It's been a difficult but blessed transition. Difficult for a lot of reasons, some of which are "common to man" and some of which we believe are spiritual in nature. Thát is, we are trying to be faithful to God's call on our lives, and that comes at a cost. It did for Jesus, so it will for us. As Elisabeth Elliot puts it "All those who seek to follow Christ must have a personal encounter with the Cross". Here are a few of our struggles which you can be praying for us in, and the amazing golden thread of His love and faithfulness woven through it all.
Out with the old....
Some fun at the beach along the way...
We are settling into a new area of Tucson for us. This is actually the fourth house we've lived in since we first moved here ten years ago! We started in the northwest part of town, then central, then bought a house on the east side (which we still own but has renters in it), and now are renting our latest place on the west side. We were kind of hoping to move back into the house we already own on the east side, but the timing didn't work out and it was totally God! We are less than ten minutes from Gabe's ministry work with UIM Aviation and have found a wonderful little Christian middle school for Sam on this side of town, Faith Christian Academy. Anya and Ciara (and Asher!) are being home schooled, which is a stretching and growing experience for us all. Had we followed our desires and moved back into the east side house, Gabe would have a 40 minute commute every day, as he's had for the last two years, and all the kids would probably be in public school, since the schools are better in that district. But here we are, where God has placed us, glad we didn't rush ahead of what He had planned.
There are still some big questions, and we're getting the sneaking suspicion that the further we go with the Lord, the less He lets us in on all the details of His plan. It would seem that if we have all the details figured out, then we should be concerned that we are following our ideas. not His! But we are still human and its not so easy to "go with the flow" when we'd like to be able to plan the next step a little. And God wants us to be practical and make plans, but to be attuned to His direction and ready to change course if He asks, or right now, to "wait on Him."
1. Should we be applying for long-term missionary service with UIMA, the organization that Gabe is currently volunteering with? It is a big commitment, and just the application process is extensive. Followed by travel, much support raising, language school, and submission to a larger organization than the branch here. He is really enjoying the guys who are mentoring him there, both as a mechanic and spiritually. But we don't yet have peace or a clear vision of God leading us to serve long-term with them either here in Tucson or in Mexico. They do a lot of good work…and really want to expand into using helicopters in reaching remote tribal villages…and yet what we are hearing from God is wait. So we are are waiting. Pray for both us and the wonderful people at UIMA who would like to know our direction!
2. Where is our church home? If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know this has been a tough one for us the last two years. We really want to plug in and serve and be part of Christ's body in a local church….yet finding the right local church is not so easy. We tried where we were four years ago and its not a fit. We've spent about a month at two others, and neither of those are right either. Along the way we've been blessed with worship, communion, good Bible teaching, good Sunday school, youth groups, and Awana for the kids. Not to mention encouragement from brothers and sisters. But again, we want the Lord to decide where to plant us, not just to pick one because we are tired of looking. We also don't want to be "picky" if He is directing us somewhere! So this Sunday we tried #3 and will see if that is maybe where He has us. The waiting is hard.
1. Health Insurance: all of us but Anya have been approved for AZ state health insurance for poor people :-) . Anya has been denied because they overlooked the fact that she has a United States birth certificate and only focused on the fact that she was born in Ukraine. She is in fact a full citizen through adoption by American parents, but AZ states she is not through low level bureaucratic misunderstanding. We may have to go to court to prove this to a judge and get her health insurance. We have plenty of documentation, but its a matter of proving it to the government. And meanwhile she takes medication that is expensive that we are paying for out of pocket. Please pray this will be resolved quickly and justly. Thank God that she doesn't have any major health issues! Also, Sammy broke his "spare" pair of glasses, so please pray we can find an optometrist for him to see soon(who takes the state insurance) to replace them.
2. The Minivan: Gabe has been working incredibly hard trying to keep our old Honda Odyssey running and maintained and keeps running into issue after issue. Please pray for wisdom for him in getting all the leaks and squeaks fixed!
3. Stress: yeah, we are stressed. It's been a lot of change and we are only seeing a small piece of the Gods plan in moving us back here. Homeschooling is stressful and time consuming for me and I struggle to have patience with all the kids, but especially Anya. She has had a poor education until now and has never "tried" in school before. She is trying though, and I have to just focus on the small daily victories, not the "she's 15 and doing first to third grade work!" Ciara is very bright and quick, and I am trying to keep her engaged while slowing down for Anya. Not so easy! Sam is doing great in school, but he still has his days of strong will and conflict with us. Gabe and I have had more conflict as we are more stressed. We are working and praying through it, taking time to relax even when we feel we don't have it, and trying to TRUST.
A wonderful blessing has come into our lives in the form a of a new ministry opportunity with Tucson Refugee Ministry. They are a Christian ministry that works with local refugee relocation agencies to provide volunteers from the local churches who can serve and befriend local refugees and be the fragrance of Christ to them. Gabe has already volunteered moving furniture and fixing bikes while also teaching a refugee who spoke no English how to fix them with him! I am hoping for a ministry to the many pregnant mamas arriving in Tucson scared and alone, possibly a support group, not sure yet. I have been praying for an opportunity to use my labor&delivery nurse skills in ministry for several years now so I am excited to see what God is doing! We are also hoping to befriend some of these families and welcome them into our home and let the kids play with their kids, etc. Stay tuned!
Thank you for all your love and prayers and support. We serve a mighty God who is our strength and refuge.
Waiting on Him,
Gabe and Bonnie