Sunday, October 26, 2014

Abnormal is the New Normal

Over the past month or so, we have begun the process of packing up our home.  Our table is now a folding plastic table surrounded by folding chairs.  Our cupboards are beginning to thin out or may be even empty.  Our mattress has no frame, but instead is lying on the floor.  All of this might be abnormal, but we were all together, so its easy to pretend its all normal.  

This last Thursday was the last day our family would be in the same house together for about a month.  We brought in the pumpkins I grew this year to carve as a family and to take our mind off of the imminent good-bye.  It was a fun night and Gracie loved the pumpkin guts!  We took a lot of photos and had a few good laughs too! 

The night before, Amanda and I had a date night.  We ended up on the Chehalis riverbank where we walked down memory lane.  All the people we are going to miss, all the places we loved to explore, and all the memories we will never forget!  We were together and so everything was "normal"!

Friday morning came and as I got ready for work the girls were busy packing the last minute things before they left for Montana!  Among those things was our very first pet, Samba the cat.  Even though I'm not a cat lover this little punk grew on me over the 3 years we had him.  And yes, I miss him!  He was a great little buddy, and was amazing with Grace.  She tortured that poor cat, but he always came back to her!  I'm sure Grace will miss her little buddy too.  Every time Samba would Meow, Grace would shoot out her little pointer finger and yell, CAT!!! over and over.  

It was time for me to say good-bye.  Amanda and Grace walked me to the door, and we prayed as a family.  I turned to go and Grace said, Dad!  I turned around and she was blowing me a kiss!  She melted my heart....again!  That would be the last time I would see my girls face to face for quite some time.  They left for Montana, and by the time they get back, I should be in Oregon flying a season of Christmas trees.  I most likely won't be home until December.  Now we have what is called "Face Time" and though it's very nice and brings them close, I still can't hold my girls.  I can't hug my wife on days she is having a hard time with the Abnormals of our life.  I can't feed my daughter to allow my wife some down time.  We get to blow kisses over the internet, and for now that is ok.  Our life will be a series of Abnormals for the next year or so, but this one seems a bit harder then the rest.

The Good news is, that no matter where we go, whether together or apart, God himself is there to comfort!  He promised us that and I believe it.  I trust that God will hug my wife when she comes home to an empty home, when she feels overwhelmed, or when she is anxious.  The God that holds this universe together cares about you!  That is a great comfort!  He has opened the doors for us to serve him in Indonesia, and He has all ready gone before us to prepare our way!  He knows its hard to say good-bye! 

This morning I got to wake up at my parents home.  Over breakfast with Mom, Dad, and Grandma Meeuwse we got to tell stories.  At the end my dad read a devotion that I'd like to share.  It is about good-byes.  It's not easy for Amanda and I, but we also know it is not easy for you we are leaving behind either.  

This devotional is called Parental Math by Bob Benson (from see you at the house) out of the book "The Embrace of a Father"

Nearly a week ago Peg and I had a very hard week.
Wednesday night-- Mike slept downstairs in his room where children belong and we slept upstairs in ours where moms and dads belong.

Thursday night-- We were 350 miles away and he was in Ramada 325 and we were in 323 in connecting rooms and we left the door open and talked and laughed together

Friday night-- 700 miles from home and he was in 247 and we were in 239 but it was just down the balcony and somehow we seemed together.

Saturday night-- He was in the freshman dorm and we were still in 239

Sunday night-- We were home and he was 700 miles away in Chapman 309

Now we have been through this before.  Robert had gone away to college and we had gathered ourselves together until we had gotten over it-mainly because he is married now and he only lives the miles away and comes to visit often.  So we thought we knew how to handle separation pretty well, but we came away so lonely and blue.

Oh, our hearts are filled with pride at a fine young man and our minds are filled with memories from tricycles to commencements, but deep down inside somewhere we just ached with loneliness and pain.

Somebody said you still have three at home.  Three fine kids and there is still plenty of noise-plenty of ball games to go to-plenty of responsibilities-plenty of laughter-plenty of everything except Mike.  And in parental math five minus one just doesn't equal plenty.
And I was thinking about God.  He sure has plenty of children- plenty of artists- plenty of singers- and carpenters- and candle stick makers- and preachers- plenty of everybody except you.  And all of them together can never take your place.  And there will always be an empty spot in his heart and a vacant chair at his table when you're not home
And if once in a while it seems as if he's crowding you a bit- try to forgive him.  It may be on of those nights when he misses you so much he can hardly stand it

 So, as our lives become abnormal, we rest in the Normal of Jesus Christ and the call He has on our lives, and the amazing gifts He has given us!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Speaking and Being Blessed

Growing up we watched missionaries speak and now, we are those missionaries.  That is why it felt a bit surreal when we were asked to speak at the church Matt grew up in, and that his parents currently attend.  EOPC invited us to be the missionary speakers at their Missions Night.
All we can say is WOW, what an incredible honor and opportunity they gave us!  It was a beautiful event that knocked our socks off with the amount of work and love that they poured into it.

Playing a game! 
Matt's parents, Mike and Carol and grandparents, Albert and Wilma contributed several items from Indonesia. (as you will see in the pictures)  They had Indonesian snacks, music, and a dessert bar after the presentation.  They planned a "Family Feud" style game so that everyone could learn more about us, Helimission, and Indonesia.  It was so much fun!

Prayer card, support table and awesome painting.
This was an honor, a blessing, and it encouraged us so much.  It was our first time presenting! We had a powerpoint, a video, a question and answers session...the whole thing. When we were first being introduced and prayed for we got a bit choked up.  This is it, WE are going, we are being sent, and these people, this church are showing us such love and are being the hands and feet of Jesus to us.  

The night was a huge success!  We want to take a moment to say thank you.
Thank you Pastor Randy, the missions committee, EOPC,  mom and dad,  grandma and grandpa VanBeek, everyone who worked so hard, and everyone who came.  We love you, and we are so thankful to you for giving us such an opportunity and for loving us.
Indonesian snack!
After our presentation, everyone is headed out to eat pie! 
Thank you to everyone who came! 
Everyone could see what the Indonesian Rupiah looks like. 
Mini size Papuan houses and buildings. SO COOL!

Indonesian knives, axe, hammer, weapons, headdress. (I told you it was a beautiful event!)
Carol, Christie and Lynn...just some of the wonderful people who worked SO hard on this event. 
Josh Brown holding the wands for the "Family Feud" game.   =) 
Grace had a blast playing with everyone!

Not quite how a 

That's it baby girl! You got the hang of it! 

Mars Hill
Our church, Mars Hill Olympia, presented us and told the congregation about what we will be doing in Indonesia.  We were at both sunday morning services and went on stage as pastor Seth presented us and prayed for us! It was so exciting, and encouraging.  We had a table set up in the commons area, and many people came to talk to us and were interested in what we are doing.
It was such a neat thing, to be up in front of all the people of our church that we love, and that we have done life with.  It also felt like this chapter beginning to close. Bittersweet. We love these people, this place, we love pastor Seth. Although we will still be around off and on for a few months
as we move to and from Bible college and make our final plans, it felt so real.  Thank you Pastor Seth for presenting us, for praying for us and for encouraging us.  We love and respect you.  Thankful that God put you and this church in our lives.
Pastor Seth presenting and sending us off. 
Praying for us

Our table in the commons.