15 December 2017

How do you end a blog? (a little overdue)

How do you end a blog?  What's the proper way to bring a chapter of life to a close?  (while knowing the pages of that chapter will forever impact and be intertwined with all the remaining chapters of your life...)

How do you end a blog that feels like it should've been ended months ago?

How do you write something that you really don't want to write but feels necessary to bring closure?(but that you actually want to write because you're not a fan of dangling loose ends...)

I guess you just do it.  

Leaving the m/v Africa Mercy and resettling in Georgia was as tough as they said it would be.  I didn't want it to be tough...but it was is...  It has had its ups and downs - and truth be told, we're still in the process.  Maybe we always will be.  I don't even fully know how to put into words why it was tough - I'll leave that to the transition experts.

Here are a few things that we found challenging...
  • We underestimated the amount of sheer effort it would take to re-establish life back home again after years overseas.  Cell phones. Home Repairs. Internet Service. Car buying/maintenance. More Home Repairs. And on and on the list goes. Honestly, we got used to things being complicated in Africa (yet comparatively simple on the ship) - it was understood that nothing was ever as simple as "just run to the store and pick something up." But we didn't expect complicated in America...when in reality it's just as complicated (which makes it all the more frustrating).
  • Not being able to move into our house when we thought we would be able to was challenging (at least it was for me!)(unmet expectations are from the devil).  And it was challenging to try and be content/thankful for what we did have rather than longing for what was coming (though it's good to be excited about the gifts that are coming)(see the conundrum?!).  Yes, we were "home"...but we weren't "home"...really feeling like we've been able to settle has just come in the last month as we've moved into our house and unpacked the few boxes that we had.
  • Spending money.  I miss the days of scanning my badge...  I miss the days of $18 worth of stuff in the ship shop feeling like a big splurge!  Life here is just more expensive than it feels like it should be or needs to be...
  • Trying to walk ourselves through this time as well as our children - in particular, the youngest member of the Cash Family.  She straight-up misses the ship - the ship is the only life she's ever known.  The tears have felt endless at times (hers and mine!).  We're still walking with her through this... and praying it only proves to make her (and all of us) stronger and rely more fully on the faithfulness of God.

And a few things that have made transition absolutely wonderful!
  • Faithful friends and family who have welcomed us back.
  • Matt's generosity to put together the wish-list of items that have essentially furnished our home.
  • Access to Chick-fil-a, Cherry Coke, Krystal, Cracker Barrell, Five Guys...
  • Ship Friends who have come to visit (and the ones planning to visit!)
  • Being able to see what God is continuing to do on and through Mercy Ships
  • Being a part of a healthy & vibrant church community (Christ Community Church)
  • Knowing we are where God has asked us to be.  Nothing beats that.  Nothing.

If you're interested in keeping up with us, here's our info:

Physical address:
Cash Family
10311 Whitesville Road
Fortson, GA 31808

(you are most welcome to come visit anytime - seriously!)

e-mail addresses

blogs/social media
like trees planted (Nick posts incredibly thoughtful and helpful content as he has the time to do so)
 obsequium fidei (I post thankful lists weekly and other random thoughts sporadically - very sporadically!)

I'm also on Instagram (but not so much Facebook): lifeasacash

So for now...at least for the foreseeable future, this is it for "the Cash Crew serving with Mercy Ships" blog.  Feels like we should sign off with "Cash Crew out."  But we're not out.  We're still the Cash Crew... we're still serving God... we're still trying to love others... we're just as much in "missions" and "ministry" as we've ever been (though we just call it life with Him)  (and as amazed as ever that He would allow us live our lives with Him).

28 July 2017

FAQs for this season of Cash Family Life

How was the ship?
That's such a big question!  A question we could easily talk about for hours...but, in a cute little nutshell (being eaten by a cute little squirrel), the ship and our time there was... Incredible.  Beautiful. Challenging.  Eye-opening. Not without its frustrations.  Amazing.  We are thankful that we were able to serve on the Africa Mercy for the past 5 years, and we would love to talk more about our experiences...please feel to ask us questions (this may come as a shock, but I'm not so great at just talking for the sake of talking... but I love questions... feel free to ask anything, anytime!).

How has it been for y'all, returning home?
So far, so good.  We have definitely had a bit of a "soft" re-entry as a result of traveling (what a gift that has been - the traveling and the progressive re-entry)...

We are going out of town once more this weekend, and then we will be back - and then the settling-in will really start. We will start to find our rhythms again and figure out what God has for us in the day-to-day and week-to-week schedules of our lives here in Columbus.

Where are you living?
Currently we're staying with Nick's parents (their kindness to let us invade their space has been fantastic).  Over the last few weeks, we have been in-town and out-of-town and in-&-out again...

