Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vacation Week in America

Vacation week was both a year long BUT has flown by!   I am sure it feels that way because of the ground that we covered and that you never have enough time with the people you love.

To fully understand, I need to back peddle. 

A month or so before we left Haiti for the states.   Hassan stopped by ready to try out his new "toys" as we called them.   He had a stethoscope, reflex hammer, and a blood pressure cuff.   He tried all of the toys out on My Dear and it was confirmed, as we assumed, he was in good shape. 

The plan when we reached the states was for My Dear to get a physical that he needed to keep his CDL license for driving a large truck so it would transfer to his driver's license in Haiti.  A stop in TN with our favorite truck driver Pops, the appointment was made...pretty much a done deal!    OR so we thought....

My Dear failed the physical.   Nothing like this had every happened and he wore the shock on his face.   His urine had too much protein in it and his blood pressure was high.   What?   His blood pressure had always been excellent.   He is a chilled out guy!  We wanted answers but were not fearful.   This life is temporary, right.   We know the Creator.   We know how it all ends here and eternity begins.  But I dig this guy and want him around for awhile.

We arrived in our home town and got My Dear an appointment with his doctor.   His blood pressure was still high.   Knowing our time frame, the doctor put him on blood pressure medication and ordered some labs.   The labs came back and he suggested a specialist.   The problem was, we were about to hit the road again.   Miss Brooke, at the office, wrote down our traveling schedule and got to work...a lot of work I would guess to find a specialist in those locations and one that had an appointment open!  But she did it!

We got the call on a Tuesday morning while in Winchester, KY that he had an appointment in Panama City, FL at 10:30 the next morning.   We loaded the truck and headed out (forgetting My Dear's suit hanging in the closet-which arrived in our home today.  Thank you Grandmother.) This just happened to be the day that AT&T services were down so no one had anyway of contacting us about the items we left behind.   Sigh.  

We were able to get enough connection to meet up with friends for dinner and to hug them good-bye.   They were our cheerleaders and neighbors in Haiti and the Lord has called them to TX.   It was the first time for us to see one another in the states...and clean, not sweaty and in something other than a skirt for the ladies.  Jen and Chris have been so much more than friends to us in our mountain home so this unexpected, one more hug was what we ALL needed!

We arrived at our hotel around 2 am and completed the rest of the drive the morning of the appointment.  The kids had gotten scooters/skateboard so we pulled them out to play on the helicopter landing pad while My Dear had his appointment.   What a gift those toys were!

It is obviously early since Miss B is rock'n the jacket. 

The doctor met and prayed with My Dear and we were both encouraged. He knew our situation and time line and was working hard to move things ahead.   Which meant, My Dear would be admitted to the hospital for a biopsy of his kidney.   A biopsy that did not go exactly as planned and landed My Dear in the hospital for 2 nights.  


Silly Billy


The God of the universe saw fit to have a support system in place in FL already.  We were coming in as My Dear's sister and her family would be leaving soon after our arrival but there was an overlap.    Nana was there with them and Pops arrived on biopsy day, all planned before we knew of My Dear's medical needs.   Our friends were driving for 2 days to meet us for the fun part and now, we are held up at the hospital!   Our friend Jesse is a military chaplain currently working in a hospital.   So he would leave his work to relax, in a hospital, again, but this time beside his friend...some vacation.

My Dear's sister wanted to take this photo before the hospital to make sure we got one.   
   This is our first load of cheerleaders and the sweet photographer that loved on the girls.


God totally took care of our kiddos.  They swam, played on the beach, had time with their family, and were given the royal treatment.   My Dear's biopsy fell on Billy's 14th birthday.   I wanted to be in 2 places at one time, with my man and with my Billy on his day.   My Dear sent me home from the hospital to be with Billy and his Aunt Shelly held off the cake eating until Nana, a freshly arrived Pops, and myself could be there.   I am not sure I have ever seen Billy that happy to see me.  My heart felt the same!!





