Saturday, August 13, 2016

On the beach

I'm standing on the beach. Rosa is asleep in my arms, the waves are rushing in and a cool, gusty breeze carries sounds of my family playing nearby. I lift my face to the sun and enjoy. Reuben is dancing around with his spade, his body reflected in the wet sand. Duncan watches over him, his jeans rolled to the knees, and I wonder what he is thinking. Is he wondering how to freeze time too? 

I love the beach and it occurs to me that I will miss it terribly - that I will miss a lot of things, terribly. And with that the faces of our furlough come, playing like a movie, moving me gently until the salt in the air, is also in my eyes. I am remembering times of connection - of small talk and deep talk, news of birth and news of death, hugs hello followed too soon by hugs goodbye, trying to get that one photo with everyone and trying to leave each one well. 

I can hear Reuben designing an airport in the sand - his imagination evolving with each stroke of the rake and I think of all the new experiences he has foods, launching bottle rockets, watering strawberries, picking cucumbers, feeding a wild bird from his hand, play doh, jigsaws, using a saw (!), soft play, museums, going on the bus, shopping centres, swimming, chips and nuggets, television, going to the zoo, new friends, Octonauts, stickers and family.

It's all coming to an end and suddenly, after eight months, we must go. I push down the sense of panic, sadness, elation and anticipation that are all rushing through me. I close my eyes and the wind blows cold. But then Rosa stirs, Reuben advances bubbling with stories of his creations, wet shorts and sand everywhere and life continues. Loss and hope together - the many faces of furlough, this beach, my daughter in my arms and fresh salt in my eyes. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016


We have been in the U.K. since December and have had a busy time. Beautiful baby Rosa joined us in February and we have visited friends, family and supporters around the country as well as welcoming many to our home on Anglesey. Thank you to all who have travelled to us and to all who have hosted us. It has been great to reconnect and share lives again. 

Although we have been back from PNG for what seems like a long time, we seem to have always been in some kind of transition or another and now there are further big changes ahead. Soon we will return to PNG (after a short stint in America where Duncan will have refresher training) where we will continue to serve as support missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. There are still around 300 languages (out of 800ish) that still do not have any Scripture in their language and we want to help change that in our roles - Duncan as a helicopter pilot and me supporting him from the home front! We believe people need to read the Bible in their own language so that they can make their own minds up about what it's all about. 

With only weeks to go there is much to organise. Whilst Duncan handles all the paperwork and formal side of the preparation, I have to make sure we have what we all need for the next couple of years. I have been slowly amassing things and many have generously given the children clothes and toys. But as I have been doing it and as I now try to review and check what we have, I am bothered by the question of when to stop. When do we reach enough? To be quite honest, I am rather concerned that deep down I think our future happiness and success in PNG depends on whether I have ordered enough stuff from Amazon. I know it doesn't but that's not how I'm acting!

When I look back over our first term in PNG I only encounter memories of needs being met. What we didn't have was provided by friends around us, or sent from home, or did not turn out to be that vital after all. I have blogged before about wanting the best for the children and how we have been repeatedly blessed with exactly that. So what am I worrying about? I think it is because when I look back, I also remember some of the tough times emotionally and it is embarrassing to realise that my inner self still thinks an extra pair of crocs will help in the inevitable future times of challenge. Sigh. 

It's also hard to focus on leaving in the way I think I should be because there are two small people with big needs who fill my day with fun, but also challenges as we navigate potty training, establishing good sleep and eating habits and build relationships between us. I am planning for lots more lovely visitors, cooking, doing laundry and somewhere in all of this I must decide how many pairs of socks my future 4 year old will need and what my husband might like for Christmas the year after next. Many have done this before me and with many more challenges to face, but I'm still struggling to juggle it all and keep everyone happy as we also begin the essential, but difficult process of goodbyes. 

In this rare moment of quiet I feel rather panicked by all that must come in the next few weeks. It would be nice to run away and just magically be in PNG again. Or what would be even better would be to arrive a few months in when friendships have been re-established, the house sorted and the cooking underway. But that isn't how it works. This transition must be lived and lived not just by us, but by those letting us go and those on the other side. But here's the thing - in all this exhausting anticipation I know that these shifting sands are underpinned by a firm path. As we step onto the bridge between our two lives as a family of four for the first time, we can be sure God has us and those we love in each place, in His hands. And that is more than 'enough'.