Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.... “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43:1-3, 7, 10-13

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Under a Cover of Prayer

For those of you who are in the dark about what has been happening the last couple weeks, I deeply apologize. Part of it was wanting to be sure before we broadcast anything, and part of it has been that we have just been in survival mode.

A couple of weeks ago, Josh started having pain under his arm. At first he thought he'd just pulled a muscle working in the garden, but the pain kept getting worse and worse, and then he noticed a swelling as well under his arm. We thought it just might be a swollen gland, but after a couple days, he was having trouble doing anything with his arm and began having night sweats and cold chills in bed.

So he went to the doctor to get it checked out. The doctor thought it was probably just an infected gland, and gave him a round of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but because cancer is genetic in Josh's family, though that he'd better do an ultrasound to cover all the bases.

The ultrasound results came back showing not a swollen gland, but 7 lymphnodes of varying sizes. The doctor was fairly alarmed, and said that the surest and quickest way of finding out if the lymphnodes were benign and infected or malignent was to do a biopsy. So a couple of days later, Josh went in for a simple surgery. They made a cut under his arm and took samples from 2 of the lymphnodes.

The results came back on Monday - NOT malignent. Josh said he's never been happier to have an infection in his life!

Like I said earlier, I think we've been in survival mode the last couple weeks with everything that's been going on. I just couldn't think very much about the biopsy, because if I did, then my mind started going over all the "what if's". But, try as I might, it was really difficult to sleep for a couple of days. I think I have a much better understanding of the feelings and thoughts people go through when they hear the word "biopsy"!

But I have never felt, as much as I did at this point in our lives, the peace that comes from the knowledge that we are covered in prayer. Over the last week, we have received more encouraging emails from so many individuals saying that they were praying for us - and so many more emails from individuals saying that they were so thankful with us about the results. I took such comfort in the knowledge that there were men and women of God rallying around us - I could almost picture you: around your tables, in your living rooms, congregating as a church, in your beds, on your knees, in your cars, with your families - praying for us. How can I begin to say "Thank you?"

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Please continue to pray as we consult with the doctors about how to treat this infection. Josh's fevers are gone, but the lympnode under his arm is still swollen and painful.

We are thankful - thankful that the results were not more serious, and thankful that the results allow us to continue with His work, and continue raising our family here in Cochabamba.

We love you all!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Twilight Zone??

It has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks (I keep wondering when life will slow down - maybe it never does!). Here's a recap of what it's been like in the Marcum household.

1) Rudi and Patti's wedding (see previous blog entry)
2) Josh's parents arrive the night of the wedding to spend a few days with us (For the record - I'm so glad they were here. Of course, visitors always add to the business of life - but it was such a wonderful visit. And, seeing as two of the ladies on our team are in the States right now visiting family (more power to them!), it was really nice to have them - kind of took off that edge of missing my family and wanting to be with them.)
3) Jenny and Erik Reyes and Zion (Josh's sister and brother-in-law) arrive. They are part of a team to Sucre, Bolivia that just arrived a couple weeks ago. They came to Cochabamba, a much more modern and developed city (imagine that!), to do some household shopping. We spent a lot of the week helping them purchase furniture, washer and dryer, household goods etc. Don't get me wrong - it was a joy to help them! We are so excited they are here.
4) I loose my wallet (including Bolivian ID card, American drivers license, credit card and debit card, and about $10) the day Jenny and Erik leave. Needless to say, I was very upset about the whole thing - imagining the paperwork and hours it will take to get a new Bolivian ID, a new American drivers license while in Bolivia, canceling credit cards and getting new ones while in Bolivia. We return to the restaurant where it was left on the table- nothing.
5) Josh leaves on an overnight camping trip with the men of the congregation.
6) Eliana begins running a 102 fever. After about 24 hours I take her to the doctor, and end up waiting 2 and a half hours because he's out on an emergency call. She has a severe throat infection and is on antibiotics (which give her diareaha and and upset stomach and makes for a very fussy baby who won't eat except for nursing). So I haven't had a good night's sleep this week yet, and feel like all I've done is nurse, walk, rock, and hold Eliana (and in my spare time keep up with a precocious 2 year old - who we found sticking DVD's INSIDE the casing of the TV yesterday, requiring us to take apart the TV in order to recover them - and attempt to cook half-way decent meals - our stock of leftovers is nil, thanks to this week). Josh's usual schedule continues - and I feel like this week we've been ships passing in the dark (in a too literal sense, since I've been up half the nights with Eliana.)

