It has been said that all creation and its workings contain metaphors for spiritual truth – what we see and experience is but shadows of a greater reality. For example, we can testify that in life – and in ministry – there are storms, calm after the storms, quiet times of recovery and preparation before the storm returns. For us, Africa was a storm, South Carolina where Matti was born was the calm after the storm and Germany has been a wonderfully sunny period of refreshment, recovery and preparation. It was so good that it makes us suspicious of the coming storm…

We praise God for His response from your petitions last month for smooth logistics (down to the last checked bag that weighed exactly 50 pounds J ), consolation in the farewells and encouragement from many teammates, both old and new, committing to walk beside us in prayer over the next year.

Trust entwines with trepidation as we depart clear skies, arriving in Palau on 6 September (assuming stand-by seats are available). The pilot/missionary we will replace warned us about some complex circumstances that await us there and the importance of prayer paving the path with patience and grace. Will you echo these requests with us as we cross the pond to the South Pacific?

When Zoe turned 2 we moved to France. Just after turning 3 we took her to Africa. She just turned 4. Off we go to Palau. It’s a tradition we’re hoping to discontinue…

PS: The last of our pictures from Germany… http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnadouglass/sets

We have been packing for a month, but intensified our efforts during the last few days of July. A team of folks had promised to join us to help move heavy stuff into the container. Trusting that they would come, we stepped out in faith and prepared for them. Lo and behold, that Saturday morning, they showed up and together we accomplished great strides toward squishing our home into a 20×7 foot box. It was God responding to your prayers for smooth logistics. Thank you! It was also in a sense a piece of the answer to Jesus’ prayers: the Kingdom of God took a little step toward coming on Earth as His children loved on another1. We cannot say how much it meant and how much it helped that folks promised to come…and then showed up.

Likewise, we SO MUCH appreciate y’all who have made the commitment to come with us before God’s throne one day each month (or more! J). Great things already have and will continue to happen as God hears and responds. THANK YOU! It means an immense amount to us to know for sure that you will be there with us, standing before the King. (If you would like to find out more about praying with us, please see our prayer team page.)

So today please join us in asking for continued smooth logistics as the container begins its journey to the Pacific and as we move into billeting on base, then on to New Jersey at the end of August…and Palau 5 September. Please also pray for encouragement and emotional strength for all the good-bye’s we will share this month.

1 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34.

Zoe and Justus learn to drive. He is her best friend and lives across the street.

Our departure from Germany is approaching at a pace that leaves us breathless and the realization brings tears at the most unexpected moments: though we look forward to rejoining the front lines, we tremendously enjoy it here! In these bittersweet days, our hearts are travel the railroad tracks of simultaneous joy and sorrow, with which many of you are all too familiar. 🙂

As we dive into details of overseas relocation #6, we find that God is still working anonymous miracles (also known as coincidences). Most recently, the cost of shipping our stuff to Palau matches almost exactly the cost the government will cover. If that weren’t sufficient confirmation of God’s directing, we’re also seeing His abundance in the fact that Chili is getting to go with us with only a 5 day quarantine, rather than the traditional 6 months. Furthermore, every single godly mentor in our life is not just supportive, but excited about us going. The Lord is answering your prayers on our behalf for clear discernment and we thank you deeply for interceding for us.

Today would you please pray with us that God would continue to pave the way, not only for logistics, but also in our hearts as we move away from these deepening friendships at the end of this month. Zoe in particular has grown to thoroughly enjoy playing with the little boy across the street. Having moved overseas 5 times already, she has an idea of what is coming, but he’s never had a friend leave; in fact, he’s never had a close friend like her in his short life. Mommy, too, is finding it far harder to face leaving than anticipated. It serves as a daily reminder that Heaven will be pretty amazing – to even beat a place like

this!

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. A little quieter they day we visited than it was 69 years and one week before…

We were looking west, but not far enough. When Western Seminary in Oregon accepted Slick for doctoral studies and his boss opted to release him in August, we understood that God wanted us to move again. And we thought it would be to Portland, but apparently we weren’t looking far enough west.

When friends forwarded us an email about the need for a twin-rated pilot to fill in for one year on the South Pacific island of Palau with Pacific Mission Aviation (www.pmapacific.org), starting in September, we raised an eyebrow. At first that was all, but over several weeks other events began a crescendo of cooperation.

