I once heard it said that you should never complain (or brag) to a missionary or a military person about how many times you have moved because it’s quite likely that your experience will pale in comparison to theirs. And it’s true, that even though we’re missionaries and have moved a lot, we haven’t moved as much as some we know. So with that bit of wisdom in mind, and without bragging or complaining, I thought I’d run through a few of our life stats with respect to Patterson mobility.
And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders…’
Photo credit: Adrian Maidment
As we approach 19 years of marriage Jana and I are now living at our eighth address. For about 9 months of that time we lived under someone else’s roof and for about four months it can be said that we had no address at all.
Elisabeth, who is ten, has lived at five different addresses and Max, who is eight, has lived at four.
Of all the times we’ve moved, four of those times we moved from Slovakia to the States or vice versa.
We’re thankful that we’ve never been separated from each other for long periods of time and I’m especially thankful that I wasn’t in Bosnia or Iraq when my two children were born.
A Sojourner State of Mind
It’s not just that we have moved a lot, it’s that whenever we have moved to a new place, we’ve always known that we were going there for a short time. We’ve always known–even as we arranged the furniture in the living room for the first time, or hung the pictures on the walls or arranged the dishes in the cabinets, that our time in that place was already coming to an end. For us, living in a place for six months or a couple years isn’t just something that happens to us–it’s a state of mind. It’s a philosophy of life.
Maybe you’ve heard the story of Lord Rothschild who, though he was extremely wealthy and could have his home however he wanted it, always kept a part of his home or estate unfinished. Rothschild was a devout diaspora Jew and like other devout Jews, he kept a part of his house unfinished in order to remind himself that he, like Abraham, was only a sojourner in this land.
Our Field of Machpelah
So it’s with mixed feelings that Jana and I have set down this road to purchase our first piece of property and probably to build our first home.
The apartment we currently live in is owned by the church we attend–the church that is also hoping to purchase the campus for Narnia Elementary School. In order to gather the funds for that large purchase, it will be necessary for the congregation to sell the property where we currently live. That, of course, has put us in a position of having to decide what to do next.
After looking in to the various options, it seems pretty clear that it makes the most sense for finances, for family, and for ministry, to purchase instead of continuing to rent. We are already in the process of looking in to a piece of property and then also into the possibility of building a home at that property.
As you surely know, this is a huge decision that impacts every area of our lives. We’re seeking God’s wisdom so that we make the right decision and we would appreciate your prayers as well.