Thursday, August 15, 2013


Wow.  Four weeks in the US has gone by quickly.  But the "it's been nice" list has grown.  We have been released as full-time missionaries, but the benefits have not diminished at all.  We have been counting our blessings as we travel, and though there are too many to share here, we need to acknowledge some of the categories, at least.

1. The blessing of loved ones.  During these short weeks, we have spent time with over one hundred people whom we love.  Blood ties or not, we are connected by time and experience, and the influence you have had on our lives is clear in our desire to keep improving ourselves.  Thank you for your love, your support, your encouragement – you have no clue to your influence.  

2.  The blessing of trials.  We know many of you are enduring hardships of economics, physical or emotional health, loss of family members, or the other struggles that are part of the learning of this life.  And we have been awed by the determination you demonstrate in meeting and dealing with these struggles.  We all have good days and bad days, but thank you for strengthening us by your words and your examples.  And we thank God every day that you are able to persist, to endure, to remain true.  We hope our poor service has provided you some of the blessings you have needed. 

One portion of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles.  
3.  The blessings of modern living.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Our belongings are surviving very well without us, in climate-controlled storage.  We were gifted with a cell phone, the cremated remains of a dearly beloved pet who passed while we were in Tonga, family cars, hotels, and chauffeurs while we traveled.  We were able to ship suitcases ahead of us, rather than lugging our entire lives with us to every stop across the U.S.  Life in this country is nothing short of amazing.  And if you haven’t gotten there yet, the new Air and Space Museum “wing” at Dulles Airport is very cool – the Enola Gay, the French Concorde, the supersonic “stealth” Blackbird, and the Space Shuttle Discovery all under one roof, along with about 500 other planes, gliders, satellites, and assorted flying machines.  All within about 100 years for a time frame – amazing.

Kudzu overtaking an old farm silo.
4.  The blessings of beauty, created by God and by man.  The variety of life we have seen in these last four weeks is nothing short of a marvel.  From the vistas of the Rocky Mountains to the hot sands along the Gulf coast of Texas, to the lush green of Virginia  and North Carolina - this world is a beautiful place.  

We came out of a restaurant the other night and a young man stopped us and pointed to the sky.  "I was just looking at those white puffy clouds, and that particular color of light blue in the sky," he said, "and I've decided that God must be a Tarheels fan!" That man just might have a point!

"The Golden Warrior" in front of the Kazakh
Embassy in D.C.
The man-made beauty that impressed me was the city of Washington, D.C.  Now, I admit, I'm partial to that town, but the cleanliness, the abundance of plant life and of families, the variety of glass and stone, of old and new construction, and the increased efficiency of the city is just impressive.  Metrobuses have come a long way since I was in town last, in appearance and function.  And it only took us 45 minutes to drive from 16th and P Streets inside DC to Manassas, Virginia - I can remember when that took a couple of hours.  The high-speed highways in, around and through the DC area are truly a wonder – especially the parts framed by green vines, bushes and trees. 

To those of you staying behind in these United States:  count your blessings.  Be a blessing to someone else today, and strengthen the bonds between you and someone else.  Be aware of your part in your trials, and continue to teach those of us around you through your trials.  Be conscious of the abundance of advantages in your own life – not just the physical and economic advantages, but the advantages that come because you are living in the United States of America.  You are blessed beyond compare – I know that from first-hand experience.  Enjoy your blessings - and more importantly, make use of them.  Go BE a blessing to someone else, and seize the opportunities that your own blessings bring you.  

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