May 01, 2006

Our February 2006 newsletter

February 2006
Dearest Friends and Family,

Hello! Warm and loving greetings from a cold and frosty Maryland! As I sit here rubbing my hands so I can type, I am reminded of our days in Madang when we longed to feel air conditioning…my, how things have changed! This update is long overdue and we do apologize for taking so long to write and let y’all know what is going on in our lives. Much has happened in the last two months and we are excited to share our hearts with you, our wonderful support team!

We want to thank you all so much for the amazing welcome that we received upon our return home!! Needless to say, leaving Madang was one of the hardest things we have had to do in our lives…BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy and love poured out His grace on us and gently led us each step of the way. And so here we are today, ALIVE and doing WELL! We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas together with Kari’s family…and Kari’s sister’s newest addition, Abraham, was able to join us for his first Christmas! That was the BEST gift ever. In some ways it was like a dream come true to look around the room and be surrounded by our beloved family celebrating Jesus’ birth…we had to pinch ourselves to see if we were awake!

After Christmas we were able to meet with our dear Pastor Mike, who was such an instrument in the turn around God began in our hearts. We were pretty broken when we came home and were just questioning why everything had happened and how in the world did we end up here. Our hearts just ached for the dear national friends we had made and we struggled with the feeling that we had abandoned and failed them. It was difficult for us to “face” our family and friends and supporters simply because we had felt that we let everyone down. So when we sat down and talked with Pastor Mike, it was a sweet time of ministering to our spirits! We know that the Lord Himself spoke through Pastor Mike and we were able to receive His words of love, comfort, grace and mercy. Pastor Mike encouraged us to look at the will of God as a PROCESS not a point in time. And I think we had begun to do that…we viewed being missionaries overseas in Madang as “IT”, God’s perfect will for us. We had “arrived”.

So when God changed our course it was quite a shock to us. But now, as we look back and see that God did indeed have us serve in Madang for 1 ½ yr and then He had us come home and serve in Durham. God will never view us as failures because His love isn’t dependent on what we DO! He loves us because we are His and He sent His Son Jesus to die for us to forgive us and give us new life!! Another thought hit us--God didn’t NEED us to be missionaries in Madang. But He chooses to bless us by using us to work out His perfect plan in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We may never know the WHY but we know WHO we serve! And He is faithful and constant and so worthy of all our all!! We hope that this will be an encouragement to your hearts for you all have been such a tremendous blessing to ours in welcoming us home with open arms! Not once have any of you ever made us feel like we failed or were a disappointment and we can’t tell you how much that meant to us! You all have been with us and are with us on this incredible journey that God is taking us on and we look forward to the days to come!

Alright, in January we drove up to Durham, Ontario to meet with the Canadian Management Committee as well as to visit Joel’s family. We had a lovely week together. On the committee were all men that we knew when we went through the missionary training in 2000, so it was great to see them again! They encouraged us to share freely our hearts and thoughts with them and we did. It was a good time of closure for Joel and I, we could just speak honestly and then move on. The CMC was sad to see us home but they acknowledge with us that our God is the blessed controller of all things…and this is His plan for our family right now. With that, they offered Joel a job working on the expansion and building team on base. Durham is the headquarters for New Tribes Mission of Canada as well as the 2nd and 3rd phases of the Missionary Training. Right now, they are building new student housing and staff housing to accommodate all the new people on base!
We have been so thrilled to spend time with Kari’s family as well as our dear home church family, Fellowship Chapel! What wonderful grace and love have been extended to our family during this time! Our hearts are so humbled and blessed by our church family’s acceptance and care for us…YOU all are the BEST!!

Kari has had the privilege of helping her Mom and sister out by watching Abraham some days! It is an absolute dream come true to be able to help out in this way! Abraham is the sweetest baby (after Alex and Chloe of course!) and he is a joy to take care of! We’ve also had the opportunity to visit close friends of ours, Joel visited his best friend, Micah and his wife Kara, for a week and then Kari visited her friends Edna Otzoy (my single friend in Madang) and Karen Moonsammy (who y’all remember from our team). It was so great for both of us to visit our friends who live far away and spend time with them!

Now! Tomorrow we head back up to Durham for Joel’s sister, Sarah and Derek Grant’s wedding (on the 25th)!! Yes, we cannot believe our “little” sister is getting married! Joel and I have the honor of standing up with them in the wedding and we are really looking forward to a fun time together! Joel’s brother, Nate and his wife Rachel, are also in the wedding and we are all traveling up together! We are excited about spending time with them as well AND Nate has 4 wheel drive…which will help because Durham has over FIVE FEET of snow right now! Aacckk! Alex and Chloe are thrilled to say the least!

We’d just ask for your continued prayers for us. It has been such an encouragement to know that you are behind us and praying for us! We cannot express enough our unending gratitude for the bond that we have together. There is no way we would be here today without the love and support from our family and friends!

We ask you to pray for us…right now we are trying to sell all of our belongings that arrived on the container in Madang this month. These items were all things that we bought to build our bush house. If you can just imagine the bittersweet feeling of selling the things we spent so long researching and ordering and dreaming about. However, we know that they are “just things” and the memories and relationships we built mean more to us than anything and we’ll never lose them! Our hope is that as we sell our belongings, we can begin to pay our loan off.

Another thing is once again we are starting over, rebuilding a life for our family. In many ways we are starting fresh and that’s good but we have to rebuy many things that we had to sell or leave in Madang. We were able pack up 3 crates of personal and sentimental belongings that we want to ship home when we’re able. We also ask you to pray with us that the Lord would provide the funds to pay off our plane tickets. So would you just join us in prayer as the Holy Spirit brings us to your mind, that we would lean on God’s wisdom and discernment in these decisions and that God would continue to provide all that we need?! He is our Jehovah Jireh~God our Provider and we have seen His hand move faithfully on our behalf constantly and we know that this time will be no different! PTL!

We love each of you with all our hearts and praise the Lord for the friendship that we share together! It is an honor to have you as co-laborers on this great adventure. Some of you may ask…Will you ever serve again overseas? Right now, we simply don’t know. Tribal people will forever be carved on our hearts and we believe that is a God given burden. But whether we are a part of the Great Commission overseas or stateside…that is yet to be known. God knows and we are content to just follow Him one step at a time! If anyone has any questions of what we’re doing or if I’ve confused anyone in anything that I’ve written…please feel free to write and ask!! We love to get emails and hear comments or feedback from y’all!


With much love and thanks…
In Christ who is our Life,
Joel, Kari, Alex and Chloe Schmidt

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