Sunday, August 25, 2013

What a Summer! Where Did it Go?

Our family’s “summer” began when my husband returned from his May trip to Haiti, and proceeded to land in the hospital in Puerto Rico for 10 days.  If you are accustomed to stateside medical care, you would not envy this experience.  Not only was it scary because of his health challenges, but the hospital itself seemed dangerous….  I camped out beside my husband for days and nights because it seemed that the nursing staff needed my help, prodding, and constant reminder.  MY hospital stay had left me exhausted!

Soon after Julian’s recovery, we set our sights on taking flight to the states.  We spent the first week in Baltimore at the GGWO International Convention. This is an intensive time of Bible instruction and interacting with thousands of friends from around the world.  We were blessed to stay at Julian’s sister’s home and borrow a car from a dear friend who had undergone surgery.

Following the Baltimore stay, we rented a van to head north to the grandparents and family.  In Vermont, we spent time with the GGWO Bennington Bible study, my parent’s home church, and close friends.  My parents have recently been placed in assisted living and we found them thriving at the home.  I tried to help my brother to sort through items at the home our parents lived in for about 40 years, but my progress wasn’t stunning.  We also solved a “history mystery” or two as we found and sorted hundreds of old family photos and memorabilia (this is another short-story I may write someday).

Our daughter, Abi, was able to visit a few colleges while in the states (she will be a homeschooled senior this year).  Her favorite school is close to a sister-church in Lee, Massachusetts, so we were blessed to spend some time with Pastor David Stambovsky and some of his family.  Pastor Stambovsky, Julian and I all met within the first weeks we attended University of Hartford twenty-five years ago!  He frequently taught at campus Bible studies and we are forever grateful to his eternal investment.

Julian returned to Puerto Rico after a church/missions visit to an Atlanta church.  The final weeks of our visit to the states involved much work, and lots of faith-waiting. 

We took a memorable, cheap, MegaBus ride from Amherst, Massachusetts to Baltimore, Maryland.  I have an imaginary video in my mind that replays our experience while Mandisa’s song: “You’re an Overcomer” plays!  We had all of our luggage for our entire trip with us, including a very beloved croquet set loaded down with shoes (because one must use every available space!).   Each of the six of us had a maxed-out backpack or mega-bag and a heavy carry-on piece.  One carry-on piece had a broken handle, another was the croquet/shoe bag.  “HEAVY” is the key word.  The night before the trip, I observed that the arrival point to NYC was not the same as the departure point of the second “leg”.   When I called my husband to see if he could investigate, he was assured that there were a “few” blocks separating the two point—10 to be exact—in Manhattan, where you can barely see to the end of the next block and people are of course, abundant.   It took us about 45 minutes of trudging and it only rained lightly after we were waiting at the proper curb.  Times like these, I feel like communicating with the “great cloud of witnesses”, and I wish they had played Mandisa’s song as cheerleading music!  My kids are awesome troopers!

The third phase of our trip involved re-habilitating the rental home we have rented for the entire six years in Puerto Rico.  Our tenant had died, and much work was needed before we could even show the home.   Rental income has been crucial to our monthly budget.

We were desperately in need of help.  Many, many, precious friends helped us get our project completed.  Friends in PA hosted the children and I for a week, while we took daily trips to the house to paint and clean.  They bought paint and lent us every type of equipment necessary.  Other friends mowed the enormous lawn, including a teenager with a push-mower!  A group came from a Harrisburg church.  They brought tools, power-washed, dumpstered, painted and fixed plumbing and electrical issues.  Another friend removed some bulk items, fixed some heaters and windows.  A pastor/friend from our Baltimore church installed hardwood flooring in the main rooms, and charged no labor.  He brought his wife and teenagers to help one day!  One precious lady made us a fancy lunch in her home…..  Some months ago, a friend and I had a conversation about living our lives unselfishly.  The friend was remarking about how some people only give when they can see the returns to their own selves.   My Christian friends live with a different accounting system.  They know that Luke 6:38 is the promise that Our Heavenly Father maintains.   We are overwhelmed with gratitude.

Once things were almost complete, we showed the house countless times.  I boasted that I must be a good saleslady if I can rent a house that is missing flooring.  We had a great amount of interest, and at one point some weeks ago, I was certain we had secured a tenant, only to hear that a death in their family had left them with a house as inheritance!  Abi was blessed to be granted an all-expenses paid trip to Dartmouth College, so she returned to Puerto Rico after that trip.  As she was the principal painting expert, therefore some “cutting” suffered after she left!   The weeks dragged on to a point where my faith waned a bit, I must admit.  My kids were due back for the music institute, every week was more rent lost, and Julian had a scheduled trip to Haiti.  One week before his next travel, after one “no show”, a family came and seemed interested.  With an agreement to sign a lease on Monday night, we bought our return tickets for Tuesday morning and Julian traveled to Haiti two days later---whew!!

I hope our readers enjoy my dry humor amid our stories.  I enjoyed a devotional this week about the apostle Paul and his skin-of-his-teeth deliverance from shipwreck.  The author of “Streams in the Desert” said: “It is a common misconception that the Christian’s walk of faith is strewn with flowers and that when God intervenes in the lives of his people, He does so in such a wonderful way as to always lift us out of our difficult surroundings.  In actual fact, however, the real experience is quite the opposite…Paul, more than anyone else, is an example of how much a child of God can suffer without being defeated or broken in spirit….once his deliverance comes, it is not by way of some heavenly ship sailing from the skies to rescue this illustrious prisoners…..”—they had to grab onto parts of the shipwreck to survive!  Our trials are often common and frequently intense, but our faithful Savior gives joy in the journey and never forsakes!

Some prayer concerns:

n  Pastor Julian’s trip to Haiti and planned schedule to visit monthly until a team is raised-up permanently.

n  We continue to need permanent/long-term team members.  One young man plans to join us in the coming weeks!

n  Our growing church/fellowship in Mayaguez—disciples, visitors additional activities and fellowship

n  Campus outreach and team for evangelism at University of PR-Mayaguez campus

n  Homeschooling materials for the Matthew family and a plan for the upcoming year.  If you have an interest in helping us with the costs of curriculum, a “Wishlist” can be forwarded.

n  Direction for continuing the Christian homeschool co-op, WREACH