We are on our way back to our home in Volcan, Panama. It seems like years ago that we left, yet seems like we just got back to our home here in Yellville. With the exception of our vacation, we have not posted any news since we returned to the States. That is not to say that nothing has happened in our ministry in that time, just that we have been living and not writing about it.
We will begin with the work in Volcan. Ezequias has been hard at work with continued Bible studies, regular weekly meetings and lots of youth activities. Especially throughout the school vacation – December through March – when he took the youth group to summer camp in Herrera. Nine of our youth went on the trip and all said it was a life-changing experience.
There are between 20 and 25 members attending weekly meetings at the house. There are also anywhere from 50 to 75 kids spending Sunday afternoons playing futball at the house. Ezequias is coordinating that program.
Ez’s mom came to visit him last fall and again in March. His nephew came and spent a week with him in March as well. He spent December and January quite ill, and lame. He contracted a fungus from an open blister on his foot that spread and caused a great deal of pain, as well as expense. He literally could not walk for several weeks. One of our young members, Jairo (12years old) came and stayed with him, preparing meals, cleaning and nursing him back to health. Jairo is an exceptional young man.
About two weeks after he finished his last injection for the foot fungus he was out playing futball with the kids and twisted his other foot badly and was back on crutches again for a few weeks. At this moment, thank God, he is up and healthy.
In March, as the students prepared to go back to school, we were able to help 8 of them who might not have been able to, purchase uniforms and materials so that they could attend classes. Ezequias helped with the shopping as well. In addition, he helped 2 other young men financially – one so that he could go to a local private school, where he could learn a trade along with his regular schoolwork, and the other so that he might better prepare for University. He did this with the meager funds that we provide him for living expenses. Both young men are faithful members of the church at El Valle, and are in High school. The 8 students we are assisting are in both high school and elementary. Generous individuals from local stateside congregations sponsor them each independently. Thanks!
One further note from the El Valle front; our Dalmatian, Saly, had three pups last December. Ez took one, named him King, and now he rules the house! He is adorable! Saly has been staying with friends, and will come home when we get home.
We returned home last October to find my dad in poor health. Not sure what exactly started it all, but it looks as though he had a stomach virus that weakened him so that he became seriously ill. He has emphysema, so any small sickness can become life-threatening. We spent several weeks helping him out as he slowly recovered, and are very grateful to God for allowing us to be here at that time. I am always amazed how God always has a plan- a good plan that works, and am always thrilled when I figure that out before I start questioning Him too deeply. The obvious question is why I don’t just remember it from the last time His plan was better than mine. I am foolish. That’s the only answer.
In November we had the opportunity to go with several members of the church to Tulsa, Oklahoma and help out Contact Church. This is the wonderful inner-city ministry that Todd Box works with. We were all blessed far beyond the little bit of work that we were able to do for them. The work there is producing opportunities for spiritual growth and offering second and third chances to lost souls seeking a Savior. What a wonderful ministry, and we commend Todd and the others working there. God bless you all!
We hurried through the Holidays. Ben struggled with classes the whole semester and with life in general. He is at times overcome with depression, and, as with Lynn, it rules over every aspect of life. The Fall semester was ruled by depression for Ben. He did …very poorly. This semester, however, he is doing better. He smiles, and thus so do we. We are very grateful to God for His faithfulness. I am reminded of His promise in 1 Corinthians; He is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, but will provide a way of escape for us. He has proven himself too many times in my life for me to doubt. My prayer is that Ben, and others who struggle with similar problems will grow to depend on this promise as well.
Just as I began to wonder why God was keeping us in Arkansas so long, tragedy struck our church community. A tornado came through on February 5th and destroyed the small town of Gassville. Over 130 homes were damaged or destroyed. Riverside began to feed those displaced, without electricity or heat. We delivered meals to homes and shells of homes as they tried to find the pieces of their lives among the rubble. We handed out checks to any who needed money, and removed debris as the community began to dig out. This work kept Lynn and I busy for over a month. We were very grateful that we had the time and abilities to serve. The devastation is still quite obvious, but people are getting back to a more normal existence, or maybe they have just adapted.
Lynn and I were able to work for the 5 weeks full time, and then we headed off for our first vacation in 18 years. As a retirement gift for Lynn, and an anniversary gift for us both we spent 2 weeks in Europe traveling by train through 14 countries. It was wonderful. The trip was not a relaxing one, with several connections to be made daily, but it was refreshing and absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed the whole trip immensely, and are grateful that we were able to do it once in our lifetime.
We are anxious to return home and see everyone there. It seems far more difficult for me to leave this time. I think my Dad’s illness, and seeing Lynn’s mom grow a bit older have made me consider that we will not always have them to come home to, and that is not easy. I know that we are doing what God has planned for us. He blesses us daily, to be sure. I know that both God and Lynn and Joy want these wonderful people to know God’s love, and His Son. I know that the work, though difficult, is doing good for the people here, and I know that I love them dearly as well. So, we return to many we love praying that those we leave behind understand God’s call for us, and know we love them as well.
Enough for now. We are headed back to the work! Please pray for God to be glorified through us.
All because of Jesus,
Lynn & Joy