When we arrived at each park we usually began with Austin and Ewing setting up the tent while Eliana sat and blew up our air mattresses. Sinte arranged the food and took care of the baby. Nights were sometimes cold as we camped at some higher elevations, but we were well prepared with warm sleeping bags. Often in our lives we feel like nomads and this trip certainly allowed us to live up to that reputation.
Our first stop was visiting Calaveras Big Tree State Park in California. It was fun to walk along these giant trees even though keeping the kids on the trail was not easy. They often needed to be reminded again and again.
Afterwards we set off to camp at Yosemite National Park for two nights. Yosemite was an amazing experience for our family. Fun fact: Yosemite literally means “those who kill” which refers to one of the Indian tribes who lived in the valley. I call it “Big Rock Mountain Park” because of the way the mountains sit as just single huge rocks. I grew up in and along the Chin mountains and it was fascinating for me to be surrounded by all those huge rock formations combined with trees.
We continued our camping trip and visited six other state/national parks.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park
Arches National Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Canyon Lands National Park
After all of the camping and visiting parks we arrived and stayed at Midland, TX. Here we stayed with our good friends the Thompson family. Walter serves as the Missions and Evangelism Pastor for First Presbyterian Church of Midland and Austin and him have become good friends over the years. We were also able to meet and share with their Missions Committee (many who have come and visited us in the mission field over the years) as well as share with other members of the church. So blessed to be partnered with this church alongside so many others!
After a few days in Midland we began our trip back to Los Angeles and stopped at the Grand Canyon.
At each of the parks we visited, we saw rock formations which seemed out of this world. The colors are impossible to describe alongside so many different shapes, we just couldn’t believe our eyes. Each place we visited I kept saying, “Wow, I can’t believe these are real, they are so beautiful.” Our daughter throughout the trip would sing ‘The Maker’ by Chris August.
Everything that You have made is beautiful.
Oh, my God, I can’t believe my eyes.
But in all of this to think that You would think of me,
Makes my heart come alive.
Eliana learned this song from our time at Centerville Presbyterian Church at their VBS program. Our God, the Maker of all things is absolutely amazing and we continue to praise His name for how wonderful God He is.
Our Creator God, the source of all life is absolutely wonderful and our family was so blessed during the month of October to see parts of His creation. When we weren’t on the road, we stayed at the House of Rest in Pasadena, CA up until we left the USA in mid November. It is a place for missionary families going to or coming from the mission field. It was a great place for Austin to do some final research on some book projects before we headed back to SE Asia. Our kids were also blessed to have other missionary kids around to play with. Meanwhile, Sinte had time to prepare curriculum and materials to home school the kids for the next two years.
We continue to think of all the friends and family we had time with over this summer (too many to mention) and the wonderful churches we visited who have partnered with us over the years. We had opportunities to meet/visit Community Christian Fellowship Church, VA, Nokesville Church of the Brethren, VA, Greenwich Presbyterian Church, VA, First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro, PA, Vienna Presbyterian Church, VA, Centreville Presbyterian Church, VA, Ashburn Presbyterian Church, VA, Chambersburg Church of the Brethren, PA, Cove Church, Huntsville, AL, Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren, VA, Chapel Springs Church, VA, Pender United Methodist Church, VA, Milden Presbyterian Church, VA, First Presbyterian Church Midland, TX, Multnomah Presbyterian Church, Portland, OR, National Capital Presbytery, Global Missions Committee, and San Fernando Vietnamese Alliance Church, CA.
We are truly thankful to be extensions of so many into the mission field. We leave with sadness leaving so many friends and family behind. We go in joy knowing so many of you are behind us in our call to glorify the Lord and in the ways He leads us to build His Kingdom. Our call is much like the call of Israel. We are now heading to a mission field with many challenges and we know the journey will be difficult. Yet, somehow we go with the greatest encouragement we’ve ever had in all of our years as a missionary family. We are refreshed and renewed for where the Lord is leading us next and we thank each and everyone of you. To Christ be all the glory!