Friday, August 21, 2015

Furlough 2015

It has been quite a while since we last updated our blog. We apologize to those who follow us through our blog for not being more regular. Some times there seems little to write about and other times we were so busy that we did not have time or the energy to write. In this post we want to update you on how we are doing and what we have been doing during the past few months.
As family we are doing well. We have been relatively healthy for which we are thankful. The kids finished school at the end of May and they did well. We are grateful that our children do not have any learning problems and that they do well in school.
Although we are doing well health-wise, Lia's mom was not doing well. In April we heard the news that she had suffered a severe stroke and was in the hospital. Lia immediately flew back to be with her for 10 days after which she returned to Guatemala. Her mom appeared to have stabilized but several weeks later she took a turn for the worse and it looked like she might pass away. Lia again flew out to be with her and to say her last goodbye. However, during her time there and the weeks following her mom's condition improved and she was moved into an assisted living home from the church that she attends. There they take excellent care of her and she has made a lot of progress. She still does not have feeling or movement in her left side, but her mind is sharp and she appears to be in good spirits. We ask that you remember Lia's mom in prayer.
In June we were able to go to Canada for a 2 month furlough during which time we could see Lia's mom on a continual basis and help in different areas. During our time in BC we only had 2 days of rain which is unheard of so we could do many outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, fishing, and sightseeing.  We also were able to connect with family and friends and were able to visit several churches. We did several presentations in churches which we had not visited for many years like Abbotsford, Monarch, Calgary, and Lacombe. In each church we were well received and people where interested and appreciative of the work that is being done in Guatemala. We are grateful for the support the Free Reformed Churches provide for the work in Guatemala. During our visit to Alberta we were able to stop in Banff and Jasper and see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. We enjoyed the turquoise waters of the rivers and lakes. We loved seeing the wild life. We had a close encounter with a young black bear which sauntered out of the bush close to where we were standing. Although he was not shy, he walked less than 10 meters by us and left us alone. On our way back from Edmonton we stopped at the old gold mining town of Barkerville which was interesting to see. Lia and the kids got gold fever after that and had to buy gold pans and try their luck in several rivers and streams. We did find very small flakes, but not enough to strike it rich.
During our last week of furlough we enjoyed a week with Lia's brother and his family from Belgium. We had not seen them in over 10 years so that was nice. I also had the privilege to speak at a youth camp although I did not feel that my speech went as well as I would have liked. Thankfully God who used a donkey to bring His word to Balaam, can use even our "poor performances" for His glory and to further His kingdom.
Finally, on the Sunday before we left our church in Chilliwack closed the morning service by giving me the opportunity to share with the church what has transpired in Cubulco over the past few years. During my report of the work I shared some of the difficulties and deep disappointments that we have faced during our 15 years in Cubulco. We feel that we have seen very little fruit on our labour which we have done with convictions and zeal even though we have also made many mistakes along the way. During this time I shared the story of Henry Morrison (versions of the story vary) who together with his wife laboured for 40 years in Africa with little fruit to show for their work. Although we would not say that our situation the same since we have a church, family, and friends that support us there are things that resonate with us like the bitter disappoints of spending many years being obedient to God's call and seeing little fruit. As I was sharing this story, I became quite emotional which is not like me. It must have been God, because we felt that people in our church really responded to our being vulnerable and sharing our hearts. 

After forty years of faithful service to the Lord as a missionary to Africa, Henry Morrison and his wife were returning to New York.  As the ship neared the dock, Henry said to his wife, “Look at that crowd.  They haven't forgotten about us”.  However, unknown to Henry, the ship also carried President Teddy Roosevelt, returning from a big game hunting trip in Africa.  Roosevelt stepped from the boat, with great fanfare, as people  were cheering, flags were waving,  bands were playing, and reporters waiting for his comment, Henry and his wife slowly walked away unnoticed.  They hailed a cab, which took them to the one bedroom apartment which had been provided by the mission board. 
Over the next few weeks, Henry tried, but failed to put the incident behind him.  He was sinking deeper into depression when one evening, he said to his wife, “This is all wrong.  This man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody throws a big party.  We give our lives in faithful service to God for all these many years, but no one seems to care.”
His wife cautioned him that he should not feel this way.  Henry replied “I know you're right, but I just can't help it.  It just isn't right.”
His wife then said, “Henry, you know God doesn't mind if we honestly question Him.  You need to tell this to the Lord and get this settled now.  You'll be useless in His ministry until you do.”
Henry Morrison then went to his bedroom, got down on his knees and, shades of Habakkuk, began pouring out his heart to the Lord.  “Lord, you know our situation and what's troubling me.  We gladly served you faithfully for years without complaining.  But now God, I just can't get this incident out of my mind...”
After about ten minutes of fervent prayer, Henry returned to the living room with a peaceful look on his face.  His wife said “It looks like you've resolved the matter.  What happened?”
Henry replied, “The Lord settled it for me.  I told Him how bitter I was that the President received this tremendous homecoming, but no one even met us as we returned home.  When I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But Henry, you are not home yet!'”