Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Randy and Kelly had tried to prepare us for our adventure to Ega’s house for a meal. They told us it was a tiny room where we would all sit around a table and be served a 4 or 5 course meal of typical African foods. They said it would take a long time to eat it. Of course these people don’t have indoor plumbing and no outhouses (which is not a very big step up anyway in my mind) so the answer to your problem is out in the bush. So much easier on a man than a woman! We decided to have no intake after 1:00pm hoping that would help us.
We arrived at Ega’s about 5:00. He is the crippled man who scoots around on his bottom. He was eagerly awaiting us at the front of his house. I waved to him as we drew closer and he flashed a huge grin of beautiful white teeth. We were greeted by any number of people anxious to see the Americans. They were all smiles and handshakes. We went into Ega’s house and oh my, it is about 5feet by 12feet with half of the 12feet being the store! And HOT! I have been hot a lot here but that was a dirty, cramped hot!
The food. And you might want to picture this…the woman serving us who is a friend or relative of Ega, is topless part of the time. Well, the first course was a very hot (temperature wise) cornmeal mush molded like Jell-O. You pull off a piece as soon as it was cool enough to touch and dip that piece into some slimy okra sauce. I could not do the okra sauce since I am not fond of raw okra anyway so I “pretended” to dip mine. I think Ronnie actually ate a little of it. Each bite was washed down with a slug of warm coca cola (no such thing as ice here). By the way, these portions are HUGE so we only made a polite dent in the pile of mush. Second course was 2 large bowls of fresh picked pineapple which we could have eaten all of but Randy advised us not to because we couldn’t get full…there were more “delicacies” to come. Third course was a big bowl of pasta, tomato sauce of some sort, and 2 boiled eggs on top for each person. There was also a pan of small pieces of beef on the bone for us to eat. Tori really liked the beef and ate enough so I didn’t have to. I put some of her bones on my plate. And finally, we had more of that cornmeal mush but this time it had some tomato sauce in it, and squares of fried cheese (NOT the fried cheese we get as an appetizer for sure) that was fried in something that made it look red???? The cheese was actually not too bad. The other part of the meal was turkey pieces. Tori, being the good little helper even ate some of that and I again put some of her bones on my plate.
After eating and being so glad that part is over, we shopped in Ega’s store. Remember, we are sweating and poor Jonathan (8 months old) has really had enough of the bush by now, so we tried to speed things up a little. It was dark and I felt as dirty as I ever have. We paid Ega, gathered his children around him and Ronnie prayed for his family. We took pictures and said our goodbyes and left after about 2 ½ hours. All I can say is you can read, you can see pictures, but until you SEE this poverty there is no way for you to understand. The people are starved in so many ways… for food, for money, for spiritual guidance, and for attention.
Praise God, the abstaining of food and drink from 1:00pm did work and we all made it without having to go out into the bush! When we got back to R/K’s we passed around the M&M’s to regain our spoiled life style…
Thankfully, Randy and Kelly now have a family living here in Aplahoue with them. The Prices. They were kind enough to babysit Timothy and Lael for us. I cannot imagine how we would have all fit into that little room at Ega’s. Nor can I fathom little Timothy being confined to a 5x12 space for 2 ½ hours! Jonathan was a trooper and Tori is the most amazing little girl. She ate the food, and then went out and began to teach some of the kids how to play soccer!
It turned out to be an adventure and a very rewarding experience. You were so right on, Donny.
I will end this by telling the saddest part. This sweet man had people taking him all around including other towns looking for the food for us. He spent more money than he could afford. The meal was prepared by his 10-year old daughter, because as I have mentioned before, Ega’s wife died last month. He told us they got up at 4:00AM to start preparations for us. They had worked for 12 hours and spent their money to honor us. That kindness is hard for me to take in. Amazing.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
* You won't see Timothy or Lael in these pictures...our gracious teammates, the Prices, offered to assist us with some childcare for those two... it would have been too much to try and handle all 4 at one time! The Prices leave for their vacation-then-furlough in a few weeks, and Dawna was especially wanting some special time with Lael.
