Webster’s defines furlough as “a period of time when a soldier is allowed to leave the place where he or she is stationed.” In this sense, furlough defines well our two month furlough in the United States. We left Recife, Brazil, in late November and will return the first week of February. We chose this time because December and January are the slowest and hottest months in Brazil. The whole country heads for vacation, even though Brazilians make up for lost time the rest of the year.
What have we been doing? Almost every weekend we are visiting a local church. We visited Cincinnati, Plainfield, and Grand Island as we were stationed near Indianapolis for the month of December. Pastor and Deborah Kottke, Leah’s parents, were courageous and kind to allow the Leaman whirlwind to land in their house.
We flew to Washington state in the beginning of January. Olympia, Tacoma, Scappoose and Vancouver have been our weekend church visits thus far. My parents, Pastor and Lucia Leaman, once again kindly opened their home to our clan. Over the years their home in Olympia has been similar to a hostel, housing pilgrims from many parts of the world. We are now in Florida and have visited Lakeland and Palm Harbor. We finish our tour with Cape Canaveral and depart for Brazil on February 7th.
Typically, every weekday has brought a flurry of activity. We spent a lot of our time meeting with individuals and families who have been friends and supporters of the work in Brazil. Leah was able to catch up with dear friends often for a quick lunch or coffee. We had a blessed time these months seeing old friends and being with God’s people in the churches. Every conversation seemed rushed, and we always wanted more. It was much like seeking a refreshing drink of water from the Niagara Falls: refreshing and beautiful but at the same time fast and furious. We thank the Lord that we were able to see every member of our immediate families. One of our great joys this visit was to have family reunions both in Indiana and in Washington.
While visiting churches, I usually presented our work during Sunday School, and then I was able to preach the Word several times for the morning services. The general theme of each sermon was worship. Psalm 115:8, in the context of idolatrous worship, teaches that you become like what you worship, and this truth is good news or bad news depending upon what you worship. If you worship the true and living God you will become holy, just, and wise as He is. If you worship idols you will become deaf, blind, and dumb (vs. 4-7). All humans are inescapably worshipers, and worship is the key and most foundational defining reality for human life. God is worthy, and the beauty of His redeeming loves constrains God’s people to worship.
I cannot mention every kind word, sacrifice, or deed that we have received from God’s people on this furlough. Like their God, God’s people are gracious and kind, and we have experienced that on this furlough. We see and taste God’s faithfulness through His body. Now, refreshed, we can return to faithfully and graciously give back from the abundance that we have received.
We thank our God on every remembrance of you in our prayers.
Rev. Doug Leaman