Saturday, February 7, 2009

Josh in Africa

I miss my husband. Josh left for Africa last Monday on a mission trip with four other guys from the church. It's been somewhat of a rollercoaster of emotions...excitement for him being able to see firsthand what God is doing in Africa...knowing how invaluable this experience will be to his faith and worldview...thankful he will be able to relay these things to our children. But, if I'm honest, the overwhelming and constant emotion seems to be sadness. I just miss him. I miss my best friend. My confidant. I miss being able to pick up the phone at any instant and call to say, "Guess what?!?" I miss hiding with Lily to surprise Daddy when he arrives home from work. I miss sitting on the couch with him and laughing at Luke's latest growling noises. I miss rolling my eyes as Josh flexes in front of the mirror. I miss hearing him get excited about _______ (Crossfit, guard dog, etc, etc, etc). I miss lying in bed next to him, hearing him say, “I’ll be right here if you need me.” (Sigh)

But it is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And my affections for the Lord have grown as well. I kind of think of it as fasting from my husband. (Just hear me out...) So many times Josh is my "go-to" in any situation. My first instinct is to take things to him, and often it stops there without even bringing it before the Lord. So this has been good. My communication with Josh is so limited, that I'm forced to confide in the Lord (which is probably how it should be. :) In a very small way, He is showing me that He is enough. He is all I really need. And that my husband is just an added bonus in this life.

Here is the group of guys Josh went with:

Matt Elkins, Jeremy Pace, Dick McFarland, John Wright, Josh
They will be in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Zambia visiting orphanages, encouraging the Smith family and evaluating long-term mission opportunities. Please pray for them and their families while they're away.

Here's Lily saying good-bye to Josh. I wish I had it on video. Right after she squeezed his neck, she kissed his cheek about 10 times. He loved it. :) 

I think leaving for this trip was so much harder for Josh than times past because Lily is now old enough to know he's gone. She asks about him in Africa and says that she misses him several times a day. I think that tears him up inside. But the call to go is greater than safety or comfort or even family. Josh goes into that a little bit in this email he sent out before leaving...

Family and Friends—
I am going because I believe. I am nervous and sad and excited and hopeful. Trust me, my emotions are pretty raw right now. Despite it all and because of Him, I will board a plane tomorrow afternoon for Africa. I am being stretched and forced to reckon with the chasm between my belief and my practice. All of this and I have not even gotten on the plane. Crazy.

Africa is a mysterious place that exists in the constant tension of joy and pain. It has endured unspeakable sorrow, yet the Spirit of Christ has seen fit to spark a revival throughout. I believe I will be confronted with both realities and that my heart will be changed. I am not, however, doing this alone. My wife and family are sacrificing as well. It is no small thing to be apart for 17 days. I am also travelling with 4 other men from the church: John Wright (elder candidate), Dick McFarland (elder candidate), Jeremy Pace (Director of Missions) and Matt Elkins (Missions Associate). It should be an incredible time for us to bond and experience the Lord together. When it is all said and done…we believe that Christ is better than life. This is a small way to walk out that reality.

I love you all,
jp

Josh also posted from Uganda on the Village blog here

5 comments:

Amber said...

Natalie,

I know we havent really gotten to know eachother much, but tonight when I was praying for the guys and emailing Vernon, I was thinking of you. So I got on andrea's blog and linked over to yours and read your post. I wanted to Thank you for letting your husband go and minister to the people my family has given our lives to serve. It moves me each time I hear of men and women who are willing to go and meet and minister to the sweet children in our orphanages and our friends all throughout Sudan and Uganda. So amazing! so THANK YOU!

While Josh is gone PLEASE let me know if you need anything. Andrea told me you have a good deal of family! GIRL, that is such a blessing. but if you ever need to talk or get nervous about anything please please don't hesitate to email or call. Vernon will be with the guys for 4 or 5 more days before they continue on to Zambia.

I remember the first trip vernon took after we had Justus (our second son) he was just 2 weeks old. The weight seemed so much heavier having two children. But God was so faithful. Justus is now 8 months and this is Vernon's 4th trip to Sudan...people always say..."your probably use to it now" but i never get use to it. I ALWAYS miss him. It is ALWAYS hard, but it is SOOO worth it! The Gospel is ALWAYS worth it!

I will be praying for you and all the other wives. Let me know if I can do anything!

Sorry this was so long!

Amber Burger

lauren w said...

in somthing Josh wrote about this trip he wrote something about you being a "quite courage" and it's SO TRUE! like you said i am sure this will be a growing time for you so that is exciting! let me know if you need anyone to watch little Lily and Luke to give you a break!

Christy said...

hey nat-
we will be praying for you and josh while you are apart. it is so hard when they leave, especially with kids and they are going far away. jordan was in uganda for two weeks this summer and it was the hardest it has ever been, having a child and having to do it alone. but it is so good for them to go (at least i have found) because it makes them into who they are and develops something deep that can't be done or found here in the united states. i get your "fast" from josh. it is good to draw near. love you guys!
christy

melissaj said...

I love what the Lord is teaching you during this tough time! Call me if you need me or want to hang out any time! I love you.

Aina Carruth said...

I can totally relate to everything you were writing about being truly dependent on God when your husbands are gone. It's crazy how that happens when we are desperate (not that you are, but that's how I feel at times with Caleb gone). So thankful for all that you are learning. I know that it will be a sweet reunion and it will be here before you know it! P.S. I love that you wrote about Josh flexing in the mirror.