To recap the events of April:
From March 29 - April 4, we journeyed "down South." The primary purpose of our trip was to attend a conference on Tanzania Missions. The conference was held at HUT, Harding University's "mission training camp." We had heard about HUT for several years, but this was our first time to see it in person. It is a very special and unique facility. Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures while we were there, but you can click here to see some of the pictures and a video on Harding's website.
The conference itself was a wonderful time of reconnecting, networking, dreaming, and praying about the future of missions in Tanzania in general, and our possible role in that specifically. We shared the facility that weekend with a group of 20+ college students, all of whom were planning summer mission trips to various points around the globe. Their youthful enthusiasm and zeal was heart-warming to see -- and so contagious! We both came away feeling refreshed, encouraged, and hopeful about the future. Being around like-minded people, people who have a passion for God and His Word and His mission is always such a blessing.
The conference ended on Sunday, and since we were really just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Memphis, we headed over there for a few days to visit friends. We made it to Senatobia, Mississippi in time to attend evening services at the Thyatira church of Christ, where Rusty used to work. After church, we went out to dinner with some friends, and since it was my birthday (more on turning the big 3-0 later), I was "honored" with a pie in the face! Yes, that's right -- after dinner, several of the wait staff came over to sing to me, and then out of nowhere, a whipped cream pie covered my face! Everyone had a good laugh, except for Alex, who was very upset by it all. Unfortunately (again), Rusty didn't know what was coming, and so he wasn't ready with the camera. (Oh, darn!)
The two days we spent in Memphis were a real whirlwind. The Whaley's gave us a place to crash at night, even though they were out of town for most of the time we were there. (Thanks, guys!) We reconnected with old friends at the grad school and at Highland Street church of Christ, where I used to work. We drove back down to Mississippi to spend more time with some of our friends there. We enjoyed the 80 degree weather and quenched our thirst with that delicious, Southern "sweet tea." On a more serious note, we also spent several hours talking to Danny and Katie Reese about their dream to do mission work in Angola, and seeing pictures from their survey trip last summer.
Having dinner with Ms. Mary and Ms. Earline
Alex tried fried catfish and hushpuppies for the first time and loved 'em! What can I say? He was, after all, conceived in Mississippi!
And now for the big announcement! Rusty found out that he can graduate next spring if he can go full time in the fall and spring semesters... and, we paid our housing deposit for an on-campus apartment. So, it's official -- we are moving back to Memphis this summer! It feels so good to finally have a plan after months of floundering. There is still much that remains to be done here in Portland before we go, and the next couple of months promise to be extremely busy, but we are seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel," so to speak.
Back in Portland, we enjoyed a very low-key Easter. Alex hunted for Easter eggs on the front lawn, but we waited until Tuesday because Easter Sunday was cold and rainy. We have been trying to enjoy the few days of sunshine that have come our way this month. Alex loves playing in the yard when the weather is nice and cries every time we bring him in. And we are continuing to sort, pack, and get ready for an estate sale, which is scheduled for the end of June. Right now, our plan is to leave Portland after the 4th of July. I have a lot more to say, but I'll save it for another time, and just leave you with a few pictures of Alex enjoying the spring weather.
This is for all our friends in Japan. (Roxanna, do you recognize the shirt?)
Alex loved picking up Easter eggs...
... and putting them in the basket.
Do you think I might be up for parole in, like, 17 more years?
Do you like my outfit? It was my Daddy's!