Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fields Family Furlough 2015 - Week 2

Noun - an anchored float serving as a navigation mark, to show reefs or other hazards, or for mooring.

We are here, in Brookings OR, on the Southern Oregon coast.  And when I say on the coast, I mean it.  Some friends have given us their vacation rental for a few days overlooking a cove in the Pacific.  The views are just spectacular.  Because we are in a cove, and because we are near a reef, there is a buoy sitting, oh 500 yds offshore, swaying and ringing in the surf day and night.  It is one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard.  A deep ringing bass of a bell, that warns boats that they are nearing a reef.  A warning of danger.  A navigation mark to say “you are here,” as buoy is marked on the navigational charts of these waters.  The thing about it is this:  you can’t always hear the buoy, at least not where we are.  The surf and the noises of the day combine to drown out this important navigational marker and warning during the day.  At night, ah, at night, all is calm in this little cove and the buoy just sings us to sleep and continues to serenade us when we wake in the night – reassuring us that it is on watch and that all is well.  This buoy is an excellent reminder of what makes furlough a good and necessary exercise for us a family and for me personally.  You see, at the hospital, the “surf” and the “noise of the day” so often drown out God’s warnings and God’s navigational markers that I  miss them.  I don’t hear them.  And so, just like the nighttime here on the coast, being away from Balfate allows me to hear God’s warnings and see God’s navigational markers much more clearly.  “You’re getting near a reef (danger), steer away!”  “Sit down and look at the map – you are here.”  Having time to stop and consider what things I need to steer away from and where “I am” with family, my responsibilities, relationships – it is valuable beyond words.  I’m sure that we all need times like this.  Furlough allows us to build them into our life as missionaries.

And so, as we consider week two of our eleven week 2015 furlough, I thought it might be good to take some time each week and expound on why we do furlough.  The buoy isn’t necessarily the most important reason, it is just the one that came up first in my mind last night as I woke up and listened to the bell that I hadn’t heard most of the day. By the way, my final analogy on this topic is this:  I hear the bell more now, on the second day because I heard the bell last night, when it was quiet, and I know what to listen for.  I pray that as I return to Honduras and to the crazy chaotic life that we lead there, that I’ll hear God’s warnings and navigational messages better when I get back because I’ll know better what to listen for. 

I’ll end with a quick report on week 2.  We left Northern Washington and headed down to the southern end of Washington (Vancouver) near Portland.  Week 1 ended with the incredible privilege of being included in the huge Johnson family reunion at Big Lake WA and being adopted for a weekend by this wonderful family.  Week 2 began with a trip to see my mom’s oldest sister, Aunt Sarah, in La Conner Washington and my cousins Billy and his wife Norma.  We really enjoyed our brief visit with them and stories of my mom, who passed away in ’95, and my grandparents.  The majority of week 2 was spent with another amazing couple, who are the sister and brother in law of our dear friends John and Penny Alden.  We toured Portland.  I met with several contacts regarding new funding sources for the hospital.  I worked one day. We had an amazing homemade Mexican dinner one night with our sister in law Patsy’s side of the family.   We had a wonderful Argentinian supper with a family that had been down to the hospital a couple of times.  We then moved down to Jacksonville OR for some quality time with our “family” from Jacksonville Presbyterian Church.  Dr Rich Owens and his lovely wife Stacey are our hosts for the end of week two and part of week three and they have provided yet another sanctuary home for us to stay in and just relax and enjoy ourselves.   More on week three and more reasons why we do furlough in a few more days.  May God grant you the peace to hear the buoys that he has set out for you in your life!   

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fields Family Furlough 2015 - week 1

Fields Family Furlough 2015
18 July, 2015 from Big Lake in Mt Vernon (Northern) WA

There is so much background here that I don't know if I want to take the time to tell or that anyone would find it interesting.  There was the really challenging part of finding a car in Kent WA and a person (a friend of a friend) who was willing to let us send him the money and then buy it for us and then meet us at SEA-TAC when we flew in, who turned out to be pretty quirky and made for lots of (now) funny stories.  There was the crazy stress of trying to buy three round tip tickets and one one-way ticket for Mariah and keep all of us on the same departure fight and even get seat assignments next to each other. 

There was so much emotion surrounding our departure.  This was Mariah leaving her home and heading off into the brave new world of adulthood.  There were the months before leaving in which we tried to let go of Mariah more and more, encouraging her to make more of her own decisions, and sometimes really regretting some of the decision that she made.   There was the hard task of leaving well for Mariah and of reconciling with some of her friends and working through the leaving process.  We are really proud of her in the way that she left and we’re just so thankful for way that he friends said goodbye.  It was deep and real and hard and messy and good.  And hard. 
Finally, for me, there was the stress of just trying to get so much done before leaving. I had one project that I was working on that blew up on me and took 3-4 times longer than it should have.  I was closer to “losing it” then than I have been in a very long time.  I was beyond frustrated and beyond tired.  I think, in many ways, we all left tired and stressed.  That’s what makes this first week such an incredible blessing. 

We've been in the Seattle area.  Staying with friends who’ve now become good friends, amazing friends, lifelong friends, I think.  This family has opened up their home (hard) and their lives (much harder) to us in a way that has just been so humble and for which we are so grateful.  They live in a beautiful place in this beautiful northwest.  The scenery and the weather have just been so perfect!  We have eaten so many berries that I think I’m going to turn red!  We’ve roasted hot dogs on the beach at Puget Sound; we've toured downtown Seattle and the famous Pike Fish market.  We've had the best coffee in the universe - not Starbucks - we've sat quietly, with coffee and blankets, and watched pine trees and hardwoods sway in the breeze.  The peace that this week has brought has been a gift from the Lord.  Sure there have been arguments and sure there has been tension – we a family with two teenagers with four big suitcases staying with friends and traveling for eleven weeks, the difficult stuff will be there.  But that is not what you remember, you remember the pines and the hardwoods and the blankets and the coffee and more than anything you remember the sense of families and homes opening up to you because in the Kingdom there are no strangers.  There is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and in hospitality and Christianity go hand in hand. 

We've seen old friends and been the recipients of some of the most lavish hospitality.   We've enjoyed an authentic Argentinian Carne Asada (pretty much the best beef I will ever eat in my life) and a Wonderful day with Leon and Judy Greene, former LDL missionaries and our old neighbors on the hill in Honduras.  Leon and Judy hosted an evening at their house in which church friends and neighbors came over and we showed videos from the hospital and talked about the ministry of Loma de Luz, something we want to do a lot of on this trip.  We talked about the solar project and pray that some of the connections made will result in God’s kingdom being furthered in Honduras.  And now, the family that has been hosting us this week has brought up to the family patriarch’s home on the lake and allowed us to be part of their annual family reunion and what a reunion it is.  There are over a hundred gathered here on the side of the lake, water skiing, playing baseball, eating and visiting and getting caught up with each other.  It is a blessing beyond words to get to be a part of it.  To get to see this American dream being lived out right before our eyes.  It all started when a Swedish couple had the vision and guts to immigrate to America because they knew that they could make a better life here.  They were right and now hundreds of their descendants live a life of freedom and opportunity and safety because of what they did.  I’m so thankful to see and to be reminded, today, of all that is right about the USA , and to be in a place of peace and blessings.  It is rubbing off on us and I can feel the stress of the last few months beginning to peel off of me.  It is time to move forward now, into what the Lord has for us this next 10 weeks and some 3,500 miles.  He has great things in store for us as move towards Nashville and Mariah’s new home.  I’m so thankful to be on this journey.  Thank you Lord.