Last week we bought our first one-way ticket away from New Zealand. For 25 years we’ve come and gone, but always with return tickets in hand.
These days we bask in the beauty of spring as daffodils, rhododendron, and magnolias burst into bloom two blocks from our home, in 200-acre Queen’s Park. This marks our last New Zealand spring.
I realize now that I have seen many of my friends in this country for the last time. We never said goodbye because the last time I saw them, I didn’t know I’d probably never see them again, this side of eternity.
In July we celebrated our last International Day in our church. In a couple of weeks, we’ll have our last Teen Camp. Yesterday I bought the kitchen bin liners with 15 in the package instead of 50 because we should only need 15. In 15 weeks we’ll be boarding our plane for America, leaving New Zealand for possibly the last time.
Recently we had our preliminary garage sale, consulted with our real estate agent, and are tidying things up around the house. We pray for a good sale that will prepare us to buy a retirement home in Iowa, ten thousand miles or so away. But we’re not ready to say goodbye to 25 years of life in this home, in this town, serving this church. Our departure date of our tickets is 3 ½ months away and 3 ½ months is far too long to be saying goodbye.
God is good. Our church is peaking out at its highest attendance, necessitating a move from the auditorium to our small gym, to have enough room for everyone to sit. Funds have come in to help our church move from mission status to supporting its first local pastor. This month Kiwi pastor, Paul Gray, will come on paid staff, preparing to become the main pastor while we prepare to leave. The timing is perfect and we see God’s provision everywhere.
Sunday Art choked up in the pulpit and Pastor Paul had to come read Scripture for him. Not yet. Not now. I’m not ready for emotional goodbyes more than 3 months before departure. I tell our friends that, but goodbyes will come soon enough.
While flowers are in full bloom in Invercargill, New Zealand, we’ll fly back to snow-packed Iowa for Christmas. Christmas plus. This time we won’t be visiting America. We’ll be learning how to live as Americans again, with all the changes that will bring. And for the first time in this millennium, we will live close to our children and grandchildren. We’ll begin the process of retirement and enter a new season life where we will continue to minister, but not in a fulltime capacity. We’ll live closer to our siblings who are all older than us and facing some of the physical challenges of passing 70.
So much of our lives will change, but the Lord promises to go before us and prepare the way, as he has been doing for us for nearly 7 decades. Proverbs 3:5-6 is such a great reassurance at times like this. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
I hope you know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior. If you want to know more about what this means, go to our church website under Plan of Salvation. Or you can contact me through my website. I hope you have experienced God’s guidance throughout your life. What transitions are you facing today?
In today’s Book Blast I’m featuring best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher. Author of over 85 books, Robin is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an eleven-time finalist and two-time winner of the prestigious RITA® Award. In addition to the RITA and many other awards, she is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Romance Writers of America® and American Christian Fiction Writers. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon and a persnickety tuxedo cat.
You can read Robin’s 24-page short story for free when you sign up for her newsletter. My husband grew up in Montana, and Montana has been our furlough home for 45 years. Art spent many hours picking (and eating) huckleberries growing up and he loves huckleberry pie so “The Huckleberry Patch” sounds like his kind of place.
Her life was a complete mess, but Aunt Dodie thought a morning picking huckleberries was the solution. How could that help anything? But there were lessons awaiting her in the huckleberry patch, if she just had eyes to see and the ears to hear.
If you want to know more about Robin, visit her website.
But you can also get this free story here.