Saturday, January 19, 2013

Better Has No Finish Line

We are now beginning our second month of a five month visit to the U.S. I’m never sure what to call this time. Combined with the fact that emotional extremes occasionally surface (i.e. “I want this time to be over yesterday,”  “I wish it could last indefinitely”) some of the many terms “furlough,” “home assignment,” or “home leave” only further confuse me. Be that as it may, I focus on maximizing the moments throughout each day. Rest. Visit. Travel. Write. Exercise. Play. Study. Speak. Share. Explain. Show. Organize & Plan for tomorrow, next week, next month and ultimately our return to Uganda.

We took the first month “off” to rest and focus on the family over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. And then the traveling began. 

 Our first speaking engagement was in a new church with new faces.  It was quite encouraging and energizing to be invited to share in a church family in which more than 95% of the group had never met us. We were warmly and enthusiastically received and had a chance to say THANK YOU face-to-face to people who, in the past two years, have helped us maintain and improve our rental property in Pueblo, Colorado--people with a heart to go above and beyond though they previously had no personal knowledge of us!  We also reconnected with former neighbors and good friends and the kids made new memories with friends they fondly remembered!
Josh and Toby. Former neighbors, still good friends.

Bonus visit as Josh lives very close to the Blickensderfer's where we stayed in Pueblo. The kids didn't want to say good-bye!!!

jumping on the Blick's trampoline
Sheldon Hoover, The Britton's and the Wood's
 Next up was an overdue journey to South Dakota to see our North American Director Gary Wood and his lovely wife Louise, and visit with Sheldon Hoover who, with his family, will be arriving at New Hope in July to manage the Enterprise Farm operations. We also had a serendipitous evening with a young couple who might be coming to serve in the New Hope medical clinic and help with homeschooling our kids.  Another  welcome surprise was an invitation to speak to the church where the Wood’s attend. Both Geoff and Sheldon spoke at the Wednesday evening gathering and Geoff also shared at the men’s prayer breakfast on Friday. We were blessed to see our kids fitting right in with the other kids and also to laugh and talk with people who have been to New Hope over the past six years. The second day there our kids were invited to have a “play date” (such a foreign term to us since our kids run free with all their friends everyday at New Hope).  I THOROUGHLY enjoyed talking life, homeschool, church, ups&downs, travels, books, hopes and dreams with the mom while the kids ignored the 4 degree temp as they played football, threw snowballs and ran around. And speaking of maximizing the moments, we detoured over to Mt. Rushmore and spent a couple of hours being amazed at how such a magnificent feat was accomplished!  Because it is colder weather these days, we pretty much had the place to ourselves!!

This week the kids have had the grandparents to themselves (including swimming, art and guitar classes, the rodeo, a dog show and a coin show!!!) while Geoff and I in California for another speaking engagement.  We landed in Los Angeles and were able to spend a full day with Bela in her hospital palace with her nurse attendants who dote over her. A quick and enjoyable overnight visit to Geoff’s sister Lisa followed by more quick visits with some dear, long-time friends in Vallejo filled Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday was career day at St. Patrick’s-St. Vincent’s, Geoff’s alma mater.  Not only did Geoff have the privilege of talking to three different groups of current students, but also caught up with long-time friends as well as interacting with some interesting new people. With career day finished, we took off for the City--SAN FRANCISCO!!--our favorite in the world. The weather was awesome and we walked ALL OVER in the sunshine and explored some areas that would have been boring for the kids, but fun for us. 

Enjoy some photos of our San Francisco gustatory adventure that still give us a smile!

We leisurely found our way “home” to Long Beach via beautiful Hwy 101 yesterday. Just as we exited the inland farm areas and wound through the canyons toward the ocean the sunset burst through the panoramic view and thrilled us with brilliant orange, pink, yellow and red hues. The deep ocean blue against the intense sunset made it difficult to keep our eyes on the road! We had to stop and snap a shot. 

Along the N. Cal to S. Cal route I caught a momentary glimpse of a billboard, “Better Has No Finish Line.” It was too much of a flash for me to know what was being advertised or promoted, but it got me thinking.  The positive perspective, of course, being that there is always room for improvement. Never give up. Keep pressing on. Cowboy up. And in less cliche and more spiritual terms, our relationship with our Father God is in a progressive state of daily change. We can never fully know Him, but that should not deter us from continual seeking. We never “arrive” at perfection, but that should not inhibit us from desiring to reach each day for His best for us. We will always be consistently moving toward inward renewal though our bodies are pushing daily toward ultimate deterioration. Yes, in all the above respects, such a billboard message was encouraging. But, on the negative side, it speaks of never having enough. Keeping up with the Joneses. The grass is always greener. Just a little bit more. If I can just get this “xxxxx”, I’ll be happy. If I can lose more/gain more weight. yada yada yada.  

So much of the positive bent is what we want, so much of the negative bent is where we live. Ouch. 

Being in the U.S. has been relaxing and refreshing, but also disappointing. Bombarded with the insatiable drive for more so permeates this society and can get very tiring. Not only for us “foreigners,” but for those deeply entrenched in it--aware or unaware. Fighting to maintain a “minimal materialistic” view is tough, honestly. After driving through the beautiful vineyard areas along the California coast, we thought we’d venture online for a gander at what it might cost to someday live on and run a vineyard. HAH! that was some piece of financial reality!

And so, I’m thankful for the drive to move with God’s plans, His best, His desires and to live governed by His wisdom.  May I never be more set on or more focused on anything more than on HIS WAY.

Santi and Geoff share some giggles before we all have to go our separate ways. Laura and Beto are running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon starting at 5 a.m. tomorrow, so they are spending the night near the Marathon site. Geoff and I will spend the night with Bela in the hospital.
We’ll keep you updated as we navigate through the next few months. The balance of January and most of February will be spent in the Denver area, but we’ll be back in S.Cal toward the end of February and stay through the beginning of April. It’s a wild adventure--life with God is NEVER boring! 

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