Many have asked me recently what it is like having my sister, Deborah, prepare to go halfway across the world to Papua New Guinea for a year to do missions work with Wycliffe. My answer has probably never once been the same, and that is definitely a reflection of my own ever-changing feelings on the matter. Some days, I am filled with excitement and praise to the Lord for this adventure and how He is opening the doors for Deborah to serve. On other days, I feel strongly the ache of separation that is to come and the anxiety of seeing my sister go to the other side of the world without any of us to take care of her (of course, I know she will have our Jehovah-Raah watching over her). I wonder where the time has gone and how my little sister can possibly be old enough for this. Living at home with my family means I get to see a lot of Deborah’s preparation as it happens—the long hours of studying Tok Pisin, the stacks upon stacks of paperwork that have been filled out and submitted this year, and the many letters, emails, and thank you cards (more like pieces of art—hand painted and so beautifully crafted) which have been sent out to you, our friends and family. Right now, neither my mind nor the pocketbook are quite ready for the upcoming departure, but November is approaching and we can feel things coming together bit by bit. The biggest concern on our minds for the immediate future is whether to purchase Deborah’s plane ticket or not. While she has raised over $7,000 to date and could purchase the ticket with that funding, for obvious reasons Wycliffe will not allow its members to leave the States before funding is up to the 100% level. Do we buy the ticket in faith that the rest of the funding will miraculously come in the next month and a half, or do we wait? True to character, Deborah trusts the Lord to work it all out for her to depart at the beginning of November. Because financials and event planning are part of my job, I struggle more in this area and am not certain which is the best (right) choice. Ultimately, Deborah knows she will be going to PNG; it’s just a matter of when. For my parents and I, we pray that it works out for her to depart in November for a selfish reason—Deborah has been overseas only once before with a group, and if she can leave in early November she will travel with my uncle and aunt who have been working overseas my whole life. They have lots of travel experience, and I know we would all have more peace of mind if Deborah could travel this first time with them. (*hint, hint—to help Deborah make it to PNG in November, donate today by clicking this link: Wycliffe Trip Donations. If you prefer to give monthly, I can send instructions for how to do that as well–email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
When Deborah leaves, the hardest separation will most likely be not for me, my parents, or my brothers, but for our youngest sister Faith. Leaving behind a 10-yr-old sister who has always depended on you to be a playmate and to make life fun is no easy task, and as most of our friends and family know well, Deborah is indeed the fun one. She will leave a huge hole in our family, and there will be many firsts because of it. While I can’t say we have all been together for every birthday or family celebration, this will definitely be the first Christmas where our family is missing someone. Faith cried when she realized Deborah’s trip meant she wouldn’t be here for her birthday in March, and Deborah will most certainly be missed at our Easter egg-decorating, trips to the park, and especially the little daily things like not having her with us at the dinner table. We will miss her lively excitement and passion for having us all sit down and read the Bible together, and I will miss our little talks about things and even rolling my eyes at her to “slow down” so I can hear what she is saying when she comes home with a story or word of encouragement to share. 😉
While there are many things that we will miss when Deborah leaves, it is encouraging to know that she is following the Lord’s call on her life and is using her talents and spiritual gifts to bring glory to His name abroad. Of all the prayers that I pray for my siblings, this is truly the greatest of them all. Yes, there are also silly things that I look forward to—like hearing the inevitable squeamish “bug” or “creature” stories I know she will have from her time at the villages—but the greatest joy and anticipation is found in watching my little sister step out in faith, strong in the Lord and in His power to save. I cannot wait for Skype updates (voice only, but I’ll take whatever I can get!) on what the Lord is doing both big and small, and I know you will join with me in praying for this. Thanks for being a part of our lives and for loving on us so well during this time of transition. We could not do it without you!