Then, on August 1st, we will move into our cottage (it's nearly twice the size of our cabin on the ship!) while some work is being done on the main house that we will be moving into.  I am hoping hoping hoping the work on the house will be done by the end of August (trying to stay flexible as I know contractors are juggling lots and not always able to do things as quickly as I might like them done!).  Once the work is done, we will move into the main house and then our cottage will be available to friends and family for visits (come see us!).

the view from our future front porch
Do you need anything?
As cliche as it may sound, we need your prayers - seriously.  We believe in the power of prayer and know that there is nothing better (even if the world might say otherwise!).  Here are just a few specific ways you can pray:

  • for all 5 of us as we continue to transition and settle in.
  • for a successful supporter thank you event on August 6th (you are most welcome to attend!). We long for friends and family to know how grateful we are for the support that has been given these past 5 years.  Come enjoy some desserts and hear about our time with Mercy Ships.  4 pm, Christ Community Church, Columbus, GA.
  • for wisdom as we make a homeschooling plan and as Nick begins his job at Christ Community Church in September.  
  • for the Africa Mercy as it makes it way to Cameroon to start a new field service.
As far as tangible needs, so much has already been given.  If you want to see what is still needed, feel free to check this online list (huge gianormous thanks to Matt, the generous, for coordinating this effort!).

At this point, there is still plenty that we need to procure - cleaning supplies and ketchup and laundry detergent and flour and so many other random items... so the most useful item I can think of would be giftcards (Aldi, Wal-Mart, Chick-Fil-A :) would be the cards that would be used quickest!).  If this is something you're interested in, feel free to email me - diannacash@yahoo.com.  But please don't feel any pressure...

You are also more than welcome to give one last donation to us through Mercy Ships.  Donations will continue to be processed on our behalf until August 31st.

What's been your favorite part of being back?
Caroline - spending time with people I have missed and jumping on trampolines

Emma - what she (caroline) said!

Eli - getting to be on vacation, being with friends, knowing our house will be ready soon

White/Cash kids (or Cash\White kids)
Nick - the familiarity of everything here; seeing long-time friends & loved ones; grass & trees & crickets chirping in the evening & birds singing in the morning

Dianna - going to aldi; sweet and wonderful time with family and good friends (I highly recommend good friends...and good family); reminders that we are right where we are supposed to be

McMichael siblings and Meme
And a few of my not-so-favorite moments:

  • hardly being able to speak when I saw a girl wearing a UGA shirt in the London airport (those emotions just hit you out of nowhere sometimes).
  • the anti-climatic re-entry through airport immigration.  I was hoping for a meaningful "welcome home" or "glad to have you back."  nope... nothing.  ha. 
  • accidentally spending more on one meal than we would for a whole week of groceries (we are re-learning the skill of how to wisely order food in America)

There is so much more that can be said about this transition time - about the importance of preparation (and how wonderful Nick is at that - I [dianna] can say that since I am the one writing this blog!) and the similarities of this transition to the one we made 5 years ago.  A whole blog could be written about how having just one good friend in the place you're transitioning to can make all the difference. We will see if/when the time comes to type more on these topics.

For now, please join us in thanking God for the peacefulness of this transition and His great faithfulness every step of the way! 

Surely there will be more to come.

11 June 2017

a little walk down (prayer card) memory lane

Spring 2012
Lakebottom Park, Columbus, Georgia, USA
Photographer: Ritchie White

Spring 2013
Africa Mercy, Conakry, Guinea
Photographer: Suzanne Scheumann

Fall 2014
On the Dock, Tamatave, Madagascar
Photographer: Catrice Wulf

Spring 2016
SPAT Port, Tamatave, Madagascar
Photographer: Suzanne Veltjens (artist formerly known as Suzanne Scheumann)

Can we have a prayer card for living and serving in Columbus, Georgia?  Maybe everyone should have a prayer card - a Christian's call to live and serve on a ship in Africa is no more or less significant than a Christian's call to live and serve wherever it is that God has them living and serving...but if everyone had a prayer card, we'd all need industrial sized fridges to put them on. 

Card or no card, we're greedy when it comes to prayer - we love all the prayer support we can get....and we are so very grateful for all the prayers that have been prayed on our behalf these past 5 years.  Please keep praying for us...and let us know how we can be praying for you

Surely there will be more to come.

20 May 2017

life lately.

A few pictures from our life lately...we've been...

