Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Story of a Starfruit Tree

The starfruit tree across the street was in full bloom. The branches literally bending from the weight of the amount of fruit. The owner of the tree was not interested in picking the fruit, so the neighborhood kids picked its fruit. I would see and hear the kids from my kitchen window. The smallest one would disappear into the tree while the older kids gather the starfruit that fell. Now, maybe I was going through some culture shock/general grouchiness with the amount of transition I was/am/and continue to go through, but one day I watched the kids climb on top of the neighbor's fence. Looking back this came from a genuine place of concern- pick the fruit but don't climb on the fence. 

So I yelled," Get down! Don't climb on the fence!" 

The kids froze, probably wondering where this strange voice was coming from yelling in terrible Indonesian. 

They returned later that afternoon. 

I just watched from my window (I can completely relate to Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window) and the kids scrambled up the tree, on to the fence and on to the roof of my neighbor's house! I got some advice from my Indonesian friend. Pick all the fruit, don't climb on the fence, and for sure don't climb on the roof! Who is responsible if you fall and break something? ME!? Me and my 2 kids?! So I brought my cell phone outside with the message from my friend written in Indonesian. I tried to read the message to them but not look at the phone... they filled in the word for "responsibility", so I know they knew what I was talking about. The kids left, and about that time my new neighbor came home from work. 

I began to tell him how for several days the kids have been climbing the tree, climbing on his fence, and today climbed on his roof. He said," Ibu, this is God's tree so it's okay for the kids to have the fruit." I replied," Yes! I agree! Please, let them have all the fruit. I just don't want anyone to get hurt trying to get the fruit." 

The next evening before dinner we hear WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! 

I peek out the window...

to see the neighbors chopping off the top of the starfruit tree.

My heart sinks- this is not what I had in mind!

 Branches and starfruit cover the street.  Now no one gets the fruit, but no one can get hurt. We were already going on a little walk, so we took a detour to tell all the kids to run and collect the fruit that had fallen. We came back to see a semi-circle gathered around the tree and no one collecting the fruit. So I stepped in and handed the fruit to the kids. I'm sure everyone was confused, because I felt like I was the reason the tree was chopped down... maybe everyone else felt that way too. 

It was such a shock the way the "issue" of the tree was dealt with. For some reason it made an impact on me. I see this tree every day looking out all windows of my house. The top of the tree was chopped off, and it looked dead. God watered the tree. The tree grew and the buds of starfruit can be seen. 

The starfruit tree today

New fruit fell today!

It may sound strange but this tree is a symbol of my time living overseas- specifically over the past nine months. Often times it feels like we're starting over when we leave or return, like the top of our tree has been cut off. But God in His love and mercy waters the tree whether it deserves the drink or not. The tree survives the elements, once again only through grace, and eventually bears fruit. It's hard to leave or return (I'm reminded of that every month of May when friends and colleagues say good-bye) but God gives grace. His grace is shown in friendships that pick up where you left off. It's shown in forging new relationships with people who are walking along the same life path as you. It's shown in seeing my kids fall into routine here and thrive in making their own friendships with those around them. His grace is seen when Kate tries to use Indonesian even though she only says a string of random words like "Ibu Sambal Delapan" (Mrs. Hot Sauce Eight). His grace is seen at dinner time when my kids beg for more bananas, papaya or nangka or more soy sauce on their white rice. 

His grace is what makes me feel a level of comfort living here.
His grace makes way for the fruit. 


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MOPS and Roots Church

One of the most encouraging things about our extended furlough was being able to make deeper connections with those around us in Washington State. 

Years ago we were introduced to Derek and Anlee. They were new parents and had just returned to the area from living overseas. They were moving back to the area and were looking for jobs and a house. We met one time over dinner at Derek's parents' house. 

Fast forward to 2016, due to our extended time home I was able to get involved in MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) at our church. This was a really neat time of mommas getting together to hang out while someone else watched our kids! It was about 3 hours of great socialization for our kids, and honestly, a great time for tired moms to connect on an emotional level to other women who also spend their whole day trying to reason with a pre-schooler. 

This is where I "re-met" Anlee. She became an instant friend. It's rare to find someone who can relate to living overseas, not just going on short term trips. Finding someone who understands culture shock, the depth of loneliness you experience, and the wealth of perspective you gain is really difficult in America. Kate fell in between the ages of her two sons. We walked (not literally because we were pregnant!) the road of pregnancy together, and our daughters were born a few days apart. Her husband, Derek, and Josh grew up together. They were involved in a men's Bible study group and met weekly. 

So it only made sense that we invest ourselves in the church plant they were involved in. When we stepped in, they had already been meeting for several years- experiencing the birthing pains of a church plant. The group was meeting weekly in different homes. When we returned from Texas in February, the group announced they were looking for space to rent to launch Roots Church. God provided in incredible ways, making the next steps clear. A space was available to rent and open up services to the community. It was an exciting thing to see! On September 10 the church officially launched. That morning the sending church (Communion Church) had a time of prayer and sending out Derek, Anlee and their kids. Communion Church members were like proud parents! 

It's really difficult to describe the special place Roots has in our hearts. They came alongside us and ministered to us in ways they will never know. Our joy was renewed in being reminded of the importance of serving the Lord by serving and loving His bride, the church. We continue to pray for Roots Church, Derek and the leadership to be vessels of God's love to the surrounding community. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

August Photo Update

College friends and babies!

Road trip to East Texas


A visit to one of my favorite uncles in Texas

Traveling with Tigey

Washington, you're beautiful! 


Mount Baker

Warm Beach 5K 

Waterhose fun in Texas 

Mowing in tap shoes

Friends from Indonesia in Texas

Roots Community Service 

Solar eclipse 

Family in Texas 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

July Photo Update


MATA flight camp 

4th of July Parade


We saw this sign while camping. Showers? Wi-fi? 


Lavender Farm for Grandma Lu's Birthday

Kite flying 

Josh hiked with a friend 

Sending out newsletters and prayer cards

Helping Grandpa on the backhoe 

Trip to Texas

Pretend School- she's working in a real book and we "pretend" she's the student and I'm the teacher!

Fun with science and bubbles at the state park

J, E and E came to visit! 


Sunday, September 10, 2017

June Photos/Update

Here's what we've been up to while we wait for visas to be released!
Kate's first VBS

Kate's first trip to the allergist. She's allergic to dogs and cats. 

Kate's first 5K

J and G's birthday party 

J and G's birthday party celebration

Summer fun in Washington

Summer fun in Washington

10 year anniversary trip to La Conner, Washington

Anniversary walk to watch sunset

Anniversary sunset

Anniversary sunset

Anniversary sunset

Anniversary drive up Chuckanut Drive

Quick visit to Larrabee State Park 

Sasquatch sited at Larrabee State Park 

10 years! 

Propeller Training with Sony in Ohio

Visit to the Air Force Museum 

Josh and Sony visit the Air Force Museum 
Allie starts to roll 

Images by Freepik