Monday, August 24, 2015

The End; and a New Beginning

August 4, 2015
4:00 a.m.
Ring, ring, ring. I sit up groggily. The room is dark. Why is the alarm going off? My body feels so tired! Do we have to get up already? Suddenly it dawns on me. Today is the day! We are flying back to B.C! Wide awake now, I jump out of bed excitedly and head over to Alexander's room. Everything is already packed and now it's just a matter of loading our bags into the van and carrying the sleeping kids to their car seats. Since we already had said our goodbyes to our Aunt and Uncle we slip quietly out the front door and into the darkness.

Following the GPS's directions we are soon on the QEW headed to Toronto. As we drive, all is quiet; but not inside me. Inside my emotions are loud, all clamouring to be heard. There are happy ones, sad ones, excited ones, nervous ones, and scared ones. It is finally happening; after weeks of traveling and years of living overseas we are finally going home, sort of. God had reminded me a lot lately that my citizenship was not of this earth (Philippians 3:20) but if I had to pick a place where I felt most at home, it would still have to be Chilliwack; I think. 


That was one of the problems though. What if my old hometown didn't feel as homey as I thought it would? What if I had changed too much! Seven years was a long time to be gone and I know I wasn't the same person I was when we left! What if I didn't fit in? Or worse yet, what if I did, and just forgot all the valuable lessons I'd learned in my years away. 


My emotions feel too close to the surface. I feel vulnerable. I hate that. I like being in control.   Looking for a distraction I pull out my camera. The first picture turns out fuzzy but I still like it.




I wait for the sun to rise just a little more and try again. This time the image is clearer. I admire the sunrise. It's achingly beautiful!




An hour later we've reached the Toronto Pearson International Airport. My time to think and wonder and try to process is over; for now at least anyways. It takes all my concentration to help Jason get our three boys and baggage checked in, through multiple security checkpoints, and to the gate. Once we've reached our gate there is not much time left before boarding but Alexander is in dire need of a diaper change so I rush off with him to the bathroom. In the bathroom I hear an announcer paging Jason Krul and when I get back he tells me that they've given us one first class seat as the plane is overbooked. A little frustrated, I sigh. "How are we going to do this?" One of us can't sit with all three kids while the other sits in first class!"

"Why don't you take Alexander then and sit in first class and I'll take the other two. Jason suggests. "Okay, I guess that should work." I reply.

In first class I end up with an empty seat beside me so Jayden is able to join me as well. He is quite thrilled! "This is where you get treated like kings and queens right Mom? he says and I nod. We get spoiled with warm towels, non stop juices, snacks, a delicious breakfast and even our own iPads loaded with games.



We soon leave Toronto behind.


Alexander, who I've strapped to me with a belt is much happier this way than with my arms restraining him and soon falls asleep.


As I look out the window, I feel loved. 1 John 3:1 says "Behold, what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons (daughters) of God. 

Below me the landscape changes from prairies..


to rockies..


Four hours later, the Fraser Valley is in sight.


With a few moments of uncertainty as the airplane overshoots the runway and needs to come around for a second time we are all happy and thankful when we're finally, safely on the ground.


As we deplane and walk up the stairs to the airport terminal, I turn to look back. A chapter in our lives is over and a new one is beginning. What will it bring? I don't know, but God gives me peace. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Work in Progress

July 31 found us on the road again.


We were now on our way from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Burgessville, Ontario and had the art of packing up quickly and traveling  for hours on end down pat.

As classical music played softly in the background, I admired the ever changing land and sky scape.


A few hours into our trip we crossed back into Canada.


Once over the border and out of the city we admired the windmills dotting the fields,


and the farms that went on for miles and miles.


Finally, hours later, we reached our destination; a host family, who owned their own farm.


While Jayden, instantly made new friends, a feverish Justin quickly fell asleep outside on the grass. 


What had started as a feverish Alexander several days ago had now passed on to the next brother in line.

While he slept, I soaked in the beauty of the outdoors. There were beautiful sunflowers,


fresh tomatoes,


calves,


and cornfields,


and all kinds of pretty flowers..




That night, after enjoying a nice dinner with our kind host family and putting the kids in bed, I headed outside once again to photograph the sunset.





We then had a nice evening with our host family; sharing with them and getting to know them better as well. 

Then right before bed, I slipped out once more, to try to capture the brilliance of the giant moon.


When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou art mindful of Him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

The following morning, after breakfast, we packed up again. This time our destination was Jordan, Ontario. Although not far distance wise, we did have to make multiple stops in various directions to visit supporters and drop of thank you gifts.


By early afternoon we were in Jordan, back at Jason's Aunt and Uncle's place.  It was now Jayden's turn to be sick.


