As 2014 draws to a close, we are caused to reflect back on the previous six months in particular, which has been an emotional roller-coaster for our family, but also where we have experienced the Lord’s blessing and provision in ways we could never have imagined when the year began.
Leaving the United States, where we spent a little over three years, was a tough time for our family. We left behind fantastic friends and a tight church family, where we were privileged to serve and fellowship for most of our time there. We take with us many memories and experiences that we will treasure for the rest of our lives, but whilst we have left our friends physically, parts of our hearts have remained with them in Southern California.
After finishing seminary in August, the packing up and selling of all our possessions began in earnest, as we raced to meet a deadline to get a shipping container loaded and sent ahead of us. After that, we were keen for some vacation time. Concurrent to this, the candidating process with NZ churches began, to see what the Lord may have in store for us back home.
During our last few weeks in California, we were graciously offered accommodation with the Longs, a dear family from our church family at PBC.
We are very grateful to Paul and Karen for their generous and kind hospitality, and really enjoyed a few weeks with them in their home. After a final Sunday morning of worship and fellowship at PBC, we spent a final few hours with our closet friends in the afternoon, before flying back to New Zealand.
The arrival back home engendered a mix of emotions – the sadness of leaving behind our close friends in the States, but also relief to finally be back in New Zealand – the land of cooler weather, but fantastically fresh food and really good fish n’ chips and chocolate. There was also the added bonus of being reunited with family and seeing our church family at Heretaunga Christian Center. We are very grateful for our families and for those at Heretaunga, who not only embraced us warmly, and also provided us with accommodation and gifts which enabled us to survive the next couple of months as Mark continued the candidating process at a couple of churches. As we look back on this period, we remained astounded at God’s constant goodness and kindness toward us. We are greatly humbled and thankful to Him, Who has never failed us, Who is constantly faithful to us, and Who promises to supply all of our needs.
The final blessing that we experienced this year came in the form of Mark receiving a call to be pastor of New Plymouth Bible Chapel starting in the New Year. So after two months based in Wellington, our family moved once again to New Plymouth. Another move, another farewell to family and friends, but a new beginning. We cannot begin to describe the immense blessings that God has lavished upon us over the past four years, but we are very excited to begin serving God’s people in New Plymouth and to lead them to growth in Christ and worship of the great God that we serve.