PS - Tomorrow, we'll go into town to show Mom and Dad around our humble little town...then Dad will go out with me to my regular Wednesday teaching meeting at Dekpo (deek-po). We're completing our 3 month study of John's gospel tomorrow with a LONG lesson (crucifixion, resurrection and all the other good stuff at the end of John)! Then tomorrow night, we'll enjoy our mid-week worship time with the Prices.
PS#2 - If you are one of the elite who have come to Benin for a visit and shared a meal in Ega's home, please comment about it and tell us your favorite memory (...come on, surely you remember the food, don't you!?!)
Monday, August 29, 2005
Tonight we are having several of our close Aja friends over for a dinner at our house with Mom and Dad. They brought gifts for all of them plus some of their kids or spouses. That’ll be fun. Tomorrow will be a memorable day…our evening meal will be at Ega’s house…the first time Ega has hosted anyone in his house since his wife passed away. Probably will be very emotional for all of us. That’ll be tomorrow evening…we’ll write more about that later. All our kids love having Nana & Papa around…always full of love and new gifts! They love it. I am so thankful they made the long journey here…what a special gift!
Friday, August 26, 2005
Mom & Dad Arrive in Benin!
We praise God tonight that Mom and Dad arrived safely to Benin! All the bags arrived as well, so we are so thankful. Tori and Timothy were especially excited to go with their Daddy to the airport (and possibly even more excited to see all the snacks Papa pulled out of his carryon!) We're looking forward to a great 12 days with them.
Keep checking the blog and I'll update more there as the week goes on.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
My brother Donny emailed me the following:
I mentioned this scripture to Mom and Dad this morning as we prayed before departure.
"Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut 13: 7-8
I know the Lord is going before them to pave the way for their arrival in Benin. I know it's a very exciting time for those in Benin to be on the receiving end!!
They’ll arrive here tomorrow evening, just after 7pm local time (that’s 1pm CST). Please pray for their safe arrival (with all the bags, too). They will be with us until September 7th. We’ll try to keep the blog updated from time to time during their visit (might even get one of them to “guestblog” for me!)
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Our RHCC short-term missionary colleagues, John and Linda Glover, leave tomorrow night. Their trip was cut short by a few weeks. Last week, John and Linda were enjoying some relaxation on the beach, and suddenly Linda tripped, fell and broke her arm in two places. Surgery is necessary and that is one thing you don’t really want to do in Benin. So they head out tomorrow to return to the States. In the 6 weeks they’ve been here, we have all been so encouraged. We’ll miss worshipping with them, eating meals with them, and laughing a whole lot. While here, Linda helped teach some women about health and nutrition, while today John concluded a “Foundations of Faith” class that saw 18-20 people in attendance each week (with representatives from every one of the congregations!) Steve has handled most of the translation work. Today I joined them for “graduation” (where they all got certificates of success).
After a short nap, I met Senou (see-new) on the road near his village as we headed out to Dekpo (deek-poh) for our weekly Bible study. We are near the completion of a study of John’s gospel. Today we talked about the Holy Spirit (from the Upper Room narrative) and the capturing of Jesus. We had a good crowd today. They are a receptive group and eager to hear the Word of God (since most can’t read it!)
Sossa and I worked a little on painting our guesthouse/schoolroom over the past couple of weeks. Today, he put on the finishing touches. It looks great. We’re excited to have it finally painted on the outside after 18 months of bare concrete. With Mom and Dad coming at the end of the week, and Tori starting back to school in October, it’s fun to have a fresh look! Maybe some day I’ll get a picture of it.
Speaking of pictures, we just got an email from Sam (Kelly’s brother). Such beautiful pictures of our new niece, Brylee Hannah Jeffrey, born on Monday, Aug 22. Praise the Lord for such a glorious little girl. Wish we could be there right now to hold her. Congratulations Sam and Emille (and sister Bailey!)
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Our time of fellowship started with viewing a couple of DVD’s from the recent Global Missions Conference. We enjoyed Dan Rodriquez and we loved listening to one of our favorite mentors, Monte Cox (how many more of you could say the same thing!) Both were inspirational messages yet also gave us a lot of good discussion afterward. We wrestle with many issues on the field, especially regarding how to use our money to bless the Aja people and not create dependency. Monte especially gave us some very practical guidelines to follow. He and Dan are both experienced missionaries and we can learn a lot from them. By the way, our short-term missionary friends from our home church, John and Linda Glover, were also in the “pews” this morning at Yovo Church.
