"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29: 11

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Harry's First Day at School

After 11 and a half years with either a baby, toddler or preschool at home, today all three are at school. I thought we would never get to this point.  But happily, we are.  And even better, Harry went off to school very happily himself.  It is quite a thrill as a parent when all of those hours of hard work pay off, and suddenly, your child is trying out their new found independence.  I didn't shed a tear and neither did he - we were both ready for him to start his formal education.

Now that the day I have been wishing for has finally arrived, what have I been doing all day?  Well washing of course - that never disappears.  And catching up on long overdue correspondence.  But I have also been thinking about what we will need to pack to go to the ship.  At this stage, they are keen to have us and they have a spot for each of the boys in the onboard school - the Academy - and they are  very enthusiastic about Mick filling an Engineers position - only problem is that there is no Family Cabin for us yet.  However, over time we have come to the same decision point each time - If God wants us to go, He will make it happen.  Who knows what the future brings?  So with this in mind, we are making preparations to go but do not have an acceptance letter yet to go in June this year.

Back to packing.  What do you need when you are packing up your home, moving to a ship in West Africa with three active boys?  What should we store?  And what should we sell and give away?  All good questions.  With the flooding and bush fires devastating parts of Australia this Summer, it is a relevant question. If you had to leave, how many of things that fill your home would you keep? Or replace when you returned?  I keep thinking about what I Need.  The fact of the matter is that I don't Need an awful lot.  I have a great deal more than I Need and that actually complicates matters.  If I only bought what I Needed, then I wouldn't have a house full of stuff. Now I have to sort through it.  Silly, isn't it?  What we learned when we packed up our house to go in 2010 is that it is actually quite difficult and time consuming to get rid of stuff - especially if you would like to sell some of it.  Ebay is brilliant but it takes effort and time to sell still.  There is always giving away to family, friends and charity - easiest and quickest option if they are keen to take it.  Then there is storage - luckily we have a little space in the roof for that. And finally of course, we have our 23kg luggage limit to take on the plane, as well as our hand luggage.  Working this out makes me realise what I actually Need is so much different to what I think I Need.  And brings me to my new favourite part of the bible as we prepare - the anxiety cure for people of Faith from Matthew Chapter 6:

 25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It kind of puts things into perspective for me as we continue to prepare for Service.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 2013 -

Well it has been a very long time between blog entries... Let me take a moment to fill in some gaps.

In November 2010, our acceptance to serve with Mercy Ships was overturned. This was due primarily to Jacks fairly new diagnosis with Asperger's syndrome and how he might cope in the onboard school - the Mercy Ships Academy. It was difficult to digest for a while but definitely the right decision for our family. However, we continued to feel called to serve but were unsure when this might happen.  Not our first lesson in God's timing versus ours - illustrated beautifully in Proverbs 19 v 21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,

    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Two years later and I am back on the blog and we are back in the application process for Mercy Ships service.  The boys are now 11, 8 and 5 and about to start Years 6, 3, and Kindergarten (Prep).  So how has this come about?  Well....

At the end of 2012, I had been preparing for 6 month deployment to Timor-Leste with the Australian Defence Force as a Reserve Officer.  I was keen to be part of the Force Extraction team as the Mission there wound down.  I believed that this would be a good opportunity to update and use my Navy Logistics skills as well as developing some new ones for future employment with Mercy Ships.  I was selected for this position in July 2012 and thus had 6 months to prepare and complete several courses.  I threw myself into being as up to date as possible - even attending two week long courses for Rifle and pistol competencies - definitely not one of my strengths.

As the deployment date of 2 Jan 2013 drew nearer, I heard rumours that the troop withdrawal was proceeding smoothly and future deployments may be shortened.  Nevertheless, I had my information in writing and I felt confident enough to take little notice of the chat.  We had continued to email copies of the boys' school reports to Mercy Ships periodically to keep our files up to date.  And we were planning to reapply to join the ship in October 2013 at the end of my deployment.

In Mid November, we received an email from Mercy ships entitled "Academy Approval for Jack" with a report attached that included several recommendations for a smooth transition to the school.  One of the key recommendations was that all families with school age children join the ship in time for the kids to start the school year altogether in August.  Noting my deployment dates, and the compulsory Onboarding course in Texas in June, this was not going to work in 2013.  So we emailed back that 2013 was out - I was contracted to the Navy until August.  Perhaps 2014?

Noting the whispers about troop withdrawal - Mick and I decided to look at date possibilities if my deployment was shortened.  We decided that as long as I was home by ANZAC Day - 25 Apr - we could go in June.  It was in God's Hands.  If He wanted us to go to Africa, He would make it happen irrespective of what we thought we had planned.  Having come to that conclusion, we were at peace.

Upon returning to work, there were further rumours about deployment dates from  the person I was to be relieving in Dili.  So I dashed off an email asking the question - expecting a "Don't you worry" email back.  Not what happened.  The response said that all future deployments to Timor -Leste had been cancelled.  Sorry - you're not going.  All that work.  All those courses.  All that time away from home preparing.  I should have been pretty peeved.  Instead - I felt relieved.  Relieved that I had found out earlier rather than later.  But even more, I was relieved because God was clearly pointing the way ahead for our family.  Just like it says in Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

So that is where we are at now on the Australia Day weekend in Sydney.  Where will we be next year? Well - that is up to God.