Teachers: Gospel proclamation via a half-day “retreat” for some Catholic school teachers beginning the school year. The talk themes were: 1) Knowing Jesus 2) Being Jesus 3) Teaching Jesus. This was a highlight for me 🙂
Music/Theatre Ministry: A Christmas musical drama presented in two nursing homes organized with several other homeschool families in the area – ages 4 months to 19 years involved. Jesus IS the reason for the season.
Gifted Meals: This “ministry” I learned from a dear friend who cooks CONSTANTLY for her large family. It’s simple – cook extra and bring a meal to someone who truly needs or someone who just needs to be blessed!
Tithing: A duty of our Christian life, but with the right attitude this has been a chance to “do to the least of these” and to “love one another” as He has loved us!
I hope that sharing these ways we are on mission in our daily lives can encourage you and perhaps spark some of your own ideas for evangelization as you seek to live your missionary call here in the States and in your own homes and communities. We are in the trenches together!
Thank you for answered prayers!!! We thank you for praying specifically for miracles regarding our financial intentions (we wish to remain debt free throughout Eric’s schooling process); Sarah’s ability to stay home and homeschool; and our commitment not to miss any child that God has planned for us.
These intentions have required miracles and YOUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED IN MIRACLES! PLEASE CONTINUE PRAYING FOR THESE SAME INTENTIONS.
Thank you for your CONTINUED generosity! God grant you MUCH grace!
Eric, Sarah, Josiah, Tobias, and Elijah