Once home from my mom’s in San Diego on Wednesday, June 26, we had 36 hours before flying to St Louis to perform Meegan Williams and Ezra Talbert’s wedding. Unfortunately, this brief two-day trip was marked by “if it could go wrong, it did” in terms of air travel, and what should’ve been a easy 5-hour trip (Boston–Newark–St Louis) turned out to be a nightmare of delayed flights, a closed airport due to an emergency landing, canceled flights, and eventually, long after we had missed the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, we caught a flight into Chicago and ended up driving to St Louis at midnight, arriving at 4 am Sunday to make SURE we would be at the 11 am wedding.
With full hearts and tired bodies, we returned from Vietnam and enjoyed two days in Bedford prior to flying to Kona, Hawaii, for two weeks. Admittedly, as we flew over Hawaii as we traveled home from Vietnam via Chang Hai and Los Angeles prior to our final destination in Boston, we had second thoughts about the decision to return home for two days . . . but, at least one of us was happy with that decision. :) I love to be home at least occasionally.
In the two days we were home after our 2.5-week California tour and before we left for Vietnam, this sweet little gathering of “bleeding hearts” caught my eye as we walked through our neighborhood. It speaks to me of how the heart multiplies with love. I’m writing this as we journey home from spending just under two weeks in Vietnam, and this rings so true. Our hearts were so full of love and gratitude before we left on this trip, it was hard to imagine how it could continue expanding.
If it’s Wednesday, we must be on our way to Viet Nam.
And we are!
The three weeks between the end of our Uganda trip and the beginning of our Viet Nam trip were full! Shocking, I know.
As I write, I’m thoroughly enjoying this 14-hour Toronto to Seoul leg of the trip, as it is providing a much needed “break” following a fairly intense, post-Uganda pace. Our very generous Vietnamese hosts have ensured a restful, renewing journey to their land by booking us in business class, which is a euphemism for “hotel room in the sky.” We’re loving it!
When our trip to Uganda was canceled by my doctor last year due to my unresolved pneumonia, our already-purchased tickets had to be used within the year. But by the time we were looking to rebook them, we found only one 10-day span open before May 2019, so we had to settle for a very short trip to our beloved Mbale, departing Boston on April 2 and returning April 11. With travel days removed, that left us with 5.5 days fully open for ministry, so pack it in we did. As we fly the final leg of this long journey, from Frankfurt to Boston, and reflect on this past whirlwind of a week, we’re amazed at random “only God” moments of this very “short but sweet” trip. And we are oh, so grateful.
While California is showcasing the once-in-a-lifetime “Super Bloom” as a result of Super Rains this winter (officially ending the decades-old drought), we’ve been “Super Traveling.” Since my last blog post, written as we arrived in Kauai on Feb. 26, we have traveled 9000 miles by air, and driven over 2500 miles all over Southern California and Arizona. We’ve spent 35 nights away from home. We’ve spoken at three marriage conferences, one church service, two moms’ groups, been unofficial “counselors at large” at another conference, spoken 3 times at the Southwest Thrive Leadership Conference, spoken for a couples’ Date Night in La Crescenta, a Date Night for an Armenian Couples’ gathering, spent 7 days with my mom in San Diego, spent 6 “in between” days with Kari and Gabe and their three children in Santa Clarita, and spent a night in the hospital.
We’ve been Super Busy.
It’s been quite a month!! It’s good to catch our breath on our 13-hour flight to Kauai today, where we’ll prepare for speaking this weekend by having 3 days of R&R first. Just what the doctor ordered.
Our hearts are so full as we reflect on the past month and on the incredible ways we have been met by God at every turn.
The “Campfire” scented candle burning in our Great Room today fills my head with thoughts of summer camping, but the 20 degrees of mercury on our outdoor thermometer reminds me we’re actually in the dead of winter. Writing while in a window-wrapped room, I’m hoping that snow will dance in on this cold stage, but if the forecast is to be believed, there will be no such luck.
Sitting in Derek and Julie’s cozy living room next to a lit Christmas tree and a roaring (gas-fueled) fire in the fireplace, I’ve finally found the “pause” button. Truly, that button has been “MIA” for the past two months and it feels really good to carve out a few moments to reflect on the the past two months which have been on the huber fast track.
There have been years in which Labor Day weekend signals an abrupt end to summer as the crisp to cold winds of fall arrive as if in a hurry.
Not this year. “Dog days” describe most of the month of September and the beginning of October, as summery temps belie the calendar dates, and pools buttoned up for the season seem “missing in action” as the endless summer unfolds.
Our summer ended with huge exclamation points. Invited by our dear friends John and Marilyn Nugent to share their rental cottage with them in Ogunquit, Maine, we enjoyed the unusually warm ocean (67 degrees), fresh lobster off the fishing boats, and miles of walking on the Marginal Way and on the Ogunquit Beach. It was the perfect beach holiday, and we hated to see it come to an end.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!” Psalm 34:3
This verses aptly sums up the past month for us as we have been privileged to speak at 4 different family camp weeks. Though it should go without saying that the deepest desire of our hearts would be fulfilled by a reinstatement of our lifelong ministry at Campus by the Sea, we are so very grateful that our passion for encouraging and strengthening families through family camp found expression again this summer in four wonderful weeks of camp.
It all started at the H.I.M. marriage conference in 2011, when Sonny Vu and his wife Christy were introduced to us. In the years since, their journey has taken them back to their homeland of Vietnam and our knowledge of them has grown only through third party mention. The “third parties” began to mention that the Vus would be interested in bringing us to Vietnam for a marriage conference if we were game, and, in the words of Brian Reagan, “…and one thing led to another…” and on June 27, we were on our way to Vietnam!
Greetings from Viet Nam!! We’re not grounded anymore . . . and we’re so thankful that this ministry trip was given the green light by the interventional pulmonologist who is managing my health issue.
The cancellation of our trip to Ethiopia and Uganda May 22—June 13 was very disappointing on so many levels, but we leaned in to being home—for longer than we’ve been home in a really long time—and managed to get some things done that have been left undone for a really long time. Closets, desks, and the garage were all attacked with determination to purge the unnecessary and establish order . . . all of which I found quite therapeutic and Paul went along with. :)
It’s been quite a month! Within three days of returning from Lebanon, we were in the air again, this time to California. Our 2.5 week trip there was in jeopardy when a visit to my primary care physician revealed that the pneumonia (which had been diagnosed in late March, but which we thought had been successfully treated) was still alive and amplified. She reluctantly agreed to let me travel, if I promised to do only what I had to do, and rested in between. Armed with antibiotics and a sobering report from the radiologist, we headed west.
After almost a year of planning and anticipating, our two-week ministry trip to Lebanon is now “in the books.” We’re in the midst of flying home from Beirut as I write this, and one of the benefits of this long flight is the opportunity to process and ponder the past eleven days as we partnered with our Evangelical Armenian brothers and sisters in Christ who are serving Him faithfully in this often times unstable part of the world.
One reunion bled into another as we wrapped up the nuclear Friesen family gathering in Pennsylvania on Jan. 4 and flew to California to celebrate my mother’s 88th birthday with the Collins side of the family. All of my siblings were able to make this grand celebration and, including in-laws, grands, and great-grands, the final count came in at 33. Sadly, Paul was stranded in New England by the blizzard which suspended operations at Logan and Kari and her family were felled by the flu the night before the party, so they were unable to make it.