After a few days driving back and forth to the hospital, our friends and family loving on our kiddos and our guy home....it was time to vacation and it was fun to play Hand and Foot again with our friends and Nana and Pops.   We laughed a lot...much needed medicine!   Jesse and "Nanner" have been friends of ours since college.  I believe our children thought we were related for years.   My Dear and Jesse began their friendship as prayer partners in 1993.   I did not know either of them at the time.   A year or so later I met them and young married couples in college are poor and cards are cheap so Hand and Foot was our game.   It began a friendship we had no idea would lead us through tears and laughter through the years.   This stuff is VALUABLE!



So, My Dear was diagnosed with Berger's Disease.   The doctor handed us a stack of papers and said the goal is to preserve his kidneys.   He then, pretty much said, in my translation,  "Get back out on the field, people need to hear about Jesus and take this medication!"

We are making diet changes for all of us.   This continues the eye-opening the Lord started when were preparing food for our diabetic friend Anette while she was in the hospital.  We are trusting that the Lord will continue to meet all of our needs....just like He said He would and has shown Himself faithful.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Adventures Continue



After the last blog post, we hit the road to the following adventures....

1.  HAIRCUTS!!!!!!!!   It has been since February!

                          (You can see the new layer and the old layer right before it is clipped!)

2.   Taking a bath in an actual bathtub.   The bathtub even won out over swimming.

3.  My Dear officiated a BEAUTIFUL wedding!   Beautiful because of the ceremony the bride and groom created, the God they honored and celebrated, the handsome groom and his love for his bride and the incredible, young woman we love so much.  Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Back!  (Look who caught the bouquet!  Her daddy yelled, "Do Over!"



4.  Hugs and tears.

5.  Kiddos picking up right where they left off with their friends.



6.  Worshipping, crying, laughing, hugging, and roller skating with our favorite "musionaries." 
* musionary is  a music missionary....don't try that word in Scrabble, not sure it can support itself. 
But check out their website....good stuff!!   www.mattandjoannablack.com  They lead our hearts to worship!

7.  Driving north from FL and making pit stops to hug necks in Ocala and Chattanooga.  

8.  Being in a community, a house, and with a family that makes you feel like home and gives your children the option to go or stay home with them when they don't want to go with the parents.  Thank you "management!"

9.   Miss B. is never ready to get in the car to go to the next place.   It is the ongoing theme of the trip.   She did not want to get in the car in Haiti to go to the airport.  She did not want to leave Nana T and Pops to go to Mami's nor leave Mami's to go back to Nana and Pops.   Being 7 can be hard. 

10.   Our children can sleep in interesting positions in the truck.

 
 


11.  The truck that was loaned to us....seats 6, plenty of leg room, OODLES of storage space....we load and go!

12.  We have been hosted by 4 churches with 7 churches to go!

13.  Sleep-overs, ice skating, roller skating, movies, swimming, Muddy Monday, fireworks, water balloons... go, go, go.


 

 
 


14.   Three library visits, 2 different states, over 100 books read.


15.  Dentist appointments where we were treated like celebrities and overwhelmed with the kindness shown to us.   Thank you Dr. Matt and staff.


16.  People love the Mountain Maid products we brought.   We are selling out quickly but still have some goodies.   You can still order at www.mountainmaid.org

17.  Late nights....lots of late nights.

18.   Encouragement from the Body of Christ.



19.  The thrill of worshiping in our own language....I will not be quick to get over this!

20.  My Dear's excitement to share the Gospel and how it has and continues to change our lives.

21.  Eye doctor appointments and new glasses for me.  Thank you Dr. Kirk!



22.  Meeting up with 2 special young women in Louisville (I wanted them to meet anyway!)  Morgan was an intern when we moved to Haiti and helped the kiddos tremendously with transition.  I met Amber right before her first birthday, let's just say I have been smitten with her since that day!


