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Monday, July 30, 2012

We're here!!.......God provided for sure!

      Well, we’ve been in Vanuatu for about 40 hours now. And let me tell you, the things that we have witnessed so far have been amazing. The countryside itself is one of the most beautiful things that we have ever seen.

 When we arrived in Port Vila (the country’s capital), we were scared about going through customs. We have never traveled internationally so we weren’t sure what to expect. So we collected our bags, all 8 suitcases and 6 backpacks, and headed into the line. They were stopping EVERYONE in line in front of us and going through all of their stuff. We were afraid they were going to do the same for us. Not that we were trying to hide anything, but it was nerve racking because we don’t speak the language, we are white Americans and we didn’t want them to take anything that we may need for this trip.

     So it’s our turn. We step up to the counter and give the gentleman our passports and entry documents. He begins to ask questions. Do you have anything to declare? Do you have anything illegal? What are you doing in this country? (At this time I began to sweat lol). I explained that we are here visiting some friends. He then said, “It says here you’re a Pastor. Is that true”? I said yes. He asked what church we are with. I told him we are with Up and Up ministries on Santo Island and we are looking to possibly be moving here and volunteering with them. He looked me up and down and asked again “You are sure you’re a Pastor”? I again said yes.

     He had a puzzled look on his face; I again started to sweat profusely J. After thinking about it for about another minute, he asked one more time, “You are really a Pastor”? I said yes. He asked “You are sure there is nothing illegal in your bags” I said yes I am sure. He then handed me our passports and said, “just go straight to the exit. You do not need to have your bags checked”. I really wanted to just hug this guy! But I wasn’t sure how that would have been perceived in this country lol.

     Needless to say, all things were smooth sailing at every airport, on every flight and every checkpoint. God definitely knew what He was doing when He kept us from flying out on that Sunday. 

     So we are now staying at the Widup house. We went into town yesterday after church to see the independence day celebrations that were going on. Today (Monday the 30th) is Vanuatu's independence day. So there has been some things going on in the town to celebrate. 

     We went to the rodeo first. Let me tell you, this was no rodeo that you would see in the U.S. They had armatures and professionals, but it didn't really seem like it lol. And then at the end of the rodeo, they asked all kids ages 12-15 to come out into the arena. They put a flag on a bull and released it into the area full of kids. The first kid to "capture the flag" won a prize. It was hilarious! Thankfully no one was hurt, but it sure was funny watching those kids run around. 

     It did kind of feel like home though. Smelled like manure, had guys in cowboy hat and boots and they were playing country music over the loud speakers. Nothing like hearing Garth Brooks 'The Dance" sang by a local Ni-Van that makes you feel like you're at home lol.

     We then went to the "laplas". Which is their local park area that had tons of little booths that had local food and treats. It was awesome to get to try some of the local food and interact with the local Ni-Vanuatu people. They also had a stage set up that a choir was singing. 

     We went and visited the apartment where we are going to be staying. It is a nice little 2 bedroom apartment. We are going to move our stuff into it today and that's where we will be staying for the rest of the trip (pics to come soon....hopefully).

     Thank you to everyone who was praying us through our journey over the last couple days to get 
here. Continue to pray that God will work and show us what He wants for us and our future!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

At Least It's Not Raining!