Thankfully he recovered quickly and we enjoyed family get togethers, delicious food and long talks. As our final nights in Ontario came to close we shared with one another the kind of people we were before Christ, and how God had been working in our lives since then; shaping us into the people we are today. People, still failing and falling short, not yet perfected, but in a process. 

But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we are all the work of Thy hands. (Isaiah 64:8)

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Servant to Obedience

Grand Rapids, Michigan
July 27-31
I carefully weave my fingers through the coarse carpet feeling for shards of glass. Ouch! A protruding piece slices my finger and blood begins to flow. Stopping my search, I quickly get some first aid supplies from my carefully prepared diaper bag. A few moments later, with my finger bandaged, I'm back to work, carefully removing tiny pieces of glass from the carpet; I feel tears forming.

We had arrived in Grand Rapids, Monday night, tired from the drive and mentally and physically exhausted from our travels.


Since we made plans as we went along, the next day we scheduled a break.


After Jason finished running some errands, we took the kids to the park.




While the two oldest raced around on the playground, and Alexander slept in his carseat,




We found a soft spot on the grass and soaked in the beauty of the surrounding forest.




By that afternoon we felt somewhat refreshed and began getting together with family, friends and supporters in the area.






The next night we had our presentation at the seminary.




Jason and I were excited about arriving early for a change, only to find that the presentation time had been announced as 7:00 instead of 7:30 and many people were already there waiting for us! Once again we rushed to set up, only to run into technical difficulties, as the IT guy that normally ran the audio/visual equipment was unable to attend. Praying that we could get something working, we finally hooked up a travel size projector and started the presentation shortly before 7:30 p.m. This ended up working out well as there were quite a few people who came in around that time as that was the time we he had advertised on our newsletter and blog.


After the presentation we got a tour of the recent seminary expansion and admired the old books carefully preserved in a climate controlled room. 






The days in Grand Rapids passed quickly with meetings and visits. We did manage to work in an afternoon of fun in the sun when we had to meet another missionary, who also worked in Haiti, in Grand Haven, a pretty area on Lake Michigan with a sandy beach.


There we walked the pier, ate popcorn,




admired the coast guard boats,




and the tall red lighthouse.




Then we played on the beach,




listened to the call of the gulls and admired the vastness of the great lake.




Now out time in Grand Rapids is coming to an end and I'm picking up broken pieces of glass; again.  The first casualty of Alexander's explorations was a doll with a porcelain head that cracked open when he dropped it on the carpet and this time it's the glass part of a candle holder. 


Feeling fatigued and near tears, I wish I could simply turn back time and put the item high on a shelf out of his reach, but of course that's impossible. How am I  going to tell our hosts that he broke something again? An idea begins to form. Is there a way I can replace the candle holder without them knowing? I really don't want to have to go apologize for the second time! Maybe we could shop around for a replacement? 


As ideas begin whirling around in my mind, I'm reminded of the scriptures I read earlier this morning in the book of Romans on how we used to be servants to sin, but now we are servants to obedience and righteousness.I know how God wants me to respond, yet I struggle. Obedience is hard sometimes. 

As I pick up the remaining pieces I come with all kinds of excuses on how it wasn't my fault and if I just replace the item that will be enough. Still I know it's not true and that's not what God wants. 

Finally, resolutely, I march up the stairs and apologize to our hosts and offer to replace the broken item. They are most gracious and kind, and tell me not to worry. As I respond in obedience, a weight is lifted from my heart and I thank God for His direction and guidance. Although obedience may be hard it is always the best choice!  Feeling the joy of communion with my heavenly Father I'm reminded of Psalter 203:1-5 a song based on Psalm 73.

In sweet communion, Lord, with thee

I constantly abide;
My hand thou oldest in thine own
To keep me  near they side.

Thy counsel through my earthly way

Shall guide me and control,
And then to glory afterward
Thou wilt receive my soul.

Whom have I, Lord, in heaven but thee,

To whom my thoughts aspire?
And, having thee, on earth is nought
That I can yet desire.

Though flesh and heart should faint and fail,

The Lord will ever be
The strength and portion of my heart,
My God eternally.

To live apart from God is death,

'Tis good his face to seek;
My refuge is the living God,
His praise I long to speak.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Trip Continues..

July 20, 2:00 p.m.
Fenwick, Ontario
"Do you think this is the right place?" I turn to Jason and he nods. "I'm certain it is. I recognize it from when we stopped by here three years ago." We're standing on someone's porch, with our kids and bags, feeling slightly worn and travel weary and looking like the gypsy family we've become.  

Up since 4:30 a.m. we had arrived at Laguardia International Airport, New York by 6:00 a.m.. Our flight however was not as prompt as we were. With some kind of mix up at the airport, planes coming in and out were stuck on the ramp waiting to get to their gates. This caused confusion and delay for both arrivals and departures and we departed New York much later than planned.




