I’ve been overwhelmed by the love others have showered on us during our season of furlough – love that I could feel with all my senses, deep into my soul. My mother-in-law brought me a variety of fresh berries, whole grains, and superfood salads every day. She also provided me with delicious cakes, vanilla crème just like at our wedding almost a decade ago and a strawberry masterpiece to celebrate my birthday still months away. Friends and family draped us with sweet-smelling leis in Hawaii; we hung them on our wall in the guest room and drifted to sleep with the smell. Greg’s mom brought me a luxurious lei made with just the insides of pink orcihds – a silky luxurious variety named “Christina.” My mother also brought fresh flowers from her garden in the weeks we stayed with my family. We sipped tea while looking over Fallbrook mountains and celebrated butterflies emerging from cocoons together. My dad adjusted his routine so that we could walk together and see a Christmas sunrise and a starry night. A new friend met during this trip gifted us with CDs of her beautiful music.
Friends have treated us to ramen and cups of tea, love languages of me and Greg, respectively. And we have been loved extravagantly. We’ve been given lovely places to stay, a car to drive, outdoor adventures and indoor crafts, time alone to process and time together to brainstorm a future. Lakes, beaches, trees, mountains, Christmas presents, prayers, encouragement, quality time carved out just for us from schedules that didn’t easily afford it. Every time I looked out on a beautiful view and took a deep breath, I was overwhelmed the generosity of these people in my life. I felt filled up, even overflowing.
The first days back in Malawi have topped us up. Our friend drove for 4 hours to pick us up from the airport. We arrived to a house meticulously cleaned and a yard beautifully maintained. Our dogs cried to see us. One by one dear friends reached out to join us for a cup of tea in the gardens. A close neighbor has brought us things missing from our pantry – salt, spices, flour – and shared dinners with us that wouldn’t be possible without the additions. We haven’t done much yet, just oriented ourselves and tried to adjust to the jetlag. We’re not sure even where to start on the next parts of our ministries here in Malawi. But I do know that we have been equipped and loved in ways that we could see, smell, taste, feel, and hear, ways that penetrated deeply and will give us the resilience to carry on even if we spend this next season pouring out for others.
“God has created us to love and to be love, and this is the beginning of prayer – to know that He loves me, that I have been created for greater things.” – Mother Teresa