It has been a while! Time to catch you up!
Currently, it is fall in South Africa and spring in Minnesota. Why am I telling you that? Because the Leiseth family is currently living in both places!
Here’s the story. In May 2016, we let Global Mission know that the 2016-2017 volunteer group would be our last group. This was a really difficult decision as our hearts were not ready to end. But ultimately, it was the timing for our children that guided us. Isaac is ready for high school. Since we wanted to have our children complete their education in the U.S., it seemed only right to give Isaac the full high school years in one school.
We knew that timing would be tricky for our return to the U.S. Jon was nearly ready as a diaconal minister (now “deacon”) in the ELCA. I am already on the roster as an ELCA pastor. Where might we live and serve? How could we find employment while living on another continent? How would we listen to the experiences of the last four+ years in shaping the life and work we would be a part of next in the U.S.?
In the midst of these conversations, there was one job that kept calling to Jon. It was a post at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. That is the same place we both worked previous to coming to South Africa (and did our undergraduate degrees!). The post was a newly formed Minister of Faith and Spirituality in Action. As we each read the position posting, it was clear that the potential fit for Jon was great. And so, with a leap of faith, he entered the application process. That ultimately led to a job offer. And so, in September 2016, Jon moved to Moorhead, Minnesota, to begin his work.
I carried on in South Africa, with the help of friends (especially when I had to travel for work).The kids finished out their school years in South Africa. In December 2016, Sophia completed Grade 6 and Isaac completed Grade 8. Isaac even got to compete in the National Debate Tournament before we left (more about that in an upcoming post).
The kids and I flew to the U.S. to be together as a whole family for the holidays. Jon had worked hard and had found us a house and a puppy. The puppy was a surprise to greet the kids when they arrived. They also got to meet the brand new baby of their cousin, Brianna. Those first days were dizzying as we took in the next chapter that was laid out waiting for us.
I returned to South Africa in January for the second half of the YAGM program year. I’ve made a couple of visits back to the U.S. since then. Jon, with the help of family and friends, is solo-parenting and working a busy job. The kids began school in January – to repeat the 2nd half of the grades they had just completed; it was only fair as they skipped half a year when they moved to South Africa.
So now, we have nearly made it during this time of separation. It has not been easy. But regardless of how the transitions and timing played out, there were bound to be challenges.
I will end in mid-July and then Jon and I will be together at Global Mission summer conference and a weekend of “re-entry” for returning ELCA Global Mission personnel. The kids will get some much-needed grandparent time during this week.
After that, the horizon is open for me. I’ll write more about that upcoming, too. I’m not worried. Just curious as to what will be next.
Please keep following this blog. So much has happened in the last 4-5 years. I mean “events” and “activities”. But more than that, we have been remade. I hope we can continue to share that with all of you as we continue to live our lives and “unpack” the impact of the last 5 years. Thanks for reading along!
December 2016, Running to meet dad after 3 months apart (photo credit Sara Moon Waltz)
December 2016. The reunion. I was yet to arrive. The kids & I had missed a connecting flight and we had to split up in order to get flights to Fargo during the busy travel season. (photo credit Sara Moon Waltz)