Monday, 28 July 2008, we're not in Spain yet...........

Waiting sucks. (sorry for those that might be sensitive to that phrasing.) We are still in a hold pattern. Our belongings arrive into port in Spain on Thursday, and we still have no firm arrival date. We are awaiting the processing of the boys' visas, and so, we continue to wait....I have been wracking my brain and Bible trying to discover the reasoning behind everything. I have found numerous examples of those that had to wait without reasons, except that it is God's plan, not theirs.

I have been reading through Deuteronomy this past month (exciting, I know) and have been thinking about how these were the words God used to prepare His people before they entered the Promised Land. So I've been reading it to glean some insight into what God expects of me before I enter this new place. The over arching theme seems to be two little words: Be careful. (I've even underlined it every time it comes up, and surprisingly it's rather regularly) Be careful in what you say. Be careful in how you act. Be careful in how you worship. Be careful in where you go. In other words, make everything intentional. Don't just haphazardly enter into this place and think you'll survive without maintaining a deep connection with God.

This past Sunday the corps officer suggested in his sermon that we begin our prayers by thanking God for all He has already done in regards to our situation before asking Him to do something more. Thanking God for what He has already done is also an overarching theme of Biblical prayers, and it seems in line with that thought of being intentional....I will say, I've been seriously trying it and it has made a bit of difference in my perspective on the situation.

I publicly thank God for
  • getting Jeff and my visas through with no problems
  • getting our belongings to Spain so we don't have to live out of suitcases once we arrive
  • for preparing Denia as a place for us
  • for providing for our financial needs
  • for preparing us through conferences and new friends
  • for providing our family a chance to enjoy summer and summer activities, not just try to squeeze them into a tight schedule
  • giving an extended chance to visit with family and friends before we are far away
  • assuaging my fears on the visa process (or my lack of understanding of it) once we do arrive in country
  • for allowing me time to finish some sentimental projects before leaving
  • for having plenty of time to pray for our ministry
Looking at the list makes it seem like the "waiting" has been more productive than not. Perhaps that was the point?

Friday, 18 July 2008

Since our return from Canada life has returned to its slower (sometimes excruciatingly so) pace. We spend our days visiting park district pools, hooking up to internet from our back porch, or watching Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs for the 1,000th time. We try to sleep in, but that is practically impossible with a two year old in the house.

We are still waiting on the boys visas to be approved. It is a little disconcerting that the children's visas are taking the longest in the entire process. We recieved word that our shipment of belongings will arrive in Spain before we do at this point.

We are headed to Michigan for a few days, then we wait out the visa process...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Carrs take Toronto...

On Sunday, we visited Scarborough Citadel Salvation Army Church. The chapel was absolutely amazing! Their officer was in transition, and they had farewelled the officer last week, and would be welcoming the new officer this coming Sunday. My first thought was "why is there a week before the new guy arrives?? that would never happen at home!" Then someone explained that he was coming from Western Canada to Toronto, and it dawned on me that their territory is the size of our entire country, so a week's travel time was understandable. Anyways, it was a beautiful, traditional Salvation Army service.

We used the break to soak up some "Canadieness" (sp). We ate at Tim Horton's for breakfast (like Dunkin Donuts but EXTREMELY popular here), then Swiss Chalet for lunch, and a Boston Pizza for dinner. If you're from Canada I'm sure you recognize all those names, if not....sorry. We also drove about an hour and half to check out Niagra Falls, because who knows when we might ever be this close again. It was beautiful! We took lots of pictures and I even bought a Tshirt.

Monday we spent time talking about the process of change and transition and its effects on a family. As the speaker began to describe transition as feeling like crossing a busy hiway and no one giving any direction, I began to nod. Then as she continued describing transition as a chaotic time, with lots of irritability, a feeling of loss of purpose, and as just an all around terrible time, I began to cry. I had to leave the conference room to go cry in the bathroom for a minute, and regain my composure. As I read the paper and listened to her, I realized she was vocalizing what my family is going through!'s called TRANSITION!!!! Now this may not be a new revelation to some people, but this was somewhat ground breaking to me. Theologically and ideally I understand this process, but to have someone give me the words and validate what is happening is freeing! That morning I couldn't really talk about it, but now I feel almost relieved that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Monday was like a huge spiritual breakthrough for me in the sense that God told me "No, you haven't made a mistake. This is normal. This too shall pass. But I have something to teach you as you walk through it with Me." Like the teacher said, it doesn't make sense to walk halfway through the busy street and sit down in the middle of the road, but it's in the middle where we will learn the valuable lessons of trust and blessing waiting on the other side.

