Saturday, January 27, 2018

Furlough Summary

7 months of furlough. It's hard to believe that it went by so fast. The older I get it does seem like the clock hands tend to move a little quicker than they used to.

I can't believe how much we crammed into the 7 months that we were home! The Lord provided an adorable little house for us just a stone's throw away from our home church. Situated in the old Belvior Neighborhood, I was a little nervous that the one bathroom layout of the home would be a challenge for our family. It was absolutely not a problem at all. We got a system down pretty quickly!

The first weeks of furlough were spent on the road picking up a furlough vehicle, spending a week with Ben at PCC for his final Doctorate classes and back up to Indiana again to spend more time with Ben's family and collect the kiddos. We were thankful that we could be a part of Jerry's 70th birthday party in June!

July was probably the fullest month travel wise. We spent the first week in Louisiana at Southland Christian Camp for their family camp. What an amazing week of making great memories! One of my favorites was winning the blindfolded golf cart race...and believe it or not I was the one driving blind folded! Who says women are bad drivers?! :)  The kids made some life long friends as well. It truly was a highlight of our furlough!

From there we headed west to see the Grand Canyon. We spent a couple days exploring God's amazing creation and for anyone who has been there - words and even pictures will never be able to describe the beauty. Breathtaking!

We took a detour north into Colorado to spend some time with Pastor Craig Scott and his wife. It was fun catching up with old friends, Matt and Esther Von, from college as well.

Then the dreaded long trip home! haha! The kids were pretty much over the traveling by then! I'm pretty sure they have decided next time to stay much closer to home. And while it was a long time on the road, I sure don't regret the memories that we were able to make.

Awaiting the kids at the end of the long trip was teen camp! This was the first time the kids have ever been able to attend camp with their youth group. They were SO excited and it turned out to be an amazing week. The best part was that their friend, Lydia, (fellow Cameroon MK) was able to attend camp with them! So much fun!

The highlight of August for me, hands down, was the Solar Eclipse. I will never forget that day. It was the most incredible thing to experience and I love that we barely had to drive that far to be in totality. We went to the Old Mcdonald farm in Sale Creek, TN and paid a $5 parking fee to hang out and watch the eclipse. Definitely a highlight. I hope we can see the next one that crosses the US. We made a couple videos on this day. One HERE of our reaction and then another HERE of all of Ben's photos.

Another August highlight included spending the week with a fellow missionary family, the Loeschers, in the Highlands, NC.

September was a bit of a break before the crazy schedule of October hit. We did have a few meetings, but we were home much of that month. The kids were able to join our church's Christian School and attend camp. Kate and Drew went to the Wilds with the High School and Faith Ann was able to attend the Bill Rice Ranch with the elementary grades.

While Kate, Drew and Faith were at camp, my mom, Emma and I made a trip to Southland for their ladies retreat. Emma had a blast surprising her new friend, Reagan. She worked in the kitchen during the retreat while Mom and I enjoyed all the activities. It was one of Emma's best memories from furlough.

October started off with vehicle troubles. Poor Ben spent a lot of time on the side of the road and trying to adjust his schedule around repairs and finally a vehicle return. By the second week of Oct. we'd decided to take back our rental van and borrow my mom's van. As my parents had just purchased a new car, it worked out perfectly. Dan Spriggs also allowed us to borrow a vehicle which was a HUGE help during that time period as well. It allowed me to have a vehicle while Ben was out of town, and it also served as a back up vehicle until my parent's van was available. We were able to enjoy an amazing missions conference at Bible Baptist Church in Matthews, NC during this month. The kids made some great friends on this trip and they continue to keep in touch.

The end of October and beginning of November brought family vacation. We headed to Florida with my parents and had the best time with them. It was our favorite two weeks of our entire furlough.

The only sad part was that my brother and his family weren't with us. When we left for Cameroon last term, Jay and Sarah and their four kids headed to Venezuela. It was our plan to furlough together, but because of the difficulty of getting their residence visas they weren't able to come home. We are praying and planning that next furlough we can spend some time together. I admit that not being able to see them has brought a lot of tears on our part. We trust God's plan, but it isn't always easy.

November brought the long anticipated Sinclair Thanksgiving. We dream of this holiday for 3 years and it never disappoints! Ben's mom is an amazing cook and she is especially famous for her pies. We had more pie than a human being should eat that week, but we feel it is justified since we are only home every 3 years. :) The kids became close friends with the Frisbys, neighbors to Ben's parents, and we had a lot of opportunities to make some great memories with them as well that week.

December was a month dedicated to staying home and spending time with family. The kids were able to enjoy fun youth activities (ice skating), and parties at the Christian School with the kids their ages. They even participated in the school's Christmas Program. We enjoyed church parties and special fellowships. Ben's parents even sacrificed to drive down and spend about a week with us. A lot took place during that month and we managed to cram it all in and make some incredible memories.

And so here we are. Back in Cameroon. The transition back wasn't easy. The kids made so many good friends and the goodbyes were hard. It is hard for them to be on the opposite side of the ocean. Thankfully they have connected with them and spend a little bit of time each day on email and google hangouts connecting with their friends. Fellow missionary and dear friend, Carol Loescher, once wrote, "A missionary needs an elastic heart because his or her love must span the ocean and stretch from continent to continent." Her descriptive words sum up how we feel as a family.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for our furlough. We don't take for granted the thousands of miles and months of safety. Please continue to pray for more laborers. <3
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