Eight years ago, when we were preparing to come to Indonesia for the first time and were in the midst of packing everything up for the big move, a family friend asked what she could get for me. I scanned my list of things we still needed to purchase and saw that I had scrawled ‘dishes.’ I am not picky about patterns, so I gave her the go-ahead to select some Corelle dishes for us—the brand, as I had been told, of global workers. When she brought the dishes over, I looked at the picture on the box of a cream-colored plate, trimmed with a garland of leaves and autumn fruit.
“The pattern is called ‘Abundance,’ which I thought was appropriate for you,” she told me. I wanted to laugh when she said that, because I had been feeling anything but abundant. The whole process of preparing for overseas service had left me feeling afraid of this new venture, and I was spent emotionally and physically. What had once excited me—the thought of being a global worker—now scared me half to death.
I was having a hard time coming to grips with the sacrifices we were going to make. We had never had much materially, but what we did have we were selling or giving away, or packing into three small wooden crates to send overseas. I grieved over what we could have had. We had never owned a house, and now several of my friends were happily settling into nice homes while we were going to live in who-knows-what-kind-of crazy house or hut in a third-world country.
I lamented over what I thought my children would miss. In a remote part of Indonesia, they would not be able to take ballet or do Little League or go skiing or be near their grandparents. I might even have to—gasp—homeschool them! They would surely suffer.
I mourned having to leave our friends, and especially our family. I felt like my heart was being ripped out as I contemplated saying the dreaded goodbye to brothers, sisters, grandparents, and our parents. How could I possibly feel like I was living an abundant life when I would be 13,893 miles from our loved ones?
Eight years later, I can laugh at my earlier, untrusting, doubting, self-centered self. God has not only met our needs as a family during our time overseas, He has gone beyond ‘sufficient’ and truly been ‘abundant’ in His blessings.
We still do not own a house, and we probably will not any time soon. Nevertheless, God has blessed us with a large home, probably larger than anything we could afford in the United States. While it has an unusual design, it has more than met our needs.
As I had suspected, my kids have not taken ballet or played in a Little League game. Our oldest son turned out not to be sports-oriented in the least and would much rather chase critters or go snorkeling, so living near the jungle and tropical reefs is really perfect for him. Our children’s lives are so much richer for living overseas, despite the things they miss out on. I had to come to grips with the fact that they would not have a childhood like mine had been—and that is okay. They have traveled the world, learned a new language, and experienced life in a different culture, and that is far more valuable than ballet lessons or T-ball.
While I still miss my friends and family, God has been so gracious to me in that area. He has given me not just one or two Indonesian friends, but an abundance of them. We are so blessed to live in the age of Internet and Skype, so that even though we are far apart, we can communicate easily with friends and family. Also helping to fill the gap of missing family is our mission team here; men and women serving with us who have become our second family. Our kids have many ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’ and ‘cousins’ here to whom they feel very close, and we cherish our mission family relationships.
My Corelle dishes have taken a beating over the years, and we have lost a few (tile floors are so unforgiving!). However, as often as I set the table or hold one of my plates, I trace the familiar pattern of fruit with my fingers and think of my friend and how right she was in choosing this pattern for me—a reminder of God’s abundance.