Then today, we visited a mosque and listened to the Iman/Imam (sp?) talk about Islam and their beliefs. The women sat seperate from the men, we had been instructed not to ask the first question and to cover our limbs in respect to their beliefs. It was absolutely fascinating! I learned so much about Islam in general, and so much about my own faith in the process as well. I'm still processing through what the man spoke about today, so perhaps I will have more to say later about it. But it was such a great experience to step outside of our "comfort zone" and just come to a place to at least try to understand the "other side" so to speak.

The conference has been great and I really feel like we are learning a lot about ourselves in this process...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The 4th of July in Canada

Tomorrow is the third full day of the seminar. Things have been going great. There are a lot of great topics that I have not thought about before. Some of these cultural things would have been so helpful to know in my first 2 church appointments! The discussions have provided a lot of insight into different aspects of mission work for Jeff and I, giving us a lot to think about. We discussed animistic world view today, which was fascinating for me. There is so much information being shared, that we're absorbing it and inspired on how it will apply to our future ministry in Spain.

Tonight has been a much better experience than the past couple evenings. Rather than stay put in the small, dorm-like rooms, we decided to go see a piece of Toronto after dinner. We walked along the boardwalk of Lake Ontario and just enjoyed the cool evening. You can even tell a great difference in the boys this evening. Perhaps less stress among Mom and Dad, de-stresses them too?? : )

I have been really struggling with issue of our life just simply being a chaotic mess right now. Life lived in transition is never fun for adults, much less toddlers. And if you know anything about our family you know we live an extremely ordered, scheduled, and structured life. (I nursed my boys on a very strict time schedule, if that gives you any insight. A schedule and routine has been a part of their life since they were born.) So to have such a flux in what our norm is and not have the power to provide any real order to the chaos for a while, it has really been tough on our family. Today at lunch, I near burst into tears while talking to a former missionary woman who served with her small children and family in Nepal. She talked about how it's a process of learning to give your children into the hands of God, not just yourself. I started crying because I realized that's what God is trying to teach me, I think. These kids are not my own. They are his. And this move is just as much for them as it is for me. My time is not my own, it is his. So the upset of how I think my days should be ordered is part of His plan. So, out of the blizzard chaos I see there will be a lesson to learn.

Anyways...tomorrow Jeff and I give our testimonies during the seminar. (Americans on the 4th, go figure.) And we have an exercise in Toronto's Chinatown as well as dinner! (I am mostly excited about dinner.)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

SIM has an internet lab...Praise the Lord!

So, we survived (barely) our first time flying with toddlers. We planned to arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of our scheduled departure, but with the insitence on economy parking and lugging 3 large suitcases, 2 car seats, a double umbrella stroller, diaper bag, computer bag, and purse, not to mention the 1 1/2 year old and 2 1/2 year old through the great sights of O'Hare, I had no time to finish my Venti Iced Vanilla Coffee with Cream until we sat down in the airline seat.

It is amazing the looks of disgust mixed with looks of "awww, he's so cute" that accompany walking onto an aircraft. The boys behaved miraculously. Getting a toddler to do anything for an hour and half straight is nothing short of a miracle. Jonas didn't understand why he had to face me most of the time, and Bram got tired of sitting in a seat he couldn't sit out of, but all in all they did very well.

Then when we got our rent-a-car, we pulled out our trusty GPS only to have it not pick up a signal for nearly 2 hours. (Yes, gnomes inside the GPS, we're in Canada now...) So, Jeff and I picked up a map at a gas station, found out we were opposite of where we were supposed to be, but found it all the same (the old fashioned way, and I am an amazing map -in- hand -navigator I will say).

We ended up driving way to long, because we showed up way to early to check in. We couldn't find a "kid friendly" option in the area of our conference. We stopped a local bakery, asked if they took credit only to find out post sandwich ordering that they were not taking credit today...aarrggh, so we ate at McDonald's......again. We have made a pact that it was the last McDonald's we have at least through this trip.

Now, we are here in our billet (a dorm building owned by SIM International (I don't know what it stands for, but they are a mission organization)) and thankfully they have an internet lab where I could update the internet world with the weary traveling of the Carr Clan.

Stay tuned, I'll try and update with some going's on of the week. To come: Canada Salvation Army visit, a visit to a mosque, will we eat the Korean food that is so readily available, will Bram ever sleep again, this and more in the next post!!!