The last time I gave a significant update here was in June. That seems like an eternity ago, so it seems like a good time to share about our situation.
Since we moved back from Lithuania to the US on August 15, we have been staying with Corrie’s mom in eastern Pennsylvania (Perkasie). We’ve been reconnecting with old friends and readjusting to life in the USA.
The biggest news was shared in my previous sermon post: on September 18, the congregation of Center Church (EPC) in Grove City, PA officially voted to call me as pastor.
Having interviewed with the Search Committee back in June and the relevant presbytery committees in August, this was moment we could officially say we were headed for Grove City. The church is a small, rural congregation about an hour north of Pittsburgh. I will be the only pastor, alongside three part-time staff (youth, admin, music). Suffice to say that it will be very different from teaching at an international university in Europe! But we see it as God’s provision, and a new opportunity to grow in ministry while living close to family. The church is a five-minute drive from where my mother, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew live.
In October, we visited supporting churches in Mount Holly, NJ; Dunellen, NJ; and Endicott, NY. In each of these places we got to share not just some of the things that we were doing in Lithuania, but also a broader vision of international cross-cultural missions. It was joyful to see these people who have prayed for us and encouraged us, but also sad to think that it will be a while before we see them again.
October 17–22, we attended a debrief and renewal (DAR) program at Mission Training International in Colorado Springs, which is designed for families reentering passport country after missions. We spent these days in a beautiful retreat center with about 16 other families, couples and individuals who are in various stages of transition back to the USA, having ended their times abroad in a range of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances. There were separate programs during the day for kids in various age groups, while parents enjoyed various interactive seminars on transition, grief, trauma, etc.
We are still processing all that we took in the DAR, and I anticipate that we will for a while–but now we have the language and tools to do so. And it was a blessing, especially for the kids, to meet many others who are in the same situation. We led a worship night on Thursday that was attended by most of the families.
Before and after this program, we visited and stayed with old friends in Denver and Colorado Springs–it was great to see people who have been close friends of Corrie’s family for over thirty years.
We have been “gently homeschooling” for last two months to stay flexible, and that has been nice to spend time with the kids and keep learning–but they crave the structure of a regular school program. They will enroll in a classical Christian school in Grove City when we arrive, where they will learn (among other subjects) Latin. One area of motivation for them has been continuing language learning–Elizabeth with Spanish, and Daniel with Russian. Neither has been able to keep up much with Lithuanian language–we are not sure what to make of that. We will see what Lithuanian language means for them going forward.
We will pack up the moving truck on Monday, November 14, between 4 and 7pm, at our home in Perkasie. If you are in the area and can help, that would be greatly appreciated! Then we will drive to Western PA the next day, and unload late in the afternoon of November 15.
Our prayer is that our involvement with cross-cultural missions is not over, but will take a different form in the years ahead. I will continue to teach very part-time in the Master of Theology program at Hindustan Bible Institute & College (Chennai, India), mostly remotely. And Corrie is passionate about using her teaching gifts to help immigrants and second-language English learners. She has an opportunity to work part-time teaching English online through music and other activities, which is a blessing in terms of interest, pay, and flexibility. Please pray that she will find satisfying part-time or full-time work teaching in the Mercer County area when we settle.
New phone numbers (also WhatsApp/Signal) – Benj: 724-221-2595 – Corrie: 724-221-2094