A Matter of Life and Death
Life does not stop death, and death does not stop life. But God is our comfort...
Our Best Man Jim's daughter Nicky passed away of cancer at 41, and went to be with the Lord July 8, 2022. We went to her visitation and funeral, which was so sad as she left two little girls, 4 and 8. Life can seem so unfair. Our comfort in is our Sovereign Lord. Please pray for Mark, Natalie, and Jim as they make this huge adjustment. It was good to see old hang gliding friends, some whom I hadn't seen since before we went to Sarajevo in 1999.
We were able to celebrate with Delores for her 90th Birthday in June and she was quite cheerful and appreciative. Later, she took a fall, twist-fractured her femur, and had a hard time recovering. While she was in the hospital a week or two, we were discussing the round-the-clock care she would need so that she wouldn't put weight on that leg for 6 weeks. When she was back in the nursing home, she was often sleeping, though she still would eat occasionally. She was going downhill, slowly stopped eating and drinking, and was just worn out. We visited with her and told her we loved her, Merle recited scripture to her and sang Psalm 23. She mouthed back to us "I love you" and she actually spoke a few words. I asked her if she would like flowers and she was very animated in her positive response. We brought her flowers that God graciously provided with her in mind: pink roses, red rubrium lilies, yellow alstromeria, snowball vilburnum, pink gerber daisies, and white daisies. They were gorgeous! Our dear "adopted" mother, Delores, went home to be with the Lord Wednesday, July 20, 2022. We set up a mini-funeral, as she didn't want anything formal, and Merle spoke a few passages from the scriptures, reading out of her family Bible to the 6 of us who were there. Please pray that God would have His perfect will in settling all her affairs.
Our dear friend, Asima, in Sarajevo, went home to be with the Lord Thursday, July 28, 2022. In the last two photos above: Christmas 1999 in our crowded living room with our team. Asima's head is turned away talking with our landlady and neighbor, and on the right, Asima at her son's wedding many years ago.
Carolyn, also on our team, had this to say about Asima:
Asima Nuaj was one of the bravest women that I have ever met. She took her sons, then 9 & 14, and escaped the siege of Sarajevo and made it to a refugee camp in Dakovo, Croatia, where I met her when I first went there during the Bosnian War, 1993. She had made a decision to follow Jesus while in that refugee camp and later decided to be baptized which caused the Americans to get kicked out of the camp since it was run by the Red Crescent, a Muslim humanitarian organization. She did what was not popular. She stood for what she believed, and I admired that. She eventually went to England with her sons but moved back to Sarajevo in 1998, when I first visited Sarajevo.
The story of her conversion is a funny one. The team in the refugee camp were trying to locate a particular bungalow, and asked at her place if she knew where Bungalow 31 was. Her response was "God, I don't know," but was mistranslated as, "I don't know God." The team leader, Randy, said, "Tell her we know God and can tell her about him." After they laughed over the misunderstanding, she invited them in and later asked the Lord Jesus to transform her life. Years later, Asima told us that the Lord led her to go back to Sarajevo to serve Him, and she was part of our teams' original church plant in 1998, then worshiped the Lord with us in the Ministry Center in downtown Sarajevo about 2005, eventually hosting our house church at her home the last several years we were in Sarajevo. She loved being a part of the services, especially to sing lead or harmonize with our worship teams. She shared with neighbors and friends, but as she was home-bound in her last years, it was more difficult.
Merle is closing in on the finishing of the rental "glass house." Flooring just went in and he is painting. Next will be lots of details and furnishings! We hope to open it for rental in September. It is quite hidden in the full foliage of summer! I am SO IMPRESSED with my husband and his skills! God has equipped him in a mighty way!
Jenny continues to grow in her knowledge and understanding of Biblical counseling, while she works with a number of women at different stages of life and growth. I, Jenny, wondered how the Lord could use all the knowledge He has poured into me all these years of relationship with Him and Bible study, and God graciously led me to this Biblical counseling training at our church. I want to mentor others to follow Jesus closer than ever. I have been pondering some truths about godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow, and true repentance from daily sin, with the ensuing joy, peace and freedom that the Lord wants us all to have.
This was a great question to ponder at Vacation Bible School, which was full of enthusiasm and fun as you can imagine. I love that colorful crowd!
Merle and I surprised Ann for her big Birthday and her daughter, Justine, who had arranged a wonderful party! Merle danced with her as the Mariachi band played. Special guests included friends from Wisconsin and Mexico! My brother and I played quite a few hands of rummy over the next few days. It was great to spend time with them all.
Lydia, Jo, and I joined our friends from Albania and Honduras for the Independence day celebrations of fireworks at the local spot. Could that be Luke? Merle and I finally were able to enjoy a night of country western dancing again. We laughed so much!
I finally upgraded my phone, though making technological changes are hard for me to comprehend at times. As we stumble our way through life, God gives us multiple opportunities to cast all our cares on Him, which is such a relief!
Thank you for being my refuge and strength, and your Word being my plumb line, Lord! Without it, where could we go? You have the words of eternal life!