Noun – an anchored float serving as a navigation mark, to show reefs or other hazards, or for mooring.
We are here, in Brookings OR, on the Southern Oregon coast. And when I say on the coast, I mean it. Some friends have given us their vacation rental for a few days overlooking a cove in the Pacific. The views are just spectacular. Because we are in a cove, and because we are near a reef, there is a buoy sitting, oh 500 yds offshore, swaying and ringing in the surf day and night. It is one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard. A deep ringing bass of a bell, that warns boats that they are nearing a reef. A warning of danger. A navigation mark to say “you are here,” as buoy is marked on the navigational charts of these waters. The thing about it is this: you can’t always hear the buoy, at least not where we are. The surf and the noises of the day combine to drown out this important navigational marker and warning during the day. At night, ah, at night, all is calm in this little cove and the buoy just sings us to sleep and continues to serenade us when we wake in the night – reassuring us that it is on watch and that all is well. This buoy is an excellent reminder of what makes furlough a good and necessary exercise for us a family and for me personally. You see, at the hospital, the “surf” and the “noise of the day” so often drown out God’s warnings and God’s navigational markers that I miss them. I don’t hear them. And so, just like the nighttime here on the coast, being away from Balfate allows me to hear God’s warnings and see God’s navigational markers much more clearly. “You’re getting near a reef (danger), steer away!” “Sit down and look at the map – you are here.” Having time to stop and consider what things I need to steer away from and where “I am” with family, my responsibilities, relationships – it is valuable beyond words. I’m sure that we all need times like this. Furlough allows us to build them into our life as missionaries.
And so, as we consider week two of our eleven week 2015 furlough, I thought it might be good to take some time each week and expound on why we do furlough. The buoy isn’t necessarily the most important reason, it is just the one that came up first in my mind last night as I woke up and listened to the bell that I hadn’t heard most of the day. By the way, my final analogy on this topic is this: I hear the bell more now, on the second day because I heard the bell last night, when it was quiet, and I know what to listen for. I pray that as I return to Honduras and to the crazy chaotic life that we lead there, that I’ll hear God’s warnings and navigational messages better when I get back because I’ll know better what to listen for.
I’ll end with a quick report on week 2. We left Northern Washington and headed down to the southern end of Washington (Vancouver) near Portland. Week 1 ended with the incredible privilege of being included in the huge Johnson family reunion at Big Lake WA and being adopted for a weekend by this wonderful family. Week 2 began with a trip to see my mom’s oldest sister, Aunt Sarah, in La Conner Washington and my cousins Billy and his wife Norma. We really enjoyed our brief visit with them and stories of my mom, who passed away in ’95, and my grandparents. The majority of week 2 was spent with another amazing couple, who are the sister and brother in law of our dear friends John and Penny Alden. We toured Portland. I met with several contacts regarding new funding sources for the hospital. I worked one day. We had an amazing homemade Mexican dinner one night with our sister in law Patsy’s side of the family. We had a wonderful Argentinian supper with a family that had been down to the hospital a couple of times. We then moved down to Jacksonville OR for some quality time with our “family” from Jacksonville Presbyterian Church. Dr Rich Owens and his lovely wife Stacey are our hosts for the end of week two and part of week three and they have provided yet another sanctuary home for us to stay in and just relax and enjoy ourselves. More on week three and more reasons why we do furlough in a few more days. May God grant you the peace to hear the buoys that he has set out for you in your life!