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philly fun

Woke up this morning feeling a little sad.  We had an amazing day with some of our team members that are here in the States right now.  We spent the entire day on Monday with the Masso family, mostly hanging out at Aunt Linda and Uncle Fred's house as the kids swam in the creek and the adults (and RJ) sat in the shade and talked about everything.  There was also some baseball time and, of course, some swordplay for the boys.  ;)
(The boys had a great time doing boy things all night - especially with the walkie talkies!)

Then Tuesday we went to the Sending Center (WHM headquarters in Jenkintown) and said hi to some people there while they were in the middle of a week of A& O.  The exciting thing about this is that there are two new members of the team getting ready to go to South Sudan from this!  Yay!  It's a married couple, and we look forward to getting there and getting to know "Aunt" Theresa and "Uncle" Will better.  We also had the chance to finally meet our super patient and ever encouraging support raising coach, Jennifer.  After a year and a half of talking to someone almost weekly, it's nice to put a face to the voice!  Then we headed over to where the Massos will be staying as they are here and met Karen's family.  That evening the Massos, the McCloys, the Wallaces, the Reeds, and John Sender devoured pizzas, talked about team life, played a couple rousing games of Signs and Mafia, and just enjoyed each other.  It was a nice glimpse into the team side of things in South Sudan.

(Anna and Liana - hanging out)

So today feels like a bit of a letdown, as we drive away from the area and from so many people who understand where we are going, what we are going to be doing, how hard support raising is, and what it means to move to Africa.  (Many of those people understand much better than we do!)  It felt like we were a part of something again this week - like it was something we were walking towards instead of saying goodbye to.

And yet, even in the midst of it, there were some things that we had to let go of.  The Massos are leaving South Sudan in the summer of 2014.  They will still be a part of things happening there, as their desire at this point is to come to South Sudan on breaks.  (The school system is three months on, one month off there.)  Michael will be teaching Community Development at a seminary in Kenya, but still feels like he has some work to do in Mundri.  There is no real plan of action for how this will all work yet - flexibility is key again!  This was, of course, news that really affected us as a family.  The idea of moving to Mundri with another family that had kids our own children's ages was such a huge draw for us.  And the fact that we have so quickly developed wonderful friendships with them was just the icing on the cake about going back to Africa.  We have had to process through and mourn this loss of everyday relationship with them.  I am thankful that they have talked through all this with us and given us the chance to do this over time - and had the chance to do it themselves.  When we were first thinking about this, we wanted to pull away - we are all experiencing enough loss right now so why bother to invest in more friendships?  But God made it clear that was not the right thing, and I am so thankful that we have this wonderful family in our lives.  By the Massos being in Kenya during the school terms, it makes it more of a possibility that Anna could go to RVA if she desires, and that we would have a place to stay when we visit her there.  These things are all working in ways we would not have predicted, but I can still see his hand in it.

(John Sender showing love to John and Andrew.)

Soooooooo....this makes our goal of getting to South Sudan by the end of this year even bigger in our minds.  We really would love to have a few months with the Massos there.  We want to continue to cement some of these friendships and have another family there to help us navigate through life as a family in Mundri.  (The very scary thought just occurred to me that we will be that family for other families that come in!)  So I am asking you to pray for a few things:

1.  For our support to come in miraculously.  We would need huge bunches of it to come in the next couple months to get to trainings when they are offered.  Even as early as next month!  I don't know how God will do that, but I know he can!

2.  For the Massos - as they travel and talk about things with people here.  For relaxing, amazing time with family stateside.  For Acacia, as she is still at RVA and will have to travel here alone at the end of the summer.

3.  For the team in Mundri!  Bethany is acting as fill in team leader, and when she goes to RVA for a term, Larissa will fill-in for the fill-in!  Lots of transition.  There is also the fact that many of the team have terms that end around the same time.  Please pray for them and for new recruits.  (Know anyone???)

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the fact that South Sudan has been in the news again recently because of some abducted pastors and things happening in the Jonglei State.  Thank you for your prayers for South Sudan and the people there.  Thank you for staying up-to-date on what is happening.  That is not the state we will be in, so there is no need for you to worry about us or our team in this situation.  As we talked last night with the Massos, there has been no time of them being there (even in the middle of when it was becoming it's own country) that they felt unsafe.  I just wanted to put some minds at rest!  :)

Thanks for your prayers.  I know this is more informative and a lot longer than usual.  I just wanted to continue to communicate to you - our friends and family - on the things that are happening!  


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