Before moving to Canberra, God gave us a picture of the road ahead. I saw a path that was littered with obstacles, crevices and red tape, and we were helping one another over and round the obstacles, carefully picking our path.
During our time in missions, we have received two such warnings and, reflecting on our experiences, I doubt we’ll ever minimise God’s caution again! The last two years have indeed been marked with practical barriers, communication breakdowns and relational issues.
Dealing with these stumbling blocks has often been frustrating, and at times painful. We have always held that as followers of Christ we should be aiming for the highest standards in how we conduct ourselves and our work, thereby offering those we serve our very best, just as Jesus Himself did. With this in mind, we’ve often felt led to challenge the status quo, which has not always been received in the manner intended. So more than ever, we have learnt to rely on one another and on God’s wisdom and strategy. We’ve learnt that patience, grace, and trust in God’s timing is more important than raw productivity. We’ve learnt the importance of setting healthy boundaries, of knowing what our purpose is (and what it is not) and that, at the end of two years, it’s OK to admit that things have not been as joyful and fulfilling as we had hoped.
In saying all that, we were recently asked to estimate the time we have donated since moving here. Looking at the hundreds of hours your support has ‘bought’ , as well as the tasks completed and progress achieved, we can’t say that our time hasn’t been fruitful. It may feel like a drop in a large ocean, but God never calls us to meet every need.
And so we find ourselves in an interesting period of transition. In some ways we feel the release and excitement of stepping into new things to come, and in other ways we are still processing and walking off the bruises from the last season.
A big help has been the two weeks we spent in Holland, where we flitted between staying with Dani’s aunt and the Heidebeek YWAM base, where the RescueNet EU office is located. One of the highlights was the several days of debriefing and coaching that we were generously offered there. Miranda Voogd, a long term YWAMer who is passionate about helping fellow missionaries find closure and prepare for transition, lent us her skill, wisdom and kind listening ear, allowing us to examine our experiences and begin the process of giving it all back to God.
We also enjoyed connecting and strengthening relationships with the guys at RescueNet EU, and felt very loved by their wonderful hospitality. Alastair had an important logistics meeting with a consultant from the WHO, where the team talked of water filtration, sanitation, waste disposal and how all of these can be achieved in a mobile medical setting. Once again we were struck by the magnitude of the task ahead.
It had been more than 4 years since Dani had seen some of her Dutch relatives, and it was very special to have the opportunity to meet with aunties, uncles, cousins, and her grandmother. We were especially blessed by uplifting conversations and generosity, and hearing how some have been reading this blog and praying for us these years. Since arriving back in the UK, our time with family has continued to be a great delight and source of strength. We hadn’t even realised just how much we’ve missed being around people who love and accept us, and think the best of us. It should be normal to be free to be yourself, yet it’s incredibly special to experience when it has been absent for so long.
We pray that, as the doors of this year close, you also find new hope and expectation for all that lies ahead in 2019. This is summarised in much better words than we could ever compose through the poem entitled “The gate of the year”:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.
Minnie Louise Haskins 1876 – 1957