Monday, September 3, 2012


Summer has flown by and so has my leave of absence.  Two months goes by amazingly quick, especially when you pack in visiting family, silent retreat, vacation, dedicated sabbatical time, and, oh yeah, buying a home that needs a ton of work!  I have been so blessed to have this time - time to take care of business with family, myself, with God, and with my kids.  I'm thankful to Partners Worldwide for allowing me to take this leave of absence, to the widow's group who helped me financially (as this time was unpaid and they recognized my need for this time), and for many of you who advised me and prayed for me before and during this time.   There were many changes that took place during these two months, some of which I will discuss this week, and some next week.

The "Before" picture
After...not quite done yet but getting there!
One of the major changes was buying a house.  Some of you  have asked me why I bought a house if I am going back to Africa.  The short answer is that it is time for us to have a permanent home again.  We moved three times in the last three months.  Noah said to me, "Mom, I can't remember a time when we didn't have to be out of a house by a certain date."  The longer answer also includes the fact that both Hannah and Noah are at Calvin, and need a home during Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, Spring break, the summer, and other holidays.  While my sister and brother-in-law have been gracious in opening up their home time and again, it's time for us to have our own space, especially with two Reeds in GR.  Both Hannah and Noah will also have the option to live at home (off-campus) beginning their junior year, which will save them money.  Not to mention the fact that everyone has been telling me that this is the time to buy - despite the fact that it needs a lot of work, we got a good deal on this house (of course, I hear Bob saying, "You get what you pay for:-).  Although when I first bought it, I was focused on it being a home only for the next few years while the kids are in college, that perspective has changed as the house has become a home.  In fact, Hannah said the other day, "Mom, can we stop referring to this house as a temporary home for the next few years and keep it permanently?"  We all need and want a home base.  And when all the work is done, I believe it will be a great home.  (If you look closely, you will see new windows, siding, new driveway, fencing, door and stoop...and that is just the outside!)
Noah being Batman on a jetski!

Another major change has been the empty nest - which, to be honest, just happened a few days ago, and I'm still processing it.  While it's true that being apart is not foreign to us because of our traveling, it's very different when the separation is more permanent.  For me, the idea of not having someone to talk to at the end of the day, or to look forward to seeing in the short-term, definitely takes an adjustment.  I believe that God has been preparing me for this loneliness over the past couple of years, but it doesn't change the impact of the new reality.  [Side note:  Contrary to some people's beliefs, I am not in Grand Rapids to settle down and find a new husband:-).  In fact, I still consider myself married and have NO desire to get into a relationship.  So for those of you who are lovingly praying for me to find a new spouse or subtly introducing me to single persons, please know that this is not on my radar at all.  I would love to write more on this at some time, in terms of the decision making process for this, but that is not for this blog entry.  I will be heading back to Africa permanently again in January.]

Noah giving character awards to camp kids.
Noah is very ready for college and had an amazing summer, working for the Spring Hill Day camp.  They do an excellent job, not only with the youth, but also in developing their counselors as Christian leaders.  He loved the experience and may want to do it again next year, despite the low pay
Hannah helping Noah in his dorm.

Hannah has also moved back into Calvin as she is serving as a "Barnabas" on her floor (something like the floor chaplain).  Both Hannah and Noah are in Noordewier-VanderWerp, where Bob used to be the Resident Director.  Hannah has promised to keep an eye on her little brother.

On Tuesday, I head back to work at Partners Worldwide.  I need to quickly catch up on two months of missed work and then in three short weeks (September 24), I will be leaving for Africa for five weeks, to visit five countries:  Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, and Liberia.  I will be back at the beginning of November, probably accompanied by a number of my West African colleagues who will be traveling to Chicago for the Partners Worldwide conference on November 8 and 9.  

More updates next week!