Dear loved ones who care and pray,
We are so grateful to you who have kept on praying and many who have sent messages of sympathy and encouragement during the past few weeks since Samuel went to be with Jesus. Your response as the Body of Christ strengthens and comforts us, as it does Brent and Susan and their children. Please continue to pray as the reality of family life without Samuel sets in. This is a pilgrimage for us all and in some ways harder now since the “finality” of his physical death. The journey of cancer is over, but the journey of grief is not. This past Monday, August 24th, marked one month since Samuel’s going Home to heaven. It was a hard day, but God helped us to make it special too. Brent and Susan took the kids to a favorite park (the same one where Samuel took some steps on his own on May 11th), and they invited both grandparent couples to join them there. Please pray that even in the pain of grieving his loss, Samuel’s family will be able to take deep comfort in the truth that he is totally well and rejoicing in heaven.
The world seems to be full of crises these days, and two recent ones come close to home as they involve people and places we know personally. The country of Niger, where our kids went to school at Sahel Academy in the capital, Niamey, has seen a terrorist attack not far from the city, causing an enlarging of the “red zone” to include almost all the country except the capital. And, just last week, abundant rains resulted in a breach of the Niger River’s dikes next to Sahel Academy and the neighboring SIM Bible school. Both institutions have now become “part of the river” for the next several months. All personnel were safely evacuated, and a huge effort was made to rescue what material resources could be saved, but the river water stands 4-5 feet deep in some places on the campuses. Both institutions will have to find alternate places to house people (including dorm kids) and to hold classes. A flood like this happened in 2012 and retaining walls were built along the backs of both campuses, but it seems the water encircled the campuses and found weaker spots to break down before gushing in. Pray for encouragement, strength, and faith in the face of this devastating event, for wisdom in the many decisions that need to be made, and that God will be seen as the One who is “mightier than the thunders of many waters” (Ps. 93:4). Pray also for the local people, many of whom have lost homes, possessions, and fields to the relentless flood waters.
Secondly, a colleague and good friend on the Burkina team, a little younger than we are, was taken Home to be with Jesus on August 28th after cancer recurred in his body several months ago. Bill Stregger, his wife Joy, and their kids were part of our mission family during the years we were serving and raising our kids in Burkina. Over the past year or two, they have been working from Canada with one of the Bible schools and producing commentaries in a local language. Pray for God’s comfort, strength and grace during this difficult time.
Additional praise and prayer items:
* We are thankful that George’s Mom (Marilyn Cail) is recuperating well from her fall in mid-July. She is now able to manage on her own again, though she still needs a walker outdoors and a cane indoors. We are encouraged by the great progress she has made!
* Keep praying for George’s brother Hal and his wife Martha and their family. Hal continues to be weak and constantly short of breath, though he has been trying to keep up with his plumbing services with his son Jim doing most of the physical work. There have been some recent scares with Jim’s health as well, so keep praying for the whole family.
* NEWS FLASH: Please pray for a Bible School student (from the ethnic group we once worked with) who was just abducted last Friday by extremists. And keep praying for Ken Elliott and Jeff Woodke in their captivity. * Addendum: Before we could get this out, we heard that the student has been released! Praise the Lord with us! Keep praying for Ken and Jeff.
* We ask prayer for all of our adult sons and daughters as they walk with the Lord and raise their children in His ways. The Moms are starting in on a new year of home-schooling (always a challenge) and the Dads are continuing to work hard to provide for and lead their families.
* Pray for us as we seek to honor the Lord in our daily use of time. We continue to walk with Brent and Susan in this journey of grief. We have been able to help some with Mom’s care since her fall and are trying to be available to help and encourage Hal and Martha’s family as well. We are both taking some online training in Mental Health Coaching to continue becoming better equipped for the many varied opportunities we have to come alongside hurting people. (Part of that training is what we are personally experiencing about the reality of grief this year.)
In answer to the question of future service back in Burkina . . . we do hope/plan to return at some point, but it’s not clear when that will be. We know it’s not yet, as family needs here are still too critical. With BF elections supposed to take place in November, and terrorism continuing to be a problem, it probably won’t be advisable until the new year. Pray for wisdom and guidance as we seek God’s will concerning where He wants us, and for diligence in serving Him while here in the U.S.
For our family, for the Burkina team, for those battling floods and terrorism, for YOU in whatever trials you’re facing right now, God’s Word speaks hope and strength . . .
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of various kinds,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (perseverance, steadfastness).
And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
George & Kathy