Talking about transition
what do we want to take with us in our "backpack"? (emma's response:  "i want to take Africa with me.") what do we want to leave behind?

yay duck & yuck duck - so much of life is a mixture of the good and not so good

transition ladder
 Packing things up
priceless possessions (depending on who you ask)

sending luggage with generous crew mates (one of which is going to be living in Columbus soon!!!)
 Making lists and packing more luggage

 Getting sweet notes
 Writing notes
 Having a Cabin Sale

Offering some of the things that we can't take with us to friends on the ship
this pallet star is so special for so many reasons....i was thinking of making it my carry on item. 
Taking down the wall of love
we're so thankful for the family and friends who have walked with us so faithfully throughout our lives - and especially in these past 5 years.
 getting supporter thank you's ready
We're so thankful for peace.  Peace in the midst of preparing to go.  Peace as we think about being back in Georgia.  Peace in the good-byes.  Peace in the packing.  Peace. Peace. Peace.

Surely there will be more to come.  

26 April 2017

What do you think you'll miss most? (and a little of what we won't!)

When I asked our children what they'll miss most about the ship, each one's first response had to do with their friends.

It goes without saying - but we're saying it anyway - the relationships we've formed have been the most valuable part of this journey.  God has blessed each of us with various friendships throughout our time onboard the Africa Mercy...some left us waving on the dock and some we'll be leaving behind....some friendships started 5 years ago at the beginning of this journey, while some friendships been formed in just the past few months.  

It's true, "the best ships are friendships" - and this ship has provided us with some friendships that are going to last this lifetime and on into eternity. We have no doubt that we'll be hosting people in Columbus and making plans to visit friends in various places all over the globe in the coming years.  
As we've been thinking about what we'll miss most, we've also been thinking of things we won't miss...

won't miss:

  • firedrills
  • having to walk up so many flights of stairs
  • life jackets

will miss most:

  • seeing his friends all the time (how easy it is to get together with friends)
  • amount/variety of food offered at each meal
  • how close everything is (we haven't had to drive to school or church...)

won't miss:

  • the process that is required in order to take a car out into town (looking forward to 2 steps:  get in the car and go.)
  • lack of green space

will miss most:

  • getting to follow Jesus with Christians from so many different cultures (35+ nations at any given time)
  • maintenance needs being so easily and quickly (and freely) taken care of
  • being so close to the ocean

won't miss

  • all the good-byes
  • the loud alarms
  • the cold air conditioning

will miss most:

  • mid-ships and the games on the computers
  • the academy
  • my mom and dad's bed -it's comfortable. 

won't miss:

  • small bedroom
  • getting seasick

will miss most:

  • how close everything is
  • spaghetti in the dining room

won't miss:

  • the sound of the EVAC system
  • having to "get ready" before going to the dining room to get breakfast

will miss most:

  • being able to do 4-5 loads of laundry at one time
  • hearing so many accents
It's all a bit bittersweet - bittersweet makes for good cooking chocolate...but it's not always fun in life.

(and my apologies to the friends who's pictures aren't on this blog...you are loved and treasured just as much as the ones pictured!  These are just the pictures that I happened to have easy access to....)

Surely there will be more to come. 

12 April 2017

numbers and preparation.

Our Group Managing Director, Donovan Palmer, likes to use numbers.  It's become a bit of his tradition to start any time of sharing with "___ (insert number) of days until the new ship is ready." or "we're on day #____ of the Field Service."

In honor of his leadership, character and kindness, some Cash Family numbers:

  • 29 days until Nick & Dianna's 15th wedding anniversary (May 11, 2017)
  • 49 days until the end of the school year (May 31, 2017)
  • 68 days until we depart the Africa Mercy (June 19, 2017) 
  • 90 days until we arrive in Columbus, Georgia (July 11, 2017)

While we are preparing to move back to Georgia, there are plenty of people who are preparing for the next field service in Cameroon.
The Advance Team - some are already in Cameroon; others will be heading there soon
These screening posters that have been distributed throughout the country of Cameroon have been serving as a beautiful reminder that preparation is important and is pretty much continually going on.

These posters have also been reminding me that the work of Mercy Ships doesn't depend on us.  At all. Some of you who love us very much might like to argue that point :)  but the fact is that we've done what God has asked us to do for the time frame He has asked us to do it.  And that is enough.  And once we depart the Africa Mercy, God will continue His work in, on, and through the vessel - and in, on, and through us.

The other night, Emma was quite sad. She was sharing about how hard it is to say good-bye.  In an effort to reassure her and help her sort through her feelings, I said, "You know, when we move back to Georgia, we won't have nearly the number of good-byes that we've had on the ship."

She said, "You mean, we won't be leaving again?"  

"No...we won't...and we probably won't even travel outside of the country for a while."

"But we have to leave again, don't we?"

"No...we're moving back to stay..."

"But Mama...we're missionaries...and missionaries leave their country."

