Closed Borders and Travel Bans
COVID-19 is a disruption that is affecting everyone. Our calling is to serve internationally and we have been directly affected by the travel bans and closed borders. It's important to keep God's perspective, especially in times like these. The Lord knew in advance the work He would have for us while we are here. We are discovering the reasons in the hearts and lives of some people with whom we are connected. Here are some that we can mention in a newsletter.
We were thrilled that Delores recognized us last Saturday when we went to Chattanooga to see her, get her mail, mow and clean up her yard surrounding her trailer. Of course, we were separated by a glass door and it was difficult for her to hear us on the phone, as she doesn't have good hearing, anyway. At our prior visit, she didn't know us, or even herself, and it was very disheartening.
Since we aren't able to go to Internationals, God has brought some to us! We met Josh, from Albania, and his wife Mariella, from Honduras at our church in June, and discovered that they live very close to us in the adjoining neighborhood. We are spending quite a bit of time with them and plan to study the Bible together.
It has been a blessing for Merle to be able to help with home improvement projects for several people with the skills that God has equipped him. While doing repairs for some older friends, he had the opportunity to drive them in an emergency situation. He has worked on projects for several people they are unable to do themselves, while supplying our needs. His latest project is remodeling a master bath. He is still developing his plan for mobile ministry in hurricane-damaged areas, even as the hurricane season is building. I am still working on my book to tell how our amazing God has done wonders in our life! It is a huge project and causes me to relive much of the stress and hardships we endured as I write about them. I believe it will encourage many people to look to the Lord in their own lives. Daily hand-written letters to Luke also take devoted time.
Life doesn't feel always as purposeful as it usually does for us, as living in a foreign land is a natural way into spiritual conversations, and we bring the light of Jesus everywhere we put our feet, but we know it is important to be here for Delores, Josh and Mariella, our kids, and others. We've talked with some of our friends in Bosnia and it has been very difficult for them, according to Sutka. Although her son, Emir has received his citizenship in Sweden! Unfortunately, Zlatan's Dad is in the last stages of cancer; Dejan's mother had brain surgery to remove a tennis ball-sized lump. She seems to be recovering. Melika is having a baby. There are several divorces pending. Other missionaries are leaving the field permanently. The wonderful property on St. Lucia had to be released for the YWAM group we worked with there, as they just didn't have sufficient funds. Some of our dear friends have the privilege of knowing the Lord and others don't. I painfully remember my life without the Lord, and pray for their opportunity to come to know Him intimately. Please keep them all in your prayers.
Please pray for Luke and his endurance to the end in Marine Boot camp, if this is God's will for him. He said he lost his cool Saturday Aug. 1, and they packed up his belongings. Apparently, they made him sit around for a few days and then gave him another chance. For him to maintain self-control for two months under these circumstances is amazing, and he has done extremely well in all the physical challenges of rappelling, swim, obstacle course, rifle range - so we are very proud of him. His Crucible in only a week away, August 20-22, when he demonstrates all the skills he has developed over these three months. Please pray for his success! He was in Basic Warrior Training last week as they climbed walls, and crawled through the mud and smoke to simulate an actual wartime scene. On the right above is our prepared "Crucible corner," with a lighthouse that lights up for the 54 hours he is sleep and food-deprived on the final course/march to be called a Marine! Oohrah! I try to follow several FB sites about Marines, their families, and Marine Moms, as well as write letters to him everyday for motivation. Boot camp and its pressures have deeply impacted him. We PRAY he finishes well to fulfill his dreams! Unfortunately, because of Covid, the graduation is closed, which is heartbreaking for him and us, and he gets no leave before he goes to his next level of training in North Carolina. We hope to see him there in September, but still aren't sure what they will allow.
In a week and a half, Lydia starts her final two years of college at Fetterman Nursing School at Toccoa Falls College. We are so proud of her high grades and being on the Dean's List! We are proud and excited with her, on this journey. Psst...a new guy is on the scene, too!
Since we bought Grandma Sally's car to replace the 1999 Honda that was gifted to us four years ago, that I had been driving when in the States, we were looking to sell it. I miss the really great gas mileage, but the amenities are much nicer in the Taurus I am now driving. Hope, Lydia's good friend and fellow MK from TFC, needed a car and could drive a stick shift, so she and part of her family came to test drive the Honda Accord. It was nice talking with her siblings and her dad, as we have so much in common as they are missionaries in Africa, and here on furlough and because of COVID. Since we flew to OH to get the car, we had the opportunity to visit Merle's brothers, other relatives a bit, and were able to see pregnant Megan (whose baby girl has now arrived), and cousin Morgan. Merle has been talking with Morgan as he is newly reading the Bible and wanting to be baptized. Driving home, we dropped in on Jenny's dear friend, Brittany, from missionary discipleship-training days. It was wonderful to catch up and, hopefully, encourage her and her son.
Since Merle shipped home the raft, we went with the family on the Nanatahala River in NC. There was intermittent rain and sun, the water was very cold, and even though there was a deluge at the very end right in a class 3 rapid, we had a blast! It was fun to camp out the night before, too, with hammocks, mosquito netting, and tarps to keep off the rain. Merle and I slept in the van. :)
Merle and Lydia made two bookcases for me from scrap wood left in the tool shed, which was great! God provides! He provided a handyman husband, too! It has been so fun having Lydia around this summer. I will miss her so much.
"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no store room or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" Luke 12:22-26
(This admonition is for me.)
"The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1
Go and SHINE that light of yours!