We’re back from the wedding and the conference, and it’s time now to focus on our transition. The first thing I want to do is be grateful.
It’s a daunting task to try to mention everyone that has held up our arms along the way, from before we even had supporting churches to last week’s coffee escapade. I will probably fail to mention someone important, who will have to forgive the oversight. But I’m counting on the fact that the people I’m about to thank do not even want the spotlight. They have not served as members of Team Arequipa for recognition. In fact, there are some I will intentionally leave out, because I’m sure they want to keep their generosity between them and God.
To all, mentioned and unmentioned, we couldn’t have gone or stayed, survived or served, without you. We give thanks to God, but we recognize that you have been his hands, his provision, his sustaining words. We give thanks to God for you.
For Tim and Janice Kirksey. When I first began to dream about foreign missions as a junior in high school, Tim told me that if I was serious about studying missions and going to the mission field, he and Janice would help make that a reality. And they did. Once we began raising funds, Tim and Janice continued to be cheerleaders, hosting our team in their home as we tried to spread the word about our plans to members of Shiloh Road church. The team was eventually privileged to be supported in part by Shiloh, and Tim volunteered to be on the newly formed support team. He and Janice have persistently loved and supported our family on furloughs and been critical supporters of CUDA.
For Tyson and Sarah Kirksey. Much as they might wish I would keep it quiet, I have to mention that eight years ago, as a young couple just starting their careers, they gave a gift that helped us afford to do fundraising (yes, it costs to drive around the country looking for supporting churches!) and, in my view, was foundational for the launch of CUDA. We’ve been good friends a long time, but sometimes people’s generosity can shock you.
For the Shultz and Fidone families. There are many at Shiloh who have been kind to us on furlough, but you went the extra mile, loving on our kids and making us feel like it really mattered we were visiting. You were refreshing for exhausted missionaries.
For the Yorks, especially Ruth, who looked after Megan in a special way.
For the whole Cedar Lane support team. You have been stellar. I won’t list everything, because it would go on a while, but we have been so thankful for everything. Much of your help to us must have seemed minor, even trivial, but it mattered so much. We could count on you, and we needed that. It was a joy to visit Tullahoma and spend time with you; it didn’t feel like more work. And that was an invaluable gift.
For Greg Muse and John Petty, who took care of our eyes and our teeth pro bono.
For Ray Eaves, who took care of the business side of support with diligence and love.
For the Hovaters, who came to Cedar Lane after we were in the field but became some of our biggest supporters anyway. It’s amazing when the preacher helps the church stay excited about what’s going on in another church in another country.
For David Mitchell. We have cherished your care and encouragement. It has been a special blessing to have a shepherd at Cedar Lane watch over us.
For David Smith, Kyle’s dad. David was many things to our team that I won’t mention here. Among them, he was easily our biggest fan. I miss his responses to my newsletter articles, his hug when we visited Shiloh, and all the virtues that made him a great elder to our mission team. I miss him, but I still get to be thankful for him.
For Bryan Tarpley, who did so much free web consulting for us. In addition to being closer than a brother.
For our family and close friends, especially those who visited us in Peru or made the extra effort to connect on furlough. We leaned your support, and you didn’t let us down.
For the CUDA board: Monty Lynn, Clara Carroll, Ileene Huffard, David Fann, and Chris Adams. They have sacrificed in a variety of ways to help us make CUDA legitimate, and they have graciously affirmed our efforts, including our failures.
For everyone who visited the field to support us instead of using us as a hostel.
For everyone who actually read the newsletter, even when they weren’t that into it.
For everyone who prayed for us.
For everyone at Shiloh and Cedar Lane who gave their money so that we could be here and take care of our families. For everyone who hosted us and cooked for us, who asked questions and spoke encouraging words. For all the members of Team Arequipa.
The Lima Team
Nuestras compatriotas. You helped us with a boatload of tramites, let us crash your houses at need, set an example in ministry, and made our yearly retreat a time of laugher and renewal. Our thanks has never seemed adequate, but you never asked for more. ¡Gracias por todo!
For Tim, Denise, and the Henderson Household
Our surrogate family in Tyler. The home we invade on furlough. For late nights of TV marathons and unending conversations and too much good food and all the comfort of a place that is home away from home. Tim is my spiritual father, and he has been our lifeline to Shiloh. He still takes care of me, knows what to ask and when, lets me be me and helps me be better than me. That is more than enough.
For Our People
From the Cedar Lane support team, Mark and Diane Adams were assigned to be our “support couple,” with the special responsibility of really keeping up with us. Soon they were just “our people.” We were already friends before we left for Peru, but our friendship has grown and deepened in the last six years. We’ve always had someone to talk to, vent to, whine to, and they have commiserated like champs. They have taken care of so many things for us Stateside, despite their busy lives. (And here I don’t want to give Mark too much credit, because Diane is a getting-things-done machine.) I don’t think most missionaries have the privilege of such friendship among supporters, and I am so grateful.
For Bill and Holly Richardson
It has been such a privilege and a blessing to have you walk with us as missionary wannabes, as disillusioned fundraisers, as culture-shocked novices, and as struggling servants. Despite the weaknesses perhaps more evident to you than anyone else, despite the fact that had you been in our place it would have been different and better, you always helped us remember that it was enough to serve Jesus faithfully. As others throughout Latin America know, your support made a critical difference. We’re humbled by you and so deeply grateful for your friendship in the Lord.
For Our Parents
Sometimes missionaries go to the field without the support of their parents, which must be incredibly difficult. While ours naturally didn’t want to miss the grandkids growing up, mom, Steve, and Margaret blessed our decision and have supported us all the way. Our service is their legacy, and we are deeply thankful for the faithfulness we inherited.
For all of you, we are grateful.