Tuesday, 25 March 2014

so much

Can't believe it's been nearly two weeks since Doug and Brenda Plank were here! 

What a blessing they were to our church!  We pray they felt relaxed on some level, amidst all the meetings we had during their time in Nassau.  They arrived on a Wednesday evening and things didn't slow down for them until the following Monday.  Thursday was spent together as couples...we showed them our island as best we could. 

We left after breakfast and returned at dinner time.  The next day Doug had an extended lunch meeting with Keith, Cedric, and David, our group of elders.  Then it was back home, a quick dinner, and back to church to prepare for that night's Praise and Prayer service.
Friday Night's Prayer and Praise Service

Sunday Meeting.  Doug talking with Logan Seeley, one of our guitarists

 Our folks were blessed as Doug shared some of their beloved songs: "Only Jesus" and "Now Why This Fear and Unbelief."  After a late arrival home that night, it was off to sleep and up early for a worship workshop from 9am-1pm.  Then a short lunch break, and back for a worship leader's training time, where Doug and Keith sought to help a few lay leaders who will likely need to step in as worship leaders after Keith is gone. Arriving home around dinner time again, we shared a meal and then made a trip to "B's," our local ice cream shop.  We were able to introduce the Planks to Mr. B. who owns the shop and always gives us special treatment!  We invited Mr. B. to church the next day to hear Doug preach, which he thanked us for but said was unlikely.  Then Sunday was a whirlwind of the Sunday meeting, lunch at the Mosses with our leadership team, a stop-off at Starbucks on the way home, and a 7pm get-together with Tanya Lester, the sister in law of Alan Lester from Living Hope Church, Praetoria, South Africa.  What a blessing our time with Tanya was!  She is a dear, gentle woman, who we've enjoyed getting to know.  We know Doug and Brenda were blessed to meet her.  Then it was off to sleep and up for Monday morning.  FINALLY Doug and Brenda had a bit of a chance to relax while we tended to our normal routine.  Hopefully their last two days here were a bit more low-key than the first 5!  It was a rich time though, and we're so grateful.

A quarter of a year has passed already since Christmas!  Hard to fathom, but true.  And perhaps these 90 days have been some of our busiest.  Or maybe not.  But what is hard to believe is that in almost exactly the same amount of time...90 days or so, we will be MOVING BACK TO THE USA!!

Yes, there is excitement in those words.  We are eager to return.  Eager to commit to all God will call us to there.  And we will share as the plan unfolds further.  Currently, we wait and await.  Wait for the unknown and await the exciting things we do know are coming.  And there is A LOT to be excited about!

First of all, FRANCIS CHAN will be on the island next Friday and Saturday, April 4-5.  He will preach two evenings at a local school auditorium, sponsored by our church and St. Andrew's Kirk here in Nassau.  I may have mentioned Allie MacPhail on this blog before.  She is a friend of mine and the pastor's wife at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church here in Nassau.  You can find her blog here www.undeniablyhuman.blogspot.com Bryn and Allie are Canadian, and arrived here much as we did...to take up ministry cross-culturally as a pastoral family.  However, Bryn is the senior pastor at his church and does not, as of yet, have any other full-time men serving with him.  They arrived in 2011, I believe, and plan to stay indefinitely. 

One pretty cool fact about the Francis Chan event is that Keith will be leading worship for the event!  Very Exciting.  Members of our church worship team here will assist him as well, including me.  We are really looking forward to this event and praying God will save and stir many hearts.

A second exciting upcoming event is the Crossway Church Mission Team's arrival in May!  We are so full of excitement for this!  I have heard from a few team members that they are on the list to come and I am so glad to hear it is not an "all-male" group!  Not that I don't appreciate the men, but it is a little more fun knowing some ladies are on the list.  Please feel free to email us with questions or concerns about what to pack, etc.  We hope to make the most of your time here!

So those are the happy things we "await."  And as to the things we simply wait for, well, you can probably imagine.  A job for Keith.  A place to go.  A home in that place.  A church.  Furniture.  Friends.  But God knows all our needs better than we do. 


Thursday, 6 March 2014

waiting on the Lord

Time to wait again.  Wait on the Lord, that is.  Quite an active time, really.  And what are we waiting for exactly?  Well, lots of things.  But most significantly...the next steps.  The Buntings 5 are relocating back to the USA at the end of our two year commitment this June. 

It is true that our original hope was that the Lord would give faith and grace to remain here longer.  I still remember the first day or so after we arrived on our little island.  I said, "Oh...I don't want to leave in two years!"  But time, reality, and circumstances can change things.  We have buried two of our beloved parents/grandparents since moving here.  Keith's parents are now in heaven.  We have gone from having one teenager in middle school to two teenagers in high school.  We have seen the goodness and the difficulties of living outside our country of origin while trying to raise our children in the way we feel called.  And the difficulties have pulled at us.

We have made dear friends here and left dear friends back in the U.S.  We have buried both loved ones here and loved ones back in the states.  We have learned to endure 93 and 94 degree temps in our home while trying to homeschool and cook.  We have learned to trust God for finances that we cannot (according to our visas) earn for ourselves.  We have seen answers to prayer above and beyond expectation.  We have seen the dearness of God's people here.  We have missed the dearness of God's people back home.  We have struggled under the lack of efficiency here and then defended it to outsiders who criticize it. 

And all the while God was at work.  Molding, shaping, stretching, sloughing off rough edges, refining, recasting us.  We are different.  A piece of us is forever labelled "Bahamas."  It can't be taken or changed.  It remains.  And we pray fruit remains here long after we're gone.  It is bittersweet.  But in the end, we knew we needed God-given faith to remain here.  So we prayed and prayed.  We read books.  We asked for counsel.  We had others pray and pray.  We ran budget scenarios.  We talked to other missionaries.  And the faith would not come.  God did not birth it.  We are soberly reminded of the verse "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  Hebrews 11:6.  We came here on faith...not quite blind faith, but after only 2 ten day visits.  Sold everything but what we brought here in our 40 boxes.  And to remain, we would need that same kind of faith. 

So now in our leaving, we have many questions. What job will Keith get?  Will we have to leave ministry for the forseeable future?  How will we make a living?  Where we will go?  We have no furniture to take back.  We have no vehicles to take back.  Starting from scratch.  And yet, there is faith for it all.  So in this we walk.  There is faith for it...and so we pray God makes it all clear in His time.  The "where?"  The "who?" The "what?"  And we'll let you know when it all comes together.  In the meantime, please be praying for the Buntings and Kingdom Life Church.  They are well on their way to seeking another man to lead worship at the church, though not in a full-time pastoral role.  Their hope is that it will be a local man who will not have to move or make a cultural adjustment.  Ideally, a Bahamian man with reformed theological views and continuationist beliefs who loves leading God's people in song.  It's possible he's here on this island somewhere!

For all of our faithful readers, pray-ers, and supporters out there...Thank you! We could not be here without you.  Keep us close in your prayers and hearts.  We look forward to all God will do.