“God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden… The best gift of the desert is God’s presence… The protective love of the Shepherd gives me courage to face the interior journey.” (Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World)
For the last three years we have resided in the green, verdant valleys of Pennsylvania. When we came back on our year of U.S. assignment in June 2014, we had no idea we’d be living here for this long. But God did! God provided for us as we made a vocational shift, let us be near educational opportunities to equip our new mission focus, and then we were also near medical expertise as Joyce’s health crisis unfolded. But now this part of our journey is coming to a close. Next Tuesday we are packing a moving van and driving it across the country to Arizona!
We had anticipated that the Baja Desert would once again be our home base as we lived into our new role as Regional Missionaries to Latin America and the Caribbean. However, that all went sideways when Joyce got sick. And even though she is better (more on that below), her immune system needs to reboot before living internationally full-time. So now God is leading us towards another desert–the Sonoran Desert of the SW! While this makes sense logistically for our international travel, we also believe God’s tug on our souls has deeper spiritual implications.
The Solitude of Wilderness
The desert has always represented a place of dangerous beauty. Struggle and challenge are evident there on a daily basis. We talk about the dry, restless times in our lives as “desert” experiences. Scripture is full of stories of people who went into the desert for wisdom and discernment. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for forty days after his baptism (Luke 4). The silence of the desert will not let you ignore the voice of your inner life. Things that were buried rise to the surface. The journey of the wilderness is a soul pilgrimage. So, as we invite our international students, colleagues, and partners to go deeper with God, we are being called to the same path. We cannot teach what we do not know. This physical move to the desert is a parallel journey to our interior lives. This is often how God weaves your exterior and interior lives together.
We had been sensing a tug to move West for some time. But a variety of circumstances kept us in PA. Then, after Joyce’s latest colonoscopy in early April, we felt God released us to change geographic locations. There is still some chronic inflammation in Joyce’s system, but her gastroenterologist said no treatment was needed, and she doesn’t need another exam for a year. Joyce is now working with a nutritional expert to craft a diet and supplement plan to address the inflammation. Her energy has returned and life is good! Sustained by your prayers, and trusting in God’s further healing, we go forward by faith to embrace the next adventure!
Our Summer Plans
We will be residing in Scottsdale, AZ for the summer while we explore long-term housing options. We will be attending the Biennial Mission Summit in Portland, OR at the end of June. We have been invited to be available as Spiritual Directors/Spiritual Companions in the practice of holy listening. If you’re going to attend, then let us know so we can connect! Joyce will be the featured missionary speaker at the PA/DE women’s conference at Shippensburg, PA in mid-July. Late July into August, we will be leading self-care/soul-care workshops for our missionary colleagues at Green Lake, WI. In mid-August David will be flying to Brazil for the face-to-face week long orientation with our next group of students in our on-line Spiritual Formation class for the Masters of Theology program through Palmer Seminary. A lot is going on!
Ian has been visiting CA’s National Parks during his free time. He called Joyce on her birthday from the top of a mountain at Yosemite National Park. He used his phone to show us a panoramic view of the valley below. When technology works! Aaron is spending the next 6 months working for the AZ Conservation Corp out of Flagstaff. On one of his recent days off he called us from the Grand Canyon. So proud of them as they continue to mature into the men God has called them to be!
A Sacred Thing
John O’Donohue, in his poem “For the Traveler” says a journey can become a sacred thing. This is our hope and prayer for our days ahead. That we would intentionally listen to God’s heart and our hearts as we allow ourselves to expand and be awakened to something new. May your journey be full of sacred, too. This will be our prayer for you!
Falling deeper in love with Jesus,
David and Joyce
We can receive mail in AZ at this address:
1420 E. McNair Dr
Tempe, AZ 85283