A Missionary Tale of Moving…

by mendibpng

(above) Jenny Beth getting in a last hug from her grandpa the night before we left Chicago.

As I laid awake at 2am, the questions flashed through my mind like,

“did I get enough sunscreen?” (insert any item your family regularly uses)

“how much luggage do we get from LA to Melbourne? Melbourne to Cairns? etc…”

“did I respond to that urgent email?”

“when will my visa come?”

“will they take (spices) off me going through customs in Australia?” (so should I put it on my Australia list?)

During the days, we kept packing “just one more” trunk for shipping, and “just one more” piece of luggage. The number for each grew, and I felt more and more guilty because “why do we need all this stuff??” Which was followed immediately with relief because, “we do have five kids!” And, we’ll have no more access to Costco/Walmart/Target or American pharmacies for the next two (or so) years.

Between the strategizing of packing and packing itself, we took everyone to the dentist, optometrist, and family doctor and then had follow ups with specialists. In the middle of all of that, four of our kids had oral surgery, Ben had knee surgery and Noah broke his arm! I remember Ben saying that it felt like every appointment we went to led to another set of appointments. On top of that, we squeezed in homeschooling our kids in between going to the appointments. I remember feeling significant relief when, during the week before we left, there were no more doctors or dentists to visit!

Then there were the piles and boxes accumulated everywhere. We couldn’t see our floor in our bedroom–the staging room–for six months! Our ‘give away’ piles for Good Will got bigger and bigger as well, which gave me a huge sense of relief. (Have I mentioned how wonderful it is that they are open 7 days a week???)

These scenarios occurred over and over in the weeks leading up to our moving out of our furlough home. So many large and small details to attend to, that my mind and heart were in complete chaos. That tight wad of unease in my stomach just lived there, and I can feel it coming back, just writing about those weeks. I did what I could to keep my focus on God, listen to worship music, and I knew He was walking through it with me. But there was just the matter of walking through it. Not really anywhere else to go, except just keep going.

If you had seen me during that time, I might have said something about being overwhelmed but I really did try to put on a brave face and keep going. Stuffing down my emotions is really my coping mechanism, something I perfected in boarding school starting at age six.

I’m on the other side now, relaxing at my sister’s house in Australia for a few weeks on our way to Papua New Guinea. In many ways, we went through a lot of things that normal people in America do when they are moving. (What to pack, what to give away, what to throw away) But we have several categories of each thing (ship it, leave it, or take in our luggage, for instance.) plus all the other things mentioned above needed for our return, which almost puts us into ‘crisis’ mode.

Since I’m on the other side, why am I waking up again with my mind racing at 2am in the morning? Jetlag? Or maybe it’s my anxiety kicking in again, trying to process the unknowns ahead of me…I’m heading back to a lot of knowns and a lot of unknowns. I’m grieving the loss of face-to-face time with friends and family that we’ve left behind or who have left Ukarumpa in our absence. And once again, it just ‘is.’ The difference this week, is that I actually have time to think about my emotions and process them. It’s times like these when Davids words from Psalm 91 comfort me,

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”


8 Comments to “A Missionary Tale of Moving…”

  1. So glad you are all getting a sustained “breather” with Jenny and Stephan’s family. It will give your family a time to recoup after the stress of packing and leaving. Trusting The Lord with you that this new time in Papua New Guinea will be your best family time and best ministry time ever. Praying for you and sending lots of love, Oma and PapPap

  2. Mandy,   THANK you for creating that email, giving clarity to what I imagined was going on in your lives. While I yearned to ‘come alongside,’ we had some extended family crises [92-yr old Dad deteriorating quickly, mentally ill sister crashed, mother-in-law hospitalized] going on and I seem to grow more and more unavailable to people when I want to help, help, help.   Psalm 27:14-14  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. What for the LORD. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the LORD.”    May you find much ‘goodness of the LORD’ waiting for you along the journey back and upon your arrival, too.     Your prayer card remains on the fridge…next to the handle…prime real estate to remember The Pehrsons.   ~Mary Walker.

    • Mary, you were such an encouragement to us throughout our furlough year–and so many of the things we had to do, we just had to keep pressing on and working through them. I love that verse and am going to put it up in my house when I get back to Papua New Guinea, thank you!! xoxo

  3. You certainly did put on a brave face!! All I saw was a wife and Mother who seemed in total control and no show of frustration, annoyance, or hesitation to get everything done. I watched in amazement as no interruption, which was all the time, seemed to unsettle you, but was taken in stride and met with sweetness. I will treasure these memories. The Lord is Good all the time, He is a stronghold when trouble comes, and He knows those who trust in Him! Praying everyday, knowing He is holding you up. Much love, Mom

    • mom, my heart broke yesterday when we heard a little voice from the back seat, “I miss my grandma.” (JB, with tears) and then “I miss my grandpa too!” You were such a big help to us, especially with the kids, and we really appreciated it!! You are right, He is Good, all the time!

  4. Thanks so much for the update, Mandy. Breathe! Just breathe – and focus on the breath. Inhale the Holy Spirit; exhale the sad, negative, resentful, fearful, anxious thoughts that the Enemy wants you to focus on. Carry Joy, Gratitude, and Love back to PNG. Sunscreen is a fairly new “essential”; long-sleeved shirts and hats work too – or play in the shade 🙂

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