#VivaLondon — Joy

In less than 24 hours, we’ll be getting on a plane to begin our journey back to the States. It’s been an incredible experience, and we’re so very grateful we’ve been able to be a part of it. We’re sad to leave, and excited to be home. But mostly we’re joyful. We can’t thank you enough for reading and supporting us. We love you.

We’ve been watching a lot of Inside Out at our house lately. I love that movie. It’s equal parts visually striking and a deep, poignant look at what makes up a good amount of why we behave the way we do — our emotions. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry, I won’t be giving any spoilers or reviews today. (But do yourself a favor and go watch it!)

What I want to share about here is joy. I realized that my last couple of posts have leaned on the low side. Admittedly, it’s been a challenging journey to transition to life in the UK, and we’ve now been faced with an equally tough transition back. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the beauty (and joy) of what’s happened here for us. And the fact is, we wouldn’t feel any sadness or fear about going home if we didn’t experience heights of joy while we have been here. After all, those “negative” emotions only exist because we know we’ve found something worth hanging on tightly to.

joyIn the movie, Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) is in charge of the console that controls Riley’s reactions and behavior. The interesting thing about Joy though, is seeing just how very vulnerable she actually is. In her attempts to make everything happy, she often misses how beautiful and powerful a moment can actually be. And how sometimes the greater joy is when there’s a mix of emotions in that memory. I may be off in the weeds here a bit, but I suppose what I want to convey is that much of what we’ve attempted to communicate while we’ve been here has run the full gamut of emotions. And by showing you some of the lower points of the last couple of months, I’ve not done justice to the beauty and joy that was found through those moments as well.

So that’s what I’m going to do now. Let’s talk about the high points and joy we’ve experienced being here:

We’ve been privileged to be thrust into a very active role with Wellspring Church and the countless vastly important ministries they’re involved in. The unrelenting pursuit of the people in their community has been awe-inspiring to say the least. We’ve been brought to a new level just by sitting in rooms with these people. Seriously, off the charts.

And let’s not forget our fellow Americans that encouraged us and pushed us to come specifically to Watford in the first place. We hardly had a conversation with Nathan and Meredith Jones before we arrived at Heathrow airport (and put Nathan through having to wait for us for over 8 hours!) — and yet over this short period, I can’t begin to describe the love we’ve felt and how much we’ve been included in not only their missions ministries, but in their family. They are family to us now, no question about it. There’s no way we could have predicted this level of connectedness in six short months. We feel like we’ve known them forever.

robertsTo people like the Roberts, the Harrisons, the Whitbys, the Grahams, Dodwells, soon to be Dears, soon to be Wards — people who have had us in their homes and broken bread with us — your hospitality and grace will not be forgotten, and this friendship is only just beginning. While our physical distance may increase, we leave a piece of our hearts here in England. We love you deeply and look forward to a continued role in your lives.

We got to travel – kind of a lot – since we’ve been here. Our original idea was to see more of Europe while we were here, but our immigration situation kind of put the kibosh on that. But what was initially a disappointment led us into the desire to see as much of the UK as we possibly could. And my, we have seen a lot! We’ve traveled thousands of miles around the UK, seeing everything from Brighton to Bath to Dover to all the way north in Scotland. It’s been unbelievable.

Most of all, I want to just say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this journey. Our little family has grown leaps and bounds through this experience. If we’ve left a fraction of the impression that Watford and the people here have left on us, then this was a highly successful missions experience. We’ve grown spiritually in ways we never thought possible, and have grown more deeply connected as a married couple and family than we ever expected.

It’s been truly joyful. Cheers to you. With love.

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