Thankfully the flight itself was only just over an hour since juggling three squirming monkeys was never an easy task. 




Once in Toronto we soaked in the 'Canada-ness' of the airport. Instead of paying six dollars for luggage carts they were now free and readily available. Internet was also complimentary and the Custom Officials were most kind. (We were not treated like terrorists trying to infiltrate the country!)


Jason and I kept grinning at each other as we noticed more things that were typical Canadian. I felt like breaking out in the national anthem, but figured we were a spectacle enough the way we were, trying to herd our three ring circus through the airport and checkpoints. 


MAF had a van parked near there for us and after a quick stop for lunch we were on the road to Fenwick, Ontario. Sitting in the front passenger seat I admired the beautiful sky with its changing patterns of clouds and sunlight. 




Now with nine hours of traveling under our belt, and after getting lost a few times since the GPS in the van didn't recognize the road name we were looking for, we've finally arrived at what we think is the right house.


Jayden pushes to the front and rings the doorbell several times. "Only once Jayden!" I remind him. "Otherwise it's rude!" 


There is no response from inside however, and I start to have doubts. 


"Are you sure they are expecting us Jason?" 


Jason pulls out his phone and although it is not activated in Canada yet, he is able to check old emails. 

"Yup, they are expecting us!" he replies. 


"But it looks like no one is home." I reply. 


"Maybe the doorbell doesn't work." He leans over Jayden and pushes it again, all the while listening for any sounds. "Nope, I don't hear anything." 


Hmm.. now what. "Oh, here comes someone!" I see a child peeking through the window and a minute lady a woman opens the door. She doesn't look familiar at all and I look questioningly at Jason. After awkwardly chatting for a few minutes she tells us that the family we are looking for moved several years ago. 


"I can give you their phone number," she offers helpfully.  Feeling dumber by the minute I tell her that we don't have  a phone that works in Canada and if we could please use hers. Thankfully she doesn't seem to mind, and we quickly find out that our host family moved to a new place nearby. Off we go again! 

We arrive at our correct destination several minutes later where we are welcomed heartily and the kids quickly make new friends. 





That night is also our presentation at the Jordan church.  Travel weary we don't give ourselves enough time to get there, and with the GPS sending us in the wrong direction, and then making us double back we arrive at the church only minutes before our presentation is scheduled to begin. 



Thankfully, working together and with the help of some friends, we get everything set up at lightning speed, and before we know it we're at the front, addressing the crowd.


By the time we're finished, and driving home, the sun is already setting.




We fall into bed exhausted that night!

We spend the next day writing thank you cards, letters, organizing gifts we brought from Haiti, and calling and meeting with friends and supporters. 


When my head starts to spin, I sneak outside and soak in the beauty of God's creation. There are fields of wheat,





 and corn and grass..and beautiful flowers. 


They remind me of the words in Psalm 150:6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. 

The following day we say goodbye to our kind host family and head off to Toronto to the Missionary Health Institute. There we spend the day getting our mental and physical checkups.  Thankfully we've done this before and it's really not as scary as it sounds. 

Dr. Westwood, who handles the mental checkup, concludes we aren't any weirder than we were before we left for Haiti (phew!), although he did warn us that our souls had grown bigger in the time we've been away. (Whatever that means!).

The kids handle the physical check ups like pros.





Besides, the fact that we could all gain a few pounds there are no real concerns. The results from various lab tests, are still pending.

By early afternoon we are finished, and on our way to Guelph, Ontario, where MAFs headquarters are located.



The following day we begin our debrief with them. We really enjoy our time at the office; sharing and reconnecting with the staff. 

After two days we are finished and head to Jordan, Ontario, to spend some time with Jason's Aunt and Uncle. We always love staying with them and they make us feel right at home.

There, the two youngest enjoy an afternoon at the park while Jason and Jayden go with cousin Mike and his wife and their oldest son to help at an outreach program in downtown St. Catharines. 




From Jordan we drive to Mitchell, Ontario for our next presentation and stay at another host family. This couple owns a farm, and the kids enjoyed seeing and playing with the animals.



  

As we speak and share with whoever we came in contact with God reminds me that what I spend my time talking about is important.  

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Since we haven't seen our friends and supporters for over 3 years it's easy to get sidetracked and talk about material things, but like Jesus said in Matthew 5:13: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

After a night in Mitchell, Ontario, we are on the road again.



Jayden is positioned between the luggage in the very back..



While Justin and Alexander take the two middle seats.



Since Alexander is in a rear-facing car seat. This is all I can see of him.



We make multiple stops on our way to our next destination, Grand Rapids.. Sometimes it's just for a quick chat,



..while other times for a coffee/juice break.



Then we drive and drive and drive some more.



As we travel, I doze off and on and think about the people we've met, the beauty of God's creation we've experienced, and His faithfulness along the way.






O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 136:1