"Oh, sweet girl...sometimes missionaries leave their country....but what makes someone a missionary is that they love God and want to share His love with others....we're going to be missionaries in Columbus, Georgia.  That's where God wants us...the only reason we'd leave is if He says to...and we don't think that will happen - at least not for a long time."
A Papa and his 3 children who all received eye surgeries

A recent Dress Ceremony celebrating successful obstetric fistula surgeries.  (fun fact: the OBF surgeon - Dr. Andy Norman, upper left corner - has roots in Lincolnton, GA!)
It's been a privilege to be here on the Africa Mercy these past five years...loving and serving God...loving and serving others...trying to be obedient to be and do all that He has asked of us....and now we get the chance to do more of the same in Columbus.

For now we'll keep preparing...slowly sending our things back in small packages with crew who have extra room/weight in their luggage...figuring out who on the ship needs what of our things that we're giving away...already in awe of how God is preparing the way for us (a post on that to come!)...seeking to finish our 68 days in this place well (this week that looks like orchestrating and facilitating all things Easter for the crew of the Africa Mercy!).

Surely there will be more to come.

05 March 2017

Internet Official: An Announcement from the Cash Family

I suppose it's time to make things internet official.  We've shared this with our friends, family, and supporters and we're pretty sure most of our Mercy Ships Community/Family is aware...  but just in case there's someone out there that doesn't know -- our time on the Africa Mercy is drawing to a close.
Here's the scoop in bullet form (though each bullet could easily be turned into a blog post of its own):

  • Back in 2012 we committed to Mercy Ships for 4-5 years (though when we arrived we realized that kind of commitment was unusual -- most people sign up for 2 years or less...  or for an indefinite amount of time.  Nick has felt pretty strongly about a 4-5 year time frame for us all along...  but I wasn't so sure -- I kind-of imagined us being here for much longer...  I imagined our kids graduating from the onboard Academy...  but God did what He's so faithful to do -- He gets us all on the same page.)
  • We knew that the end of this field service (Benin) would be 5 years...
  • All along we've been saying "God, we just want to be where you want us" (that's what got us into all this in the first place :-) ) -- so we were certainly open to staying...  and open to going....
  • This past summer we spent significant time praying and asking God for clear direction as to whether we should extend our 5-year commitment with Mercy Ships.
  • He brought us all to the same place of knowing that this would be our last field service.  
  • In June we will be leaving the Africa Mercy and heading back to Columbus, Georgia. 

Easter in CONGO
When God was calling us into Mercy Ships, there was a moment where He used a song to confirm that He was indeed calling us out of Teen Advisors as much as He was calling us in to Mercy Ships.  There was a line in the song that said "The one who called you in will call you out."  And, even though I've never heard the song since that day pulling out of the driveway at Christ Community Church (honestly, I've wondered if it was actually a song or something that God did special just for me), He's using the same lyrics to call us out of Mercy Ships.

It's interesting to try and wrap our minds around the "lasts" -- we enjoyed our last Christmas on the ship a few months ago...  we just had our last Ash Wednesday Service...  we are in the midst of our last season of Lent on the ship...  soon the kids will be in their last quarter as students in the onboard Academy.  Eventually we will attend our last Community Meeting...  respond to our last fire drill...  lead our last Worship Gathering...  host our last meeting with the Chaplaincy Team...  enjoy our last waffle Friday...  and, finally, take our last walk down the gangway.
Visiting the Lemur Park in MADAGASCAR
With the short-term nature of service onboard and all the constant coming & going of Crew Members, we've been saying good-bye ever since we arrived in this place...  so that's nothing new...  but it's a different kind of good-bye when you're the one doing the leaving.

There is a deep sense of peace surrounding this transition.  Peace about finishing here.  Peace about moving back to Columbus.  Peace that He is with us and that He has good plans for us!

We know that transition can be difficult -- and we're going into it with eyes wide open -- but, so far, pretty much everything about this transition has had a sweet peace about it. We're not sure why but God is making the way so smooth and we are so very grateful.  We are absolutely amazed at the things that are already lined up / are lining up for us in Columbus.
Sharing a meal during Aunt Amy's visit in BENIN
Our hope and heart is to finish well here on the Africa Mercy.  Ever since we made our decision that this field service would be our last, we've done our best to stay fully invested and to serve God and His beloved people here -- and maybe because we know it is our last, we've been able to stay fully invested

Please pray for us that we finish our commitment on the Africa Mercy with excellence & effectiveness.  And thank you.  Thank you again and again and again, for making it possible for us to be here!  Your financial support, prayers, encouragement, friendship, and love have made the past 5 years (and really our lives!) possible.

Surely there will be more to come.
A glimpse into what's next: GEORGIA, USA