Deputation Tour is known mostly by Nazarenes, so a lot of non-Nazarenes don't know what that is. For me, Furlough implies rest, but for those, who have been on a Deputation Tour know, rest is something it is not. For now, maybe I'll call it a Connection Tour, because that is what it feels like it has been the most; making connections. Connecting with dear family and friends we’ve missed so much, and connecting with people and churches while building awareness for how God is moving in another part of the world. We also get to give churches a personal connection to where part of their church’s contributions to the World Evangelism Fund goes and talk about the concept behind it: that we (Nazarene churches) can do more working together than can ever be done alone. I appreciate this about our denomination; that no matter what size the church is or where the church is located; all churches are encouraged to support missions.
This is our first time “connecting” in the states for a 3 month period, as is the required amount of time for a family like ours, and we'll do this every couple of years. After the summer, we will assess what we will do differently or what we’ve learned, etc… We have 24 days left, and I can say that it has truly been a great time of being with people, sharing, processing, and connecting! I thought I would list for you a few things I’ve learned so far from our experience:
I’m a Stalker: What many people don't know is how much time goes into the planning this trip. Churches like to schedule families about 1 year in advance. Sometimes Districts contact you, or sometimes you have to "hound" churches or Districts. Sometimes I felt I needed to "sell" us. Come on… “You really want us!” So, I apologize for stalking you, if you felt stalked by me!
It’s Hard Not to Think About Money: Trying NOT to think about money, when we know we have to think about money, is also quite paradoxical and hard to do. We know we need to give everything to God, and so it doesn’t make sense to worry about money, but part of what this time is for us, is raising support for expenses or costs, personal or ministry related, that exist beyond the scope of our salary. Here are some examples of how these funds have been used in the past and will need to be used in the future:
· Our car (which the time has finally come to buy a new one - per our mechanic), or…
· Furniture (like our couch which we have hosted many friends and guests on), or…
· Ministry related expenses, like when we bought clothing racks and a rug and shelves for the
Charity Shop we helped to start, or…
· Medical expenses, or…
· Ordination classes (which we are currently taking), or…
· Emma’s upcoming preschool costs
Leaving is Hard, Plain and Simple: Goodbyes from Croatia, even if it was only for 3 months, were just hard. And then leaving people here in the states, each church, each family member, each friend I haven't seen in forever, and one in which I probably won't see again for another year or two, is just plain hard.
This is Not a Vacation: This time of connecting is not a "vacation". We are given vacation time to use throughout the year, but we use it in Europe, where we live. So, it's hard to tell friends and family that we actually aren't on vacation, but we're working. We're working on connecting, visiting, writing, preparing, and in our case taking 2 ordination classes while in the states. That doesn’t mean we haven’t needed to rest! We have built in times of self-care, like taking walks, or visiting parks, or simply going to a grocery store I've missed (Trader Joe's).
This time of Connection has been filled with so many fun memories, like:
- Seeing our families (reunion in NC with Betsy's family and reunion in TX with Dave's family)!
- When JJ asked why the toilet paper has our last name on it (Scott Toilet Tissue!).
- Being reunited with the LoveWorks crew (from Point Loma, California)!
- Connecting with several of our former Croatia volunteers in Nashville!
- Connecting with amazing people over the many lunches we had after church services and eating at places we never would’ve found on our own.
- Being with the S. Texas Children's Camp - 400 campers! We had such an amazing experience with these kids (ages 1st to 6th grade) and their counselors. Also, it was because of this camp that we created Krešo the Kuhar (our puppet who taught the campers Croatian)!
- Being in the state of Texas for the first time. Here are things I found quirky about Texas:
-The fact that the shape of Texas is everywhere. In one hotel we stayed in there was a giant state of Texas when we walked in. There were millions of little Texas shapes on the rug, and even a Texas shaped waffle maker for breakfast.
-That fake horse sitting outside a restaurant we ate at that said, "God Bless America and Texas."
-The sign while entering the property of a church we spoke at that said, "Beware of alligators and snakes."