Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Guyana - October, 2006

Greetings from Guyana!

The past two months can be described using a single word: “change”.

Change. Change. Change. Over the past months so much has changed.

I left Guyana on August 15th for the beginning of a six-week stay in the United States. Within a few days of arrival, I received the honor of leading my sister’s wedding service at Nelsonville Lutheran Church in Nelsonville, Wisconsin. It was amazing to “marry my sister” and experience such joy. Not only was it great to visit with friends and family (most of which I hadn’t seen in a long while), I remember laughing about how just a few days earlier I was running through South America, and now here I was, back in Wisconsin at an energetic wedding with my fellow “cheese heads”!

Following my sister’s wedding, on August 25th Garrett and Lynn Tews (Kristen’s brother and sister-in-law) celebrated the birth of their first child, a beautiful girl named Lily Mary. It was great to share the moment with them (I will never forget the look on Garrett’s face when he pronounced his new role as father!). Then, just a few weeks later my cousin Chris Schwirtz and his wife Jennifer welcomed their own first child into the world, a wonderful girl named Olivia Claire. When I spoke with Chris on the phone, he just couldn’t believe that he was actually a father! It was great!

As if things weren’t exciting enough, on September 23rd at Trinity Lutheran Church in Waupaca, Wisconsin, I received the greatest blessing of my life, marrying the girl of my dreams – Kristen Tews. As you can imagine, words cannot explain the love I felt that day. To be surrounded by those who have shared so much care and support throughout our lifetimes, it was a day that Kristen and I will never forget. I continue to think about the great conversations and heartfelt moments experienced that afternoon, and the overwhelming joy we felt expressing our thanks to God and love for each other in front of those who had supported and prayed for us so deeply. The wedding was absolutely wonderful, and we know that the marriage to follow will be even greater.

Following the wedding, Kristen and I spent a few days in the north woods of Wisconsin, then after a weekend in Minneapolis – before we knew it – we were sitting at the International airport, boarding a plane, going through customs, waiting in layovers, and in what seemed like a flash – we were back in the land of Guyana. In a matter of 24 hours, we went from driving past the Mall of America to passing the new Guyana World Cup cricket stadium. Instead of the land of 10,000 lakes and Minnesota Twins, we were now in the land of 10,000 sugarcane fields and West Indies Cricket! That first night it was like we had landed on a different planet!

For Kristen and I, during the past months it’s been easy to focus on the many changes that have occurred. Yet, as we returned to Guyana two weeks ago and settled into our first home we were reminded of those things that have not changed: the love and support of family and friends, and the loving God that has blessed us in so many ways. Yes, a great deal has changed over the past six weeks, but what we know is that the things that we hold most dear have not.

Living overseas brings about a great deal of change, and I would be lying if I said sometimes it wasn’t difficult (…I yearn for ESPN and ice cream sandwiches!). We miss our families, we miss our friends, we miss the change of seasons, and sometimes we desire some of the conveniences we grew accustomed to in the United States. But, what we realize is that even in the midst of all the changes, alterations, adjustments, and adaptations, there are things in life that simply do not change: the love of family and friends, and the love of God. We are thankful that these things – the most important things – remain constant no matter where we go.

And so, I thank you all for the ongoing love and support that you’ve provided through this amazing time. It was great to be home, and I look forward to the next visit.

In the mean time, I always look forward to your Emails, phone calls, and various messages.

May God continue to bless you deeply…

With peace and love,