We’re going to try a few different things for our furlough this July – October. Here’s the rest of the list of things we’ve learned, some by experience, and some from wise, seasoned missionaries. The first three items were in our previous post, and the last four are here:
4) Intentional family time is important. Even if it’s just leaning back and relaxing over breakfast. =) We have a little family vacation planned while we’re in the States, and we’ll try to establish a daily routine over the months and to stay organized. Abi is pretty flexible, but she will have so many new things to process that she’ll need some things to be regular and consistent. Her parents would probably benefit from this too…
5) We have set aside 4 weeks with family: 2 weeks with the Floreens and 2 weeks with the Smiths. We’re not planning anything else for these weeks, except for speaking at our parents’ churches. Everything else we’ve left for our parents to plan, and we will be 100% there to enjoy time with our families. We’ve tried this and a couple other alternatives for spending time with our families, and this 2 week deal is the way to go. Even if the parents are close geographically, it doesn’t work to try to catch a meal here and there, to stay with them the first or last days of our visit (because we’re either zombies or frantically insane!), or to blindly hope that a weekend will open up to spend with them. It needs to be specific, intentional, and long enough that we can relax and enjoy the time together. It’s the only time we’ll spend with them for the next 2 years, and all three generations agree that it’s worth the investment.
6) Because our furlough is only 4 months, we need to focus more time on fewer geographical locations. We’ll be primarily in 3 locations: southern California, north-western Washington, and eastern Kansas. The majority of our time will be in southern California, and then we’ll be in eastern Kansas at the end of September, and north-western Washington the beginning of October. We’re still working on some of the specifics, so more details will come as we have solid plans – and airline tickets. But if you live in one of these locations, or within driving distance, we want to see you! Hopefully we’ll have some people to host and coordinate a few get togethers (hint, hint, want to host one?), and then we’ll let everyone know when and where.
7) We think it’s important to enjoy furlough. There is a downside to furlough, and that’s being away from our home in Malawi and all the things that are happening in the life of our church and the lives of our friends. However, furlough should be, as all of life should be, a time for us to glorify the Lord and enjoy His goodness and His good works. We have so many things to be thankful for in America! Family, friends, cranberries, fuel at every gas station, continuous water and electricity… In order to enjoy God’s goodness to us during our time in America, we need to be disciplined to get proper rest as well as consistent times in the Word and in prayer. It will be tempting to get caught up in the busy-ness of life in America, and because we’re not used to that temptation, it can sideline our walk with the Lord and our joy. That would be a shame, and a wasted furlough.
That’s what we’ve learned about furlough so far, and we’re sure to learn a few more things in the next 5 months. We’d appreciate your prayers during this time, and we’re already looking forward to seeing many of you… soon!