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Highlights of Home Assignment

We are wrapping up our time in America, and as we do we are so grateful for the time we've had here.

One of our highlights was being able to be in-person in a worshipping community at our sending church in Dallas. It is a totally awkward thing to drop in and try to start up a rhythm of daily life in a community that we've been gone from for years. But when we return tired, particularly after the unusual isolation of COVID, we longed for community. And in the end, fun temporary community developed this semester, and it filled our needs for friendships and encouragement. Both Isaac and Kacie attended a Bible study at our church, studying scripture with the body is strengthening and encouraging.

Our girls developed friendships in the local public school, and many of the school kids also lived in our apartment complex and we built relationships on the playground and playing football on the lawn. Judah made friends in the homeschool community, and Kacie really enjoyed getting to know other moms in those circles. In those real relationships and and in getting to sit down and chat with many old friends, we come away refreshed and joyful.

Some of our favorite things are the amenities of America, dishwashers and grocery stores, frozen pizza, bagged salad, and applesauce. Even though we were staying in an apartment, the apartment had closets in every room, and houses in Papua do not have built in closets, so we actually felt like we had more space here! Since we have to do a lot of traveling to see our friends, family, and ministry partners that are scattered across the US, we found we craved the stability of our own space and daily rhythm in one place. We were really thankful that we managed to get enough time in Dallas to have the kids in school for the semester, although that really limits the amount of travel we could do.

Our kids loved the playgrounds around us, and we bought them each a scooter that they have scooted around on constantly, including to and from school on the days when one of us was using the car. One of our favorite things was learning to roller skate at a local 80's style roller rink.

We all loved the community of kids in our apartment complex, with the girls practicing gymnastics with other girls, and Judah learning to play football from the boys. We had really great conversations with people about family and faith and life, and will miss it all!

On the recommendation of a few friends, Judah joined a martial arts program run by a homeschooling family, and it was amazing. Judah did so well but we also just enjoyed the fun fostered there. They encourage discipline and respect for authority as well as martial arts skills. Through that program and one day a week at a co-op program, Judah came to understand what dyslexia means for him compared to other kids, how to explain and advocate for himself in group settings, and also was able to see other special needs and have empathy.

We also LOVED and just reveled in the changing seasons. We made autumn leaf angels and learned how to wear long pants and actual shoes (rather than flip flops). The kids were so excited to try a corn maze and hot apple cider on a cold day. We haven't seen any snow and the forecast for our final weeks doesn't sound like there is any still to come, but our kids went sledding on frosty hills, and we've loved driving to see Christmas lights and gathering with family for the holidays.

If you ask our kids if they like being in America and if they are happy to go back to Papua, they will say yes to both. They like that it's always warm there and that it's cold sometimes in America. They have loved their extra curricular activities but are excited for the wild and free life in Papua. The girls appreciated their school but also say they want to be homeschooling again.

All in all we are so grateful for time in the US and with you all, but also are ready to return to Papua for three more years!


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