It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in my heart… (Philippians 1:7)
My sweet sister and her family of five are settling this summer into their new home. It’s a house with a pool on Pelican Lane, and being there in July is like being on vacation. I asked her last evening, all of us Andersons showing up for a swim – Are there this many people here all the time? And she confirmed what I thought. More often than not.
They moved in June and they’re still unpacking, but no one seems to notice or care. A steady stream of teens and grownups have been showing up in swimsuits most every day since the day of their closing. Stepping around wall décor in the kitchen and ignoring wet paint in the sunroom, just making a beeline for that paradise out back.
It was supposed to be Africa. Missionaries to Kenya, leaving this summer. A year or more we’d known they’d be moving; we’d prepared ourselves to say good-bye. It was just before Colombia the Hamanns shared news of their placement. Both of our families exchanging cultures and changing lives. All of us nervous and eager.
Then our new boys arrived and those first few months were crazy intense, figuring out language and emotions. Most of our friends not quite knowing what to make of us. But all of the Hamanns were arms wide open. And it was Kira especially who ignored the awkward and just planted herself firmly in the lives of these cousins, never thinking twice.
So when the news came last November and the door to the mission was firmly closed, I said it to Gina. Her own heart still heavy with disappointment. If you need a mission, at least for a while, I know these two boys…
But it’s not just them, and I know it now. It’s me who needed a missionary sister living close by.
It wasn’t easy, a move to the suburbs, hearts still in Kenya. What was God doing? Was this His plan? So many things about this felt upside down. From Africa to Pelican Lane. But I knew from the start, the difference between there and here was only location. Mission is mission. And for now you’ll be missionaries with a backyard pool.
Last night we walked neighborhood trails while reciting scripture. Gina still wearing the silver sage paint from the living room project she’d put on hold. I practiced Philippians while Gina listened and kept me on track. Her own heart knowing it word for word, Paul’s thoughts on the tip of her tongue.
And while we recited we told our stories. How God’s word has anchored our lives. This passage, that message, just what we needed at just the right time. And I think of her now, as I think of his letter. Paul’s mission and Gina’s – intertwined.
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:17)
Yes, Gina, I’m watching. You ARE my example. Living these verses and modeling Him. Tenderness. Compassion. Knowledge and insight. The fruit of your righteousness. Sacrifice of service. You shine like the stars in the sky…
For MY progress and joy in the faith (: