Ecclesiastes 7:8 — “The conclusion of something is better than its beginning, and a patient attitude is more valuable than a proud one.” (ISV)
With much longing and lamenting so ends this era of life here in Papua New Guinea. It’s certainly been the best 39+ years a person could hope to live. Though my heart’s desire to “finish well” has undoubtedly fallen short in more areas than I know, it is good to look back and see how God has used even my failures. Thru the “tough times” that make blatant evidence of my weakness, His strength and total all sufficiency have had “too many to count” opportunities to shine thru. Anything accomplished of eternal value was certainly HIS doing! Thank you, Lord!

I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what the “goodbyes” here have looked like. Suffice it to say I have gotten a Mother’s Day card and a Sympathy card along with farewell gifts from local friends. Also a text message from an Iwam friend asking me to please be sure to leave him something special so he’ll remember me. Hmmm. Are all the Iwam expecting gifts??? This late in the sorting & discarding process I wonder what I have left to pass along …….

Now begins the dawn of the next era. A new day – a new page. The coming year of Home Assignment will serve as the prelude for whatever God will guide me into for my final years (be they few or many) before “retirement.” Of course I am still hoping, praying to be able to return to PNG but …. at present that is a total unknown. God will undoubtedly give direction throughout the year so that 12 months from now when decisions will need to be made it will be obvious what He desires for me to do. Until then, this “furlough” season promises to hold its share of challenges. God already has those lined up to His honor and glory! He goes before me each step of the way, walks along side – and brings up the rear guard as well! Thank you, Lord!

The “kick off” for HA time is an appointment with my optometrist the day after I arrive home. Thank you for your prayers to that end! Hopefully he will refer me to an opthmalogist who can get me on his schedule ASAP. I’ll appreciate your continuing prayers!

Then of course there are the “normal” transitions back to life in the USA – figuring out what it looks / feels like to live in America again — shopping for a car, cell phone, internet service; setting up my home office ….. The list seems endless! Also putting together a presentation overview of this past term’s life and ministries in PNG – that promises to be an exceptional challenge this time since my backup drive containing all my pictures from the past 5 years has died. Then there’s the task of starting to think thru another round of coast to coast travel plans — though possibly maybe not as extensive as furloughs past??? Adjustments will be made along the way for when / if my sister, 2 of her daughters and a pre-school aged grandson will also be coming to live in our family home in Missouri. God certainly has that already figured out too!

My sincere and grateful thanks to YOU for your part in my years here. YOU have made this possible. YOU are appreciated more than words can say! Thank you!

Co-laboring to bring back Christ as King!
Hope Sharp