Thursday, August 29, 2013

Congratulations, Dad!!!
My Dad is retiring this week!  Last year, Brian's Dad retired with an amazing surprise from Brian and his brother... since we just returned from the states and don't have extra thousands of dollars sitting around, we couldn't quite work out the same thing right now.  But I didn't want to let the special event go by without saying a huge CONGRATULATIONS  to my wonderful father. :)

If you haven't had the privilege of meeting my Dad, then you're missing out.  :)  He's a quiet but very friendly and fun guy to be around.  As a father, he's very patient and understanding (which if you know me, my Mom, or my sister, you know that's very important).   

Before I was in school, my Dad owned a home-building business... I knew him as the guy who could build or fix anything... he still can. :)  But his business went bankrupt and he was without work for a couple years.  I was young, so I don't remember much about that time, but I know now it wasn't very easy for my parents.  However I remember very well how much I prayed that my Dad would get a job.  My parents taught me the power of prayer at a very young age, and I vividly remember the day they told me God answered our prayers and my Dad found a job.  It was about 26 years ago, and the same job God provided is the one he's retiring from now.

A few months ago when we were in the states, my Dad and I were talking about this.  One thing I love about my Dad is throughout my life, he consistently stops and remembers how God has guided, provided for, and blessed our family.  He tells us the stories so we won't forget.  During his time of unemployment he had a job interview with another company that looked very promising.  They were about to hire him but didn't at the last minute.  While that was incredibly difficult at the time, my Dad loves to talk about how different and better things have been because of the job he did get.  It's a great example of how we can't see the big picture, but God knows and provided for our family in amazing ways. 

My parents were both biology majors in college, and for most of his career my Dad has worked for the San Antonio Water System.  I've never known what to say when people ask me about his job. :)  I know he helped me with a pretty cool middle school science fair project about water conservation, and I know he does stuff with water.... obviously, the science gene was not passed down to me. ;)  I never heard a ton of details about his job (or maybe I just wasn't listening), but I remember very well the stories of people my Dad worked with.  He's had incredible friends over the years, and he's been an incredible friend to countless people.  If I listen long enough, stories come out about co-workers coming to his office, asking for advice, grieving together, laughing together, and just sharing life.  My Dad is not a very outgoing person, but I don't know if we'll ever know how many people he has shown the love of Christ to, simply by listening and sharing life together.  He's an amazing example to me, and I know he will be dearly missed.

My Dad has been an example to me in so many ways... my parents have now been married for 43 years, and they have taught us so much about commitment, trusting God together, and laughing together... a lot. :)  My Dad taught me to seek God's plans and guidance for my life, showing me that His plans for me are so much better than my own... and he has continued to support us unconditionally even when God led us halfway across the world for the last ten years.  I grew up just a mile away from my grandparents, and I know my Dad never dreamed his own grandchildren would live so far away.  But he continues to pray for us, encourage us, and travel to wherever we are. :)

There's so much more I could say about how great my Dad is, but I'm wandering away from the topic at hand, and I think I've cried enough for one blog post. ;)  Dad, I hope you know how proud we are and how excited we are for you to enjoy a slower pace of life for a while... until the next time we visit, of course.  Love you so much, and congratulations!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Life on an island...

 A couple of years ago my parents bought me a kindle... I never thought I would want an e-reader... I'm a huge fan and advocate of holding a book in your hands, but our life overseas and lack of opportunity to buy books in English changed my mind.  One thing I love about my kindle is that I get daily emails from Amazon about books that are on sale... now, this could be quite dangerous for our budget, but my lack of time to read helps me keep my purchases in check.  I like seeing the daily deals because it exposes me to genres I normally wouldn't look at when I go in a bookstore.  I'm currently reading Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell.
It piqued my interest because it was written by a man who decided to live on the island of Cyprus.  While I don't know much about Cyprus or the historical events I'm learning about as I read, I have lived on islands for the last 10 years, so I bought it on sale and started reading it this last week.  I'm a few chapters in and so far it's just a memoir of his arrival, making friends, and the process of purchasing a home, but a few sentences he shared about island life so resonated with me that I can't stop thinking about them... and now I'm sharing them with you. :)  Durrell states,

"Life in an island, however rich, is circumscribed, and one does well to portion out one's   experiences, for sooner or later one arrives at a point where all is known and staled by repetition.  Taken leisurely, with all one's time at one's disposal Cyprus could, I calculate, afford one a minimum of two years reckoned in terms of novelty; hoarded as I intended to hoard it, it might last anything up to a decade.  That is why I wished to experience it through its people rather than its landscape, to enjoy the sensation of sharing a common life with the humble villagers of the place; and later to expand my field of investigation to its history - the lamp which illumines national character - in order to offer my live subjects a frame against which to set themselves."

I've gone through many phases and seasons as we've lived on different islands this last decade.  Guam was quite small, and it was sometimes a relief to leave the island and see the bigger world.  Manila is on the island of Luzon, and in a city of 15 million people, it was sometimes hard to remember we were on an island... so going to the beach was a wonderful getaway from city life.  Okinawa is a large island (to us), filled with many cultural activities, endless sightseeing, and numerous beaches and cafes to explore.  Our life as missionaries has been quite transitory, and the future is frequently unknown.  So when we don't have a plan of how long we will be in a place, or when you know it won't be forever, it's easy to get a little anxious about 'seeing everything'.... as much as schedules and budgets allow. :)

I know that we're unbelievably blessed to live in the part of the world we do and to travel to the many places we have.  But as I look back at the last 10 years, the amazing things we've seen are nowhere near the top of the list of God's blessings... it's the people and relationships that have enriched and transformed our lives.  It's the friends spread out around the world that my heart aches for.  No matter where you live or what you're doing, it's easy for life to become normal and seem mundane.  When that happens, I either get jealous of others who seem to always be having fun or create lists of all the fun things and activities we need to do wherever we currently are.  Of course it's not bad to explore and have adventures, but that can't be everything.  God has so much to teach us through the people he brings into our lives... that is where we experience his love... not in making sure we finally see the great Okinawa tug-of-war. 

I must admit, I do sometimes miss the peace of Chuuk islands....

or the amazing coffee at my favorite cafe
in Baguio...

and thoughts of 'home' can make me quite nostalgic.
But it's the people that fill these memories that make life exciting and hopeful about a new day with new experiences and relationships.  God is always working with me about seeing what he sees TODAY... listening, obeying, and joining in what he has for me just today. 

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24