Monday, March 14, 2016

About that time we were away from Tonga sooo long

Tonga, here we come!  What began as a 6 month trip back home to the US has turned into over 9 months away.  I'm afraid our Tongan will be rusty and our feet will be to soft!  But also glad to miss the worst of the summer heat, humidity, and cyclones.

Our visit back has been filled with weddings, funerals, mountains, new church gathering, Costa Rica dental work, and snow!!  The mess of emotions has begun as Chris and I consider the work and living adjustments waiting for us in Tonga, the family and friends who have become so close and given so much love here in the US, and the excitement of seeing all of our friends in Tonga.  We are also super duper excited this time around because God has brought us into a great church gathering these past few months who have encouraged us and will be supporting us with prayers.  This year in Tonga we look forward to the kids starting school at ACTS after 3 years of waiting and looking for land for a skate park and community activities.  It seems the warehouse we had put a deposit on will be needed for the Pacific Games in 2019 so we will be channeling all the funds we raised for the warehouse and tools into getting land and we will be free from the burden of a monthly lease.

Samuel Hafoka

We did some hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this particular hike was amazing and the longest climb I've ever done.  Once you get up to the ridge you walk for hours in the sky completely distracted by the endless views of mountains and valleys.  The climb and the descent get me.  Short legs combined with mild exercise induced asthma brings out the whiner in me (notice i said "whiner" not "winner). Feet get blisters, legs burn at first then seem go numb on the way down, while a layer of dirt and sweat slowly builds on my skin. On the way up I question why I'm doing this, and on the way down I wish it was over already.  I promise myself every time to never do it again and then memories of blue mountain tops lure me back in.  

I guess our calling to Tonga is someways similar.  Some days we wonder why, when it feels like we're just surviving in the tall grass, plastering a wall, or doing dishes in the rain when we could be building our careers in America.  Our plastic roof was ripped open and the few things we had left in the house were stolen.  So on our return we will be staying in a tent while Chris works to fix our roof.  It will be difficult, frustrating, the convenience of indoor plumbing and ease of being unaffected by the elements will be a distant but sharp memory.  But when I ask myself why?  Why do this time after time returning with just a few bags and a lacking bank account?  One of the reasons is: you.  We do it for all of you.  All of you who have sent messages of encouragement and stories of faith renewed.  The friends who have decided to take bolder risks for Jesus because of our story.  The friends who have become disenchanted with the American dream and looking for materialism to bring happiness.  Our dear families and close friends who support us and love us deeply as we do them.  And our friends in Tonga whom God has asked us to walk beside in this adventure.  So when we are digging the stubborn thick dirt, stuffing a leaky roof with clothes, shivering in the cold shower, or fighting off fire ants coming through the floor, we are strengthened knowing these trials are producing courage, endurance, and hopefully, faith in Jesus.  Reminds me of Paul in the Bible,

       "And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters,[a] that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard,[b] knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers[c] here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message[d] without fear."

Chris and I (and definitely our kids!) are not doing everything right, we make a lot of mistakes, we at times doubt God or his existence, feel numb, give bad advice, are stubborn, struggle with anxiety, and argue.  If you're looking for imperfection you've come to the right place!  But what i love about following Jesus is He can take these imperfections and make something beautiful.  Our following Jesus has been at times painful but I am beginning to see it was purging me so what remains can be a foundation to build something better.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." -The Bible- Romans 5:3

So don't give up and thanks to all of you have prayed and supported us.