Disaster Every Way You Look
Decimation - that is the only way to describe the condition of the Abacos in the Bahamas.
Merle returned from spreading the love (disaster relief) in various islands where Hurricane Dorian devastated some of the Bahama Islands last September. He didn't have internet or even electricity on some of the islands where he went, delivering cots, water, generators and supplies, and sleeping on a friend's boat used to carry aid over from Florida. Being mobile was important for getting to the out islands and places difficult to reach, and the boat also provided a place for them to sleep and prepare food as accommodations either are destroyed or already have people living in them. Samaritan's Purse had set up living quarters in a school on one island where they are helping the community and hired locals to cook for the volunteers and others still on the island. This is where Merle served in January. Anyone who has studied disaster relief knows that you have to have accommodations for your volunteers, no matter how rustic that may be.
Merle is pursuing further a mobile ministry vision, which would provide accommodations for volunteers and interns in this immediate humanitarian relief need. They would serve in the hurricane damaged islands of the Abacos on a live-aboard boat with 4-6 bedrooms and a kitchen. He has found a hurricane-damaged catamaran sailboat to accommodate as many as ten that could be repaired and used in this Kingdom work to bring supplies, do repairs, and provide aid to those in need. It could also be used as a more affordable spiritual retreat for missionaries and ministry leaders to refresh and equip them in a wonderful experiential learning environment of sailing.
The most important questions in life surface when your possessions are destroyed. How would you feel and what would you do if your only home was destroyed in some way, without insurance to rebuild it? Many in the Abacos face this problem and need spiritual answers about God and his desire for them. These are important questions in life. God is on His throne and Christ has paid the price for our reconciliation to Him. We all need Him. This life is a vapor, but our eternal destination will be determined by our relationship to Jesus. Is He on the throne of our life, or are we our own master?
Beyond this, those struggling without a home (including our family), and serving a widow, seem to be our focus at this time. God has to continue to remind us that "Life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions," and "whoever looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of heaven."
We are very concerned about Delores. She is our 87 yr old widowed neighbor, without children, next to our empty property on Lookout mountain. There are a few other people in her life, Raymond and his daughter Kristie, who live closer, which is wonderful. Delores had named Merle as her Financial POA so we handle her bills for her. She was back at home in December after being in the hospital and Rehab, but while at home, she sunk to the floor and not having the strength to get up, ended up going back to the hospital and rehab again. Finally released to be back home at the beginning of January, she hung out at home with her cat and feeding the variety of birds off her back porch. Monday, March 2, she decided to go out in the yard alone to fill the bird feeders, which she was not supposed to do, and she fell down. She apparently broke the top of her femur and sat on the bottom step of the porch in the cold and pouring rain for several hours, we think. Her body temperature dropped to 86'-87' from hypothermia. Raymond called her and because she wasn't answering, he called the sheriff to check on her. He found her in the rain, soaked and not very responsive. The ambulance came and took her to the hospital, and Raymond notified us. We immediately headed to Lookout Mt to see her. They called her Ski Doe at the ER as she had no identification on her. She was a bit confused, but almost warmed to normal body temperature by the time we got there after warm intravenous fluids and covered with warming blankets filled with warm air. After we went to her home and let the cat in to eat, got her keys and purse with her identification, we headed back to the ER. By this time she was hungry and clearer in her thinking. I fed her dinner and she ate well. As Kristie is named as her Medical POA, she kept up with her this week and Delores had surgery last Thursday for a hip replacement, as the doctor said she would never walk again without it. But this Monday, we went to visit again and she was looking terrible! She didn't recognize us and wouldn't eat anything. The hospital is moving her to a nursing home, but she is refusing food. She had previously told us she did not want to be in a nursing home. We are working with Raymond and Kristie to determine what is best for Delores. We are praying for God's will in her life.
Delores has often asked us when we are moving back to the mountain. Merle and Luke tore down our old house a few years ago, so all that is left on our property is a garage full of all our earthly belongings right now. We hope to build a home there one day, and a small rental cottage, which could be an Airbnb for income as we have very little for retirement. We did consider buying a home near the church, but determined that we just don't have enough finances to support that and it would prevent us from having the funds to serve in the various places where God calls us for service in His Kingdom.
Lydia passed her HESI Test for Nursing this month and plans to start her Nursing program in August. She will have to take four(!) classes this summer, as she had additional spiritual classes at Toccoa Falls when she transferred and slightly different requirements, so she is playing catch up. So far she is doing really well and we are so proud of her. She is excited to be progressing in her dreams. Here she is with some friends - Hope and Amber. Luke is working to join to the Marines. We are proud of this strong guy! He turned 20 in January! We went to Columbia, SC to celebrate Hannah's 26th Birthday, playing disc golf, games, painting with Bob Ross for her Birthday party with her friends, eating Japanese food, and hanging out with Allan's family! What a wonderful weekend!
Our encouragement comes from the now grown Bosnian men Mufa and Elvis, serving at the prayer breakfast last month in Washington D.C. "For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?" 1 Thessalonians 2:19
Look at the similarities with the last two pictures: here today, gone tomorrow. What would you do differently if you knew your time was short? Invest in the Kingdom, the things that last forever, as Jesus taught. "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." Matthew 19:21