 
23.  Catching up with Tall, Dark and Handsome and some Risk 2210.
 
 


 



Mama Perk of the week:   While My Dear was speaking in our sending church about language learning,   he asked the congregation a question in Creole.   Billy had gone to sit with friends and I did not know where.   Well, I didn't know until My Dear said in Creole, "Do you understand what I am saying?"   Then a voice from the back of the room responds "wi." (Creole for yes.)   Two thoughts went through my head:   "Oh there is where he is,"  and "Wow, he understood and responded to that quickly!'

We are looking forward to a week of relaxation and fun with Nana T. and Pops before heading to PKY next Sunday.







Monday, June 22, 2015

You May Have Been Out of the Country for a Year

You may have been out of the country for a year if....

1.  Your 7-year-old is confused by a side-by-side refrigerator and puts yogurt in the freezer and she can't find the cheese in the freezer.

2.  You rode in a car going 70mph on the interstate and that is the fastest you have driven in a year.   Actually 55 mph might have won the same title.

3.  You have to remind yourself to flush the toilet after each use and not "mellow til it's yellow."

4.   Your 7-year-old is excited to eat at a fast food chain but leans toward your ear to ask, "What did I used to order here?"  

5.  The sound of running water in a faucet makes you want to sprint to turn it off.

6.   You go to the grocery store only to walk the perimeter of the store just like the health professionals say to do.   We can get all of that other stuff imported so what does that tell you about shelf life and nutrients?    Our shopping was pretty much over when we were in the fruit aisle and complete when we hit the dairy.

7.   You notice there are no roosters crowing outside of the window and if there were, you can't hear them or anything else for that matter.

8.   You notice, no one has knocked on the door for the 3 days.  

9.  Your ATV riding children ask you to go faster on their grandparents' golf-cart.

10.  The children ask what they should wear to church and you respond, "Whatever you want."

11.   Every public restroom you go in, has toilet paper AND soap!!!

12. Your son orders a Coke on the plane and then tells you it is an "American Coke."   I don't think he will make that choice again.....he is officially a sugar cane guy.

13.   Your face leaks when you see your parents for the first time.

14.   You hug your grandmother and wonder if it will be the last time. 

15.  You notice, your children are different.........and it is good.

16.  You TRULY worship when you understand every word spoken in a church service.

17.  It surprises you that you can understand every conversation going on around you.

18.  No one stares at your red-headed children as you walk past.

19.  You find yourself greeting people with darker skin in Creole.

20.  You remind yourself it is okay to put your toothbrush under the faucet and notice you pierce your lips shut as you shower.




Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Circus "Tour"

Our furlough is coming quickly and our time in the states will go even faster!   We would enjoy seeing so many of you who have encouraged us in our new home and new journey.   We will be speaking in KY, IN, and TN.   Here is where you can find us sharing.   You would be welcome to join us in any of the following places.



Sunday, June 28th     Bible Baptist Church, NV   10:30

Sunday, July 5th     FBC, NV 9 and 10:30 services

Sunday, July 5th     Trinity United Methodist, Murfreesboro  pm

Sunday, July 12th     FBC, Paris     am service

Sunday, July 12th     Central Baptist Church, Paris  pm

Sunday, July 19th     FBC, Crothersville   9:30am

Wednesday, July  22nd  New Bethel Baptist, Noorwood

Sunday, July 26th     Risen Savior, NV  am service

Sunday, July 26th     Bethel Baptist, NV  6pm

Thursday, May 28, 2015

One Year Ago....

Thursday is mail day here.   We  look forward to mail day very much and the encouragement that comes in envelopes.   Our mail is flown in from FL and we finally get it on Thursday.   Like most people would look forward to Friday, we look forward to Thursday. 

One year ago, this week, when the mail flew in from FL, it contained 2 weary adults, 3 tearful children and one little, white dog and somewhere between 17-19 luggage carts piled with their possessions.

