Tomorrow morning (Friday) we begin our trek home to Medan, Indonesia. For the last three weeks our family has been in the US so Gena, Mika & Caedmon could attend the LCMS Youth Gathering in Houston and I could spend some time reconnecting with some partner congregations. We were also able to spend some time with family which was an unexpected blessing. It’s been an incredible three weeks and as we expected the time flew by.
I was blessed to visit with Crown of Life Sun City West. Pastor Phil was quick to extend the invitation when he heard we were going to be back in town. So I pulled my wrinkled alb out of storage and preached for the first time in over six months. It felt good – though I can’t vouch for how it felt to my hearers!
I preached Saturday evening and Sunday morning, and we were able to share at Bible Study Sunday morning all that has happened in the past almost-year since we were last with them in September of 2021. Well, at least a Readers’ Digest version! Lots of good questions and time well spent.
In total I drove close to 1000 miles in a week. I visited with Good Shepherd Lutheran in Kingman, Arizona as well as Grace Lutheran in Henderson, Nevada. I really enjoy spending time with God’s people in various locations, and now it’s even better because there are familiar places when I re-visit places!
Gena and the younger two really enjoyed their time in Houston at the LCMS Youth Gathering. Having served in older congregations, this was the first time our kids were able to experience this, and I think it’s safe to say they were impressed. We were one of two families from the Southeast Asia region of OIM. There were also two families from the Latin America region and two from Africa. This formed the cohort or group from OIM. We were only able to do this because of the generosity of partners and those who donated to OIM specifically to make this happen, so thank you very much!
They participated in daily topical sessions as well as a nightly large-scale even held at the Houston Astros’ stadium across the street (Minute Maid Park). Mika volunteered to be interviewed by KFUO, and even got up extra early one morning for the event. If you’d like to listen to the interview you can click here. Mika appears in the second half of the program. She enjoyed the experience!
Gena was able to connect with friends serving around the world, including the Cimas serving in Cambodia, and Rev. Chris Asbury who pastors in Norfolk, NE. Both guys were classmates of mine in Seminary.
One of the unexpected blessings of our time back was very sad in nature. Gretchen Trinklein, who served in South Korea with her husband and family, passed away after a year-and-a-half battle with malignant brain tumors. We were able to meet with the family during our wait for deployment earlier this year, and it was a blessing to see her faith and trust – as well as the honesty of her struggle. Truly a glowing sister in Christ. She passed away in June, and her memorial service was in Phoenix last weekend. We were able to gather with her friends and family and church community to of course remember her life, but also to give thanks to Jesus for his promises to her in her baptism, and to be reminded we will see her again! It was truly a celebration that permitted the presence of sorrow but also demanded we turn our attentions as well to the joy we have now in part and will one day have perfectly forever.
Now we turn our attention to the final details before departure. Gathering documentation, scouring the Internet for final verification we’ve successfully fulfilled all the necessities of travel. Indonesia last week changed their policies on domestic travel and require Covid booster shots. Those who are fully vaccinated but not boosted (like us) need to take a Covid test upon landing in Jakarta. Once we test negative we can continue our journey by plane to Medan.
However our original flight arrangements didn’t allow enough time to get the testing done (since it wasn’t required when we made our initial arrangements). We were able to bump our flight from Jakarta to Medan back a day to Monday afternoon instead of 7am Sunday morning (we arrive in Jakarta at midnight, Saturday night!). That should give us enough time to get our tests done. Prayers that we all test negative (as well as for safe travel in general!) are appreciated. If one of us tests positive we’ll need to spend the week in quarantine in Jakarta, so we’re praying that doesn’t happen.
I think that’s it for now – today I’m sending out our overdue (again!) newsletter. Thank you for your patience!