Let me start by apologizing for my hiatus from blogging and thanking those of you who keep checking this page without finding anything new of interest.  I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible pace of change in my life right now, and equally overwhelmed by the knowledge that this pace of change probably won’t slow down anytime soon.  This has been a great time of faith-stretching, and I’d like to share with you a couple of ways that I’ve seen God work directly in my life lately.

This past Tuesday we packed and sent off a shipping container with our personal belongings that we wanted to bring back to the States.  We found that we had quite a lot that we want to keep—books, pictures, and furniture.  We’ve had a good bit of furniture built here in West Africa.  Not only is it 100% hardwood, which we’re told is almost impossible to find in the States, but we also think that having some things from our African home in whatever new home we end up in will give a healthy feeling of continuity between our present lives and what they will become.

We were sharing the container with two other families who are also leaving West Africa.  When we began to look at what they were wanting to bring back and what we wanted to bring back, it became very difficult to see how it was all going to fit into the forty-foot container that we had reserved.  We kept packing, and kept finding more stuff we wanted to keep.  At the same time, we began to think about the things that we would leave behind if all did not fit.  We became increasingly certain that we would be making those tough choices, praying—perhaps with little faith—that we would not have to.

The morning that the container arrived in Tabligbo, I was shocked when I saw how big it appeared to be.  When I read the measurements that were posted on the outside of the container, I saw that it was over a foot taller than what we had expected.  To make a long story short, there was plenty of room for everyone’s belongings.  We heaved a tremendous sigh of relief.

I’m writing this post from Accra, Ghana, and we’ve traveled hundreds of miles over the past few days.  We have passed many shipping containers riding on the backs of trucks.  I am convinced that none of them were as tall as the one God provided for us.  Our transit agent told us that it was a brand new container; that this was probably only its second voyage.  It seems there is a new size for shipping containers, and we got a big one.   I believe that God cared about something as “worldly” as shipping our goods and provided just what we needed.

I’ve been going through another saga trying to arrange plane tickets for a whirlwind trip to the States.  I needed to make a trip back to check out a ministry opportunity (and to be checked out), but there didn’t seem to be the means.  Then last Saturday, my teammate Jeff Holland told me that he had won a free ticket to Paris at the horse club where his wife Brenda rides.  They were not going to be able to use it, and offered it to me if I could.  This past Monday, I spoke with some folks in the States and they invited me to come over, using the free ticket to get as far as Paris.  It would be a quick trip—less than a week.  That would allow me to maximize my time with my family, and to not miss any of our Sundays of saying goodbye to the different churches here.

So I began investigating possibilities for getting to the States.  I found out that any ticket that is good for less than a one-week stay is incredibly expensive.  But I called SIAMA, a missions travel agency based in the Netherlands, and found that they could issue a ticket with no minimum stay.  They were able to get me a good price.

I had already been trying to get the Togo to Paris ticket issued.  I called the airline and made reservations for the dates we had discussed.   Because we had been packing our container on Tuesday, I could not go down to the airline office that day to claim my free ticket.  The following day, all businesses, schools, and offices were closed in the morning, because of the total eclipse of the sun that was seen in our part of the world.  So Wednesday afternoon, I made the one and a half hour drive down to Lome.  My reservation was in the computer.  All I had to do was pay the taxes and fees and the ticket – wait – the ticket could not be issued because the airline was at the end of their fiscal year and couldn’t issue a new ticket until April 1—three days later.  But by then (now), I would be in Ghana  But really it couldn’t be done until April 3, since the 1st was a Saturday.  But there would be NO PROBLEM, I was assured.  They could even email me the e-ticket. 

But we are in Africa.  And I, an experienced African missionary, know that things can never be as simple as that.  I assumed that by Monday or Tuesday, I would be trying to get through from on the phones from Ghana to Togo, desperately trying to get them to issue my ticket.

Boy, was I wrong.

Our travel plans put me through a 48+-hour internet blackout.  This was one of the best things for me in a long time, because there was nothing I could do about the situation but to pray—which I did a lot of—and to trust—which I’m still learning to do.  My stress levels, I must admit, have been running pretty high all week.

When I arrived here in Accra today and checked my email, I saw the confirmation, as I had expected, of my flight from Paris to the States.  But then as I scrolled through my email, I was astounded to see that my Togo-Paris ticket had also been issued – 2 days ago – well before April 1.  I checked all the details and everything lined up just right.

I heaved a great sigh of relief and basked in the knowledge that God truly is amazing and does amazing things for his kids.  I know my travel plans are miniscule compared to the problems that many people—even some of you who are reading this—are facing.  But God reminded me that he cares for me, and I know that he cares for you too.

For another story of God’s amazing grace and mercy and eagerness to act on behalf of his children, I encourage you to read Christine Crowson’s post on their family’s Audience of One blog site, as they family goes through the enormously complicated process of adopting a child from China.