The drive from Indiana to Florida included 3 stops, in 2 vehicles, since we did not all fit in the moving van, to purge possessions to our family who would use them and to hug their necks one more time.   We paid $1.60 for each pound that was mailed....look around your house and think on that one.  Our little dog was put on a diet before the move!


For the first 5 months of our living in this country.....I was not sure we were going to make it, okay, I was not sure that I was going to make it!  We had a home set-up and waiting for us and food in the cabinets.   Electricity and water were available unlike most homes in this country.   Our support system was truly just a call out the window.   But it was HARD.  The smells were strange, the bugs ate on us like we were the Golden Correl buffet (Oh yeah!)     We had to learn about the area, how to get hot water, how to operate the shower, how to get food, when we could do laundry....   We had to have a key to unlock everything and could communicate with only the other missionary staff.   If we went out to eat, we ordered and just ate whatever they brought...we never got it right!

The tears were often and when a child cried, I cried too.   My Dear said one day, "They are just going to have to get over it," and then he looked at the tears streaming down my face and fell quiet.   If I was not sad, I was sick.   It seemed like every other week I was camping out either in the bathroom or sick in bed...it got old--- fast and I questioned why the Lord would bring us this far for me to lay in bed and die here....perhaps an over exaggeration but when your heart is sad and your body is sick....well, you can see that there is a breakdown in the  spiritual and mental too.  

At about the 5 month mark, I boiled some water for Miss B. to wash dishes.   As I pulled her chair up to the sink so she could reach, she began to cry.   I asked what was wrong.   She responded, "I want to go home."   That was the typical response those days.   But when I asked, "why" instead of my usual response of "we ARE home,"  her tearful response was, "I want a dishwasher."   I felt like we had finally arrived!!  

It is hard to believe that we have been here a year!  Although there are some things that we are still not used to, for the most part....we are here!   I am looking forward to our time of furlough but I am also not looking forward to missing time with the folks here.  But I AM looking forward to a hair cut and washing my hair with water that frogs do not live in!  (When I read this line to My Dear his response was, "Don't worry honey, they are not live frogs."   He thinks he is funny.)

There are MANY things I appreciate about our home in the mountains.   Our staff encourage me in our schooling and the time it takes for me to make that happen.   The ladies remind me that is my first priority. 

The staff that welcomed us after our move.  Some of them have since moved on to other ministries.
 
The kiddos have learned to accept new people quickly and have put themselves "out there" to speak with people who do not speak their language fluently.   It is good.



We still have a lot to learn with culture and language but we have met some really neat people who are gentle with us as we learn.



Just like the states, we see folks that are lost, who need the Lord.   BUT we also see folks who love the Lord.   They just need someone to come along side of them and disciple them.   Do you know how fun it is to study the scripture with people who are so excited to learn?   This part has been a huge encouragement to us!   

As I look back, we've come a long way baby!

Photo courtesy of Jen Ward(M'dm Chris)-friends who are in a passionate pursuit to serve the Lord.  They are a blogpost in themselves and have kept us afloat.



 The Lord is faithful....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Where I Live.....

Walking home today, I realized how "everyday" these sights have become.
 
Where I live, folks carry items in black, plastic bags so no one can see what they have.   It may be food from market or new shoes.    Mine our beans our friend Benjamin brought My Dear from his garden.   He was sure to show My Dear how to snap the ends off.
 
 
 
 


Where I live, poinsettias are seen growing among the spring flowers. 
 
 

 
Where I live, you never underestimate the occupancy of your vehicle.   This SUV took 5 adults in the front and 4 more in the back...look how those long legs fold up.   We saw our friends loading up for church and asked to take a picture. 

