Paddy Melons, Pythons, and Kookaburras – OH MY!

This week was our annual staff retreat and with the Medical Ship crew all joining us, it made for a very special occasion indeed! For most of our staff, the many trips up to this special place make this a long-anticipated event, with the sweet memories of past trips almost as precious as the new adventures we are eager to have!

Lounging

This trip was extra-special for us as the last trip I was nearly half way through my pregnancy with Max and the time before that, well, he was just deciding to make his appearance into my belly. THIS TIME, however, we got to introduce our sweet little bundle to the joys of camping and also this special place.

Welcome to the bush, Little Man!

Normally I like to think I’m a fairly relaxed mom, but this time I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about two things:

1 – Learning how to keep a baby warm (can I just say he’s slept in a nappy and either a onesie or nothing else for almost every night of his life, so learning to do blankets and proper jammies and the rest with no climate control was a tad bit daunting!?)

2- Figuring out how to keep him quiet all night long with 150 sleeping people – most of whom are either not used to babyhood, or are new babies themselves who I didn’t want Max to wake up!!

Fortunately with a few extra cuddles, we figured both out better than I anticipated and had an absolute blast.

Toasty Cuddles!

We enjoyed the sights, the smells, the warmth of the campfire, and the thrill of chilly noses. We relished in the wildlife (we saw paddy melons, pythons, and kookaburras – all Aussie favourites!), worshiped with our friends, relaxed, and looked forward to the future.

  • Max’s highlights – playing with his friends Riikka and Levi, getting to know four kids who have just joined us on staff, eating grass, getting cuddles from all mom and dad’s friends and getting to rock to sleep in our arms or the pram for pretty much every sleep time!
  • Jared’s highlights – lots of time to read, all day long to spend with Max, and the gummy candies I packed as a treat!

  • Rebekah’s highlights – heaps of games, good chats around the campfire, and getting to just stop for a couple of days for the first time since Max arrived.

It… was… wonderful.

Jared is still camping with the DTS. There are our first nights away from him since being in the hospital for Max’s birth and our only contact has been a phone message he made with the satellite phone (love that thing.)  However, Max and I are enjoying some quality time together and the leftover smell of campfire smoke in our hair while our hearts are excited for our love to come home!

I LOVE CAMPING!

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A Daggy But Oh So Special Dedication.

I’ll be honest. We’re not your typical family. We might look typical on the outside. But we tend to do things a little bit differently than everyone else.

Which is why, when you see this picture posted below, you just might think, “Man, couldn’t they dress up for their first born son’s dedication*?!” And that would be an understatement. Because we actually look as daggy as daggy can be.

A Holy Memory

But there’s a reason.

This week when we went camping, there we were under the stars, singing songs to God, and I was absolutely struck with awe in my heart at how privileged we are to do what we do. Here we are, halfway around the world, working with an organisation where we are helping to shape a nation – by helping people one person at a time. Not only that, but we get to do it with about 150 amazing people. And what really struck me is that – even with the sacrifice of spending his days away from his adoring aunties, uncles, grandmas, grandpas and cousins – our little boy is so, so loved. Other than next door to his Nani and Papa or Grandma and Grandpa, I can’t think of a better place I’d want my son to live, learn, and  be loved.

So it was, with tears glistening under those twinkling stars, camping at a place that has come to be a special home to us with so many memories, that we decided to dedicate Max  around the campfire in front of 150 of our closest friends and coworkers.

That night will become one of my most special memories, as we counted the cost of parenthood – the sacrifice it takes (and oh, is there sacrifice!) to raise our precious boy, and also the sacrifice it will be to one day release him to do whatever it is God asks him to – and committed before God and our friends to do our very best to love our sweet Max.

It was one of my most proud moments of Jared, as with tears in his eyes he so eloquently committed these things in words so sweet I can’t even begin to do them justice with my memory. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate in this journey.

We make mistakes often. And we’ve only been parents for 4 1/2 months. But our hope and prayer is that even our shortcomings and failures would point Max to find comfort and hope and identity and truth in His Creator… and to bring life to many.

* Wondering what we mean by dedication? Its a bit of a “Christianese” term, if you will, but in reality its similar to a marriage ceremony in that we wanted to make a special statement to help seal in our memory our commitment to love and raise our little boy.

A Wonderful Retreat

All of the RTO staff and students took off for an amazing bit of a retreat at the end of August. It was lovely to be in the great outdoors and to enjoy one another’s company. We had some great teaching on working within our strengths in our teams, lots of productive discussions, and wonderful time of being with God. Most of all, it was so refreshing to be reminded of the amazing people we work with every day…

Here is a glimpse of the time:

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