This past Monday God led us to decline an offer here in Germany. On Tuesday we received notice that we were approved to be PMA missionaries. On Wednesday, the church that “sent” us to Africa welcomed us back to active missionary status. Another church remains committed, whenever we should return to the classic “mission field”. Today is Thursday and as we reflect on the many “fits” and coincidences and many details falling together all at once, we cannot ignore the evidence of God’s unseen hand.

The telling factors? God previously arranged that we should have theological training for mission work. He had already provided flying training for mission aviation, including sea plane ratings (which might be rather useful on a series of islands!) and multi-engine ratings (which are required for this particular post, but rare among available mission aviators). He determined that we would be available to move at the end of August and armed us with plenty of experience at moving ourselves overseas. Zoe is one year out from being “school age” and this post is for one year – until two pilots who are in the PMA “pipeline” are fully trained and ready. And finally, it just so happens that the folks who need to step away from PMA due to the challenges of age (67!) are friends whom we highly respect.

Thus, after much prayer and discussion with our pastor and several mentors over the last few months, we believe Palau is where God is leading this next step of our lives. Our only concern is that our one year in the tropics might stretch into a much longer season of our lives. Should that happen, we are certain there is no better place for our family – none other than the center of our Creator’s will.

That being said, we’d love to invite you to join our journey once again, either through prayer or financially – or both. For those who have continued to pray for us and drop us emails of encouragement, we cannot thank you enough: those tangible glimpses of the body of Christ at work have nourished us deeply. We will be re-energizing our “prayer calendar” so let us know if you want back in the gameor if you want to pick your day to pray for us and join the team (for more info, see http://donnadouglass.wordpress.com/ministry/prayer/). To support us financially, please see http://donnadouglass.wordpress.com/ministry/donate/. We need to raise $4300/month and $10,300 for outbound expenses. Thank you for investing!

And thank you for considering being on the team that will work with us as we go forth. We look forward to sharing with all of you “back home” how God moves in answer to your prayers.

Funny how you never know how much one email will change the course of your life :).

Over time, the sojourn to Africa begins to make a little more sense to us… The other day Slick had a tiny bit more insight into the great “why” of it all. A voice of experience once told us, if you think God might want you to become a pastor, try every other road first. If He wants you to be a pastor, nothing else will work.

Not long after, both of us reached a point where being in full-time ministry seemed to be the only right response to the immense gift God had given us – the gift of His Son, through whom we can have a relationship with God Himself, which is the very definition of eternal life.1 So off we went to Africa, the quintessential Mission Field, with the wholehearted support of many godly advisors.

Were we all wrong? We know sans doubt that God wanted us in Africa…and we know just as certainly that He led us back to the US a short seven months later. An obvious reason “why” eludes us, but we now see several results. First, had we never gone to The Mission Field, but instead entered straight into traditional ministry, we would always wonder when times were hard if we’d made a mistake – if we were supposed to go be the missionary pilots we’d dreamed of since we were young. Now with assurance born of experience, we say, “no, that is not where God would have us.” Second, our mindset for the last several years has transformed into one of fulltime ministry. Now in a “secular” job, we still view ourselves as fulltime “ministers,” fulltime workers in God’s Kingdom. It is a step closer to how we all know we should think: what we do is irrelevant; who we are is His ambassadors to our little corner of the world wherever that is – and that is our fulltime “profession”.

So Africa has taught us some valuable lessons, but I have to admit that as we heal and move on, we thank Him daily for placing us in a place our hearts humbly and simply enjoy. I think He is pleased with that, too. Slick used to often say, as he watched God work through him in lives and situations, that he liked being a tool in God’s hand. He says that less frequently these days, hoping that as he continues to mature, God would use him as something other than a hammer! 🙂

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.2 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.3

1 John 17:3
2 John 3:8
3 Isaiah 55:8

An isolated island in the rushing torrent of “modern life,” set apart in space and time. No wi-fi, out of cell coverage, no satellite or cable, only one phone line for the office. In the tents and cabins, no electricity or running water. Camp leaped toward modernity with the addition of their overhead projector. But the vacancy left by all these “missing” things goes unnoticed beneath the landslide of life bubbling over from counselors being caught by campers. Acapella songs spontaneously erupt in the dining hall after meals, laughter rings through the woods, smiles and healing tears are never far from expression. The missing technology, the vibrance, the Adirondack forest’s tranquility and the still mist of Davignon Pond in the morning invite hearts to let down their guard and experience God in ways rarely possible elsewhere in the “real” world.

