There is someone out there who prays. Someone who reads this blog has an incredible gift for intercession. We can barely keep track of all the prayer requests we've posted that have been answered exactly as per our specifications. I can't think of a single prayer request that I have blogged about that has not been fulfilled in the way we hoped. Not that that is the test of prayer, but still, we've been astonished at the sheer power of prayer over the past two years. In response to prayer, the Lord provided the exact amount of money we needed to come here; renters for our house materialized; Joseph miraculously survived his attempt at miscarriage; also he was born on the exact day and at the exact time we prayed he would be and has defied every doctor's prognosis; Christine joined us here just as it felt that the girl's group might actually fall apart....the list is extensive, even if wee Joseph hogs half of it.
healthy and whole, thanks to much prayer
And so now, as we slowly begin turning the ship homewards, we're praying for a smooth return voyage. This is the area about which the naysayers most warned us, but we're confident that the Lord won't abandon us on this critical point. There are still eight months before departure, but some preparations require much time and to these we've begun to turn our attention. First and foremost is a job for Richard. Because I'm utterly convinced that there is someone (or a group of someones) whose prayers for us are particularly fruitful, we've created a detailed prayer wish list - half playfully and half seriously - describing the perfect conditions of our "dream return".
and did we mention HAPPY???
Richard's Main Wish:
Richard's dream job is to be The Guy who plans and leads student mission trips for Franciscan University.
We think that job may be reserved at all times for a T.O.R. friar. Alas.
His second-tier dream jobs include the following (in no particular order):
-any job at Franciscan University, including picking gum off the inside of trash cans
-teaching theology at a seminary or on a college* level
-any job that involves regular travel to mission areas, especially to Haiti
-college* campus ministry, preferably as part of a team
-any job that involves being part of a team of godly, high spirited male colleagues
[*college in the American sense, meaning university level, rather than in the Kiwi sense, meaning high school]
Despite this rough outline of his desires, Rich sincerely enjoys how the Lord tends to blindside him with calls to unexpected and unsought ministries. So deep down, all he really wants is to be serving the Lord in a fulfilling capacity whilst earning a living wage. [By "living wage" we mean a job that allows Kelly to continue on as a full time mother to a growing family. By "growing family" we agree to mean that our children are all growing, even if some are growing more pokily than others. Richard also means that we hope to have another child....(some day) - while Kelly means that she hopes to have twelve more children, and sooner rather than later. But we agree perfectly that there should be more children in this growing family.]
Kelly's Main Wish:
My dream is to be Amish. But with buttons...and indoor heating....and the Pope. Maybe "almost Amish" is more accurate.
I love the tiny two bedroom house we own in the Hopewell suburbs. I'd live there indefinitely and just cram in the three children we currently have plus the dozen to come. We'll be moving back into that home when we first return to the States and I tremble with anticipation. My excessive longing for that house is the butt of many of Richard and Fr. Michael's jokes. However, Rich is adamant that we move within a year of our return. My broken heart is soothed only by the dream of moving into a nearly-identical home set in a quiet and wholesome farming town. This new house will be a plastic-free haven of simplicity and all things natural and unplugged. I ache to settle into this charming little home and commence homeschooling my expanding brood with as few interruptions from the outside world as possible. By fraternizing regularly with our Amish neighbors, we'll ensure that our children learn appropriate social graces.
In a far-distant season of my life, I see Richard and I doing another mission excursion like the one we are currently completing - maybe in Europe next time - but not until after our days of being elbow-deep in very little children have passed. Here I must digress again and return to the naysayers who warned us that the mission lifestyle would simply be too hard while raising young children. You were right! I scoffed when you warned me, but it is indeed far too hard. I had no idea. I definitely do not recommend that anyone seek it out. Nevertheless, however difficult, it is not impossible, so should anyone find themselves unmistakably called, despite not having sought it, (much like ourselves), I hope not to deter you. To the contrary. This experience has been by far the most overwhelming and painful font of blessing and grace from which I have yet drunk. For a very long time I found it hard to notice anything else beside the "overwhelming" and "painful" parts. After many hours of study in the school of suffering, I have finally begun to understand the lessons of grace that have made it all so worthwhile.
Digression over. Back to the main theme, which was my own little dream for the life I'd love to come home to. It involves finding that sweet little country house.
*Size: Small. Charming. Maybe three bedrooms instead of two. With warm, homey wooden floors throughout and a ridiculous abundance of windows and sunlight. An updated kitchen and bath (just avoiding the seasick 1970's hues of our Hopewell bathroom). Great storage spaces. Clean, no mold or mildew issues to torment my asthma. And I'd love a tiny sunroom. Sunrooms are all the rage in New Zealand and I've grown rather fond of them. An established garden would be nice too, but is really not nearly as important as the wood floors and sunlight. In fact, scratch the garden. Let's just focus on the floors and windows and the lovely kitchen.
*Location: Rural. Ideally within 10 minutes or so of a church so that we can continue attending daily Mass. A 35 or 40 minute commute (max) to Rich's Dream Job. In driving distance of Grandma's house. In close community with a few likeminded young families. Surrounded by quiet country roads (paved or no) suitable for long walks with multiple children in tow. And when I say "country", what I mean is that I want chickens and a lamb. Not a whole farm, just a few farm animals. I'd like to live next door to a farm (so that I could ask the farmer questions like if we need to keep our chickens safe from the cat we've already promised the children?) I've never actually done "rural" as a lifestyle - but have always dreamed of doing so since I was a girl and used to sketch out the farm and farmhouse I'd inhabit as an adult. New Zealand's sprawling farmlands and friendly roosters have reawakened those desires that I have dismissed as childish for too long. Handling a 36 hour old lamb this week (umbilical cord still attached) cemented everything.
Ok, those who read and pray. There's the dream, all laid out. A job for Richard and a home for Kelly. Now we wait and see what the Lord has in mind.