Once again, it’s really hard to begin a blog post. The things we are experiencing are balanced with joy and fun, so I want to be honest about all of it…(first world country problems, and all that!). Let me start by explaining some of the blessings we’ve experienced this week in particular:
- Our furlough home community is now full, which means that families with kids of all ages are here.
- Even though I’ve never met the other missionaries before now, I’ve already felt a sense of understanding between us. We’re all dealing with similar issues: kids in transition (grief over missing friends, etc.) and figuring out how to live life here.
- Some family friends took all of us (and Ben’s parents) out for breakfast this week.
- Ben and I had the chance to get away for 3 days last week, which is the first time we’ve left all five of our kids for more than 24 hours. Ben’s parents did a great job of looking after the grandkids!
- We’ve had a chance to see some of our old small group friends, people who we can tell anything to, and who know our history.
The truth is, even though we are in the Western world and are enjoying life here, we are not immune to crisis when it happens to our beloved friends in Papua New Guinea. We left PNG in June, knowing that there were multiple ‘hevi’s’ (problems) resting on the shoulders of our PNG colleagues, and we feel the pain of them even at a distance. Some of these impact our project directly, particularly one this week. I am not free to tell all the details, but our teammate is the only expat from our team in the village managing a building project, when a crisis happened, and one of our key PNG colleagues wanted to resign. Ben stayed up most of the night writing emails and talking to our colleagues over Skype, and we went to sleep that night not knowing what would happen the next day. If we lost this valuable coworker, we didn’t know how the project would continue, at least in the near future. Our other teammate was also able to talk to our colleague overseas and wrote last night to say that the initial crisis is past. However, the underlying community problems are still brewing under the surface so although the initial crisis is over, there is much need for prayer for the others.
When it was all happening, Ben, in his usual calm fashion, was writing emails and staying calm. As for me, not so much…I had a meltdown. It doesn’t take much for me to get really emotional these days, likely due to the transition and overloaded mental exhaustion.
On top of that, we feel really alone. It is not true, of course, because we have people we can email or call (Although sometimes in the midst of something really painful it’s hard to even sit down and write about it.) But if I were in PNG, I’d walk 1-2 minutes to one of my friends’ homes and have a good cry and not worry how the words would come out.
While we processed the crisis, and how we would respond, it dawned on me that we deal with crisis on a constant or at least regular basis. Some of the crises relate to our family directly, other times, our PNG coworkers suffer under life threatening injustice or sickness, and some relate to our physical daily living. For example, there was the time a few months ago when the solar panels went out and it took Ben and several colleagues days to figure out that they had been struck by lightning. On top of that, in PNG there are the stresses of daily living that I wouldn’t qualify as crises, but they do cause us to live at a high level of stress.
Here are some things I’ve caught myself doing:
- I still look up anytime I’m under a tree. (Yes, I know there are no coconut trees in Wheaton, IL.)
- I find it hard to throw good peanut butter jars or ice cream containers into the recycling bin (what if I need it, or someone else does?).
- I still get a chill every time I lock the door at night because there’s no deadbolt!
- I have to check myself from buying huge amounts of groceries at a time because I can go to the grocery store every single day this week, even nights and weekends.
- I can’t always remember my phone number or even the names of old friends when I’m looking straight at them!
There are more but every time something like that happens, I laugh a little and tell myself that I’m not on high alert anymore. Deep breaths. When I talk to the Lord, He says, “Mandy, trust Me. I will take care of this. I know you feel the pain of this situation, but I’m walking right beside you. You are not alone.”
“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 (NIV)