It’s been an exciting few weeks in the life of the Garber Gang. Since we’ve been back in Arizona, things have been moving along at a fairly quick pace. With life in the fast lane, it’s sometimes difficult to take a pause, a deep breath, and reflect on the blessings you’ve recently encountered.
We’ve been so lucky to have dozens (yes, dozens) of tasty meals with friends. We’ve spent hours (yes, hours) of time in various swimming pools across the Valley of the Sun (a must when temperatures are still consistently above 100º Fahrenheit). We’ve driven hundreds (yes, hundreds) of miles (all thanks to the generosity of our friends the Allison’s and the Bawulski’s).
With so many blessings to count, you can’t help but have a little spring in your step – or perhaps a do—op-hop?
Trinity Mennonite Church Leadership Team Meeting
On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Josh and I were invited to meet with the Trinity Mennonite Church leadership team. We were asked to share about our time in Lithuania as well as our upcoming mission assignment with Mennonite Mission Network in Barcelona, Spain. For over ninety minutes we were able to scratch the surface of our time at LCC International University then present about our visit and recent assignment to Spain.
Josh was able to share the video he’s been editing for hours and the Leadership Team had time to ask questions and help us process our time in both countries. It felt so great to reconnect with members of our home congregation and express gratitude for their support of the past four years in Klaipeda.
In the meeting we were also able to discuss the need for building a Missionary Support Team (MST) for while we serve in Barcelona in the coming years. In the days following the discussion, we received messages from several team members with encouragement, affirmations, and recommendations for the MST. Additionally, TMC has agreed to continue to support our ministry financially in the coming year (assuming the church's budget passes without issue) – a huge blessing!
Asher's Baby Dedication & Shower
On Sunday, Aug. 27, the blessings continued to overflow when we celebrated Asher at Trinity with a baby dedication and shower. During the service, the Care Minister asked us a series of questions:
- Do you accept Asher as a gift from God?
- Do you dedicate yourself as a parent to bring up your child in the love and knowledge of the Lord, preparing him to come to an open confession of Christ?
- Will you see that this child is nurtured in the faith of the church, and by your prayers and witness guide him into the full stature of Christ?
- Do you promise to gladly surrender your child to the ministry God has in mind for him, even if it might involve going to the ends of the earth?
Now, these questions might seem like no-brainers. Of course we want all these things for our little dude! It was so beautiful to affirm that we will do our best to fulfill these things for him, doing our best to raise him with as much love as we can and trying to be a daily example of Christ for him. Next, the congregation had to make a few promises, too! They were asked to make the following commitment:
“Do you accept responsibility for the well-being of this child, will you by prayer, and example, and words support his parents in nurturing him to respond to the grace and truth that are in Christ?”
It’s so cool to know that so many people in Asher’s lives will be alongside to support him (and us) as he grows!
Lastly, we were asked to read a letter that we wrote to him. It went like this:
Oh, how we waited for you. With breath held, in anxious anticipation, we waited, and waited, and waited.
Then, in your own way, you arrived. Late, and through an unexpected detour, you came into our lives in a quiet hospital near the Baltic Sea. Then, at the sound of your cry, we exhaled, thanking God for you – our precious miracle.
Now you are here and the real adventure begins. This is a letter to you – not a wishlist of what we’d like you to become or of the characteristics we hope you’ll someday possess. In some ways, it’s an apology – in advance – for the ways we'll sometimes fall short as your parents. On the days when we do not meet your needs, and the embrace of our arms fail to comfort, we pray you seek refuge in God and not in earthly things.
- For when you have worry, read Matthew 6:25-34
- For when you want encouragement, read Psalm 126
- For when you are in sorrow, read John 14
- For when your faith needs rejuvenation, read Hebrews 11
- For when you need courage, read Joshua 1
- And for when the path isn’t clear, look closely at the Gospels and do you best to be more like Jesus.
Your name in Hebrew means “happy, fortunate one.” It is us who are fortunate to have you, our adventure baby. We are so happy that you have joined our family and we promise you a life full of abundance. Abundant joy. Abundant love. Abundant peace. And, of course, an even greater abundance of adventures.
Your journey will not be conventional, but we will do our best to help you feel safe, encouraged and supported as you bravely forge your own path, setting Jesus as your compass that always points towards God.
We love you, Asher!
After the service concluded, we were super blessed with an amazing baby shower, hosted by Darla, Denae and Melody. Feeling fully embraced, Asher now has a basket full of gift cards that will keep him stocked on all the essentials while we are back in Arizona fundraising. An absolute Do-Op-Hop moment!
A New Adventure
Finally, on Monday, Aug. 28, I started a new job at Maricopa County Education Services Agency (MCESA) – you should “like” them on Facebook! Thanks to the referral from friend Laurie King, I’m now the administrative specialist for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), MATH 20/20 and English programs in Maricopa County. Our team provides workshops and training seminars to teachers all over the county (and some in further parts of Arizona) to help them be better teachers.
Even though it’s just a temporary position to help cover our living expenses while in Arizona (and much needed health insurance), I already feel that I can help the team become more efficient and boost morale. Although the time away from Asher and Josh is difficult, I know that the extra income will make our fundraising efforts more effective – since we’ll be able to comfortably travel to places outside of Arizona to network.
I’ve placed photos of Josh and Asher all around my desk to remind myself that I am committed to working no more than forty hours a week. On my current schedule (8am to 4:30pm), I have a fairly comfortable commute to the office at Indian School and Central – just enough time to listen to NPR and drink a cup of coffee – certainly something to Do-Op-Hop about.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our family as we have transitioned back to (temporary) life in the USA. Although we still experience the occasional culture shock, that shock is absorbed by your warm embrace.