What a great place camp was for our family to spend the summer of limbo between assignments. Sandi helped immensely in the office while Donna watched our kids and did odd jobs like fixing the bugle system. Zoe painted rocks, colored pictures, swam in the lake and played in the sandbox with her new friends. Matti excelled at her primary responsibility: growing. Having finally recovered from bug bites and scratches, we are now in Germany’s Eifel region not far from Luxemburg where Slick soon starts his work with the Air Force simulator program at Spangdahlem Airbase.

While we prefer God give us our marching orders through His Word, through prayer and through the counsel of godly advisors, He chose to guide us through a multitude of closed doors. We have now walked through the only one left open. Nevertheless, we are thankful for His very clear guidance, in accordance with your prayers. Thank you for praying!

He has already given us a great house with a view, lots of space for guests and a wonderful kindergarten. While we continue to seek the right car, we’d ask you to join us in prayer that God would show us the work He’d have us do here. Until He shows us something else, we’re focusing on the basics of loving on each other and raising the girls. But if there’s more to be done, we seek to be prepared and available when and where He directs.

The sisters get along wonderfully.

We have a lot of transitions going on in the Douglass home!

FAREWELLS (the next chapter about Slick’s parents): With great peace and surrounded by family and friends, Slick’s mother passed away on Monday 7 May in her own bed at home. We saw her the Saturday before at the wedding of Slick’s younger brother CT. Matti was only 12 days old when we flew up to Minnesota for Grandma to meet her second grandchild and spend some time with her first, Zoe. Brenda glowed as she held the tiny one on her lap. She glowed also during the wedding reception as she asked Donna if she could see her cup running over with the love and blessing she felt. In Slick’s last conversation with Mom she told him that angels were all around her. She asked if he believe her so he recounted the story about Elisha: When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17). Slick thanks God for the assurance that Brenda is now decorating the rooms the Lord has prepared for our family there. We thank you for praying with us.

NEXT STEPS (the next chapter of our lives): With great trepidation we bring y’all another prayer request. As we’ve said before we will most likely not return to Africa. Consequently, we are seeking the Lord’s guidance and Slick has applied for some jobs. When asked what he really wants to do he replied, “I want to pastor that church in Winter Park (Colorado).” (We visited Fraser Baptist on Easter 2010 while raising support and visiting family. We found out they were looking for a pastor and the more Slick got to know the people the more the fire in his heart grew…but we knew the Lord was sending us to Africa and so he refrained from applying.) Last month, Donna suggested looking at Fraser again, but we knew they had hired a pastor already.

A few days later without knowing why Slick checked on Fraser via their website. It looked dated and not quite right. Searching further, the staff page displayed no name beside the pastor slot… For the first time during the job hunt, Slick heard pounded. Several phone calls revealed that the man they had hired left after only seven months and the church was heartbroken. Their confidence shattered, they have turned to the state church association for guidance.

Slick shared our encounter with Fraser with the state association. Though interested, they want to move slowly. They have considered adding him to the transition team but want to apply due diligence before making any moves. Thus we wait while they move through whatever process they must follow.

Meanwhile, the end of May brings the end of our time in this loaned house and the selections for some of the civilian jobs Slick has applied for. In need of a home and means to support a family, we feel that the end of the month is 4th down and 15 yards…either we hear from the CO state board and we move forward with Fraser or Slick takes a different job and we bloom where we are planted…

Above all, we desire that His be done, whether following our own hearts’ desire and pastoring in Colorado…or otherwise. Thus we ask you to pray that God would move the hearts of those He has placed in authority in His church in CO and that He guide us clearly by closing the doors to all other jobs. But if not, that He give us the confidence to rest in the manifestation of His will through the association’s silence and steer us to the job of His choosing.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John5:14-15).