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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

O, Give Thanks to the Lord!

Sue says: How we thank the Lord this year that we can share a meal for Thanksgiving with family members in our new home. We will be blessed to eat off our own plates and share traditions together.

One tradition is to tell each other what we're thankful to God for in the past year. Jeff getting an identification of his malady and getting treatment, plus a place of our own to use to share with others top my list.

I've been making Swedish veggies and cranberry-orange mold to share. Our son will bake chocolate pie, and with his son, he'll prepare salmon ball. They'll bring something to share just like the native Americans did with the Pilgrims at their first Thanksgiving.

The best things are meant to be shared!    

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Great is Our God!

Dientamoeba Fragilis
Jeff writes:

I have been suffering from intestinal problems, lower back pain, and headaches for the better part of two years. They started before we left Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the process I have seen many doctors, who were not able to come up with a diagnosis.  In this long ordeal I really had began to identify with the woman that Jesus healed after she had been sick for 12 years. I knew that I had some kind of critter living in me, but no one could find it.

That is no one until the Lord put some remarkable events together.

Before leaving the DC area for Blacksburg, I made sure to visit a tropical medicine specialist in one last attempt to rule out any kind of weird creature inhabiting my bowels. After running many tests for many possible causes, she along with my primary care physician said that I was healthy as a man my age could expect to be. (Whatever that means!)

Coming to Blacksburg I continued to have symptoms which included waking up with headaches every night. This started me in on a new round of doctor visits with the last one to a gastroenterologist who said in effect that it was all in my head. However, she did mention something that led me to find the right people for the job. All along I thought that I had a problem with my digestive tract, but she told me that the pain in my lower abodomen that I constantly felt ebb and flow in intensity was not there but in my bladder.

This led me to Google the words "bladder" and "parasites," and I found the perfect culprit, a disease called schistosomiasis. It is transmitted by fresh-water snails, and depending on whom you ask may or may not be present in PNG. Around 2 1/2 years ago while in PNG I had hiked the Kokoda Trail, and that is where I thought I may have picked up the critter that causes the disease.

Next comes the "God Thing."

I was asked by a second-year medical student Clay to mentor/disciple him. We had met several times, and when he inquired about my quest to find and eliminate the mini-creature inside of me, I gave him an update. When I told him about the schistosomiasis, he thought of his mircobiology prof, who had worked in Borneo. While there he had acquired extensive experience in diagnosing tropical diseases.

Hallelujah brother!

Without going into too many details, I supplied these two men with the necessary samples for them to analyze, and lo and behold in the final sample right before they were going to turn out the lights and go home, Dr. Jim, who was Clay's instructor, saw what looked like a creature with two nucleii. Even after staining the tiny microbe was nearly invisible. It took a trained eye to spot it, and Dr. Jim nailed it. The other fact that they were able to confirm is that it did after all live in my digestive tract and not my bladder.

At first they could not tell what they had found, but later they identified the creature as a dientamoeba fragilis. (It is not an amoeba but a flagellate like a paramecium. You can learn more about it here  Suffice it to say that there are not too many of these creatures inhabiting our shores.

Today, I picked up $10.00 worth of pills to kill the thing. Please pray that the treatment will be effective.

Isn't God grand?

PS Clay told me that they were happy to discover that I did NOT have schistosomiasis because it often leads to bladder cancer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Updates

Jeff writes:

We have not been the best bloggers since moving to Blacksburg. One reason for this is we do not have Internet service in our rental house, so we go to various businesses in town to log-on and do our browsing. Right now I am in a local supermarket drinking some ice tea while Sue is shopping. The purpose of this post is to give you all a brief update.

In July we got to visit our families in California. We enjoyed much good food, fresh fruit, and great fun with Sue's folks and brother and sister-in-law. We traveled north to spend a couple of days celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary in the California gold country. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in the town of Sonora. We enjoyed the fresh mountain air, a play, some wine tasting, and general relaxing. After our visit there, we spent a weekend with my step-mom and brothers in Sacramento.

The picture below was taken in Columbia. I picked this one for our Papua New Guinean friends so that you can see in some parts of the USA the wild west still lives!

After returning from California Sue started her new job as the administrative assistant to the principal at Pathway Christian Academy. I got to fill in to teach a couple of Bible classes to high school students. Sue is really enjoying the challenges of her new assignment, and she has a good working relationship with the teachers and staff.