 
Where I live, this plant called, "Job's Tears" grows.   In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere the God of the universe planted it to grow in dry conditions and produce a seed that pops right off and is hollow on the inside.   It has a soft place at each end of the seed that allows a needle and string to go right through so these seeds are made into lovely beaded jewelry.   So easy to make....I made myself a necklace.   You will see jewelry along the mache made of many colorful beads from this plant.  Where I live, God supplied an income for the locals through His handiwork. 



Where I live, water is precious.   Drinking water is especially precious.   So precious that people steal it.   Water trickles out of the tap but there are times when we have to allow our plants to dry out because there is not enough water to spare.   Today, our Miss B. took a shower with buckets at her feet to catch the water so our Dolly could water her flower seeds.  Perhaps, we will even use some of the water to flush the toilet.   Toilets and faucets are things that many of our neighbors do not have the luxury of.    Where I live, we have to lock up our drinking water and consider ways to conserve each drop of precious water we can.
 



Where I live, people greet one another as they pass.  People smile when they are smiled at.   Where I live, folks know my name.   Where I live, the church doors are always open and the sounds of worship pour out of the open windows.  Where I live beautiful people accept the "blan" foreigners.   Where I live, the Lord is at work. 
 
 I am thankful to live where I live.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What is going on...

Last fall, My Dear was trained to fill in for a husband and wife duo as they were going on furlough for 2 months.   Once they arrived in the states, they went for check-ups with their doctors.   Roger    learned that he had 95% blockage in three arteries of his heart.   He was going in for a well visit so you can imagine their surprise.   The blockage was so bad they quickly did open heart surgery.   We praised the Lord they were in the states because there are no heart surgeons here.   The 2-months My Dear would be filling-in grew to 7 months.  

Since we are "newbies" the position felt long and grueling at times.   We both learned more about the culture.   My Dear learned more language especially with money and tools.   It was good to learn but I can be honest and say, we are both glad it is coming to an end.  Not because it was so grueling, but because he has had multiple positions to fill in their absence.  We appreciate the lessons learned and have an even greater appreciation for Roger and Judy who serve so faithfully and with vision in this office.      

There were times, while My Dear was serving in this temporary position he wondered what his purpose really was and why we are even here.   Everyone here has multiple responsibilities...the harvest is plenty and the workers are few.   Having so much on one's plate, you can't really do anything well.

For a person that has been in the ministry for 20+ years, and had people stop by his office or meet with him to discuss the Word, this part of his position has left him dry.   His study time to prepare for devotions at Mountain Maid gave him some purpose but he had to leave quickly after sharing to get to operations.   He was unable to spend time with the people and build relationships with them as he worked. 

What I see that really lights his fire is Sunday morning.   This IS his ministry.  It is not a responsibility assigned by the mission but a ministry opportunity that was made available to him.  HE LOVES IT!  This time of turbulence has had him in deep dependence on the Lord and a renewing commitment that He would do whatever the Lord wanted Him to do because He knows what God has done for Him through His Son. 

All of this made me think of the thousands of believers who get up and go to work everyday and are not in areas of so called "ministry."   It is the teachers, the engineers, the factory workers, the administrators, landscapers, business owners, bus drivers, therapist, nurses.....those folks who live out their faith through their occupations.   They make their occupation their ministry and look for ways to share The Gospel each day.  

This meeting of hungry believers on Sunday morning has satisfied My Dear's soul during this time.  Patience is believing with hope.   He has been patient that the Lord would use this and would be faithful to fulfill My Dear's heart desire to share The Gospel and to preach the Word.

May you too be encouraged that you are EXACTLY where the Lord has called you for such a time as this.   Just as Esther was in a position to protect her people, we are where He has called us for this time.   He will not let any of our lives be wasted but will use and redeem it for His glory (and some parts feel like they need a bit more redeeming than others....amen!)

Lord, we continue to be patient in HOPE as you bring your will for our lives.   Lord, please give Roger and Judy a spiritual heart to continue to serve you and a physical heart to keep up with it!!!