home(-ish)

For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:10

Our good friends always told us, when changing time zones you should give yourself one day for every hour of time difference. That means by today, seven days after arriving in the United States, we should finally be “normalized” with the time zone we’re residing in. The first days here were definitely unique, trying to accomplish important tasks with the enthusiasm and energy of a zombie. But it’s been good to be “home” for a week now. It’s a blessing to be able to stay with family here in Illinois, and all of the work done by friends in Gyor even after we left so that we could be sent – knowing others were finalizing details after we left.

It was a circus of an experience, getting picked up on Tuesday, April 13th at 2:20am. 12 large black luggage boxes, 6 large suitcases, 6 small suitcases, 5 backpacks and a cat (in a backpack carrier). We were dropped off at the Budapest airport around 4am, and trusted that somehow we’d end up in Central Illinois in about 24 hours. Having mixed experiences over the phone with airlines, we weren’t even sure until the moment we boarded – Toby (our cat) was able to travel with us. With a few relaxing herbal drops, he was pretty calm for most of the journey home.

We loaded our containers onto as many carts as we could commandeer, and I transferred the rest one lift at a time. The workers were all very kind and patient, and my limited Hungarian was much better than my complete lack when we arrived 2 years ago – which helped. All of our containers weighed exactly the 50 lbs. limited, and they even allowed us to check our 6 carry-on suitcases for free! After weeks of uncertain planning and hard good-byes, it was nice to have some things working out. The airports and airplanes were much quieter, and only seemed about 20-30% of what they should have been – which means our customs and passport control experiences were a breeze. After a 3 hour shuttle with all our luggage, we slumped into the driveway – welcomed with excitement by family and Mexican food.

We’ve gotten a lot accomplished in our time here already. We have new cell phone numbers (message/email if you need them!), found bikes each of our kids could use, went house-hunting (nothing yet!), ate some American foods, and we were even given a vehicle (the kids named it “kolbasz”)! All of this while Sarah works hard on classwork, and we both try to reach out to respond to e-mails. We are so thankful for so many of our supporters who have continued to give, even in this next month – allowing us to re-enter and connect with anyone interested in hearing about our time in Hungary. We’ve been asked not to do a “sharing tour” of churches at this point, due to our official need to “quarantine” a couple weeks, and to strive to keep local churches healthy – but we’d still love to hear from you. Let us know if you’d want to set up a time to talk, video, or even have coffee if you’re nearby!

All of this to say, it’s good to be home-ish. We have a place to live – and with family. It’s a definite blessing. But it’s still an “unsettled” place, as we are hunting for a house in the city we will settle, 45 minutes away. I (Chadwick) will begin serving at Mattis Avenue Free Methodist Church in Champaign, starting as I am appointed on June 4th. For now, we continue to be reminded of the things that are truly necessary. We are reminded of the Love, the welcome, the family and friends who seek the Kingdom together with us, globally. We hold simultaneously the tension of missing our beloved friends and church family in Hungary, while celebrating the friendships and family we are near to once more here. Love is mourning those we are distant from. Yet Love is also the feeling of “home”.

Many of you have had a similar experience this past year. Stripped of the routines, social interactions, work environments, and even elements of worship gatherings – we have all been reminded of the things that are truly necessary: the Love revealed in Jesus, the welcoming presence of God who meets us where we are, and the Holy Spirit who unites/reconciles us – even in a world that emphasizes incessantly how divided we all should feel from each other.

As the months move forward, we step with loving and hope-filled expectation of the seasons to come. Seasons where we pray honestly, “God, there are many great and difficult things we’ve gone through. There are unknowns ahead. But I know You can (and desire to) bring redemption to everything offered to You.” Even when you come “through the journey” to the place you hoped to arrive, it may still feel “unsettled”. God doesn’t call us to seek escape from such a feeling. Be encouraged to know – if you feel “unsettled”, you have insight into the heart of a God still working to bring all things begun in Christ to completion.

Join us this week, in seeking the peace that comes in His presence, even in unsettled seasons…

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