Thanks for the comments on the Wine and Bread. Some more have trickled in…I just saw my friend yesterday, and because of new events in his life, we didn’t even talk about the Lord’s Supper! Yesterday I spent a few hours in his village talking with him about everything from persecution, to finances, to healing. His name is Mathias (in French, we pronounce it “mah-tee-ahs”). Went later to visit another family who had a scary week, almost losing their two-year old to a severe case of malaria. We were able to pray together and encourage them with some financial assistance. Man, I hate malaria. Had it once myself, and it is no fun! But when it hits little kids, it’s so very scary. The same thing happened last week to another church leader’s little newborn (less than 6 months old). Praise the Lord that in both cases, the children are healed.
Mathias asked why he thought he was undergoing so many trials and persecutions. His nickname in the village is “the man with problems” (he laughs about it). For him, it’s one thing after another. I told him that we should consider our own lives at every turn, wondering if there is any sin in our life that could be creating consequences. But I also encouraged him by pointing him to many examples in Scripture where people suffered because of the Name of Jesus (I believe this is the case with Mathias). He was talking about how discouraged he was from all the trials. Delicately I empathized with him, yet also told him that if our faith is weaker after the trial, then the refining process didn’t purify us but rather annihilated us. I remembered the promise from 1 Corinthians 10.13 (won’t encounter more than our faith can handle). I explained to him “if this is true, than God must think you have great faith!” It was a new thought to him that trials don’t come from God but rather are allowed by his permission. He began to feel encouraged that God thought so highly of his ability and faith (he already knows the story of Job really well and feels a great kinship with him!)
Back to today….we enjoyed the DVD’s and then shared a meal together. Corn dogs, sandwiches, chips, Coke….you can tell we’re all Americans! We love sitting around with the Prices and Glovers and enjoying sweet fellowship.
We moved into a time of worship in song and then a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Now after all the comments, especially those of Professor JMH, you’ll all laugh that we didn’t take the Communion elements as part of our regular meal, but rather brought out the traditional grape juice and saltine cracker! Guess we could have used some of our Coke and chips, huh?!
It was almost 4pm before we split up and I headed out to the village of Gbotayidohoue (let’s call it “bow-tie”). We’ve been preaching in this village for the past couple of months and anticipate a congregation forming very soon. It was a low turnout, but it was still a good meeting. The best part was seeing my friend Ega. Ega is the lead evangelist on our team and is the reason we started preaching in this village. He was doing well tonight and I got to see his other children. He was so thrilled that Lael is doing so good. He was a man full of laughter and joy tonight…I’ve missed laughing with him. I know he is still grieving the loss of his wife (I can still see it in his eyes). But he was completely engaged tonight in the preaching of the gospel. He is one of my very favorite Aja Christians.
Kelly sure was the trooper…the house was well in order when I returned 4 hours later…even with 4 kids in the house (3 under the age of 3)! I love walking through this life with my wife….she is so steady when I’m so frazzled. I may not show it on the outside, but it reminds me of a plaque that used to hang in my bathroom when we first got married (back then when we still had our OWN space!) It was a picture of a duck, calm, cool and collected above ground and paddling like mad below the water!! That’s me a lot of the times….God bless my wife for her long-suffering!
Oh, the electricity AND water were both out most of the day…frustrating! The former returned about 8:30pm and the water is just now slowing dripping out of the faucets about 11pm. Just being candid, but this is this is no doubt one of the very irritating parts of living in a developing country. Of course it’s annoying because I’m a spoiled American who likes my comforts. I was reminded of this when I was visiting with Ega and the others and none of them knew anything of a power outage (most don’t even have electricity in their mud huts)! Thank you, LORD, for YOUR patient grace.
Here’s some pictures below we took after I got back tonight….cute bunch of kids!!
Friday, August 19, 2005
We have entered a new chapter of our lives tonight. This evening Sweet Baby Lael was brought to our door and has now entered our home. Her grandmother, who has lovingly cared for her for her first month of life, is returning to her own home tonight to begin caring for Ega (her son) and his three children. Lael and her grandmother have been staying with Sossa and his wife. (Sossa and Ega are in the same extended family) Ega is crippled with polio and lacks the physical capacity to care for a newborn. He has sought assistance and we have offered our home (foster care) for Lael.
