We’ve finally arrived in Norway—Bergen, to be exact—and are loving every minute of the cool, fall-like weather in summer. In fact, as I’m typing this a beautiful fog silently crawls over the water and islands outside our window. The slow steadiness couldn’t be in more contrast to the pace of our lives since I left my job and we moved out of our house. It’s been a constant yet irregular rhythm with no routine and a million loose ends that needed to be tied each day. Finally, the to-do lists are all checked off (well, sort of) and the airplane tickets now mere stubs.
Yes, after almost two years of dreaming, praying, planning, praying, connecting, praying and preparing—all based on this driving sense of mission God put in us—we are finally here on Norwegian soil. Our first few days have already flown by as we’ve been staying with our dear friends, Lyder and Anne Leithaug, in Bergen. Saturday we ascended one of the city’s seven mountains (prophetic? Nah …) and took in the breathtaking panoramic views of this fascinating coastal city that blends modern and ancient everywhere you turn. Sunday we joined believers at a local charismatic church, Credekirken, took a walk through the neighborhood and fought off jetlag (we’re doing remarkably well so far on this front).
We’ll be in Bergen the remainder of this week, then head down to Stavanger to attend a conference at one of the largest evangelical churches in the nation, IMI Kirken. There we’ll connect with pastors and leaders from around Norway—something we know will be critical to our developing plans this year. We pray the Lord continues to open doors during our time there with divine connections, just as He’s done all along.
But before I get carried away with what we’ll be doing in the coming weeks and months—which we’ll highlight in future blogs—let me capture what we’ve been up to in the last few weeks.
The first half of July didn’t include much sleep as we worked hard to put our house on the rental market and deal with selling, giving away or storing most of our belongings. We headed to family in Birmingham, Alabama, without having a renter, but—praise God!—within a couple of weeks had renters living in our house.
The following weeks were split between Birmingham and East Texas, enjoying precious time with our families and friends—including living in an RV on our friends’ ranch and waking up to the sounds of chickens, cows, horses, dogs and who knows what else. Brayden and Xander had the time of their lives with their aunts, uncles and cousins; Amber stayed busy with family affairs; and unfortunately I had to work much of the time (I’m still working as a freelancer for Charisma, managing the magazine behind the scenes).
By the time we arrived back in Orlando for our final stretch, we were mentally ready to be in Norway; you can only say goodbye for so long until you’re ready to actually leave. But before our Thursday night flight, we were blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thanks to our precious church community. Last Sunday our sending church, One Church, prayed for us and officially sent us out. Obviously, this was meaningful enough for us; but what made it even more beautiful was how the Holy Spirit moved through the morning and made every word, song and part of the worship services point straight to Jesus rather than any person or event. It was as if our sending out was simply an extension of what Jesus really wanted to do that day, which was glorify His name and remind His people of His work not only in Orlando or even the U.S., but around the earth. This had been Amber’s and my prayer all along, so it was even more powerful for us.
That night the Spirit’s seal and blessing continued as a large group of our friends held an unforgettable send-off party for us at the Feeding Children Everywhere offices. There we were surrounded by people who have meant the world to us during our seven years in Florida, and we couldn’t have felt more loved, appreciated and blessed. It was such a humbling experience for us as they prayed over us, offered words of encouragement and blessing, and even committed to supporting us financially. We are truly blessed.
By the time our good friends Martijn and Amy Van Tilborgh, who have helped immensely during our transition and as former missionaries know all about our journey of faith, watched us board Norwegian Air flight 7052, we were beyond exhausted yet overflowing with gratitude. Gratitude to friends who blessed us beyond measure as we were sent off. Gratitude to our family for understanding the path we’re taking. And most of all, gratitude to the Lord for His faithfulness and leading throughout.
This journey is all about following Jesus, and Jesus’ heart is for people. So though I’m sure we’ll miss the “things” we’ve left behind—our home, the convenience of American living, Florida’s beaches—this journey is about people. Thank You, God, that it’s the people in our lives—both those we’ve left and those we have yet to meet—where You continue to reveal Yourself more and more.