Hi guys! This is the third of 5 posts. If you haven’t read the first two, please do that now! You can find them here:
Two and a half weeks with family, the conference, and a few traveling days in between, by the time we arrived in Denver, we really only had about two and a half weeks left in our trip. There we so many people we wanted to hang out with, places we wanted to visit, food we wanted to eat! (Have I mentioned how much we’d missed the food?). Because we didn’t have a ton of time, almost every day was packed full! We were meeting up with two, three, sometimes four people or families each day. We also had a few churches we visited, and because we knew there just wasn’t enough time to see everyone we wanted, we planned a couple things that people could come to, just to catch up.
It was strange being back in Denver. I’d grown up there most of my life, and apart from the five or six years Branden and I lived in Texas right after we got married, our family life was all lived in that area. During our visit, things seemed familiar and easy, like being in a house where you know where everything is. You just do what feels normal, and you don’t have to try so hard. But it didn’t feel like home anymore.
The boys were constantly pointing at things and saying, “Oh remember that? Remember when we used to go there? Or when we did this or that?” I was constantly trying to gauge how they were doing. Were they sad? Or happy? Or both? Visiting the States after living on the mission field, even for just over a year, everyone is so happy to see you! They want to hear how you are, what the Lord is doing where you’re serving, what adventures you’ve been on! What are your struggles? What have you learned? It was honestly a joy to share everything we’ve gotten to be a part of so far in Ireland, that ministry is going well and that the Lord has given us such a great community here in Cork! I think at some point towards the end of our trip though, Branden and I realized, all the attention had just gotten to be a little too much for the boys. They just wanted to be with friends that they missed, to run around and play video games and talk about normal things.
We have some great friends in Denver with two boys of their own – one a little older than Silas and one a little younger than Ethan. Our boys all love each other, and they took them for a two-night sleepover. Definitely a highlight of our trip! They got to do some really fun things and just enjoy each other’s company for a couple of days. I’m so thankful for friends who love our family well, who get it, and encourage us in real ways!
Being with our sending church was such an encouragement too. It feels so different from our church here in Cork, and yet both seem like what constitutes a sense of support and home for us, just on opposite sides of the world. Calvary Aurora is where we grew for so long in faith and faithfulness, serving with pastors that truly loved us, walked alongside us through so much, and sent us out into mission work abroad. They are family!
While we were visiting, we got to give an update there. After sharing a bit about what the Lord is doing here in Cork, the leadership prayed over and laid hands on Branden, officially commissioning and recognizing him as one of their ministers and missionaries. It was such a great honor!
Another big part of our time in Denver was hanging out with my cousin, Ian, and his family. Ian and I are less than a year apart, and our families lived together until I was nine. I love him and his wife and their beautiful, growing family! A few months before our trip, they brought home a new baby boy via adoption! Things are still being finalized, but it was a gift to get to be with them and Baby E, to sort of be there for the beginning of his story, to hold him and see my cousin and his wife being parents to a newborn. They’ve been through a lot lately, even more so than normal, but it’s a blessing to be part of their lives, and I’m really grateful for the time we had with them while we were there.
Six weeks seems like a long time, but it really isn’t. In a way, I think we were all ready to head back to Ireland, maybe because we knew going into the trip, we’d only be there for a certain amount of time. We’d somehow prepared ourselves.
Packing suitcases, printing boarding passes, eating dinner with your family…somehow it all feels fine and normal…until you are driving to the airport. Then it’s real.