Monday, June 20, 2011

Wrapping it Up

This is the final post for WHERE IN THE WORLD????  See our summaries below.
Map showing all the airports we visited on our travel

ROGER  ---  The most difficult thing about the blog is we were unable to share everything we saw and experienced due to the need to remain somewhat anonymous in what we were doing and stand for.  We could not risk impacting the ministry of some of those we were visiting.  The stories we could share could fill another whole blog but we cannot even put many of them in print now to protect those who have made the ultimate decsion at their own personal risk.  Please remember each of those individuals as they work to live for the Lord where that is not welcome.
After almost 2 months of being back home, it is still difficult to say we have adjusted to being home.  But than again, maybe this is the new home.  The feeling that the world is sooo big and the Lord is sooo at work everywhere.  After all, He is everywhere!  Why should I expect less?  I looked at the spiritual hunger in so many places, the spiritual darkness in so many places, not ignoring the physical needs.  Where there was a void of Light, there was hunger.  Where there was total darkness, there was fear, despair and a lack of fulfillment.  When I got back "home", we saw what appeared to be light in many places but was it a flashlight one could turn on and off, a candle that could be blown out, a flame that goes out when the gas runs out or an eternal light that glows for eternity.  And here with so much light available, there is still fear, despair and a lack of fulfillment.  So how can I live my life (or let Him live through me) to properly represent His Light?  
In so many places, you do not have the choice to blend into the background and a choice had to be made.  Here it is way, way tooooo easy to just be me and not reflect HIM.  The challenge - distinguish myself by living for HIM in a way that will shine.  For an introvert, that is a challenge because first you have to get out.  A light stuck in a room has limited impact.
Enough of the figurative.  It was life changing and we are so glad to see our friends again.  We will always remember the time with those we visited and now know so much better how to pray for them.  There were also so many memories.  Visiting our high schools brought back many memories and it was special so learn first hand from Jan as she visited her first home after being gone for 35 years.  To visit our 1989 - 1993 home and see so many friends that were part of our life during those times made us think hard of moving back there.  We had similar thoughts in other locations where needs were expressed and opportunities presented to us.  Too many thoughts and emotions to list but it was very special.  Yet we have not felt the Lord calling us anywhere other than where we are right now.
I wish I had a dollar for every time we were asked what our favorite country was.  There was no favorite.  Each place was unique and the easy trap to fall into was which was most like home but still exciting.  The better question is what was unique and shows Gods creativity in working in each of people we met.   Imagine - identifying this uniqueness and leveraging it for His kingdom.  That would be so exciting and when you see that collage/kaleidoscope under the wings of the Almighty – Awesome, I remain speechless.  We saw a small snapshot of that in our 6-month journey.
The biggest adjustment coming back - not being with Jan 24/7 most days for a month.  Now that we are home, I have my tasks to do and Jan the same.  No - we did not get tired of each other at all.    I do not remember once thinking I needed time totally alone (she'll have to speak for herself).  It was a growing time when we had Ah Ha times we could share as they happened rather than waiting until we were together.  How special!

