Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas! One Month Abroad

Merry Christmas! The Savior is born!
The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Luke 2:11

What a different Christmas for us! 
Our typical Tennessee Christmases have been full of parties, friends, family, and traditions. We happily ran here and there to celebrate the season with as many people as we could. We are so grateful for the many important people in our lives that we have had the privilege to celebrate Christmas with in the past years. We are so thankful for families that live close together and the chances to see them all for the holidays. 

This year we have had some new experiences. 
We went to a candlelight worship service at our new church. It was so lovely! Addalyn got to help pass out candles :)

We attended a primary school age group Calypso Competition. It's a part of the Carnival celebration that occurs in St Kitts during December. We are hoping to attend the big parade next week!

One tradition in particular that we wanted to carry over was our birthday party for Jesus
We had friends from St Kitts, Switzerland, and Nigeria come to celebrate the birth of Christ with us for Christmas Eve! 

Christmas day has been different, slower, less going on. We are missing our families, but we are also enjoying being together the four of us. It feels like a big step, our very first holiday away from home. There are lots of emotions and feelings, but also lots of joy. We know that we are right where Jesus wants us to be and we can't think of a better way to celebrate when Jesus came to be with us. 

This month has also been full of settling in. 

With lots of help we moved into our house!

We found the local playground

We got back into a rhythm with school

We help facilitate church one morning, and I (Katelyn) taught the kids' class!

We had visitors!
Aaron's cousin's stopped by on a cruise and spent the day with us :)

We found a cow blocking our street.

We got to witness the baptism of one of our new friends.

And we get to see this view every day!

During our missions training we talked about a "transition bridge" 
We talked about how major transitions take us from Settled --> Unsettling --> Chaos --> Resettling -->  New Settled
After a loooong season of what felt like chaos, we finally all feel like we are in a season of resettling. It's such a blessing to know we are here and that we can make a home here. We are starting make friends, find our way around, and we can decipher stronger accents than we used to be able to. We are quicker with the money conversions, remembering to greet people properly ("Good Day!"), and getting used to the heat. While we know that the process can be a bit like a roller coaster, we are praising God for His faithfulness and the ways He is showing up here. 

We are excited about 2017 and all God will do in our first year here! 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Comers

Saturday, December 3, 2016

We have FINALLY arrived!

We're here. 

We are here. We are really for real here! 

We are really, truly, amazingly, actually here!

I have to keep reminding myself of this daily, hourly, sometimes minute to minute. One week in, and it still doesn't always feel real. 

At our missions training in August we talked about the paradox that missionaries live with. How it's possible to feel two ways at once, think two ways at once, eventually to belong to two places at once. This had been the month of paradox.

We spent November saying goodbye and soaking up as much East Tennessee love and memories as possible. We started the month by finding out that we will be getting a NIECE this march!!!
Congratulations Adam and Katie and Eli!!! We are so excited for that precious girl to arrive!

We also had early Christmas with my (Katelyn's) family so that we could celebrate all together.
It was such a fun evening with all our traditions and love and laughter. It means everything to me that we could do this together!

Then it was time to load a shipping container full of our things and send it off to St Kitts ahead of us!
It felt like we would NEVER get everything boxed up! To be prepared for SKN Customs, we had to number each box and list out an itemized inventory of each box. It was exhausting work, but I'm praying it pays off when we unpack as well as when when the Customs officer looks through it!

Then this giant box showed up at our house! It made me catch my breath to see it arrive.

Thanks to some of the best friends and family in the world, we loaded the container in an hour and a half and sent it on its way!

Our last two weeks in the states we stayed with each of our families and enjoyed the extra time with them. We celebrated Addalyn's 8th birthday, a little early, at the kids' gymnastics center.

She had a BLAST and felt so loved by all her friends who came out to play with her!

Then we had our own party to say goodbye to all out friends!

Yay for getting to say goodbye well! And yay for social media, because goodbye isn't the same as it used to be :)

Then our small group gave us a lovely going away party as well!

Somehow I managed to leave with only pictures of the girls (but none of Rebecca who came by too)?? So weird! But each one of these ladies AND their males counterparts, mean the absolute world to us! We couldn't haven't done life half as well without them. Our small groups over the years have been full of our second family and our best friends. If you don't have a tribe like that then I highly suggest you get one!!! 

Our last week included being commissioned by our church:
By our Global Pastor, Pastor Chris
We have known Pastor Chris since we were teenagers, we started going to FP in 11th grade. It was very special to have him pray over us and to send us out!

The next day we were commissioned by our North Knox campus pastor, Pastor Mike!
Aaron and I made the decision to go to the North Knox campus of our church when it launched 4 1/2 years ago because it was a few minutes closer to our house and it would open up space at the Pel campus for new people to come. I'm so grateful that we made that decision!! North has become our home in so many ways! From the wonderful friends we made to the students we had the privilege to spend time with, these people are our people. Mike has been involved in our journey to St Kitts since day one and it was incredible to have him pray for us and send us off! We know that we will always have the support and prayers of our FP family and that we will always have a home there.

We had early Christmas with the Comers!

We loved special time as an entire family!! (baby girl Comer included, although I can't WAIT to hold that sweet thing in my arms!)

Then it was time. Time to leave Thanksgiving meals. Time to leave Knoxville. Time to drive to Atlanta. Time to check in at the airport. Time to say goodbye. They were the hardest goodbyes we have ever had to say. We hugged and cried and tried to say all the things, without having enough time or words to say them. We made a decision to feel it and process it and try to say it well. 

Paradox n.
A situation or state that seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.

The last month has been
 hard and easy
stressful and restful
sad and happy
left me feeling numb and left me feeling overwhelmed with emotion
full of highs and full of lows
melancholy and joyful
special and heart wrenching
letting go but also embracing
not wanting to say goodbye but also so so excited to say hello!

We have been planning to be here, HERE, in ST Kitts, doing ministry with these awesome people (Brandon and Wendi Grayson) for the last three and a half years! This was a very sweet hello for us (even if it was an exhausted one after our flights lol)!

In our first week on the island we have said several hellos! We went to our new church, Caribbean Christian Fellowship, I went to ladies bible study and Aaron went to guys bible study, Addalyn got to go to Good News Club at a local primary (elementary) school, and today we all went to celebrate Audri Grayson's birthday (she is 6 days older than Addalyn) where we met new kids and adults we would love to get to know. 

Our life is a paradox, but so is this island. 
Most people think of St Kitts as a vacation destination, but thousands of people live and work here 
Life here means learning what we don't really NEED and learning the things that we really do want
It means spraying for cockroaches and going to the beach in the same day
It means learning new culture and new values but also making our home our own
It means driving past run down shacks on the paved route to our house or driving past a new resort being constructed on the dirt road and pot holes route 
It means being hot all day just to realize that the AC makes you feel cold at night after a few days of acclimating
It means seeing God's incredible beauty and creativity all around and seeing brokenness and hurt and sin that only the Creator can change as well

And really that is everywhere. We just don't notice the paradox as much when we are used to it in our own houses, in our own hometowns. It's one more reminder that nowhere on this earth is really our home. So while we are here, on this temporary planet, I can be ok with the goodbyes and hellos, the hard and the wonderful, because we're trusting that God will use us to help people here in St Kitts understand how to find freedom from their addictions and hope in Christ, so that one day, in our REAL home. we can celebrate with that many more.

The Comers