For months now, we’ve been looking forward to July 22, 2012.  It was the day we were scheduled to begin our amazing adventure into exploring whether or not God is calling us to full time missions work.  My kids will forever remember it as “the WORST. DAY. EVER!!!”.  I will always remember it as a day that I could actually see the spiritual battle taking place over us beginning our missions journey. 
The day before we tried to leave, Eli’s asthma started giving us problems.  Earlier in the week I had noticed the onset of symptoms and called his doctor, who started him on the typical meds that will take care of his issues.  Normally he’s better within a couple of days and it would’ve been a non-issue when Sunday rolled around.  However, Eli can never do anything “normally”…lol!  We did breathing treatments every 4 hours all week, which usually helps to deter him getting worse with his breathing issues, but not this time.  Saturday’s breathing treatments increased to every 3 hours, and even doubling the treatments a few times in the evening.  He coughed every.single.minute Saturday night into Sunday morning.  Needless to say, Jason and I had barely any sleep at all.  I guessed that I maybe slept 3 hours, but that’s probably a pretty generous guess.  Early Sunday morning my mom instinct took over and I decided to take him to the emergency room.  The doctor who came in to assess him almost immediately said he was not going to allow Eli to travel in his condition when I told him our plans for the day.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  We’d been planning this for 9 months, and one doctor was going to step in and stop everything we’d been working toward.  I knew in my heart that there was a spiritual battle taking place, so I prayed right then and there for the doctor to have a change of heart, for Eli to show marked improvement, and for us to get out of there.  At that point, some dear friends showed up to pray over and anoint Eli with a healing balm.  After another breathing treatment, getting an IV put in, bloodwork, and a chest xray, a different doctor came in to check on him.  This doctor said that he wasn’t going to keep us from going on our trip, just to make sure that we have all of Eli’s medications with us in our carry-ons, and he was released from the hospital!  Talk about a miracle!  And an emotional rollercoaster!
We left the hospital and went straight to church for first service.  Throughout the two services, we were prayed over for our mission, our purpose, and our trip.  We said many see you laters, and were finally on the road to Chicago.  We were all set to ride up to the airport in a 15 passenger van with a uhaul trailer for our luggage, but the air in the van wasn’t working great, and Eli gets worse when he gets too hot, so at the last minute, I proposed that Jason, myself, and Eli follow the 15 passenger van in our  minivan.  While an inconvenience at the time, it proves to be a HUGE Godsend later in the day.  The rest of the trip to Chicago was relatively uneventful, with Jason and I both believing that our tough spiritual forces battle is continuing to take place over Eli and his asthma, which is still flaring up from time to time. 
We arrived at O’Hare, found our check-in counter, unloaded all 10 suitcases and 6 carry-ons, said our final see ya laters, and went to stand in line to check in for our flight to Los Angeles and check our luggage.  After watching Jason talk to the woman at the computer terminal for a few minutes, he calls me over to ask a few questions, leading up to the fact that she believes we need visas for our trip, and we’ve only got our passports.  That was around 4:30.  For the next 3 hours Jason was on the phone with Bill and Christina Widup (the missionaries we are going to Vanuatu to serve with) while trying to get everything straightened out so that we could get on our flight.  The result of those 3 hours was that we needed to come home and will be flying out again on Thursday, July 26 and are unsure of how long we’ll be staying in Vanuatu, but most likely less than 30 days.  There is still much confusion on this subject, and we’re still researching our options, so please continue to be in prayer that if it’s possible for us to stay for the originally planned 90 day trip, God will make it happen.  I had called Jason’s parents as soon as the desk clerk for United said that we weren’t going to be able to get on the flight and asked them to come back to the airport because we might not be able to fly out.  Luckily they were only 20 minutes into their drive back to Indiana when I got ahold of them.  After standing around the airport for 3.5 hours while Jason got everything figured out, we all headed back to Indiana…and everyone was STARVING! Lol.
We stopped for supper once we got out of Chicago, and then were on our way home, for a few minutes…and then the 15 passenger van overheated and we quickly discovered it was not going to get us home.  And this is when I almost had a meltdown.  But didn’t.  I posted our predicament on Facebook, not for the drama value, but so that people would know we were still in need of prayer in order  to get home.  Almost immediately I received texts from a couple of people who were willing to make the 2+ hour drive to come and get us in Merrillville and take us, and our Uhaul trailer of luggage, home.  While we were waiting on Rob and Amy to rescue us, we were trying to laugh about the day, counting our blessings of what had gone right, and how the day could’ve been even worse!  It was a pleasant night, not cold, not hot, Eli had finally fallen asleep in the back of our van, at least it’s not raining, everyone was still alive, we weren’t fighting, the kids were all being very well-behaved, etc…lots to still be thankful for!  Jason and I were able to take our van to a gas station to buy a few gallon jugs of water to fill up the water tank of the overheated van, and attempt to get it to a dealership instead of paying a tow bill, which was a successful adventure.  So then everyone was hanging out in the parking lot of a Mike Anderson dealership near Merrillville.  Jason’s parents decided to stay there in a motel overnight and wait on the van to get fixed the following day, so Jason took them to get the last room in the motel, and while they were gone, IT STARTED RAINING!!!!  At this point, it was funny!  Not an hour earlier we had stated that we were just thankful for the nice night and that it wasn’t raining, and then rain.  The kids ended up having a dance party in the rain, so it ended up being a memorable blessing, also! 
We got home Monday morning at 5 a.m.   Completely exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling, but we do know this.  If we were supposed to be on that flight out of O’Hare on Sunday, July 22 at 6:48 p.m., we would’ve been.  My previous blog post was on not worrying about this trip because this is God’s plan, not ours, and that’s what got me through the day.  This is God’s plan.  He didn’t want us on that flight.  The week leading up to our departure was crazy busy.  We had no time to rest.  We had one day of just the five of us spending time together, and that still wasn’t very restful.  We know that God has big plans for our family once we get to Vanuatu, and He knows that we weren’t as rested up as He wanted us, so we didn’t fly out on Sunday.  That wasn’t news to Him.  He wasn’t surprised by that.  Now we’ve been home since Monday morning, resting.  We’ve already said our see ya laters, and don’t want to put our kids through that again, so we’re really just spending time as the five of us together, resting.  Hopefully Eli will be all healed up tomorrow when we head out.  We did make a visit to the doctor yesterday who mentioned that he thinks Eli’s flare ups may be stress induced, so if you’d like to pray for him in that regard, we’d appreciate it.  But we know that we are still in God’s plan.  Once again, God’s got this!  