All of that is background to the story I'm about to tell you. I recieve a call this morning from the girls' doctor's office, saying that they have gotten some information about my lost documents. At first, I'm confused, (remember this is in Spanish, and I have the hardest time talking on the phone in Spanish) - I think they've lost the girls' doctor records and have recovered them. No, no - someone called their office saying that they found my lost ID card (I had a card for the doctor's office in my wallet as well, so I'm assuming the guy found the card, called the office, asked if they had a patient with my name, and asked them to contact me). I am so excited - my faith in Bolivia restored! The receptionist gives me all the information - name, where he works (office, street and cross street) cell phone number. So I call the cell phone - no answer. Eliana wakes up and Josh can stay with Michaela. So I pack her up in the sling and walk up to the road (about 5 minutes) and catch a bus into town (our car is in the shop). I arrive at the office, walk inside and ask for Diego Fuentes. No one knows him - no one of that name works there. I go outside - look around, ask in all the shops up and down the street, ask the kiosk sellers, ask the shoe shiners. No one knows a Diego Fuentes. After about half an hour of asking everyone in creation and looking the fool, I stand there on the street corner, feeling like I'm in the twilight zone, and ask "What are you doing here, God?" And eventually catch a taxi home.

Okay, so let me ask you. Why would a guy go to extreme measures to call my doctor's office, have them call me, and give me all that false contact information, requiring me to haul downtown with my baby and try to recover my missing papers?

Scenario 1 (suggested by the taxi driver as I was discussing the issue with him on the way home): It was a joke. The more I think about this scenario, the madder it makes me! Some joke to get my hopes up that my missing papers (of which I've already started the process to recover, having called and emailed the Texas State Department to find out the process of getting a new license, filling out the forms and getting the package ready to Fed.Ex.) are found - and require me to go downtown with my baby, wasting 2 hours of my day.

Scenario 2 (which makes me rather paranoid): The man called the doctor's office in an attempt to locate our home address/ home telephone, knowing by my papers that I am a foreigner - for who knows what reason, to take advantage of us in some way.

Anyone have any other ideas??

In an attempt to regain my perspective on life - I've been reading my Bible. Always a good thing to do. I'm studying through the minor prophets (a very good way to put things in context) and just the other day, read the book of Habakkuk. I ended up feeling very humbled - reminded of the sovereignty of God - of how He is God of history, and how my very small problems (not that they don't matter to Him) are small beans in comparison to the world wide problems He dealt with in the past and continues to deal with in our present day. Josh gave me a handbook of the minor prophets, written by Dr. Jack Lewis (one of his previous professors at HUGSR). Habakkuk 2:4 states "the righteous will live by his faith." Dr. Lewis' commentary on that verse went something like this "The righteous man will live by his faithfulness. Running the universe is God's business. The righteous man has his daily tasks to fulfill, and by them he will live [faithfullly]" - faithfully being my addition. Thank you, Dr. Lewis! Those were words I needed to hear. He is the one who "enables me" (Hak.3:19) to walk above all this. May the gracious way I approach every hiccup in my daily life be a witness of my faith and His righteousness.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More Pictures

More pictures now available on our flickr badge!

Rudy and Patti's Wedding

We have been very thankful the past year for our homestay program on several different notes - yes, there were times that were hard, but it gave us an insight into Bolivian life here, invaluable contacts, and a continuing relationship with a beautiful family. We have been able to celebrate several milestones in this family's life over the past year - a baby shower, the birth of a grandson, birthdays, renewal of their wedding vows after 25 years of marriage, their grandson's baptism and first birthday, and finally the marriage of their daughter. It has given us invaluable insight into the customs and life of the Bolivian people.

