We meet friends and acquaintances at some Salvation Army function in the Chicago area and we’ll get one of two greetings: “You’re still here? Any word on when you’ll go?” or, “So how do you like it over there? They let you come back so soon?” It’s become a running joke between Sandy and me to “bid” on the number of times we’ll be asked either of those.
To be certain, they’re natural questions, since we moved from our former appointments in Detroit, Michigan back in June and folks knew we were being sent to Papua New Guinea for two years. It just hasn’t happened yet. We were warned early-on that work permits and visas could sometimes delay the process – well, here we sit.
Our hearts and minds are prepared for this great and scary adventure, and the garage in our temporary home has a pile of equipment ready to ship to PNG. We’ve taken a couple of weeks of vacation to spend time with family before we depart, but we’re still waiting on final word that the paperwork’s been approved and our plane tickets have been purchased.
It’s been an odd feeling, these several months. We’ve actually got appointments (I sometimes write “Director of Support Services, Papua New Guinea Territory” at the end of an email just to get in practice), and yet we feel as though we’ve been sidelined. We show up to chapel at THQ and to visit a few people to take care of business, but we don’t have an office, a phone, a purpose.
The thought has crossed my mind a couple of times that it’s like we’re without appointment … we’re in a holding pattern, we’ve been sidelined. And it could get discouraging to think like that.
I’m reminded that in God’s providence, it’s all working together for good. You see, we’ve done anything but just sit!
Because of these delays, we’ve been present for one of the greatest blessings ever – the birth of our first grandchild, Landon Elijah Hartley! We were able to move our daughter Megan into her apartment at CFOT, and we got to attend her public welcome of cadets. We’ve spent a great deal of time and energy helping my father transition into an assisted living facility where he’ll get care and socialization and healthy meals.
When we were asked a year ago if we would consider taking appointments in PNG, we had no idea a grandchild would come along this quickly, or that my father would decide it was time to accept the help he needed. But God did, didn’t he?
Have we been sidelined? Absolutely not! Our Father knew that we needed time. Time to hold and snuggle that precious baby boy Justin and Stephanie helped God create. Time to sit with Megan in her apartment for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, and to learn all about the dreaded meta-narrative. Time to pour over legal and business affairs, search dozens of facilities, and move dad into a new, comfortable home with caring people to watch over him in our absence.
“The days I cannot see have all been planned for me. His way is best! You see, I’m in His hands.”