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“It feels like a dream”…
This is what I (Debbie) kept saying when South African friends asked me about our trip to the US. In January, when we arrived back in South Africa from our trip to the US, we literally hit the ground running. School had already started so we scrambled to get the kids ready, jet lag was brutal, Ralph was hit with the flu, we learned we needed to move house, and we had interns arriving in just a few weeks who needed housing and preparations. Then the fires started on our peninsula and the whole valley was in survival mode as we watched the blazing mountains all around us and prayed for rain.
So it is no wonder that I am only taking time to report on our time in the US now. We arrived in the US at the beginning of November. The purpose of our trip was to acquire our visas for continued service in South Africa. The South African government has been denying many volunteers who apply for their visas in South Africa so we were advised to go to our home country.
This time in the US was full, especially the first 2 months as we caught up with family, celebrated Lukas’ 8th birthday and Lily’s 6th birthday, spoke at churches, attended fundraisers organized by our support team, ate with friends, shared stories, prayed with people, met a new niece and traveled to Pittsburgh to see her dedicated, looked at Christmas lights and shared our hearts about why we are returning to South Africa. One of the painful things that occurred was that our dear friend passed away from cancer on Thanksgiving Day. So our time home also allowed us to grieve with others that knew and loved her.
A great highlight for the kids was to experience snow for the first time (Lily) and for Lukas the first time in 5 years. They built their first snowman and we all enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US with family, something we haven’t done in 5 years.
After a whirlwind of activity God graciously gave us a bonus 3 weeks to rest. Our visa applications were delayed at the embassy due to the holidays so this caused us to push back our return date. At first this seemed like a setback, but soon we realized it was God’s gift to us. We got to play cards and do puzzles with grandparents around the fire, play in more snow, Lukas got to attend a Christian youth camp, we were blessed with a 2 day getaway as a family, time for a silent retreat, time to simply play and enjoy each other and our extended family.
One special blessing that our extended visit enabled us to do was to attend the prayer meeting organized by our friend, Sharon, who passed away. She initiated a monthly prayer gathering about Human Trafficking that she never got to attend due to her struggle with cancer. Her vision for this prayer group was birthed during her time serving with us in South Africa. We were so blessed to be able to attend in honor of her and see how the Lord is carrying on the good work that he began in her and bringing it to completion, even after her death. It was very redeeming and we thank God for his gift.
Thanks to each one of you who opened up space in your lives to spend time with us while we were in the US. Nothing beats face to face communication and we are so grateful to receive your hugs, prayers and love in person. We are so thankful for you, all our faithful supporters and friends across the miles.
Thanks for the memories…