Molly, who knew the difference between Brie and Babybel when she was just two years old, was puzzled. She loved God and she really liked Pastor Chris and she just couldn’t work out why God would send Pastor Chris to Iceland. Molly however, wasn’t the only one to ask the question. Many, many people asked us, why on earth are you planning to go to Iceland? All praised the fantastic work Chris had done in the village of Evenwood with and through the Church and felt sad (some bereft) at the thought of us leaving to go back to Iceland. In an effort to convince us to stay, more than one person pointed out the work still do to in Evenwood and beyond. Friends, good friends who we love and who love us, earnestly begged us to reconsider, one dear friend actually said, ‘How can you turn your back on your own people?” And another, a good friend and colleague of Chris – who happens to be a non-Christian, pointed out that there were plenty of sinners in Britain, so we really didn’t need to go abroad to find souls to save 🙂 Given the concerns and disappointment voiced by so many people, Chris and I thought it best to use this blog post to explain why we decided to go back to Iceland at this time. So, put the kettle on and then cosy up on the sofa, you may be here for some time. When Chris and I arrived back in England after a sojourn of five years in Iceland, it would be somewhat of an understatement to say that we were a tadge surprised. You see, we thought we were on our way to Syracuse in New York State. No, before you ask, we didn’t board the wrong plane. I won’t however go into that just yet, as that is a whole other story worthy of a blog post of its own. Suffice to say, we arrived in England, slightly bewildered and fully expecting to be on our travels again after a two-week stay in the NorthEast celebrating Kim’s 18th birthday. However for a multitude of reasons we ended up staying in England. Chris worked for the Church as a volunteer for one year and I started work at Durham University as a Research Associate. After about a year, we heard that Evenwood Assembly were looking to recruit a Pastor. Although it wasn’t something that had occurred to us before, we decided to go to the village of Evenwood and have a look around and to see if we felt God speak to us about the post. So, one sunny afternoon, we drove to Evenwood for a look around and to meet some of the locals. We walked around the village, chatted to some local people and walked around the outside of the Church building. We both felt an immediate connection with the village and decided to spend time praying about whether Chris should apply for the post. Some time later, Chris contacted the spokesperson for the Church and arranged a meeting. The rest is, so to speak, history. Although we were very pleased to be offered the post as Pastor and Mrs, we nevertheless felt that we could only commit to the work for five years. Five years was not a random number we plucked out of the air. Nor, did we sit down together and work out how long we should stay. Rather, we just ‘knew’ on a spiritual level, that things would change after five years. Although we had no idea what that change would be. Our time at Evenwood was a blessed one. We were blessed by the people of the Church and their families and by the people we came to know so well in the village and surrounding areas. Despite knowing that things would change after five years, we spent every moment focussed on the here and now and took every opportunity available to us to grow the Church and to be a blessing to the local people. We were undoubtedly happy and blessed to be in England. And yet, our deep and abiding love for Iceland and her people, never left us. We would look at a picture of an Icelandic sunset or a photo of one of the villages we had worked in and our hearts were immediately homesick. I once walked behind an Icelandic couple in Heathrow airport, just to hear them speak Icelandic (I know, very sad) and we both read the Icelandic news every day. On occasions we knew more about what was going on in Iceland, than our friends who lived there. IKEA became the place we went to when we needed to talk through our life in England and what we felt God wanted us to do in the future. For almost five years we heard nothing from God in terms of what the future held. Instead, God blessed us by filling our hearts and minds with ideas on making the Church more ‘visible’ in the local community. We worked with the Church tirelessly to share our experience and knowledge on how to ‘professionalise’ aspects of the Church and to bring it up to date with UK legislation. In the work God gave us to do, we were blessed with eager co-workers and supporters in the congregation and beyond. For five years we lived as though tomorrow with its many decisions, was a long way off in the future. On August 31st 2011 however, we woke to a feeling of ‘today is the day’ we would understand what the future would hold, albeit in part. We went out for a walk in Hamsterly Forest and talked and talked. By the end of the walk (and talk) we had decided it was time to go back to Iceland. The first people we told were our children. The second people we told were the people of the Church in Evenwood. Rarely, have we broken news to people we love with a sadder heart than we did on that Sunday evening. Although our hearts felt a peace about the decision we had made, nevertheless, prior to the meeting Chris (unbeknownst to me) asked God for external confirmation that this indeed was the right decision and the right time. During the meeting, one of Church leaders stood up and basically said. “I know you have been wrestling with a difficult decision. I want you to know that the decision you are about to make is the right one. Moreover, if you do not go ahead and make the decision, you will no longer be in my (God’s) will”. Well, I nearly fell of my chair and Chris and I exchanged looks of surprise. No longer in God’s will! Did God really just say that to us? Chris got up to preach and when he had finished, he broke the news to the congregation. After the meeting, another leader in the Church confirmed that they too had been about to get up and say exactly the same thing. It seems that God really wanted to confirm to our hearts that we were on the right track. So to answer Molly’s question and the question on the lips of our friends and fellow workers….we decided to go back to Iceland at this time because we believe that God asked us to. We believe that He has work for us to do that will bring blessing to Iceland and her people and will also bring blessing into our lives. And yes, we know that there is still much work to be done in Evenwood and beyond, but we believe that God has not called us to do it, we believe that He will, in His infinite wisdom, call others to the work. But ultimately we are prepared to spend the rest of our lives in Iceland (if asked to do so) because we want to remain at the centre of God’s will, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10.