We arrived back home on June 30th. What a whirlwind of a time in Manitoba! Thank you to all of the churches, supporters, committees, and all-around awesome people who hosted us while we were in town. During that one-month deputation I was frequently asked about our home and life in Indiana, so I thought I'd write and tell y’all about it!
We live in Elkhart, Indiana. No worries if you have no idea where that is, because I sure didn't. It's in the midwest, nestled between Chicago and Detroit, just off the interstate. In fact, that's how we get a lot of our guests – people on a road trip somewhere down the I90 who stop in for a night. We love it! The Lord has blessed us with a house, and we are very happy to share it with anyone passing through (or wanting to make us a destination for a visit).
Elkhart has a population of 60,000, but the fact you share a road with horses and buggies gives it a much smaller-town feel. There is a large Amish population that lives in the surrounding area, which provides picturesque scenery on country drives and rich cultural diversity.
The main industry in Elkhart is Recreational Vehicle (RV) manufacturing. If you own an RV (or next time you're in one) you're bound to find a "Made in Elkhart, Indiana" stamp somewhere in it. In the recession of 2009, Elkhart County was one of the hardest-hit economies. When people could no longer afford their own homes, hardly anyone was purchasing RVs. As a result, jobs were lost, the economy crashed, and many left town seeking employment. This also flooded the housing market with homes. These effects were still lingering when we arrived in summer 2014, which allowed us the opportunity to purchase a home at a very affordable price.
Our house is a seven-minute drive from work. We are a single-vehicle family, so sometimes Tom bikes to work or a colleague picks him up, so the boys and I can have the car during the day. When we purchased our home it was in desperate need of updating (providing an even better selling price), and over the past two years we've been working diligently on doing those updates ourselves. We've had many late nights of looking up Do It Yourself projects on YouTube and conquering some steep learning curves. It's fun to think that God gave us elbow grease and creativity as resources. We love our home and now, after two years of renovations and redecorating, it's starting to come together, although there's much left to do.
Another large part of our lives in Indiana is homeschooling our boys. Teaching five-year-old Jonathan how to read, write, and 'rithmetic is an incredible experience. Two-year-old Matthew enjoys tagging along for some of the schoolwork, but often toddles off and plays with his train set instead. Although we have been schooling for much of the summer, the school year in Indiana officially started on August 10th.
And of course the biggest part of our lives in Indiana – the mission. We work at SonSet Solutions, on loan from Reach Beyond, as a missionary family. Both Tom and I serve at the office; he as an engineer and I as a nutrition consultant. We help partners in developing countries advance the gospel.
For Tom, work is as busy as ever this summer as he mentors a handful of engineering student interns. I am working in partnership with Global Outreach Mission to run a funding campaign for the feeding program at Pioneer Christian Hospital (where I served in Congo this past January). Many of you have asked how you can help financially, and this will be the answer. Stay tuned for the funding campaign launching soon!
If you would like to come to Elkhart and check out the mission and our life here for yourself, know that our doors are always open (but book ahead, as the guest room might be full!).
Thank you all for your continued prayers and financial support. It is indeed what anchors us in ministry.