JAN  ---   So I am writing for the last time on this blog…trying to wrap it up.  We are planning on getting it made into a bound book to keep our memories on pages we can pick up and look through when ever we wonder what life is about here and did we really go on a trip around the world for 6 months!
It has been a much more difficult time adjusting to being back than I ever could have imagined.  For 6 months we were in people’s lives…people who wanted us to be there…meeting people who wanted us to help and be involved in what they were doing…people who were eager to hear what we would share with them…and listening to their hearts…and hearing story after story of how amazing and great God is… Not to mention the joy of serving with Roger in different ways and being with him…so all that said…the adjustment has been hard in that all of a sudden we don’t have specific tasks…a focus together…just being able to hang out with friends hours on end…yes…its been an adjustment.
And now we are back in America… as a generalization…Americans tend to be quite guarded (when it comes to matters of the heart) compared to people in other countries we visited….But I have been asking the Lord to bring to my attention the ways He works in people here and He has begun to give me glimpses of it and I am excited…excited what He does in my life…in my family and friends and even people I have not met but hear about!
I guess one of my concerns since coming home has been wondering where I fit in to the lives of others…I am so thankful for the friends who welcomed me home and picked up where we left off…but I have changed and want the change to continue…I want to be involved in other’s lives…seeing what God is doing ….and what he has for me…and want to continue sharing Christ with others…  I don’t want to become complacent and comfortable in my relationships with others.  I want to step out of my comfort zone and share with others more about what gives me hope in each day…what makes my life worth living…
And then I am brought back to the question of what is my purpose…live with purpose…the message I kept hearing in my heart for 6 months….the first few weeks home I kept asking myself “what is my purpose?”  One day when I was praying about it I heard a soft voice say…”its not about your purpose…it’s all about MY purpose for you”.  I had to smile…so simple the answer…My heart’s cry is to live each day in His purpose for me.  It looks different every day…it’s dying to self…living for Christ…humbling myself (oooh so hard)…seeking Him…His purpose…
And so to be honest…life is picking up where I left off…That is what my life was about before I left on the trip… But now I do it even more intentionally because of the many wonderful things I was able to do and see and hear on this trip.  Words cannot ever express how blessed I feel for having been able to experience this trip.  I wish everyone could do it tho I know there are many of you who would not even want to go and live out of one suitcase and sleep in umpteen beds and fly on hours in planes but it’s the other parts that I wish everyone could taste…the joy of seeing with your own eyes glimpses of how God is at work in so many places and so many ways and in so many different types of people.  He is so creative and huge and it expanded my view of God’s work…
I guess I could go on and on…but like I said…no words can really express…..
On another note…I loved being with Roger 24/7 for 6 months.  He is working from home now so we are together more than we were a year ago and I love it. But it is different because we have different tasks to do…different schedules… I am not saying some things have not been an adjustment but that is all they were…adjustments.  I am so thankful for him and how the trip only strengthened and deepened our relationship…yet another huge blessing!  My respect and love grew so much over this last year as I saw his servant’s heart…was loved by him fully even when I am very unlovable…saw how again how he is a man of his word and lives with integrity in every way…I am so thankful for him!
I will just end this by saying ….All glory to God from whom all blessings flow!

Our blog in one snapshot.  Words used by frequency

The pictures in this blog are an attempt to add some pictures not previously posted.  They are in the order of the countries we visited

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back to Normal?

I just want to write cause I am sitting in Roger’s parents’ apartment and everyone else is on a computer so…what do I like to do on the computer?  Write of course…
We arrived home about 8 PM Friday and were welcomed by the Dorko family.  They have been living in our home while we have been traveling and they have bought a home and are hoping to close in the next week or so.  We are used to having people in our home so it is not really a big deal to us. 
What has been a big deal is the adjustment to the reverse culture shock and adjusting to our new schedule and being apart and doing different things during the day.  I knew it would be different but didn’t realize how weird it would be and how unnatural it would feel to run errands on my own and to go the most part of a day without talking to Roger.  Saturday and Sunday were not to bad.  Saturday we went over to Ben and Sarah’s and enjoyed catching up with them and celebrated mom’s day early.  Ben gave me a beautiful painting of a photo we had taken of the church on a hill in Italy…one of my favorites and a nice bunch of sunflowers.  The best part was hugs all around…. I knew I missed them but did not realize how much till I was with them.  When we got home that evening there was some flowers from Lucas and Jamie too…what a surprise!  And then Sunday morning we got to Skype with Eileen…one happy mom right here. :)  I am so amazingly blessed !!
Sunday it was so great to be back in our church with friends and just say hi to everyone and then went to lunch with our dear friends the Denny’s at McAllister’s Deli… just a good thing to know that there are no lines there whatsoever on mothers day… which is weird because the food is good and its quite kid friendly.  The rest of the day we hung out at home.  Monday I was on the go all day doing errands and some appointments and hardly saw Roger all day.  He had quite a bit of real work to do... the kind that pays the bills so it was good but I truly missed being with him.
Soooo… Tuesday we left in the morning to drive to Florida and after about an hour in the car I thought to myself… this is the most normal I have felt in several days.  Traveling with Roger… that is what I have been doing the last 6 months and it felt so good to have him to myself and just be together going somewhere.  It has been an adjustment …. feeling as tho I am caught between two worlds…misplaced….a bit foggy headed and lost…typical symptoms of culture shock…I know it will pass and life will feel normal soon…so in the meantime I am enjoying hanging out with family and being with my best friend still…and wondering what life will look like a few weeks from now…guess for now I need to take things a day at a time…embrace the moment…sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Home, Home, Home

