Summer Ponderings

Hello! Sorry it’s been so long since we last sent out an update. There hasn’t been very much to write about in recent months. However, a few little things have changed in our lives since Easter… The most important of these is a shift in our mindsets. I think going away to Israel for a week helped us see our ‘normal, working life’ from a new perspective. Just getting away from the bustle and routine of life for a week gave us the space to think, and begin to approach life in a new way when we returned. I’ll try to explain.

For our whole lives up until this point we have always been looking forward to the next thing – finishing school; getting to Bolivia; going to Bible College; graduating; becoming ‘full-time-missionaries’ – and so since we didn’t immediately have a concrete plan to move abroad and work for a mission organisation, we found jobs to pay the bills in this ‘interim’ time. That is the way we saw it. And so over time we became increasingly uncomfortable with this lack of future plan – we wanted to be able to prepare, fundraise, learn the language of wherever it is that we will end up – and the not knowing was making us irritable, making us almost resent being here, despite having fantastic jobs, wonderful accommodation, in a beautiful setting – living in comfort. And the more settled we noticed ourselves becoming the more irritating this was for us: we felt like perhaps we shouldn’t be here; we should be looking for placements abroad, and pursuing different options, and pushing on doors. It’s not for lack of options – indeed, we felt somewhat overwhelmed with the vast array of opportunities out there. But we had no inclination of which option to choose; where even to begin. We considered doing a several-month-long trip to various different places, to get a feel for some of the different potential placements and have something solid to choose from – but it just didn’t seem right, somehow. So we kept praying, kept wondering, and kept on working and living fairly normal British lives, and this irritation remained. What are we doing here?! Why haven’t we gone somewhere yet?! What are we waiting for?!

By the time Easter came, we had been praying for some months that God would either show us where to go, and what to prepare for, or take away this strong discontentment that we had been feeling. We knew that we should be using this ‘interim’ time to grow where God has put us, to be missionaries here, and to learn vital skills that will be transferrable wherever we may end up. So that is what we were trying to do – and were praying desperately that God would remove this sense of irritation and discomfort, or else show us what to do. He didn’t seem to answer for quite some time. Then we had a week away in Israel visiting our friend out there, and had a lovely time with her, meeting people, seeing the sights, and thinking and praying about life and about everything in general.

We returned from Israel feeling refreshed and happy, but didn’t really notice until later the change that had come about inside both of us. Perhaps it just hit home that our friend’s life in Israel is more or less a ‘normal working life’ but in a different culture and with all the stress and complexity that accompanies that sort of work – or perhaps it was simply the time away and the return to our Gloucester life that caused it; I don’t know. But we were no longer feeling that pressure to leave the UK immediately. We felt like we could give ourselves permission to live the semi-settled life that we had found ourselves in. We no longer felt like we are in an ‘interim’ at all, but another equally important stage of our journey, a stage that will be as long or as short as it needs to be. We felt content – and so very thankful to God for it!

So in answer to the many questions that we hear from well-meaning friends all the time, yes we are still hoping to go into long-term cross-cultural mission work at some point in some place doing something or other – that is still the plan. We still don’t know where / what / when / how / with whom. But it is still very much on the radar. BUT we acknowledge that there is no need to rush. God will lead the way, not necessarily with thunder and lightning and clear signs but He will make a way, in the right time. For now, we give ourselves permission to throw ourselves into life here and now, not wishing the time away by staring off into the future trying to make out its foggy shapes but really being present here.

That was quite a long explanation for something that probably seems very small to anyone else, but to us it was quite a huge change.

In other news, jobs are going well – we are both enjoying them, and also both have small promotions coming up, which is nice! Ben may or may not be going up to full-time in September, depending on staff levels at the time and on his own choice. We’ll see! I, on the other hand, am cutting down to a 4 day week, which I never thought would happen – I’ll be making more time to paint, to eventually learn to paint well, and to try to sell some of my artwork. Due to the promotions, I’ll be on almost the same wage as I am now but working a day less – and we’ll still be able to put away more savings than we currently do (and even more if I sell a few paintings) regardless of Ben’s hours! We spent a lot of time thinking and praying about this, and came to the conclusion that it is the right thing to do at this stage. We figured that if we were saving for something specific rather than the ambiguous ‘future’ – if we had a placement lined up or if we wanted to save for a house or whatever – then we would not do this; but since we aren’t, we don’t see a reason to work every hour God sends simply for the sake of having more money.

I am very excited to cut down to 30 hours a week and to have a full day each week to spend painting. I feel very privileged – how many young people nowadays have this opportunity, to live comfortably and have enough income to become a part-time Artist! I never thought it possible. Ben has been incredibly encouraging the whole way through this thinking-and-praying process, even saying he thinks I’m talented enough that we might actually make some money from the artwork, too – ha! Time will tell. I’ve set up Art pages on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram (!) at KatGibsonArt, and set up websites at www.katgibsonart.com and www.KatGibsonArt.wordpress.com – though hope to merge them into one website or finish and choose one some time soon. Watch this space!

Another exciting thing coming up is Tom and Rosa’s wedding! Ben and Tom have been best mates since they were 8 years old. Two years ago we dragged Tom back from Japan to come to our wedding, so now this August we’re returning the favour and heading to New Mexico (where Rosa is from) for theirs!! Very exciting. Their UK wedding the following month will be held in Sheffield Cathedral, and the reception in the Bishop’s Palace Garden – because Tom’s Dad Pete is now Bishop of Sheffield! Friends in high places, with high hats….

Hope you’re enjoying the Summer! Do drop me a message – would be lovely to hear from you!!

Ben and Kat

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