We were a little more involved this time than we usually are in other people's weddings. Rudy and Patti asked us if they could hold the reception in our yard - seeing as we have a large, beautiful yard out in the country. We were happy to oblige. In addition, they asked us to be "padrinos" (the term also used for godfathers/godmothers) of the rings. Here in Bolivia - and I'm finding out in many other Latin American countries - when a large celebration is held, in order to help with the cost of the party, friends are asked to be "padrinos" or "sponsors" of some area of the celebration - in this case, Josh and I were "sponsors" of the wedding bands. Which basically meant we paid for them. We said yes before we really understood everything that was involved (lesson learned: investigate local customs before agreeing to them) and were out a little more money than we were thinking, but, oh well - live and learn.

If any of you have ever had a wedding reception in your home or on your lawn, you can sympathize with how much is involved. The wedding party made multiple visits to our home to measure, show friends and family etc. Thankfully the visits were always announced, but sometimes on short notice. The day before the wedding and the morning of, workers came to set up tents, prepare tables and flowers and cakes. Josh was very perturbed when one of the workers drove across our wet lawn (it having rained all night). Michaela was asked to be the ring bearer - so we had to go shopping for a white dress, and acquire a pillow for the rings. The wedding itself started promptly at 10:30 am (much to our surprise) and was a Catholic ceremony lasting a little over an hour. Michaela did marvelously as the ring bearer. At which point the guests proceeded to our house where the civil ceremony took place, followed by a meal (not till 4:00 mind you!) dancing and music - the party lasting until 9:00 that night at which point tents were disassembled, chairs and tables broken down etc., allowing us to retire around 10:30 or 11:00. What a day!

Although we may have had second thoughts about it if we had known how much was involved, looking back both Josh and I agree that we would have done it again. The Arcos were extremely grateful for our hospitality, and we felt that it was a way to not only say thank you to their family for what they have meant to us this last year, but also a way to bless Rudi and Patti's marriage, and to show them how much we truly appreciate and love them.

Michaela, the ring bearer, with Ariana, the flower girl and the mother of the bride

The bride and groom sharing a dance (and a view of the tents in our yard)

Welcome, Sister Talia!

We were overjoyed to celebrate a new birth in Christ this past week. Talia has been faithfully attending our church services, CAFE groups, and Jeff and Katie's English Bible study for the last few months (not to mention studying with both Gary and Katie) and finally committed her life to the Lord in baptism. We celebrated her baptism with a special devotional and "birthday" cake at the Sandovals following her baptism in a close-by hostal (seeing as we are still in the process of finding/making a temporary baptistry). Join us in praying for our new sister.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Michaela!

This mom can't believe that her little baby is now 2 - running, talking, potty training, and getting into everything! I think back on the first time I held Michaela in the delivery room, and I realize how blessed we are that God has granted us the gift of being able to raise this little girl - and I am so thankful for the past 2 years. As I say frequently, I have enjoyed every stage of her development - although some have been more challenging than others : )

We were doubly blessed again this year to have Josh's parents - and this time his sister Jenny, hubby Erik, and cousin Zion - present at Michaela's birthday. The visit was too short - but hey, we'll take anything we can get. We enjoyed every minute of the last 3 days with them.

We had a very low key birthday party - just family, cake and presents (including some presents from my parents which they left with us over their Christmas visit). Michaela finally figured out the candle blowing process after a few tries! Mommy tried her hand at a high altitude angel food cake - which turned out beautifully but took all the eggs in my fridge (not to mention a trip to the grocery store to buy cream of tartar!)

This mom is looking forward to the years to come - and at the same time, looking back with nostalgia at the fun times we've had the past 2! We love you, Michaela! Happy Birthday!

Michaela with her birthday presents

Candle blowing

Michaela's present from mom and dad - her "park" as she calls it

Michaela, Eliana, Nana, Papa, and cousin Zion