Leaving Maui
We are now within driving distance of home and will head that way Friday.  It is hard to believe that over the last 24 weeks we have slept in 26 different beds, flown over 49,500 miles, been in 27 different airports ... entered airports 43 times, sometimes the same airports ... on 19 different airlines for a total time of 126 and 88 hours on airlines and in airports respectively.  This does not count the 20 and 12 plus hours on trains and long distance taxis in Siberia not to mention the many short rides in taxis and buses as we traveled around the different cities and towns.  One sad note was our suitcases were covered with all the baggage handling bar codes indicating how much we travelled but some time between Hawaii and Chattanooga, someone decided to take them all off.  The evidence is no longer on our suitcases.  You can see some of them in the picture.  Now that I have totally over whelmed you with the data, it is a good time for  Jan to share something on a more personal basis.

...and I thot the blog was coming to an end :)  And the most amazing statistic is that we were never delayed on any flights ... or lost our luggage ... more on the side of miraculous I would say!
Tomorrow we head home and I am excited at last.  The family that has lived in our house while we were gone will still be there another week or two and since we have been staying with people the last six months I think it will make our transition even smoother.  It will be fun to have a houseful of activity rather than an empty house to wander thru and wonder what to do with myself.  We have been planning to visit Roger's parents in Florida shortly after coming home so we will be heading down there next Tues so won't really be home long.
View of Joe and Marsha's farm
We have had a great time here with Roger's sister Marsha and family.  The surrounding hills are so pretty and the smells and sounds of a farm are so fun and somehow very relaxing  We have enjoyed walks down the lane to the barn, and walk to the swimming pond, petting the horses, listening to the parrot (somewhat annoying at times) make all sorts of sounds as he imitate every noise he hears from people snorting to the dryer buzzer to the squeaky door.  I can't explain it... but I love coming here.
As we leave our travels behind i thought I would share a couple of the many stories that we weren't able to share before...
We heard a story about a church in one country where it is illegal to share the gospel or hand out Bibles that is trying to be creative in spreading the word.  They decided to leave the building windows ajar and leave bibles sitting on the window sills... as if they had forgot them.  They (100 Bibles) were all gone in no time at all .... so they thot bigger and over time over 1000 bibles were taken.  They are praying that they are going to the hands of those that the Lord has led there.  We pray the same.

Another interesting story that made me realize how big and awesome our Lord is...and how we tend to focus on the here and now when He has such a bigger thing in mind...  If you remember back when the movie The Passion of the Christ came out there was alot of different publicity the movie here in the states.  One of those being that it was very anti-Semitic ... people were upset about that ... Jews and Christians alike.  Well guess what the Arab world thot about that?  Anti-Semitic ... let's show it in our theaters here ... for a whole month ... several times a day!  Many lives were touched and some people told us how they would wait outside the theater waiting for the movie to be done and then offer to take people out for coffee to discuss it.  Can you imagine the opportunities to share the truth?.  People were coming out of the theatre in tears.  They were shocked that a great prophet like Jesus would allow himself to be killed in such a manner ... so while we were on the other side of the world with our narrow views and listening to so much talk about that movie ... our God who is so amazingly creative and huge was using it for His glory in a country that is blind to the Truth!