We have enjoyed being near our children and grandchildren. Sue and I have gladly filled in as babysitters. We have great meal times together. I think our kids enjoy introducing us to their hometown. They are a wealth of information, and we are really grateful for their suggestions for things to do, places to shop, and for great places to eat.

The picture below was taken last weekend. We took a hike to the second highest waterfall in Virginia. It was the first hike our three year-old grandson took under his own power. His Internet name is "Sprout." His brother "Little Man" is sitting next to him. Our son "Daddio" is also pictured.

Finally, our big news is "WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!" After months of looking we found a nearly completed house that is less than 100 meters from our son's house. We have been in the process of picking out paint colors, tile, landscaping, and etc. The builder has been great to work with. We are looking forward to eating from our own dishes again! Lord willing, we will move in October 10.

Thanks for keeping up with us. Continue to pray for us as we readjust to life in these United States.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ups and Downs of Mid-Atlantic Storm Week

Sue says: Some 200,000 in the power district in which we live are without power after two storms which toppled heavy branches and snapped entire trees off in several East Coast states. The daytime temps have been in the 90s (30s for Centigrade friends). A large number of us had our cell phone and internet service go off as well. Many are removing rubble from their roofs and yards. The sound of the chain saw is a common one. In the neighborhoods without power, that sound is absent.

When the first storm hit, we were housesitting the home with the chickens. That house was unscathed, at least by falling limbs. But the house next to it was hit by a downed pine bough that damaged the next-door  roof.

Now we're living in our second house-sit. It's been without power for five days. Ice is hard to find to keep things in the fridge and freezer cold. We're eating up what might spoil. This second house comes with a poor old Lab that has urinary problems. She welcomes us to the house every time we return, though. There's something cheery about a welcome when one has been without one's own place for a year.    
We're moving a few of our things into a third house, one we'll rent for a while. This one has power! It's a house that's been seldom-used for some twenty years, but it's furnished. 
The kitchen has some spices, staples, and textiles stocked! We were able to clean our clothes in the new front-loader washer and drier.   
For the next week, we'll clean up in the yard and use the power for short times at the rental house. Then we'll return to our happy Lab and powerless house-sit.

Today the principal of a private school will interview us. A bus-driving company called Jeff for an interview too. It's pleasant to have choices!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Job Interviews Scheduled

The Lord be praised that we both have job interviews at a local Christian school next Tuesday! We also have some other ideas for jobs. Next week we will move into a temporary rental home that's furnished too. It is such a help to our mental health to have these things lined up. We send our thanks to those who have prayed for our transition.

"For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:10b  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Housesitting Takes on New Meaning

Sue says:
Aaah, the country life. Small town Blacksburg is a sharp contrast to metropolitan Lanham. A family in our church has graciously allowed us to housesit for them while they vacation. The job includes caring for the chickens a grad student left behind after graduation. It is so amusing to watch these hens half jump and half fly to pick blueberries.

While helping the home owners, we also have time to look for other work in town. Jeff has dutifully applied for several positions. Too, we want to be ministering in this community. Your prayers about these matters are appreciated.

Praises are this beautiful home to stay in, our kids and grandkids nearby, a warm welcome from our home congregation, and a furnished home that we can rent at a very reasonable price beginning in July. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Class Flies By

Sue says:
Can you believe it? Jeff has already completed teaching a summer class! He and this group of students met for several hours each of five nights in a row to cover the missions course material. Then the students handed in written work the next week. They're all finished up now.

Next items on our agenda: say our good-byes and pack up to move to Blacksburg.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Missions Student's Baby Arrives

Sue says:
Akin (above) is a student at Washington Bible College. He and his wife welcomed their first baby to their family this week. Even though he has new family responsibilities, Akin also plans to join his church's summer missions team, which will construct a hospital in Togo, West Africa. Togo has an acute need for medical facilities and workers. It has an extremely high infant and mother mortality rate. Akin and his wife have been touched to think of the readily available medical care they enjoyed at the birth of their own baby. And they are willing to send Akin to do what he can for the unevangelized of Togo. Please pray the giving of Akin and his team will speak loudly to people who do not know the Savior.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Missions Students Going out in July

 Sue says: It is a pleasure to let you know about students who are going on short-term missions in July. Richard (above) will work with a pastor in Zimbabwe to train the youth of the church. The church in Zimbabwe is growing despite political and financial troubles there.
 Hyamin (above) plans to travel to Japan. She will work at a youth camp designed to use challenging activities to reach Japanese youth with the Gospel. 
The construction of a school building is the goal of the team going to Dominican Republic. Libby (above) will work with the builders and lead a vacation Bible school for the children in the area. 

