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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy Independence Day America(ns)!

Today the USA celebrates Independence from Britain, which is something all three countries where we have spent our life have in common.  All three countries had people living in them who to various extent welcomed the first British explorers; all three could not have foreseen the impact of the influx of humanity that would follow, and probably if the had they would have taken a more violent resistance earlier. In America, this day was organized by the British-origin and other European-origin people who over the course of a century and a half came to see themselves as Americans, who espoused noble ideas about freedom and truth for themselves and rejoiced to have the opportunity to implement them.  Independence day celebrates their achievement of those goals personally, and then in fits and starts for other immigrants from all over Europe, Asia, Africa, the world, though the outworking of that equality is still not complete.  Like many current Americans, our roots include immigrants from many places, those seeking economic opportunity, those fleeing injustice, those looking for religious freedom, those who were imported against their will.  Very little of our ancestry comes from original Americans, the people who were driven from their land by our other ancestors.  This makes America different from Kenya and Uganda; the relative extermination of the indigenous people within East Africa was less extensive, so the independence celebrations are more about throwing off colonizers rather than celebrating the colonizers throwing off the distant king.  It gets complicated as soon as you start thinking about it.  

Anyway, today we remember our American roots, and thank God for AMERICANS.  Yes, the mixed bag of people from all over the globe who inhabit this vast land and in spite of everything are basically full of kindness.  The last two years have not been our most shining moment for graciousness and maturity on the world stage.  But when you come to America and interact with Americans once again, you are reminded that the basic cultural values of this place DO shine.  Willingness to help, to be involved.  Generosity.  Courage.  Idealism.  Faith.

Today then a tribute to the hundreds of Americans who support us, who love us, and who have made these two months of "home assignment" a pleasure.

Day three or so in the country, wish we had snapped a photo of the Stemplers.  Ellen has been our power-of-attorney, handling all our paperwork, logistics, banking, taxes, mail, etc etc etc for way over a decade.  A hidden part of missionary service, the person who quietly and effectively has our back.  She's moving, so we had to go through that filing cabinet in her basement and throw most things out and re-sort.  She's still going to help, but we can't use our Virginia address anymore . . .

Our main purpose of travel was to celebrate Julia and Luke's graduations.  So a shout-out to the professors, bosses, friends, deans, etc. whom we did not even know but who watched out for our kids.  And to the families in both Durham (Harteminks) and Charlottesville (Turners, Woods, and others) who were ESSENTIAL when you live a continent away.

Then there are the random-acts-of-kindness people, like the woman (mother of a classmate we happened to meet in the restaurant and eat with) turned towards another guest in the back of this photo who picked up the bill for graduation lunch.  That kind of unexpected generosity reminds us over and over of God's goodness.

A thanks to the many families who let us descend upon them across the country.  Some we had barely met but were friends of our kids, others were relatives we had not seen in years, others were supporters.  (The Harries family in Annapolis above)

My Uncle Joe, Aunt Patsy, cousin Janet.

Scott's Aunt Lynn and family.

Jack's room-mates mom made space for all of us as we passed through.

The Bolthouses always lift our spirits with their fun and kindness.

A friend of Luke's gave us tickets to a MLS game!

Another Duke friend who showed us around her city and squeezed us into her family's house.

Not only college kids need "sponsor families"; Caleb has been blessed by the Hatters in Alaska and we were delighted to spend an evening with them.

Cathy takes the cake though . . . for not only supporting us for years, but offering a cabin on a remote island in a wilderness lake, complete with air-miles to get to the nearest town from Anchorage, boat transport to the island, various things we would need including moose steaks from her freezer, stories of real Alaska and a warm welcome.

The Shadids in Chicago, heart friends for decades.

Scott's residency partner, our friends Fran and Larry. 

Emily who hosted all of us on short notice after only having moved into her house the week before.

And of course family cared for us deeply, including the Aylestock Family reunion last weekend:

These two friends drove many hours through many challenges to be with us in WV.

And our church here in Sago, WV, who gave us this flag for Caleb and who greet us with warm hugs and sincere interest even though we disappear for months to years.  Happy 4th of July from us to all our fellow Americans, with prayers that this year we turn a corner back to our ideals and away from fear, isolation, or greed.  God has blessed us through you, and together we can bless the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, Jennifer, Amen. God be with us all in this great land as we try to find our way in goodness together. Praying especially for you who try to fix the world for good elsewhere as well.Judy in HMB