And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today - at the latest, tomorrow - we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that." (James 4: 13-15)
When I left Kenya on May 1st, I somehow thought I might be back some time in November. I even confidently informed people of that. It’s become painfully obvious that estimate was a pathetic and overly-optimistic stab in the dark!
Almost immediately when I arrived in New York City (my first stop), my daughter Jess asked if I might consider staying through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not having been in the States for these holiday seasons for six long years, I quickly agreed. I also liked the idea of having another chance to see her adorable daughter, Cadence (who I had just met).
With this change in plans, I surmised that I’d be able to finish my book before Christmas and be ready to leave the States sometime in January.
However… the end of January will also find me still here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
God is teaching me to look to Him for my coming and going. It really is silly of me to try to predict such things.
God, You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too - your reassuring presence, coming and going. The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. (Psalm 139: 3, 5, 6, 16)
When I did all the re-writing, editing, and formatting of my first book, I was better able to focus on it alone. I basically spent five solid months of forty-hour weeks sitting at my computer.
This time around things seem to be different; the book is progressing at a slower rate. But it’s been very much okay with me. I’m pleased about that.
It’s been a good furlough. I’ve felt more relaxed about being away from Kenya. My heart and thoughts are more centered here than they have been in past furloughs. For that I am grateful; it’s difficult when your body is one place and the entire rest of your being yearns to be in a different place.
It’s so nice to be 100% where I am. I’m focusing on “blooming where I’m planted”, so-to-speak.
For the first two months (May and June) I was primarily on the road – New York City (to see Jess, Jason, and Cadence), Colorado (to see a good friend and to attend a much-needed and excellent missionary de-briefing), and Arizona (to visit my son, Zach, and to attend a conference with my mission-sending agency). I also squeezed in a great 15 days enjoying Naomi and her three kids - Terran, Tony, and Mia - when they visited Omaha.
I have enjoyed spending lots of time with another grand-daughter, Aaliyah (who only lives one hour away) and her dad, Caleb. Included in my activities with her, have been two visits to her school. Recently, we also took part in a wonderful inter-active and hands-on "market place" like might have existed in the time of Jesus' birth - “A Walk through Bethlehem”.
In the warm months, I enjoyed some wonderful miles on my bike - a total of 790 (1,270 kilometers). I’ve also been able to thoroughly spruce up my Mom’s rather large yard. Because I love to be outside and also love physical work, it was quite enjoyable.
I was thrilled to attend the opening night of a friend’s movie. Vince wrote the script, produced the movie, and starred in it. I’ve read some great books from the local library and have greatly enjoyed the speedy internet connections here (and wireless, at that).
It was fun to go to three evening bonfires with several friends. There’s nothing much better than being in the out-of-doors and roasting s’mores and hot dogs over an open fire. I also planned a fun surprise birthday party for a dear friend. It was a great success. She stated that it was the best birthday party of her 78 years!
Recently I was privileged to assist my Mom after her hip-replacement surgery. My brother, Greg, and I have had numerous long talks while he cuts firewood.
I attended three retreats, including one on my own. I’ve come to know many new friends at the church I started attending. The four gals making up my accountability group and I have met monthly. I’ve had lunch a few times with a young fellow who’s a missionary in Uganda. I traveled to Wichita, Kansas to visit some supporters of mine, plus a cousin and her family.
I house- and dog-sat for 10 days for some friends. My earnings will allow me to purchase a new bike for Nairobi. And... while there I got in some good time on my book!
I thoroughly enjoyed the fall season - my first in six years! Likewise, I enjoyed a very nice Thanksgiving with a few relatives from Omaha and Lincoln.
I am still working on my book and it is nearing completion. I’m in the formatting stage of things and have just selected the photos that I’ll use. But… there are still numerous steps remaining.
I will resist the urge to predict a time-frame when it will be completely finished.
I can share with you that AFTER I’ve submitted the final draft and approved the dummy manuscript, it will take one month for it to be printed. Once I’ve given the go-ahead to print, I’ll organize a few book parties in the homes of friends. At that point, I’ll also be able to book my flight to leave the U.S.
Now… to any Kenyan friends reading this, please realize that my heart still longs to be back with all of you again! Some days, when I least expect it, I’ll have a thought of one of you. Occasionally, I’ll envision a street in downtown Nairobi or imagine I’m bouncing along the horrible roads in a matatu.
I’ve been able to communicate with almost all of you via text messages, emails, or phone calls. Isn’t the internet wonderful for that purpose?
The day is soon coming when we will again meet face-to-face. And when that day comes, we can rest assured that it will be in our sovereign Lord’s perfect timing!
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my whole spirit… how incessantly I always mention you when at my prayers. I keep pleading that somehow by God's will I may now at last come to you. For I am yearning to see you… that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other's faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1: 9-12)