We ask God to open the eyes of those going out to the needs of others in the world. May the words and actions of these students and their team members lead those they meet to the Savior.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Missions Students Going Out

 Sue says: We praise the Lord that He is sending out Bible college and seminary students into a variety of outreaches this summer. Jonas (above) is a Haitian native. He will return to his country to assist his cousin with a plan to train nationals to evangelize their own people throughout the country.  
Michelle (above) will travel to Asia to spread the gospel to university students from her country who are studying in another country. She too will assist an established mission team with their plan.

Next week Jeff will teach a block format of the missions class he has been leading this year. They will move at an accelerated pace, finishing the material in one week. Please pray these new students also will be inspired with a deeper vision of the magnificent grace of our wonderful, loving God.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Missions Students Going on Missions

Sue says:
Earlier this year, we had asked our team to pray that God would send out some of our students on missions. This should be the opening installment of answers to those prayers.

Our first student to go, Carmen, was on her way before we could take her picture. Carmen is heading a team to Senegal. They are in Senegal now evaluating whether they will take on the assignment of evangelizing an unreached people group.

Josiah, above, will be a counselor to elementary through high school students for two months at a Bible camp in Pennsylvania.

Please join us in praising God for students with a desire to spread the Gospel. Carmen and Josiah will serve in May and June. Ask God to give them strength and wisdom for their tasks. We hope to post pictures of other students later.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Northern Virginia Team Gathers

Sue says:
What a great day! It blessed us deeply to get to report to many of our mission team members from Northern Virginia yesterday. Of course the kids have changed a lot, but the adults have too. Hannah and Steven graduate from college this spring, and Rachel (and Kaitlin?) from high school. Keston is about as tall as his dad. And what is the Lord doing in the lives? We heard some heartening stories. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faculty and Staff Recognized

Sue says:
A gathering was held this week to recognize faculty and staff of the Bible college and seminary for their years of work. Some have been here as little as five years, and the man in the back row center has taught Greek Exegesis 42 years. We salute them, and thank the Lord for the way they have built into the lives of many.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Know It's Spring When ...

Sue says:
Ahh, yes. You know it's spring when the lawnmowers come out. An intriguing event occurred today at the Bible College. A team of about 50 employees of a lawn mowing company received training on our campus. First they all took turns mowing the huge soccer field. Then at lunch time, they got to play soccer on the field. Seemed fair.

In cross-cultural communication classes, the students are reading case studies taken from different mission situations, such as a missionary has been taken hostage or a pastor has beaten his wife or a new convert is being dissuaded by his unconverted parents from going as a missionary. They are writing fascinating papers on how to apply Scripture to particular customs that may be a unique challenge to that culture. There is no one right answer, but a number of Scriptures that may apply. A helpful exercise!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day to Remember

Sue says:

With multitudes all over the world, we remember today that our Lord is risen from the dead, just as He said. We thank Him for offering peace with God to all people. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Slogging Away at the Course Work

Sue says:
It's that time in the middle-to-end of a semester when everyone suddenly realizes s/he had better apply her/himself  to academics to be able to finish strongly.  The students are discussing together the papers they must write. I'm thinking about a book critique that's due next week for the Social and Cultural Foundations for Counseling class in which I'm a student. And student case studies I need to mark for missions classes. Jeff is writing course assignments for a block class he'll teach on Intercultural Studies in the summer term. Busy bees here. Bzzzzz.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Comes Next?

Sue says:
Last week being spring break, we enjoyed getting to visit with our kids and grandkids.(See some of them below.)
With about eight weeks left at our current assignment, we're praying about what comes next. It is our plan to find jobs and a house in the town where our kids live. Though we intend to apply ourselves in the rest of the Bible college semester, it's also time to think beyond. We wonder what good things God has in store for us next.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cherry Trees Bloom In DC

 The cherry trees are in bloom in Washington, DC, this week! Since it's spring break at the college, we went down to see them. This shot above is of Arlington House from West Potomac Park. Weeping cherry trees are in the foreground.  

Here's a view of the Washington Monument with the trees blooming around the Tidal Basin.
The memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. is new (above). There are a number of meaningful statements he made carved on a wall near the monument.
Yes, once again it is lovely among the blooms in the US capital. This year is the one-hundredth since the first cherry trees were given to the US as a gift from Japan.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Conference Photos

How great it was to see God assemble a team to work on the conference.  Students put up posters to decorate the chapel and halls (above). It was gratifying to see one of my classmates attending sessions (below). Representatives of over 20 organizations put up displays, and students had an opportunity to talk with them (continuing below).

