That’s what I thought about when I saw this skein of yarn on the side table. I guess it’s more of a pile of tangles than of loose ends (here’s hoping there is just that one loose end anyway!) … but it still seems to illustrate what I’ve been thinking about.
Normally, we think of “loose ends” as things that need to be completed or cleaned up – and thus tied up – before we call a project “Done.” That was kind of the thought that started this post, but as it turns out, we end up looking at the idea a little differently. I am realizing that loose ends are things we have to learn to live with: sometimes parts of life are left untied, and even untidied. Sometimes it’s easy – or even exciting – to have things feel open-ended, but other times, we long for conclusion.
One thing we haven’t done much of here at our virtual kitchen table is talk about financial specifics. Money can often make conversations turn awkward, and we didn’t want to make things like fundraisers and budgets a major focus. On the other hand, money was one of the very practical ways that God enabled us to be in Kenya for nearly 5 months, and how Ryan was able to serve at Bridgeworld College. We want you know to that God provided for our financial needs through many different people, giving many different amounts, and we are grateful for each one. Thank you for trusting God’s leading in our lives, and responding to His leading in your own lives by partnering with us financially. It was incredible to us to have people ask how they could give, and what they could do, and what did we need – and then to watch our needs being met, abundantly. Praise God for being our Provider, through His people.
We think we have received our final statements from the CRWM’s budget office, and we gratefully report that not only were all of our expenses covered, but there is even a small amount of funds remaining! What might these be used for? Well, that’s one of the loose ends – we don’t know yet! CRWM holds those funds in our name for a year, in case something else comes up yet related to our time in Kenya … OR in case a new opportunity to use them comes up for us! Stay tuned 😉 If we do not end up using them ourselves, they will go towards another need in a similar area or project. Be assured that your gifts were received with gratefulness and are used with discernment and care. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us a note (see above link 🙂 ).
Our support needs were not all financial, of course, and while it may sound cliche to say it, that doesn’t make it less true: we are even more thankful for those who prayed for us. Knowing that through the hard times, the easy times, the moments of confusion or the days of joy and wonder, that there were friends and family all around the world holding us up to our Father in prayer meant more than I know how to express. Thank you for being faithful to remember us, and to tell us that you were praying. Some people even took the time to write out some of their prayers and send a copy to us, which was a gift.
So here’s another end to leave untied – please don’t stop praying for us. The transition back to life in Iowa, and all that entails, is going reasonably well, most of the time … But there is still much to think about and process – and I refer not only to the piles of books and clothes that aren’t *quite* put away yet. We cannot think of our time in Kenya and specifically at Bridgeworld as merely a good experience which we can now file away as “been there, done that.” Even as we are glad to see friends and family again here in North America, we tearfully miss the ones we left behind in Africa. Even as we are excited about the work here, and the things we will be involved in, we wonder how the work there is going, and we are saddened to be so far away from it now. It’s a tricky thing, to have your heart in different places around this world, and all the while having our longing for heaven intensified by grief. We pray that God will continue to lead us, and to build our love for His church in Kenya, as well as here in Pella, Iowa. We pray that we will be able to use what we have learned (and are still learning!) through our months in Kenya to serve and glorify Him which ever continent we happen to be on. All of “this whole Kenya thing” has become part of our story, and God is still writing it.
Isn’t this a little bit of what this season in of the Church year called Advent is all about? A story still being written, and loose ends still hanging. We know that God came to us as a baby in Bethlehem to bring us salvation, and yet we are still waiting for Him to come again to bring it in full, aren’t we? And sometimes, the hard things in this world, the Aleppo horrors, the earthquakes in Indonesia, the drought in north-east Africa, illness or even death of our loved ones, the unrest in so many places – including our own hearts – feel like so many really really loose ends we are longing for God to come and tie up once and for all, like only He can do. It’s all too clear to us here and now that life is not all wrapped up, and certainly not with a pretty bow on top. Sometimes everything sad still feels so true. I remarked to my sister the other day that this year especially, the Advent season feels anticlimactic to me, and it is because of this: the ache of “already, but not yet” that we must live through. I need my head to remind my heart that the King is coming. Remembering that God fulfilled His promise to send the Savior once gives hope and faith that He will do it again, and for this we pray. Maranatha; Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth.