Aloha and Happy Easter from beautiful Hawaii! Our sabbatical here has been a great blessing, and we are excited to share with you about it!
We spent the first seven weeks (January 11-February 29) fully “unplugged” from the rest of the world; we avoided email and social media during this time. Our rental house is on the west side of the island of Oahu (Makaha) just three minutes from the beach, and we watched the sunset over the water every day for the first two weeks. We enjoyed extensive family time together, including a weekly “adventure day” exploring the island and weekly time for me (Jason) to spend with each kid individually. The kids have learned body- boarding and repeatedly swam with the turtles that come up to sun themselves on the beach by our house. We ended the “unplugged” portion of our sabbatical by dedicating the last week of February for a special focus of prayer and fasting.
The family has enjoyed some profoundly meaningful time together reading through the Gospel of Luke. Now that all four kids can read we all take turns reading the scripture out loud, then discuss each section together. Just two days ago, on Good Friday, we had the most profound “Family Worship” we’ve ever had. After reading the story of the crucifixion together, we separated for alone time with the Lord, where each one was to write or draw their thoughts and feelings. When we came back together to share what we had put on paper, each child had the most incredible words and/or pictures of worship and adoration for the crucified Christ. I am seeing the spiritual fruit of this sabbatical in my children’s lives—thank you for your prayers for our family!
My main personal “restoration project” has been to read my journals from start to finish and prayerfully reflect (and journal!) about the insights. Each year of the 27 years-worth of journals takes 2-3 hours to process and respond to, so it is truly a time-intensive process. The effort has been well worth it, as this has been an incredibly insightful—and moving—process. I have seen the Lord’s faithfulness to answer my prayers and to work mightily in spite of my weaknesses and failures. I have been reminded of numerous elements of my past that I have forgotten or neglected to put “in context”. This has all helped me to be more grateful and joyful at the Lord’s work in my life than ever before.
Part of what brought us to Hawaii for our sabbatical was the opportunity to teach a class at Pacific Rim University. My class is called the Art of Mentoring, and I’ve had a very enjoyable time helping my nine students come to understand what it means to be a person of influence as a mentor. I have also been receiving some mentoring from a friend on staff there who has been a successful Bible college president.
Sarah and the kids have continued homeschooling, even joining a local campus of the homeschooling group (Classical Conversations) we are a part of in Flagstaff. Of course, the COVID-19 crisis changed most of our plans. We had set aside time at the end of March to explore the most expensive attractions of the island, but the quarantine scuttled those plans. My class and our homeschool community moved online. We are still allowed to swim in the ocean, but not to “hang out” on the sand. We are “sheltered in place” like much of the rest of the world, but are having extremely meaningful times together as a family. Thanks to good internet at the house, I’ve called in to IBC via webcam almost every weekday over the last month, helping the school deal with the challenging realities of the quarantine and shutdown. Most of the IBC students have chosen to remain on campus in the dorms, so that has created some unique challenges and opportunities. For further information on IBC’s response, see our website at: http://www.indianbible.org/about-ibc/covid-19/.
We praise God for the amazing time we’ve had on this “trip of a lifetime”! Thank you for your prayers for my family, and a huge thanks to all those that helped cover the financial costs of us staying in “overpriced paradise”. In so many ways we are refreshed, restored, and recharged and are looking forward to getting back to the work that the Lord called us to among Native peoples. This summer we will complete 12 years of ministry to Native Americans, and we are more determined than ever to give the rest of our lives to the service of His dear indigenous people.
We were scheduled to return home May 6th, but our flight is canceled and we are trying to figure out how to get home; please pray for this. Also, please pray for Sarah. She has had more difficulty than the rest of the family to find restoration for her soul, and we are planning some intentional time for her to seek the Lord in the weeks left before we go home.
Finally, we know that many of you are struggling with the changes brought about by COVID-19, and are praying that the Lord’s protection and presence will be very real for you in this time, and also that the hardships you are facing will form and shape you more into the image of Christ Jesus (Romans 8:29). The picture below (with Psalm 46) is one I took from my special prayer spot a half-mile from our house here in Hawaii.
Gratefully resting in Christ,
Jason, Sarah, Abby, Lizzy, Angie, and David Koppen