Day 14 & 15: It's Not All Sunshine & Roses--Honesty From Rea's Heart - Linwood, NJ

We made it to New Jersey in time to join the Bergers and Bekah’s family at the beach! It was a first for Phil and the girls to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. We stayed at a hotel nearby and close to where the Bergers were staying. We would not have been able to afford anything near the shore since our time here landed on a weekend when prices for sleeping accommodations sky-rocket! Even the Super 8 Motel was over $100 per night! Fortunately, Phil’s long-time friend from his growing-up years in Trout Lake, WA, and Portland, offered to put us up for a couple of nights at any hotel for a cost up to $150 per night. So he did that for us in Jersey Shore. Thank you Alec!

We had a sweet time with Bill, Bekah, her parents, and her brother, Mike, and his wife. They took us to the beach, to the boardwalk, treated us to some delicious NJ Frozen Custard, and the kids enjoyed playing together. We also attended church with them at Bekah’s parents’ church where Bill was preaching that day. Bill shared about accepting adversity—a topic that spoke to us deeply.

During this time, I had been wrestling with some deep questions of life-choices we’ve made and the ones we are currently making as we stand at a fork in the road. This left me mostly discouraged. Each time we come back to the U.S. I increasingly feel awkwardly out of place. It is built into us to want to have that sense of belong. Coming here, for me, is like plunging into a current that is forcefully headed downstream but I find myself swimming upstream. And after a week or two of it, my aching and tired self wants to just give up and let the current take me where it is going. Can’t a speed boat come along and tug me upstream with one of those round floating thingys?

There are so many comforts to be had, conveniences to enjoy, and an endless stream of ways to supposedly satisfy each and every craving and desire (as if that is even possible). The pull is to live life with minimal displeasure and maximum self-fulfillment. Now, I know that where ever I go I will always encounter that pull. But somehow here in the U.S. it’s right in your face all the time! The concept of allowing Christ (rather than ourselves) to define life seem so foreign. Perhaps I am also worn thin by the unending and unnatural demands of this trip (I mean, unpacking and packing every single day with two little ones running around can get old really fast). But even if we decided to give up and float downstream, we have lived so far outside this culture that we’d be starting at the very bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. I realize that the more I fix my mind on the things of this world, the more our Christ-centered values, passions, and motivation seem so “foolish.” A verse I often find myself dwelling on is this:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
— Romans 12:2

So I would pray. I would ask and beg God to help me to not dwell on wisdom that is not from Him. I would spend some time reading the scriptures and praying and listening.

As my thoughts and emotions take me soaring up high on the good days, and then diving to such low depths on the hard days, God remains faithful and full of love. Right in the midst of my gloom He gave me such a rich encouragement. As we were heading out of NJ and bidding the Bergers farewell they pulled us close to share with us a decision they had made. They expressed to us how grateful they were for the new direction of our ministry in Quito. They communicated how much they support what we are doing and will continue to be doing in even greater capacity. And furthermore, they wanted to partner with us and support us financially on a monthly basis!

I broke down in tears. It was as if God was affirming this path we’ve committed to live out (all of it, including the support-raising part), right at the moment that I had been doubting and needing affirmation.

Sometimes God will seem so silent and distant and at other times He may reveal Himself so palpably clear, but regardless, He is sovereign, He is steadfast, and He is lovingly faithful.

Bill & Bekah, thank you for allowing Him to use your obedience to minister and bless our family, and the others that will be impacted for His glory through our ministry. We hope to be a blessing to you too! We love you!

Enjoying some delicious New Jersey frozen custard with some jimmies!

Enjoying some delicious New Jersey frozen custard with some jimmies!

Bekah's brother, Mike, also went to Houghton and was in the same class as Rea's sister, Regina.

Bekah's brother, Mike, also went to Houghton and was in the same class as Rea's sister, Regina.