Saturday, 31 May 2008

The only way to prepare for our "new" life is to purge that of the "old" life we don't need or want anymore. We held a garage sale today and I watched as piece by piece little sections of our life here walked away.

Yesterday a surveyor from the moving company walked through our house to estimate what would be shipped and what would be placed in long term storage. And now that the stuff we're definitely not taking with us from this house, it's time to buckle down and pack. Perhaps this evening I'll start packing some stuff from our basement...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

We have boxes everywhere in our living room. They are taking over every inch of space on our dining room table, couches, coffee table, and floor space. There is newprint paper in piles throughout the room. Bram is using the cardboard section of the newsprint box to color on while I pack things into boxes. Jonas just roams around pulling things off of chairs, out of boxes, all the while managing to steal crayons from his brother.

We don't own a lot that needs to be packed, but it still daunting. I have made the arrangements for the truck to pick up our things in order to be shipped and the other permanently stored while we are gone. I have scheduled the inspection of our Salvation Army owned home. I have made the plan for a company to come and clean our carpets and tile before we leave. I am exploring the options of participating in a seminar for missionary family preparation.

But I still do not know where we are moving...

It's difficult to look at your entire life, figure out how to place into a box, but have absolutely no idea where exactly it is going. The stress alone is enough to keep someone from sleeping, not to mention the emotional toll of the tension of just not knowing. Today I read through the story of Abraham and Sarai, when Abraham came home and said "We're moving. I don't know where, God said He'd lead us and that we'll know when we get there." Now I know how Sarai must have felt.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Continuing My Education

We are in Kankakee for a week long (mandatory) continuing education program through a partnership with The Salvation Army and Olivet University. It was also my 5 year review this year. I was "confirmed" as a Salvation Army officer today. Exciting, I know.

Yesterday, the corps (church) held its first children's service in nearly a decade. It was absolutely amazing! We had the highest number in our short tenure: 87!! (one girl counted 107, but nobody agreed with that number). It was exciting and overwhelming. It was so moving to see so many new faces and new kids participating and taking part in the service.

During the closing song, I came up to the pulpit to lead the song and we had chosen to make the public announcement of our moving at that point in the service. I had made my plan: I would lead 2 verses, make the announcement using the script I created in my head, then we'd sing the last two verses and it would be done. Well, we got through 2 verses, I opened my mouth, looked out into the crowd, and all I could do was cry. Jeff (my husband) had to come and rescue me from his seat in the band. He made the announcement while I quietly cried behind him. It just over came me looking out into such a large crowd (in comparison to the recent history of our church) and then to think that God was calling me on somewhere else. I love these people and this place. Let me say it again: I love Waukegan. But I know that this is what God has prepared for my family. I have felt it since seminary that I was made for the mission field, and now God has opened a door that no one can close. This is where Jesus is leading us, but still it's hard to leave a place that's become a part of us.

So now, we sit in 8 hour classes every day this week to mull over the fact that there are only 5 weeks left to pack, and we still don't know exactly where we are being sent to.......perhaps there will be more crying.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Divine Service

We had practice for our first (and our family's last) Divine Service in Waukegan. Divine Service is where we celebrate the youth programs of The Salvation Army and parade the kids in front of everyone to recognize their accomplishments.

It's a very emotional time for mutiple reasons. This corps hasn't had a youth program to speak of for a long time. We started a youth band program in a church member's garage once a week two years ago. And now God has brought 30 kids every week to play horns, run around, sing songs, and be silly. It's so inspiring to see how God works and the things He, and only He, is able to accomplish.

As I watched the older girls practice their interpretive movement for Sunday's service, I began to tear up. It was so moving to see young people planning to take part in a service! (5 years ago this church was averaging 6 on a Sunday) It was also heart breaking to think that this is really where my part of the process ends. God has another plan for my life. God has another plan for this corps, and I'm not really a part of it anymore. It's bittersweet, but exciting to think of all the potential that this place holds!

I had to "break" the news to some of the older girls who have become nearly part of my own family in these past three years. It has to be one of the toughest conversations I have had in a long time. We all cried. We all laughed. I heard the words I was saying to comfort them, and all the while thinking "It doesn't change how they feel, Valerie, just let them cry."

God is good. I'm so glad He's given me the time I have had here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

And the journey begins...

In order to move over seas within this Salvation Army there is a bit of a process. A process that we are still working through. One of those processes require informing those in your current site of ministry of the impending change, which cannot be done until the "official" go ahead.

So, I lost a lot of sleep last night trying to dream up the exact right words to say. I woke up incredibly early, with a back in pain from stress, and a brain that refused to calm down. I was incredibly nervous as I arrived at the office.

I continued to practice what I was going to say in my head as I made coffee for the staff. "No, I won't hold a big staff meeting, that will just be weird. I tell each staff member one by one. I'll just let them know before they read it on the internet."

I walked into the Community Care Ministries office, took a deep breath, and began my schpeel (official spelling). She listened quietly, nodded a couple times, and then looked at me.

"I knew already. The intern told me. And I figured it out when you said your arm hurt from a Hep A shot. Adults don't get vaccines unless they're going overseas."