Most of our friends have followed our pictorial journal via our Facebook page, but here is the full recounting of the last 2 months because – many asked for details! We packed up our belongings, and despite several setbacks, the POD was shipped out on October 23rd, bound for Arizona. (1) We weren’t able to fit everything in the POD, so our departure was delayed while we struggled to make other arrangements. Our generous friend, Nancy, in Sarasota, opened her home to us to stay several nights. ♥ Our lengthy journey began with a late evening departure on the 25th and we drove through the night to Atlanta. Bill’s daughter (2) and sister live there, and we were hosted by Patricia’s closest friend and her family who provided a joyful respite from the stresses and work of moving. We then traveled back south to Tallahassee to visit Patricia’s sister, Carol, and her husband.
(With whom, as a side-note, Bill attended the Global Leadership Summit earlier in the month. He highly recommends attending this event!)
We shared a brief visit with Carol’s son who is a pastor and is starting a church plant in downtown Tallahassee. They are currently meeting in a coffee shop, and here’s where we give a shout-out to Redeye Coffee for their commitment in giving 100% of their net profits to world missions! The visit was, sadly, far too brief as we had to honor visiting hours at a nearby prison to see an incarcerated friend there.
We drove from there to the Pensacola area to spend a few days with other members of Carol’s family. One niece took us out for a delightful tour of the area and walk by the river, while the other provided us with gracious and generous hospitality in her home. What a joy to spend time with our great-nephews, attend one of their baseball games, and to be treated to a sunset boat ride by our nephew-by-love. (3)
From Pensacola we traveled through Alabama and Mississippi into Louisiana. (4) As we approached the New Orleans area, we were invited spontaneously to dinner and to spend the night by a former host and sponsor of Patricia during her many years of music ministry with the Celebrant Singers in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. What a special time for them to reminisce and share after so many years! We are so grateful for their provision and hospitality.
We were lovingly sent on our way to our next planned destination – Houston, Texas (5) to spend time with another of Patricia’s past host families from those years on the road. Those on Facebook may sometimes see comments from someone who refers to herself as “your Texas Mom”. She and Patricia enjoyed a trip down memory lane as well as sweet memories of her late husband. We were also given a tour of the devastation caused by hurricane Harvey. It was hard to comprehend as we drove through some areas that the water level at that time had risen to 10 feet above the road we were on!
From Houston we headed north to Dallas. There, Patricia got to visit the Bible college she had attended after high school, Christ for the Nations.
She holds precious memories from those years of her growth in Christ and the deep relationships forged with her roommates. This seems hard to believe, but the campus really hadn’t changed much in appearance at all! They did add a
FABULOUS Earth History Center to the campus, which is actually a museum celebrating the Biblical account of creation. (6) We were blessed to “just happen” to run into one of the men to whom God gave the vision for the museum and he took the time after- hours to share details with us and even to pray and speak an inspired word over us. We were enriched and deeply encouraged.We then drove just north to
McKinney to reconnect spontaneously with one of those Bible college roommates who Patricia hadn’t seen in…. over 30 years. (7) (uh – for the record – that’s frightening to recognize and say!) We cannot say enough about how we were able to rest our bodies and souls with these friends. In addition to their offering us a place to stay, they gave us the gifts of time and space and freedom to rest and really unwind. Patricia was even able to cook quite a bit, which you all must know she LOVED after being out of her kitchen for so long! One night turned into three… with blessed sharing of hearts and stories and trials… and prayer. It was ALL GOOD.
Then came the looooong hours past the windmills and cotton fields of Texas. (8) We had no personal connections for places to stay in the direction we were headed. So we reached out to the body of Christ and were connected with a man in Lubbock who is part of the online body of The Superior Word church in Sarasota. God had a good reason to connect the threads of our lives in His tapestry that day. Then through him and an anonymous
donor, hotel arrangements were made for us right there in Lubbock. We were very grateful and enjoyed a “date night” together that evening. We really liked what we saw of the town and were sad to have to be on our way the next day. (9)
That day again brought the question of where we would be sleeping as we traversed New
Mexico! (10) And, again, the Lord provided through the family of Christ. A kind couple, friends of friends, provided us with dinner as well as a place to sleep for the night. The mountains and vistas in Las Cruces were breathtaking and we saw coyote and hawks and a fox along the route.
