Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Finding Joy in the Journey

Part 1
Ninja Whinger Warrior

We arrived home on Saturday, after being away for over two months.  From driving up north of Thailand to then flying down south of Thailand, we then headed over to Sydney and Melbourne and then back to Chiangmai.  It’s been quite the adventure with a mix of relaxation and “working holiday” [now there’s an oxymoron!]

In the beginning of June, we could see our family holiday time approaching, but just making it over the finish line for the end of school felt like completing a round of Ninja Warrior (…with a limp) and many obstacles.

The day before school was finished for the year, our daughter split her lip open and needed a couple of visits to the local hospital. Then someone hit Dave on his motorbike and drove away.  And so, with food being baked for class parties, teacher gifts, friend’s gifts and all the final goodbyes; we started wondering if we were ever going to get on the road to go.

Heading up north, through winding roads, the complaints of swollen lips and feeling carsick were silenced by quiet prayers as the brakes on our car suddenly overheated on a downhill slope. We all held our breath and when eventually Dave cautiously proceeded (after letting them cool down) we hoped and prayed that we would make it on to our destination safely.

With the car brakes working again, we set off once more through the hills until finally we arrived at our hotel.  Glad to be safe and out of the car, we unloaded our bags and found our rooms, only to discover that the hotel was actually not going to be a suitable place to stay {insert sad face here}.

You can imagine how disheartened we were by now and so through language barriers and phone-negotiations with Agoda, the challenges of the Ninja Warrior obstacle course began again as we loaded our cases back into the car and set off once more to find an alternative sleeping arrangement for the night.

As the evening wore on though, it became clear that the car of Ninja Warriors had transformed into the Whinger Warriors with three tired, hungry and disappointed children who, by now, just needed dinner and to know that they had a place to rest their weary heads for the night.

What a great lesson in trusting God!

After finding a restaurant and ordering, Dave slipped out from the table and headed across the road vanishing into the darkness. Appearing back some minutes later with a relieved look, a room booked and a place to sleep for the night… we were all very thankful, to say the least. The next day we would look more carefully and book somewhere for the remainder of our stay but at least we knew we had a bed for one night!
Some highlights:

Part 2
Beauty and the Feast

Down south of Thailand is just so beautiful. Ironically, after our next booked accommodation did not work out either (a dodgy house booked through airbnb this time) but we stumbled upon a hotel on the beach with reduced prices because they were going through a major renovation. We were right on the beach and our room was far enough away from the construction that we couldn’t hear all the banging. The sand was just a few feet away and the place included a great breakfast too- thank you God. It really was beauty and the feast!!

With the exception of a few jellyfish stings on the first day: the beach, the weather, the food and the water were all amazing. We truly enjoyed our precious family time here swimming, boogie boarding, playing cards and just relaxing.


Part 3
The Roads to Rhodes

Our next destination was Rhodes for a mix of work-related engagements (speaking at two churches) as well as spiritual refreshment (attending the Hillsong Conference).  And, yes, we did see Justin Bieber!!
The weather in Sydney was cold but the sunny-blue skies made it appealing to be outside.  The amazing sights of the Sydney Harbour and the coast had us all falling in love with this part of Australia and of course it was fun to show the kids the Bridge and the Opera House.  The people who we spent time with at both Narara Valley and Kiama are all such wonderful, warm, generous and welcoming people. It was a blessing to have this time together.


Part 4
The Blizzard of Oz!

We’re off to see the Blizzard, the wonderful Blizzard of Oz! ♫

Well Sydney had helped us adjust a little bit to the winter weather, but the cold winds of Melbourne definitely felt like ice as we landed at the airport of our final destination.

“I've a feeling we're not in Kansas Thailand any more.” 

Home to so many of our friends and family, we were thankful for such a warm welcome with not only Dave’s parents there to pick us up but also one of our nephews, and Dave’s grandmother as well!

Throughout the four weeks in Melbourne, it was an honor to share with six different church groups, a youth group and a missions group.   On top of that, Dave also shared at six schools and met with several people who have pledged to help ZOE in significant ways. God is good!

Throughout all the bookings, we did manage to see family, have medical check ups, walk on the beach, go to the library, watch Australian TV (yes that’s a novelty for us) and eat way too much pizza!

Saying goodbye never gets easier!  There is some truth in the Wizard’s words to the Tin Man.

“You want a heart! You don't know how lucky you are not to HAVE one! Hearts will NEVER be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”

So, yes, we arrived home on Saturday, after being away for over two months.  From the north to the south of Thailand to Sydney and Melbourne but I must say, it felt good to be back home.

I’ll finish with one more Wizard of Oz quote:

“Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here…
and - oh, Auntie Em - there's no place like home!”

Thanks for reading and keeping updated with our family.  We do love your encouraging emails and messages. And please do stay in touch!

Melbourne Highlights:

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