Note: This is an email we sent out earlier this week.
Greetings from the hot, hot summer of Bethlehem! It's been a busy summer, but we're enjoying it. Paidia is continuing to plan for programs in the Fall, finding land to build the high ropes course, and gearing up for our annual carnival. We're also enjoying spending time with friends - hanging out, have bbqs, and swimming. Hiba is growing every day and is so much fun right now. Matthias is also growing every day, as is Sarah's belly - that's not as much fun. But we are really looking forward to his arrival, now less than two months away!
In our last email, we asked you to pray for us as we think about our plans for the future. Thank you for your prayers. We have decided to move back to the US at the end of December. There were a lot of factors that went into making this decision - the ability to get visas, our roles at Paidia, and some family issues being the main factors. After a lot of prayer and counsel from others, we really feel a peace about this decision and believe it is the right next step for us.
For Paidia, this means that we will have to hire or find a replacement for Jason before December. Current staff will take over a number of his duties, but we are on the look out for someone with experiential learning experience who has a desire to live and work in Bethlehem for a time. Obviously this will be a huge change for the organization, but we believe that it is now in a position to continue to thrive in the face of these changes. In addition, Jason will continue to help support Paidia in a consultive and (perhaps) a fundraising/advocacy role. This is something that will be further defined later.
We will be moving to Little Rock, AR sometime at the end of December. Jason will be looking for job over the next few months and hopefully find something before we move back. So if you hear of anything - let us know. :-) Sarah is planning on staying home with our two kids and will continue her work with Paidia as the Volunteer Coordinator from the US. She will continue to develop the program and work mostly with marketing it and recruiting volunteers.
This move is exciting, sad, and nerve-wracking, all at the same time. We are excited beyond words to live near our families again. We are very sad to be moving away from our friends and loved ones here in Palestine. We are also nervous about how we will adjust to living in the US and to more structured work environments. There are some feelings of failure, and of course, wondering if we are really hearing God correctly. I (Jason) have had to stop writing this a couple of times as I feel the tears well up in the midst of these conflicting emotions, please pray for peace and comfort.
We would like to thank you so much for your consistent support, both in prayer and finances, while we have been in Bethlehem. We have been so blessed and well taken care of while we have lived here. We have been continually amazed at the way God has provided for us and trust that He will continue to do so.
While we will be done with our work in Bethlehem at the end of the year, we ask that those of you who support us financially on a regular basis consider continuing to support us financially through the end of February. While we hope that Jason will find a job before or as soon as we move back, we would like a chance to get our feet under us while we transition. Please know that we do not want to put pressure on you and will understand and be blessed by whatever decision you make. If you will commit to supporting us through the end of February, please let us know.
Please continue to pray for us as we finish up here and transition to life back in the US. Specifically, please pray for:
-Energy and enthusiasm for our work with Paida as we come to the end of our time. -A safe and easy birth/delivery for Matthias and Sarah -Wisdom and guidance when making decisions about jobs, housing, etc. -Unity as we have a lot decisions ahead of us - big and small - and will have to deal with different issues that come with moving and starting over in a new place. -Pray that we won't idealize what life in the US will be like so that we can enjoy the rest of our time here and have realistic expectations of the struggles ahead of us. -Our friends and "family" here, that we will enjoy the last couple of months that we have with them. Pray that we will all stay in touch and not grow apart because of the distance that will be between us.
-Our mental state. There is a lot to think and feel during all these changes. Please pray that God will comfort and support us.
Thank you again for all of the love, support, and prayers that you have given us over the past three years. We have been so blessed to have such a strong team of people behind us as we have lived and worked in Palestine.
Jason, Sarah, Hiba, and Matthias
P.S. If you have an questions or just want to talk about this stuff, please feel free to call or write and we will do as much as we can to communicate openly and honestly.