A Wish and a Prayer
We need you and your prayers for us! Thank you in advance!
First of all - THANKS BE TO GOD!
Luke is transforming under the pressure of Marine boot camp. He truly misses us and is so grateful for being adopted by us and growing up in an adventurous life in Bosnia. He wants to be with us and stay connected, which is a huge answer to prayer, as he admits that he has pulled himself away from us over the last years. He misses church, the friends there, even the orchestra! He is reading the book of Mark, as it gives him comfort, and reminds him of me reading the Bible to them as they grew up. He has the strength for what is required, as he said he "smashed" the obstacle course; it was like a parkour gym to him. We aren't surprised! But the emotional/mental strain is great and he, as well as others, are struggling. Unfortunately, graduation is cancelled to the public and families, because of COVID-19. Rather than getting 10 days of leave to spend time with us, he must go straight to his MOS, special training in Security Forces, in North Carolina. He shares his heart like never before in his letters. We are writing almost every day to him, which takes quite a bit of time to encourage him to keep at it and persevere to the end. I'd forgotten how long hand-written letters take and I am SO GLAD we are in the States during this time so that I can have the time to write every day! We are planning a weekend with him in September to celebrate his Marine Graduation and just be together. Could you please pray for Luke and the other recruits? Thank you! Be sure to thank God for the work He is doing in his heart in this pressure cooker!
Lydia begins her final 2 years of her Nursing program in August at Toccoa Falls, as they plan to open again to students being on campus. She will be living in Paradise Mountain Ministries, across the street from the college. She was on the Dean's List again this spring, and probably again this summer, as she took 3 on-line classes, which finish this coming week, to complete all her prerequisites for the Nursing program. She is also working part-time with children at North Henry Academy this summer, and dog-sitting for several people. Our relationship has become very close during this time that we have been Stateside, for which I am so grateful.
Hannah and Allan moved into a much larger rental home enjoying a lovely large Independence Day party. We also played Nerf Wars one evening. Allan changed jobs to work at CIU, where he and Hannah went to college, in maintenance/landscaping and is enjoying the regular hours and having health insurance. Hannah is writing a book! She wrote for a 100-word, worldwide competition and was fourth in her category! She was so excited to go to the next level! Allan also went to the second level in his area of competitive writing! Hope they win!
Jenny is still sorting tubs, but coming very close to the end of the process. We found a lovely large bookcase at Goodwill and were able to put most of our books in it, as well as DVDs and even some CDs. Does anyone else listen to those anymore? She loves having her own office and sewing room, which also has a single bed for Luke when he has been home. We think it is very important for our relationship with Luke and for his well-being to be here until he is deployed overseas. We still aren't sure when that will be, but it will be at least November. Travel is still so limited because of COVID-19 anyway. Merle may still take singular trips to various places, probably in the Caribbean, especially to continue hurricane relief this summer and/or fall. I am taking piano students to add to our income and it is fun to be teaching again. I did have a few students in St. Lucia when we were there last winter, though I don't charge on the field.
Merle is taking some odd jobs and willing to work for several different contractors, as well. We need to build up our account and add to our support family, so that when God says go, we are ready. It seems about every ministry is asking for funds these days, but God is continuing to work even during this pandemic. We are privileged to be supporters of several missionaries, and ministries, besides our church, but the greatest joy is to give of our own time and energy to assist others in their walk with the Lord. We miss sharing Christ with foreigners and leading Bible studies, and the purposeful life we feel when abroad.
We did meet a wonderful couple at church who are young marrieds and had them over for dinner. They are from Honduras and Albania! It was wonderful to get to know them a little and we hope to build that friendship.
We were able to upgrade our beat up 1999 Honda Accord to a 2004 Ford Taurus with 64,000 miles on it. Merle's step mother owned it, but Merle received funds from the estate, and we were able to purchase it, as well as pay off some debt we had acquired from shipping our belongings back to the States. We are trying to use our time to get more organized in our paperwork and belongings. It is so nice to have a place to call home, and finally feel like we know where things are, and have some order to our lives! There are a number of our friends who are also forced to shift around the world back to the States. I am sure God has a plan in all this. We are on the lookout!
Merle was working at Jenny and Paul's when they got word that their 53 yr old daughter had died of an apparent heart attack! He was available to drive them to her apartment, but the EMT would not allow Jenny to see her daughter! I find that very strange and unhealthy. In Bosnia, the lifeless body would be left in the house a few days for mourning relatives and friends. It seems healthy to bring closure and reality to the situation. The same thing happened when my mother passed on to heaven. My sister was not allowed to see her. I don't like some things about our American culture.
We are an amazing hodgepodge of people groups here in America and I am very proud to call it home! We represent many nations, colors, religions, view points, and those looking to improve their lives. Isn't that what the poem called The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, on the base of the Statue of Liberty encourages? Ms. Lazarus was determined to help the poor immigrants, seeing their great poverty, worked and raised money through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. She believed that "if immigrants received job training and education they would contribute to society," (Emma's Poem, by Linda Glaser) and wrote this poem at 35. She died only a few years later of Hodgkin's disease. She is still remembered for her inspiring world-renown poem.
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Don't we welcome many? Though, of course, it must be done properly and in order. We have to do it correctly in Bosnia, and every other nation. Laws protect. History teaches. Statues honor and remind us of our past and push us to be a better people than we have been in the past. Let us remember our shortcomings, and rise above our own sin and selfishness. Let us strive to be educated and to educate, to learn the best course to take in building solid marriages and families, which are the bedrock of our society. We should strive to protect our country, not to destroy it. Let us turn to God, the creator and sustainer of our lives, and get wisdom! Let us love justice, and mercy, and walk humbly. And be grateful for our lives, helping anyone we can to improve their lot and to honor God with their own lives. May God bless America, not for any reason, but because we turn to Him and honor Him with our lives. I wish and pray that we would be a beacon of wisdom to the nations and peoples of the world, bringing the good news of Jesus to anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear.
To God be the glory!