The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want…
maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Such familiar, comforting words… and just the kind of words we’ve needed for the process of transitioning our family back to “life in Niger.” It is good to be home… it really is… but even for returning missionaries, there’s always that period of culture shock where the conveniences of life in the States look really good compared to the frustrations of life in a developing country like Niger. Have you ever noticed the progression in this Psalm? David starts off saying “I shall not want…” Another translation says “I have just what I need,” a view that looks at the sufficiency of God’s present provision, but not an overabundance. By the end of the Psalm, however, David sings “My cup runneth over…” He’s no longer just recognizing God taking care of obvious needs; as he enumerates some of the ways the Great Shepherd cares for him, it seems as though his eyes are opened anew and afresh to the extravagant and lavish love of the Lord. His cup is running over and there’s no indication that this profusion spilling over is going to stop, ever, throughout eternity. These words remind and encourage us to try and name His infinite mercies, graces and blessings, consciously thanking the Lord for every drop that brims over. We can’t, and perspective quickly returns… So, we want to take this letter to thank and praise God.
- His miraculous provision– far above and beyond what we had even dreamed – all through the generosity of His precious saints, throughout our last month in the States;
- For the first time ever, we didn’t spend our last night in the States packing all night – which meant we treasured some wonderful moments with grandmas and grandpas;
- Another first – stopping by our home office and having our colleagues there spend some time praying over us and for us, before heading back to the field. That was truly special, knowing we were leaving covered in prayer;
- Receiving regular prayer updates from some of our supporting churches. They are important contributors to the ministry in Niger, and this allows us to remain a part of their local church ministry. Reaching the world for Jesus truly is a team effort;
- Joyfully sweet reunions;
- FINALLY catching up with Safana – our dear friend who has become more like family as she has worked in our home almost every day since arriving in Niger back in 2001;
- A home, walk in ready, for this year;
- Exciting dreams and plans for what our living situation will be after this year;
- Breaking ground for the new studio addition;
- Finally finishing unpacking all of our 26 checked bags and 18 carry-ons to find that almost everything made it safely to Niger;
- Some delightfully cool days to help with our transition back to life on the backside of the desert;
- Finding our waterbed… finding that it had not been consumed by termites… and being able to set it up and start using it;
- Relearning again the valuable lesson that “stuff is only stuff” with no eternal value – and God has not called us to be hoarders of stuff, regardless of how important and/or necessary those things might be. Instead, He asks us to and then provides the opportunities for us to invest in lives and souls, which have infinite value;
- Back to the routine of Saturday afternoons as a family at the pool, playing softball and eating “American” food;
- Our Land Cruiser is back on the road and driving like a dream;
- Relatively good health as we’ve been transitioning back to life in Niger;
- An exciting beginning to a new school year for Richelle, Brendan and Rebekah. Nadia begins this week; Anna, Victoria and Jonathan start (or start back)… into French… on September 2;
- Renewing fellowship with our local church;
- Good long-term planning meeting for Tim with his team of radio pastors/program producers;
- Celebrating the wedding of one of our studio helpers;
- Safety as we travel around town. It takes awhile to get used to the donkey carts, herds of animals, wild and crazy taxi drivers, motorcycles whipping in, out and around traffic, large busses on narrow bridges, camels, street dogs, beggars, and unsupervised kids running around nearly everywhere. Add to that the “off-road” driving, large potholes and sand traps… we never take safety as we travel for granted, thanking the Lord each time we arrive home without incident;
- The immediateness of Internet, communicating with family and friends both near and far away via texting, email, Yahoo messenger or Facebook allows us to continue investing in relationships on both sides of the ocean;
- Knowing that we are serving our God and Savior. This fact alone makes all of the hard things more than worth it and adds brimming over joy to that which is already delightful!
Forever thanking and praising, all because of the Great Shepherd, Tim, Richelle, Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright