Being from Northwestern PA a snow drifted road is not an unusual sight to see. I would venture to say that it is a typical scene for many states in the US during the winter months. If you have never experienced one, I will do my best to describe it for you, for those of you who are familiar with this type of occurrence it won’t take many adjectives to take you there. All the while, whether you have been in a snowy experience or not, I can guarantee that in your lifetime you have felt this word picture.
Bundled up in all your winter gear, heat blasting in the vehicle, driving along a country road as the white flurries begin fly. More and more they gather on the windshield and the road in front of you becomes less and less visible as a path for transport, both because of the accumulation of the flakes making it impossible to see the actual color of the dark road, but also because the plows have not been able to keep up with the rate of its arrival. This is very normal in our ‘neck of the woods’. Even more normal is the lack of tracks from others before you traveling the same route. Then you get to a point in your journey where blizzard amounts are falling, the wind blowing so harshly that it is almost completely horizontal, and there are wide open vast fields on either side of you. What do you see? WHITE…and not much else!
On this particular winter day, we happened to be driving a known, but not frequented route, though no matter how many times you make a pass in a specific area, you still would see my argument for the need to SEE where the vehicle is headed. This is practically impossible in these conditions, sometimes life can have moments, even seasons, just like these. Many would say, especially those that never or rarely see the sight of snow, “Just stay home. There’s no need to be out in that dangerous stuff!” But the reality is in places like here, if you don’t go out in it, you might as well hide yourself away for the six plus months that snow finds itself on the ground. You either prepare the best you can (dress for it, learn to drive in it, and gain the experience and courage) and do what you need to do OR become a hermit for much of the calendar! Of course, once you are accustomed to living in the area you gain a trust and faith in the belief “you’ve done it before, you’ll do it again.” Certainly, in cases like these, you slow down, but you can’t stop; you turn on your headlights (you can see me and I can see you…sort of…); you relax as best you can (you can’t react if your too tense); you might ride the rumble strips to know where you are (it isn’t comfortable, but its better than the alternatives); you hold steady; you keep it between the ditches; and you move forward. In the instance of the drifted road with very little to no visibility, you feel the cold of isolation and you are keenly aware of your responsibility to those in the car with you as well as those around you (Whether you can see them or not. You ask/wonder, is everyone okay? You must hold it together.). But you do not have time to ponder all the ‘what ifs’ and you cannot make any quick moves or changes (the results could be catastrophic).
To those that have never been in a situation like this of snowy white blowing flakes, to them it probably sounds terrifying. Others, it might have brought up some past feelings of the fear. The good news is in the end, while you are a little shaken, it is over. You made it through. You might find yourself asking, “How did we manage to get through that?” But God’s hand in it is clear and apparent. You are thankful you could trust in Him once again, you are grateful you could lean on your past experiences and His flawless record of faithfulness, and you are aware of the provision in the vehicle and heat that sheltered you from the cold and moved you along the path. You can now look forward to the sunshine returning to melt the frozen atmosphere and to warm and brighten your circumstance again. You no longer have the fears, doubts, and wonderings of the future and you once again have excitement in the new vision.
In the last four months, our family has been in a season so much like that of the snow drifted road, in which nothing is visible, you are thankful for the warmth and shelter, and you are looking for the sunshine to come again. It took us a long while to accept that we would have need to return to Pennsylvania, even harder the length of time we have been here. Our hearts have been broken from the time we have been away from our Haiti relationships and compounded by the news and stories we hear of the current day to day struggles (hunger, lack of resources, fear, death). When we got on that plane in May, we planned to make Haiti our home for the next continuous four years, with only the possibility of a short few return visits. Our time stateside has not only been because of Brian’s need for recovery, but also the viability of us living and working as we had been sent to do. The political instability had also given reasons to wait as we would be unable to move about even in our local area or for the boys to attend school on a regular basis.
UPDATE: We are happy to report that Brian has received his medical clearance and still continues to strengthen. He still has some of the chronic joint pain as well as the chronic fatigue, neither of which we have anyway of knowing how long they will exist before they subside, if ever. Both Ricky and Calen are doing very well in school, it has become a normalized routine and something they can depend on, they look forward to it daily. IM has recently approved our request to continue our home assignment over the next several months in order to allow the boys to finish their school year and not to be transferred again. It has been nice to visit some of our local supporting churches while we have been in the area and we are now able to make plans for the spring time. We are doing our best to keep our updates current, accurate, and informative. We realize there has not been a steady stream of daily or weekly updates, but that is the season we are in currently (unknown, taking it day by day, and nothing new or changed to report), much like that snow covered road, we are still getting over the unsettling and looking for the Son-shine to warm us and show us the way. Until then,…we continue to hold steady and wait, moving forward a little at a time.
But God has assured us of this:
Bottom line, not much has changed other than where we are currently sitting as His servants…
We would invite requests to share with you, your church, your region, or your mission groups. We can schedule within our available times for travel and spend time with our support network during our home assignment stateside through May. This will be on a first request basis and be subject to geographic travel plans while we work to maintain normalcy and routine for Ricky and Calen. As always, we are open to face-to-face meetings or utilizing technology for our connections.