My Thoughts......for now

So this morning I decided to take a page out of Max Widup 's book. I grabbed my coffee, got a lawn chair and headed to my deck. I thought that the noise of the highway would be a distraction. But it was not.

I read through Psalm 18-30. God really revealed some things to me in those passages about how He really wants us to be.

God doesn't want us to do to ALL the planning for our lives. All He asks is that we be willing and obedient.

Does God want us to be prepared for things that He asks us to do? ABSOLUTELY! But sometimes He just asks us to "Roll with it"! But where we feel like we may have failed in all of this is that, we were trying to be to "in control". We were very busy the week leading up to our departure. We barely had time to spend any time together as a family, let alone a couple, and just rest and prepare for this journey.

We know that God has a plan in all of this. But what we have learned through it is this: "Be still and know that I AM GOD". But a lot of times the last part of that verse gets forgotten. It says this: "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" .

That last part really speaks to me. Alisha and I needed to be still and just rest to prepare for this trip. But we didn't allow that to happen for us.

But, no matter what happens, God will be exalted! He doesn't need my family to make that happen. But He has chosen my family (i'm still not sure on why yet) to help make that happen. Despite whatever happens with this trip, God's Name will be exalted.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's the Final Countdown

It’s the Final Countdown!!!

Welp, the time has arrived…finally!  We leave for Vanuatu the day after tomorrow (Sunday, July 22).  This week has been busy with finishing up doctor visits, getting some follow-up vaccinations, spending time with friends and family, and packing.  Lots and lots of packing… J 
The best part of this week, though, has been the relief and the peace that both Jason and I have about pursuing this trip.  Speaking for myself, for about a month I was really doubting and feeling extremely apprehensive about leaving.  And those feelings were only heightened early last week during our first two days at camp with our youth group.  I hated being there.  I hated thinking about leaving.  I hated (and I know hate is a “bad” word) that we were at camp.  I thought it was stupid that we planned it this way on purpose so that we could kind of have a “last hurrah” with our youth group kids during that week of camp.  It was too difficult.  What I couldn’t see was God’s hand in it all.  It ended up being the greatest week I’ve ever experienced! 

Part of the issue, for me, is handing over control of “my kids”.  I love those kids that attend our youth group like they’re my own, and leaving them with someone else was just ripping my heart out.  It ended up being a great learning experience for me, and helped me to designate leaders in our group to take care of things that I might not be as well equipped to take care of in the first place!  I don’t have to be the one who tries to hold every girl accountable for all of the decisions that take place at camp.  I don’t have to be the only person available to talk/counsel with a girl who’s having a rough time at school…she’s got peers in school feeling the same way and they can help each other through it!  I’m not the only adult leader who can take care of these kids. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE doing all of those things!  But we’ve got a great adult staff who is also perfectly capable to handle any situation!  It’s a great feeling to know that we have people who will do just as well of a job as Jason and I, or even better.  If we weren’t leaving, I wouldn’t have HAD to hand over control…I would’ve continued to try to do everything on my own without leaning on the incredible support staff that surrounds us.  I can’t wait to see what they can do with those teens while we’re gone! 

All that to say this:  God worked in this adult’s heart during teen camp.  It’s a common joke around our house that Momma has control issues, and God brought that issue to the forefront for me at camp.  I had to hand over the reins of all that’s involved with being the “youth pastor’s wife” to God, and the adult and student leaders who will still be here from July-October, and I felt an overwhelming peace once I did.  That peace has carried over into the panic and anxiety that was setting in about our trip.  God’s got this.  This is His plan, not mine.  I don’t have to worry about how this is going to affect our kids, or where we’re going to live, or if we’re going to experience turbulence on our plane rides, or if Eli’s asthma is going to act up, or if Lainey has an allergic reaction to seafood, or if we’ll all be homesick…I’m prepared for all of those situations!  But I’m not worried about them.  Because God’s got this J