Liberty (standing) and Cassie
I could go on and on with stories that reminded me of what a Huge God our Lord is and i hope to share little by little more of what we saw and heard...
I guess that means i will keep talking on this blog :)  I enjoy writing and so I will keep writing I guess till I run out of things to say...
We can't forget to say that we are picking up our one baby in Tennessee ... Liberty our dog.  She has been enjoying herself here with her cousins and romping around the farm.  She was glad to see us but we are sure she is going to miss her cousins and the big outdoors here at the farm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Homeward Bound - May 2

At the "Blow Hole"
Sunday…last day in Maui ... Wow…where did the week go? We have been debriefing but we have also have had some fun and enjoying this beautiful place.  We were able to snorkel some and one day saw a Monk Seal resting on the beach.  We were told the Monk Seal just come up on the beach occasionally and rest every now and then for a couple days.  
Blow Hole
One afternoon we walked to a place where there is a “blow hole”.  A large hole in the rocks where the water from the ocean sprays up some 40-50 ft and then lets loose a ton of water.  It was a hard walk over rocky terrain but gorgeous and so worth it.  One day we drove to the other side of the island… just explored the area…. stopping at craft fairs, checking out shops and ate good fish for lunch.  We have eaten about half our meals other than breakfast… all in the apartment…  so the other places we ate had been fun seafood with ocean and sunset views… amazing!  One thing about Maui that we have not liked is the prices of food and things in general.  Its kind of shocking after being overseas where fresh food is cheap and you can bargain for things in the market…. talk about sticker shock!  Our favorite things have been the weather… the view off our patio… and listening to the waves.
Rock (lava) Formation on way to Blow Hole
 It has been such a great time for us as we processed the last 5 and half months.  It was so great to visit friends in 9 different countries... it was amazing to see how God is at work in these places… to hear story after story of how He brought people to Himself…to be reminded of what a creative God He is.  I am cautioned to not allow myself to try to squish Him into a box again as I have done over and over again…challenged to live my life being more purposeful in each day… refreshed in my relationship with Roger as it went to a deeper level as we shared so many experiences together and learned so much more (yes even after 33 yrs together) about each other.
Some of the people we had the privilege to be with.
Overall, there are many people we came in contact with and they impacted our lives greatly.  We also pray that we impacted these people for the kingdom and that their relationship with Christ will be established or enhanced.  We met most all these people shown in the pictures in these collages.  These people and many like them need to have a relationship with Him and we hope you will also remember these people as they search for the truth.
Some additional people we had the privilege to be with.

Monk Seal resting on the beach
Tomorrow we fly to Chattanooga to spend a few days visiting family… pick up our cars … and Liberty our dog and then head home.   I have to admit I am saddened at the thought of not traveling… I am also ready to go home and see what life holds for us now.  It will be different in that Roger will be working on starting his own business while still doing consulting for the company he has been working for… and will be working out of the house…. but life will be each day… looking for what God wants… living with purpose to bring glory to Him in all I do… that will be my focus….

So yes… I am ready to go home… we have been listing things we are looking forward to and there are many things… also listing things that we have had to change our thinking of like…
  • What is the exchange rate?
  • Wonder if it’s squatty potty … with tp or no tp… wonder if it’s a pay toilet?
  • How do you say hello ... thank you?
  • Why are there so many people speaking English?
  • Can we can drink the water?
  • Is that kilometers or miles?  Fahrenheit or Celsius?  You get the idea… :)
Some of the things we are looking forward to?
Sunset in Maui
  • Seeing Ben and Sarah
  • A new pair of glasses (mine broke and have been repaired with super glue numerous times)
  • Sandhills Community Church
  • Our bed … even though those provided were great
  • Some different clothes
  • Trying the new recipes I have accumulated
  • Reconnecting with friends back home
  • Seeing family again (and the dog, Liberty)
  • Putting the suitcases away!!
  • Exercise routine again!
  • Being able to buy product brands I am familiar with (as opposed to the description in foreign language…like shampoo, toothpaste, lotion etc)
  • Getting a haircut
I guess that gives you an idea of what we have been thinking of…
We are thankful for those who came on this journey with us via this blog…. time will tell whether I keep on blogging… guess if I do I will have to change the name of it... :) Something exciting like…”and life goes on with Roger and Jan”  Whatever is ahead… I am sure it will be interesting and never a dull moment!