Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we headed?
Good questions! Let us do our best to answer them.
Where we’ve been
After we left the ship in September we traveled to Antwerp to help launch a Mercy Ships Exhibition.
Mercy Ships Belgium collaborated with Stephan Van Fleteren, a famous Belgian photographer, to set up a pair of exhibitions in the city of Antwerp.
One exhibition featured Van Fleteren’s portraits of Mercy Ships patients inside a restored ship in the maritime museum.
The other exhibition was based inside the Port of Antwerp, which is a pretty unique building.
After months of work of planning and designing the exhibition with our friend Ruben it was a huge joy to finally see it launched. The exhibition featured banners, panels, posters, and videos introducing visitors to the the volunteers, patients, medical trainings, and ships of Mercy Ships. Josh provided video and technical support and Katie designed most of the printed pieces.
We spent about a month after the exhibition launch in Antwerp, working in the Mercy Ships Belgium office to support their marketing and communications efforts.
One of the perks of being back in Europe was getting to connect with friends! We traveled up to Utrecht, Netherlands to spend a weekend with Ruben & Mirjam. Really this meant great friend time combined with good beers, cheeses, stroopwaffles & windmills!
Another treat was the opportunity to spend Katie’s birthday in Ireland with friends & family – her dad even flew over from the States for the celebrations!
Where are we headed next?
Overall this past year has been full of adventure, exploring new places, connecting with friends and a whole lot of growing. We’ve lived in 6 different countries, 7 different cities, crossed borders by plane, train, car & ship. We’ve stayed in houses, apartments, manor homes, guest bedrooms, ship cabins, hotel rooms and more. The answer to the question, “Where do you live?” is “Out of our suitcases.” We’ve been constantly on the move. It has been amazing to see so many places and get to travel for work, but we are ready for a change.
So with the desire for more permanence, a place to call home, and a community around us, we have made the decision to leave Mercy Ships and move back to the US. We have been incredibly blessed by our time with Mercy Ships; we have experienced things we never could have dreamed of; and we wouldn’t have met each other if we hadn’t made the leap to go serve on a hospital ship overseas. But that season has come to a close.
After about 6 years of nonprofit work for each of us – constant busyness, extra stressors, always traveling, never settling, making new friends and saying unending goodbyes, we are tired and worn down. So we are making a change. Beginning a new chapter. Starting something new together.
What is that thing? We have no clue. Not yet. We have to make some major life decisions like where to live and what jobs to pursue next in our careers. For that we need time.
Now you’re wondering what the answer is to that second question…
Where are we now?
This blog post has been drafted over the course of a cross-country road trip from California to Tennessee. By the time we have finished our travels we will have journeyed nearly from coast to coast.
After spending a few weeks with Josh’s family in Auburn, California, we packed up all of our belongings into a car and embarked eastwards. Along the way, we visited family in Flagstaff, a Mercy Shipper in Albuquerque, explored National Parks, saw friends in Dallas and slept at a couple hotels in between. We will soon arrive (and possible already have as you are reading this) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to spend the Christmas season with Katie’s family.
In January we will fly to Colorado Springs for a week and a half to participate in a debrief for overseas workers & missionaries. From there we will briefly return to Tennessee and then drive to Columbus, Georgia to stay for a month or three in a cottage in the backyard of some of our good friends.
There we will wrap up our gradual re-entry and take some time to begin to develop the picture of what this new chapter will look like.
Stay tuned here for more on what is next for the Callows … once we know what it is!