Friday, July 24, 2015

Where Have I Been? Weddings,Goodbyes, Losses and Joys

Where have I been? I can not believe that it has been so long since I wrote my last blog post.
Writing for school got the best of me.... then our 4th move in less than 3 years has put me over the edge....then this summer I was pleasantly preoccupied with helping to plan our oldest daughter's two weddings. Yes you heard me right 2 wonderful weddings happened the 4th of July weekend and thankfully she married the same guy twice.

We had an African wedding--where we blended several cultures of Kenya,Uganda and Rwanda together. Our new East African community was a big help as I have learned--It takes a village to marry off your daughter! We had a huge feast and traditional Ugandan and Rwandan dancing and then we blended into an America wedding dance traditions. It was a joyous affair. Thankfully many friends and family helped to clean up and than the next morning we took the beautiful flowers ( that a new friend helped us buy wholesale) and all the vintage wedding decor that I had gathered for the last several months going to thrift stores and garage sales and we decorated the church and church lawn for a pie reception. 

The church wedding was so perfect! Sophia had borrowed my mother's wedding dress so that had set the tone for the vintage wedding. We found floral dresses that were made in the 50's for the bridesmaids. Old vintage floral mix matched table clothes and an eclectic array of pie and cake servers rounded out the look. Not to mention a little bit of lace and baby's breath in vintaged colored bottles. The church wedding was mostly attended by family and a few friends. The chapel where they married was small so we kept the guest list small. 

 Several from Dave's extended family came and many from my extended family came, driving from MN, KS and TX. Sophia's husband Matt's family and some extended family came as well. Matt and Sophia had several Wheaton friends attend. We had a few friends come from the community that we have made since moving to the U.S but this was a bit of the sad part about being a missionary and having friends all over the world---I missed several people and wished for their presence! 

Less than a week later we put Sophia and her husband Matt on a plane to move to Rwanda. It was really strange being at the airport staying as we said goodbye. I have said many good-byes at airports but this was one of the first times that I was not going .... it was a mixture of emotions: excitement and joy for Sophia and Matt to have this journey--for Sophia to go 'home' and teach at an international school that we helped to start and that she had graduated from--for Matt to see and experience a major part of what had shaped Sophia, her 18+ years of living in East Africa ---sadness and loss as we were going to miss out on being with them--miss spending time with them in these early stages of marriage....but there was also another loss that resurfaced--wishing that I was also going back has been over 3 years now and we have yet to return even for a visit. I know in my head that one can never really go back-- people have moved away, things have changed, I have changed but I still miss it so much. I believe we are where God wants us for now but it is still so hard. 

Living in yet another some ways starting a fresh...building new relationships. We have been here in the suburb of Chicago just a little over 3 months. We are living in an apartment in as a part of an organization called Outreach Community Ministries . A transitional housing program, in Carol Stream (a Western Chicago suburb), for young single moms, who are parenting one child, or pregnant with their first child, and are between the ages of 18 and 24.  Jubilee Village is a ministry that provides safe and secure housing, clinical case management by licensed professionals, and assists them as they work towards their personal, academic, and financial goals. 

We are serving  as volunteer houseparents. We’re on call three evenings per week, and we host one meal per week for the five single moms on our floor. Dave takes a walk around the property a few times per week to look for potential problems and does some minor maintenance.  I mainly spend time mentoring these young moms and loving on them and their kids. The position is a volunteer one, but Jubilee Village does provide us with housing, so we’ve felt a sense of relief in not worrying each month about whether we can pay rent.  

I am enjoying this new addition to our serving here in Chicago land, but our main focus as many of you know is starting an multi-cultural/ international church. Dave has an office in Cornerstone Christian Church and they have also graciously offered to let us you their building Sunday evenings for our new church plant to meet in. We are hoping to have our first service in the middle of Sept. Matt and Sophia's African wedding was held in their back lawn. We were thrilled with the turn out that came and celebrated with us. We had 2 long term friends from East Africa and family and the rest of the 250+ guest were relationships that we have built among the East African Diaspora living here in Chicagoland. It was nice to see the fruits of these short years. We are hoping that some of these new friends will start worshiping with us and be part of the catalyst in starting this church.

Back to losses... I know I have written this before but one of the things I miss most is deep relationships. Moving into several different areas in our short time back in the States has not been conducive for building meaningful relationships. I know that this takes time but it is also challenging because we are attending a couple of different churches as they are partnering with us in different ways. I am hoping as we move into more of a routine there will be at least the potential for some relationships to build. Meanwhile , I am learning a lot about myself and God is sustaining me but also reminding me of my need for others. He after all has created us for relationships. I only hope I do not become to warped during this relationship famine time that I loose all relationship skills and I am not a good friend when the opportunity arises.  Thankfully this is just a fleeting thought as my husband reminds me what a good friend I am. 

Well now you are all caught up! Hopefully it will not be 8 months before I write again!