Having a sabbatical is a new experience for us. We’ve been pushing and striving for so long that we’ve forgotten how to rest. In Eswatini, we had multiple visitors daily, 7 days a week, often in large groups. While we had delegated many tasks and trained replacements, our work schedules were wrought with interruptions, pivots, and emergency planning meetings. Building a leadership-development-school/permaculture-farm/skills-training-venue in your spare time is not an easy project. Now things feel oddly quiet and empty. We’re more entertained here with TV and fast internet, but you have to push to really rest.
We’ve had a pretty easy landing all things considered. We feel loved and welcome, but have felt unsettled in many ways. For instance, we lost a carry-on bag due to the hectic nature of traveling with 3 kids and 25 pieces of luggage. Unfortunately it was the bag with Melinda’s wedding ring, most of her go-to clothes and Isa’s favorite stuffed animal -well treasured items we won’t see again. Due to all the stress of preparation, packing, moving, travel, unpacking, etc., our family has been sick on and off for weeks, starting with Melinda not feeling well the last week in Africa. Sore throats, sniffles and coughing have made the rounds to us all.
We are mostly better now and thankfully we’ve had only negative Covid results! God is good.
We have our physical needs met but we’re finding that some days are draining. It was hard to leave our friends, a brand new home and a brand new car in Eswatini. We’ve moved to Utah with substantially fewer assets and savings. We can definitely say that moving home was not the easy choice for our family. We know it was the right decision, but we can’t help but feel that it’s cost us. If nothing else, we were getting so accustomed to Africa and now everything is upside down. Our base instincts aren’t tuned for living in the states, it is going to take time to adjust.
We’ve seen the uncertainty in America surrounding rent, home prices, interest rates, and the general cost of living. We decided that it’s in our best long term interest to try and get into a home now before the interest rates/rent continue to climb. It’s a decision that feels rushed but necessary. Thankfully we have two realtors in our family! We feel God watching out for us because they’ve told us that now has been the best time to buy in a long while. Salt Lake home prices have steadied and we think we’ve locked in a good rate on a cute house. Our fingers are crossed we can close and move in soon.
We’ve also been fortunate enough to be able to purchase a previously totaled (now rebuilt!) minivan, which allowed us to get a family car at a decent price. We borrowed a bit of money to be able to buy the car without a bank loan so we’re incredibly grateful for the help getting on our feet! We are not sure how we could’ve made this transition without our amazing support system.
We’re enjoying having family close again; it’s been a good few weeks of reconnecting. We have been trying to rest and help our kids have a bit of fun before school starts. We’re close to a few family-friendly public parks with interesting features like large musical instruments, splash pads, and water routing play areas. Zach starts public school tomorrow at a great location for both our current living situation and the house we’re trying to purchase so we won’t have to move him again. Honestly, it’s been great to scratch the itch of feeling like we weren’t able to provide enrichment experiences for our kids while on mission. We recognize that they’ve had a unique experience growing up on a farm in Africa but we’re also excited to take them to museums, aquariums, parks, and hiking here.
Tomorrow, Brandon is starting work in a new position for Adventures in Missions (same organization). He’ll be helping the home office more and continuing to assist Eswatini efforts where possible along with a few other bases. If you currently help us financially, we kindly ask that you consider continuing to help us as his new role is still partially fundraised.
We’re also grateful for all the support, prayers, and financial giving you have all poured out for so many years. We would not have made it on the mission field for seven years and counting without you! There are so many great stories to share, we want to meet and reach out now that we’re back and finished with our sabbatical. We’d love to get coffee, go to the park, or hop on zoom to connect with you and share some photos and memories. Until then, let us know how we can pray for you!
Hope this is a great season, we love you all. -Brandon and Melinda
Family birthday party with full cousin mode!
Kids at play areas
25 pieces of luggage!
Kids got to play at the airport in Paris -very empty at 5am!
Safe landing at SLC airport after two days of travel