We left the next day on our final leg of the
journey (11) and arrived in Phoenix on the evening of November 8th after a very long drive and a stop for dinner in Tucson. We were lovingly received by the Founder of Mission ONE and his wife and stayed in their home for the next couple of days. The Mission ONE staff also received us with open arms and hearts and held a special welcome lunch for us.
Here we have to also marvel at God’s provision while we began the search for our new place of residence. First, Mission ONE was given the provision to put us up in a hotel as needed through the end of the month. Then, life-long
friends of Patricia’s sister, Donna, live in Chandler, just south of Phoenix, and they made themselves completely available to us for help in any way needed as we walked through those challenging days. They gave us complete access to their home to come and go… cook in their kitchen… invade their hearts and lives! We love you, Don and Regina! They gave us counsel… rest… love… and constant encouragement. We
never could have anticipated that our house-hunt would require so much time and energy. The rental housing market here is extremely difficult right now, and finding housing that fit our furniture and met our needs proved to be exhausting, frustrating and challenging. However, there were many blessings at the same time. We enjoyed great times of fellowship and bonding with ministry leadership… We were included in the Schindler family Thanksgiving celebration… Patricia found creative ways to cook some of our favorite comfort food in the hotel room (12) and we attended home group and church services with Don and Regina at Evident Life Church in Gilbert. (13, 14) We immediately felt connected there and were deeply blessed and ministered to by the fellowship, the worship and the teaching of the Word. We love the vision of the church, “A
people of PRAYER, pursuing God, and loving others.” and our hearts resonated with all that we heard as we attended 2 sessions with the pastor to dig-deeper. We would love to make Evident Life our local church home, but the place we have found to live – is 41 miles northwest of there! So… we need to know God’s plan in this… where He wants to connect and grow and serve. We are willing – but it’s hard to be super-involved as we’re used to when it takes an hour to get there!
We stayed with our friends in Chandler the first week of December from the time our hotel stay ended until we were able to find an adequate place to rent. Evident Life sent a team of men to help Bill unload the POD and carry furniture up FOUR FLIGHTS OF STAIRS into the townhouse! (15) God is GOOD and we are so grateful for the assistance of the
body of Christ both here, and all along the way as we’ve been on this journey. While there will be no Christmas decorations for us this year as we unpack, we were able to enjoy the beauty of tree and lights at our temporary home with Don and Regina and we shared a beautiful Christmas dinner and celebration evening with the staff from MissionONE. We are SOOO READY to cease being transient and to get settled and really begin this new chapter in our lives here in Arizona! Our hearts and bodies are weary… but expectant.
For all the above…. WE ARE THANKFUL.
To the thoughtful friends and members of our home church body at Calvary Chapel Sarasota who sent us Christmas cards to our new address – you brought us tears of joy and a breeze of Sarasota air. (If only some MOISTURE could have come with it!)
Pastor Carl and Pastor Jim – Calvary Chapel Sarasota – your encouragement of us from the start to follow this path meant so much; your prayers and counsel and financial support have been inspirational.
Charlie Garrett – Superior Word church – your support has been avid, and persistent, and astonishing, a real lifeline and a transfusion of encouragement to us.
Chris and Kristan Thostensen – Faith Community Christian Fellowship – you have become true friends and have endeared yourselves deeply into our hearts. We are profoundly moved by your coming to our home to pray over us, for the last-minute details you took care-of for us, and for the TIME and HEART-SHARING you poured into us.
This has not been a comfortable transition, but in obedience to God – we press onward in this new venture, despite the adversity already encountered and the inevitable that will come. As our founder at Mission ONE always says – “God is WITH US and FOR US.”