Workshop leaders and exhibitors gathered for a photo (below).
The worship times were led by a different group for each of the nine meetings. Here, some of our international students  practice for their session.

A friend allowed us to use tablecloths with world maps on them (in the two above), and the international students decorated the dining room with international flags. AND the chef and his crew prepared fantastic international meals!

Besides these things, the speakers provoked us to contemplate what part we, individually, are called to take in making our great God known to all people. We praise Him! And we thank those who took part by praying for the success of this event. God answered abundantly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What a Mighty God We Serve!

God has answered our prayers abundantly. It's difficult to come up with a picture of an answered prayer. Let me just say the spirit of excitement about what God is doing worldwide to make His love known is palpable at the missions conference. The worship times in music have been wonderful. Dr. Bob Evans, our plenary  speaker from Bible-Centered Ministries, has given us much to think about in relation to the key nature of ministry to children. The students are learning about other faiths in exposure trips to the local mosque, synagogue, and Buddhist temple. Missionaries have arrived with displays and break-out sessions to help us visualize the variety of ministries to far-reaches of the globe. Adoniram Judson will visit us in a drama in a few hours. We look forward to our closing evening tonight.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Packing Up Gift Bags

Sue says:

It was a treat to be able to pack gift bags with a neighbor from our apartment building. It more enjoyable to do a chore with someone else. These bags have little welcome gifts for the 54 missionaries expected to arrive on campus in just FIVE days.

We praise God for the way He's helping us manage last-minute details. I had purchased just 54 of one item for the gift bags. Then, wouldn't you know it, a 55th person called to say she was also coming. I was trying to figure out what to do for the gift bags, when someone else emailed to cancel. WHEW! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Missions Conference Coming Up

Sue says:
The Lord is providing missionaries who want to attend the March 6-8 missions conference at our Bible college and seminary. Fifty-two people are signed up to represent their mission organizations and to lead workshops on a broad range of topics. Students and graduates are pitching in to help. Look at the great poster (above)! A graduate put it together for us. It illustrates the theme, "Let the children come to Me (Jesus)."  

Please join us in prayer that the background preparation and the up-front presentations will expand the vision of attendees. Our majestic God wants all people to know Himself.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Crocuses Herald Spring

Sue says:
A few brave crocuses are poking their heads up in the wintry landscape, trying to rally our hope that spring will indeed come back. Snow is predicted for for Sunday, though. Will those precious little flowers be able to brave the weather?

Inside, the temperature is nicer, and our Valentine hyacinths are blooming. Wish you could share their delicious smell.

These thoughts of something good coming soon remind me of the missions conference which will convene in two-and-a-half weeks. We are looking forward to the good things the Holy Spirit wants to do in our midst at that time. Fifty missionaries are confirmed to participate in different capacities. Plans are moving along with publicity materials now. We are so thankful a WBC grad is laying out posters and other visuals to spread the news. A few more volunteers are still needed. We wait with expectancy for the big event. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Women's Fellowship

Sue says:
The building we live in has a mixture of employees of the college or seminary and students, marrieds and singles. Perhaps even more than the dorms, folks are in and out so much that they don't get to know their neighbors. One wife was new at the beginning of the school year and another one or two from the start of second semester. Because they work off campus and don't study, they have little opportunity to make connections with others. A number are newlyweds.

So, I thought it would be meaningful to gather weekly for fellowship time: sharing a scriptural idea or a testimony, praying for each other, laughing together, or building friendships other ways. Last semester the idea was slow to develop, but it seems to be taking hold now. We hope others will join us as well.

This week, I think we'll bake together. Most of the women live in efficiency apartments with just a hot-plate to cook on. A couple of them said they have never baked and would be interested in someone showing them how to do that. Shall we bake peanut butter cookies with nice chocolate kisses on top? It sounds like a winner in Valentine's week.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wednesday Morning Class Picture

Sue says:
The Wednesday morning class (above) is Intercultural Studies. It's a bonus to have students from different cultures to share their perspectives. Several have been on short-term missions trips, and they can add to our understanding of various people groups. Having taught this course last semester, Jeff has a good grasp of where he wants to go with it. Students learn about other cultures from case studies from around the world. I will mark those assignments for their cultural sensitivity and biblical agreement.