For months, I have told people that I knew what I was going to write next. It’s true. I did know. It is also true that, for months, I put off writing what I knew I would write. Let’s put it down to this dizzying visit of ours to the U.S., shall we? Buckle up and return those trays to their upright positions, and I’ll share what we’ve been up to.
As I indicated back in July, we started our visit at the end of August by flying from Frankfurt to Atlanta. That’s not our normal routine, but we were to pick up a loaner vehicle from a generous church in the South Carolina Lowcountry—classic Southern hospitality boosted by the Holy Spirit, or perhaps the other way around. After visiting friends in the Charleston area, we headed north to Pennsylvania, dropping off our younger son outside of Camp Lejeune so that he could follow later with his brother. (Aww….)
On Labor Day weekend, we had a small family reunion with my mother and sisters. After a few weeks of getting reoriented and helping the lad get moving toward life on his own, Katherine and I drove to Duncanville, Texas, for our first church visit (25 September) and meetings with Katherine’s global library colleagues. I also dropped in on my old IT crew.
My wife and I parted company at this point. Katherine remained in Texas for a few more days; to help our son further, I flew to Philadelphia and took trains to Lancaster. (Now the title is fully justified!) In that time, Katherine received word of a serious illness in the family, so next she drove to Colorado. I flew out in the first week of October and rejoined her. From there, we drove to St. Joseph, Missouri, for our second church visit (9 October)—and then back to Colorado.
From Colorado, we flew to Orlando, Florida, to take part in a week-long seminar at Wycliffe USA called Connections. There, we learned how to transition from crazy lives overseas to crazy lives stateside, and we met some of the people who manage some of the crazy on our behalf (read: finance and healthcare). The time impressed on me that each of us there, like the figures described in Hebrews 11:13-16, is still looking for a place to call home. In the meantime, we wander the earth, hoping for our God to put us to good use.
We returned to Colorado. After a few more days there, including some with the older lad, I took the car and headed alone to Pennsylvania, leaving Katherine with her family.
After stopping for a day in Missouri, I journeyed straight to our third scheduled church visit (6 November) in Media, Pennsylvania. Then I returned to Lancaster. A few days later, Katherine flew to Harrisburg and was picked up by all three of her guys. We left our two rascals alone long enough to make our fourth church visit in Springfield, Pennsylvania (13 November).
The next week, Katherine and I drove down to Annandale, Virginia, for the fifth church visit in our schedule (20 November). Thankfully, we got a break in our travels for Thanksgiving. (Did you see what I did there?) We also got to spend time again with both of our sons. Such times make for a happy mama … and papa.
Our sixth and final church visit took us back to the D.C. area, in Fairfax, Virginia. We returned to Lancaster, but Katherine has flown to Colorado again, leaving me alone with this keyboard. (She’ll be back. I hope.)
Over all these trips, we’ve seen a lot of faces—the faces of family, friends, and a host of supporting sisters and brothers in Christ. We have also seen a lot of miles, according to the history gathered by my phone. (Yes, I let “them” keep track of me—someone probably should.) It reports that, since we began our journey to the U.S., I have travelled 10,466 miles by plane, 76 miles by train, and 8,118 miles by car. That’s an average of about 167 miles each day. For the past four years, we lived less than one mile from our offices in Germany.
During most of this time, Katherine has also been attending to her study program in Library and Information Science. She loves it, and she’s doing great—as if any other result was possible!—but it has added a layer of intense activity to everything else. Katherine will have a break from these studies until we get back to Germany next month. She’ll be far more settled next semester, but I know that she would appreciate prayers to the Lord our God for sharpness of mind and stamina.
I want to close with an observation. We returned to a country different from the one we left in 2018—and the churches reflected the changes. The situation reminded me of that of the Jewish exiles who returned from Persia to their homeland: they didn’t all go back, rebuilding took a long time, the results weren’t like “the glory days”, and they seemed to be surrounded by foes. Everyone was discouraged. But in a vision, the prophet Zechariah was told:
It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin ….Zechariah 4:6-10, NLT
Don’t lose courage. Don’t lose hope. Let’s look to the One who can achieve far more than we can on our own. Under His faithful care and yours, Katherine and I will return on yet another plane to Germany, where we will continue our ministry with Wycliffe. We had no fixed home here, and our home there will be different from the ones before. Please pray for our journeys in this world, and we will pray for yours.