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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This is Josh. I don’t usually blog, but I thought I’d just share my heart with a few of you via this medium. Thank you in advance for being there.

This is the line that I started to get in to wait for gas yesterday. These people were standing out in the rain hoping that a truck might come and they could exchange their bottle of gas. I left when I saw men starting to fight and several talk about rushing the nearby highway to blockade. They wanted to make a spectacle to show their disapproval! What is sad is that Bolivia is rich in Natural Gas; they just don’t know how to distribute it.

Things like the above make life here a bit difficult. We have to have this gas for our stove, dryer, hot water heater, and heaters. It is even more difficult for people without a vehicle. Those in line had either to walk a good ways with their canister or pay a taxi with money that they really didn’t have for such an expense.

This month Julie and I have had a “Bolivian Month.”
• She had her purse stolen out of her cart while at the nicest grocery store in town. Unfortunately she had three weeks of grocery money with her ($300)
• Gas has been in short supply for the whole month. Even the Chessers visiting from Austin Ave got to help us chase down a gas truck.
• Eliana and I have gone through several antibiotic treatments to treat Giardia and Amoebas.
• Our house is now for sale by the owner. We could have months or years left, we don’t know. Meanwhile we’ll have to show the house and hope it doesn’t sell while we are on furlough.
• We received a negative and blaming letter from one of the families who lost their daughters. I know they are just hurting, but it’s depressing when they accuse and state that they will not be coming back to the church; we who have helped them so much.
• And to top it all off, thieves broke into our yard two nights ago while we were sleeping and clipped the chain link fence and took most everything out of my shed. All of my tools, power tools, lawnmower and weed eater. Over $1200 in tools lost…Just makes me sick

I’ve always made fun of people talk about “suffering on the foreign fields.” And I know we are not suffering but sometimes it starts to get to you. I do ask that you pray for us…for me, that we’d not be discouraged but “continue to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

God is also doing amazing things at the same time:
• We are preparing for an Evangelism Training seminar this Saturday for the members. How awesome to equip new members to be conduits for the Lord!
• We celebrated our “official” three year anniversary two weeks ago with over 100 in attendance.
• We have more people wanting God’s word than we can even keep up with.
• We are alive, Julie and I love each other, we have three precious daughters and a rewarding mission to which God has entrusted us.

My desire is to allow these horizons dictate my level of joy. I want to count all things lost for the sake of knowing my Redeemer. I thank God for family in Christ in whom we can confide and share our struggles. Thank you for your prayers, support, and for loving us though we are far away. God bless you!

Top 10 pics of Christmas 2009

Decorating the Christmas tree

Opening stockings

Opening presents with the Reyes

Michaela and Daddy trying out her new Christmas present

Christmas dinner

Papa got his exercise pulling wagon loads of grandkids around the yard!

Tea parties with Nana

And lots of cousin time!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

7 months later

This blog has been brewing in the back of my head for a long time. I meant to write it last month for the 6 month anniversary of the accident. Kept putting it off, finding excuses not to sit down and do it. Maybe I didn't want to think about it, although I know so many of you out there who have prayed over us during this time would love an update on how everyone is doing.

Then yesterday, we got a really discouraging email from the son of the family who has struggled the most through all of this. Blame, dissappointment with the church, cutting ties with us. It would have been easier to take if there had been an element of gratitude. I cried as I read the email. It was like an emotional aftershock for Josh and I. Opening up all the old questions, doubts and feelings. Of guilt. In hindsight, could we have done anything different to keep this from happening? Did we make the right decision not to actively pursue prosecution of the bus company with the family in question (although the government will prosecute the case in it's own time). Could we have done or said or been anything more to help this family? Of sadness. I wish this had never happened. As much as I would give to bring one of those girls back, I feel selfish in my thankfulness to have Josh by my side. How did God and Jesus so selflessly sacrifice everything for the horrible wrong choices of humanity?

