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Adjustment and assimilation into a new environment is a long, challenging process. Here we are in our third month since arriving in Sri Lanka, but there are still a mountain of adjustments for us to scale. There’s a new language; new (and spicy!) foods; new schedules; a new landscape (literally) to traverse; new germs and viruses to fight off; and new neighbors. It’s overwhelming, but we thank God who keeps us going. He put us here. And he is blessing us and our witness of Jesus even using these difficulties.

Transportation is a huge challenge. Most of the Tamil Lutherans we partner with live in the mountains, a six- to eight-hour drive from our home in Colombo. Simply getting out of the house with our kids to spend time with our Tamil brothers and sisters is difficult. But God uses this difficulty for good, as it leaves us relying on people we would never have known otherwise.

Vimal, a Tamil Hindu in his thirties, picks us up in his three-wheeler (or “tuk tuk”) when we need a ride somewhere in town. A thirty-minute drive to church costs about $2, and he will sit and wait for us at $1 per hour if we ask. His wife and baby boy live four hours away in Kandy.

Mohan, of similar age, worked in Nuwara Eliya (the Up Country) until the Easter terrorism devastated the tourism industry. He started driving for Uber in Colombo, and that’s how we met him. Last week he made our journey to the Up Country possible by arranging our hotel stays (he knows everyone up there). We visited him and his family in their home in Kottagala, and he graciously drove our luggage up to Nuwara Eliya while we took the train. The Tamil people eagerly welcomed us as friends, especially when they hear us speaking in their own language.

Our trip into the mountains last week was a huge step. In spite of all the insecurities of not being fully adjusted to Sri Lanka, we decided we needed to go. This was our first trip as a family that we ourselves planned, without Pastor Mahlburg taking us around. We relied heavily on Mohan and his contacts. We learned a lot. We’ll be a lot more prepared to do it again next month. Best of all, we spent quality time every day for five days with Tamil people, paving the way for future fellowship with the Christians and outreach.

Traveling as a family is slow and difficult. We have to consider things like packing diapers, making room in the day for naps, and getting Larson good food that’s not too spicy. But it’s best this way. It’s good for us to be together. And the kids are assets to the ministry, not impediments. They open doors and cross barriers we never could by ourselves. God is richly blessing our family as we adjust to our life and work in Sri Lanka. We pray he will use us as instruments for His Gospel.

Thanks for reading and staying in touch. We’re so grateful for your support and prayers.

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at