So I just have to cling to the faithfulness of God, who never gives up on us. And to the answered prayers of the last 7 months. Surgeons removed the plate in JD's spine in December. He's making a full recovery. Kevin, Ariel and Bruno are walking without assitence. Rebeca and Bruno are back in university, taking classes again. Camilla had another surgery on her nose that went well. All the kids are back to having fun together. Many are still in physical therapy, but are gaining back the breadth of physical movement. All the families, minus the one mentioned above, remain faithful members of the church and are growing in their walk with God. Naturally, many are afraid to travel. Miguel continues to recover, gaining use of his hand, his right eye now open, now driving, now leading singing during worship service again. Yet especially when seeing Miguel, I'm plagued again by all the 'what if's' and the knowledge of how much was lost. He is having to sell his business and his home.

Your continued prayers are appreciated. We are thankful to have spiritual warriors lifting us up all over the world. Please continue to pray for emotional and physical healing for the youth and their families. Pray for wisdom and grace for our team and leaders. Pray, as we do, for God to be glorified through it all.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thanksgiving in the US

November found us traveling to the US. Although not our regular furlough time, Josh felt the need (after everything that had happened this past year), to get away and unplug. It was a whirlwind of a trip - partly fundraising, partly visiting family and friends... Dallas, Ablilene, Brownwood, San Antonio, Austin, Searcy, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Wichita, Indiahoma, Detroit... all in one month (not to mention in a small rental car... I was very glad to see the end of that car!) We visited 6 different church contacts in 2 weeks and presented our fundraising plan for purchasing property here in Cochacabamba, although the trip was, for the most part, a 'mental health' trip, and we peppered our fundraising routes with stops visiting old friends. And although I chalked it up initially to Josh's need to be with family after the accident, it turns out I needed it just as much (at least my weepiness the first few days was tribute to that fact.) We greatly enjoyed the time catching up with old friends and the refreshment given us by our families. Enjoy the pictures!

We tried staying at a guest house in Santa Cruz on our way the the States and really liked it. This picture was taken on the swing outside.

We enjoyed staying with Betty Kennamer, a long time family friend and supporter in Abilene, and visiting with my brother and his girlfriend (now fiancee!). Ashamedly, I have no pictures with them :(

We spent 4 encouraging days with the church in Brownwood... Michaela loved playing with her new friends...

...and the girls got to see some day old baby goats!

Kody and Kristie Speer, good friends of ours, showed us around downtown San Antonion, a wonderful experience!

We spent a few beautiful fall days in Memphis, catching up with old friends... and eating dinner with one of Josh's cousins, Teresa and her family. Here are the 2nd cousins together!

I felt like I was stealing time in Nashville, because I got to see my sister again (when we said goodbye in May I thought it would be for several years, seeing as they are moving to Angola this year.) I loved the sister time and watching the cousins play together (my nephew Stephen is so cute!). And an extra blessing was having my best childhood friend, Rachel, drive down and spending time together with her and her sister... we went out for Indian food, to a fun indoor playground called the Monkey's Treehouse, reminisced and shared childraising techniques. Here we are... with all our kids! Amazing how our families have grown in the last years.

My sister and I took advantage of the opportunity to take a picture of all the cousins with the personal quilts my mom has made each of them.

We enjoyed spending time in Wichita with our good friends and supporters, the Harrolds. Michaela and Addison are great friends!

We spent Thanksgiving week on the farm in Oklahoma with Josh's family. Josh taught Michaela how to jump on haybales.

Michaela loves playing with James and Kaidan!

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with Nana.

Guy talk

Jana loves Uncle James!

Feeding the cows

Thanksgiving dinner

Playing Mouse Trap

And lots of dune buggy rides!

We ended our time with my folks in Michigan...

We spent a day at the Henry Ford museum... here we are in a giant hot dog :)...

With Santa Clause...

And at the Legoland display.

We had Christmas together...

And got new pajamas :)

The girls loved singing and dancing with Nyanya playing the piano.

All in all it was a much needed trip and we returned home tired from the traveling, but encouraged and refreshed. We enjoyed seeing all of you and hope to see even more of you on our next trip!