We have complete peace that this is how the Lord is directing our path for the moment. Only He knows where this will lead and we are walking in faith step by step. Our hearts are full as we hold her in our arms. She is a precious little girl and we are so blessed with this opportunity. Randy and I care deeply for Ega and we had great love for Lokadi. It is our desire to bless this family and to assist Ega in a time when he is overwhelmed with grief.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Thanks for everyone's comments and especially your prayers for Kelly and her family.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I'll not have my computer with me so you won't hear from us again until late tomorrow night when we return from Cotonou back to our house in the bush (make's it sound so primitive...it's not).
As you read this as you wake today (probably none of you American readers are awake as I post this), please pray for safe travel. It'll be about 1pm CST when they arrive in Benin. It'll be great to have them back. Daddy Boot Camp with Timothy has been a blast, but we're ready to be back together again as a family. I miss my stunning wife very much! And I can't wait to set my eyes on beautiful Tori and wonder how much little handsome Jonathan has grown in 10 days.
We've had to do some car repairs so Timothy and I are taking the ol' bush taxi into Cotonou just after lunch today. What a memory!
Then, in less than 10 days, Mom and Dad will begin their premier voyage to Africa! I'm so very thrilled, as are countless of Aja Christians. Pray for their preparations, and of course for health and blessing during their almost 2-week trip. Then less than one week later, our teammates (the Prices), along with our short-term workers from Richland Hills church (John and Linda Glover) will all depart Benin. The Glovers head to do another 4 months of God’s work in Uganda with the team in Mbale, while the Prices leave for a well-deserved vacation before commencing their furlough Stateside.
I'll put in a vain request for an extraordinary number of comments from September through the end of the year when we are working here ALL ALONE...(everyone say, "boo hoo"....actually a pretty shameful strategy for increasing the count on that counter to the right!)
Still looking for your thoughts about the Wine and the Bread....
Here’s a verse to close with that I’ve never really paid attention to before…may it brighten your day!
“If anyone does not love the Lord – a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!”
(1 Cor 16 22)
- Rockin’ Randall
Monday, August 15, 2005
Saturday, August 13, 2005
I'm so thankful Kelly is getting to be there with her family during this special time. She (and Tori and Jonathan) are scheduled to return to Benin on Wedensday. I've enjoyed some special time with Timothy this week.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Wed, Aug 10, 2005
My precious grandmother passed from this life into the heavens at 9:33PM with all of us at her bedside cheering her on. To attempt to describe the experience almost seems to minimize what took place. With scripture being read and a CD of hymns playing in the background, we surrounded her bedside. We held her hands and touched her face and had the opportunity to shower her with our love and tears. She was such an amazing woman. When she took her last breath, her favorite hymn "Victory in Jesus" was playing. Praise God! He is GOOD! There is so much more to say, our hearts are so full. The graveside service will be Friday morning and her memorial service will be Monday morning at the Richland Hills church. More details will be soon to come. Thank you for all your love and prayers for our family during this time. It has been so rich in blessing.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
With that being said, isn't it more fun to look at pictures of our cute chilren rather than debate or have to think through deep theological points?
Have fun with it...let's hear some thoughts!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Had a conversation with a guy recently about the elements of the Lord's Supper. In their small village (and for whatever reason throughout most of the churches in the area, not just Churches of Christ), the Christians use these little packaged crackers, about the size of a dime (like oyster cracker). They are not flat wafers, but like salted cookies. This is their "bread". And for the "wine", well most use the real thing. However, there are some who are bothered by that and prefer a box of sweetened juice, non-alcoholic. He was asking me to tell him what I thought about their choice of elements.
First, I wanted to impart a sense of liberty to him...trying to invoke a sense of our freedom in Christ and God's big grace for such petty decisions. That approach doesn't work too well here; they are not people who have a history with legalism (too new), and rather are accustomed to people dictating to them how to do things (too long under oppression or foreign rule; plus they have a low esteem about their own people group and don't trust themselves to make the right decisions). Anyway, my vague response didn't please him. So what do I tell him? Again, he's not looking for me to throw him a litany of choices (that's an American mindset), but rather he's wanting me to tell him how to do it.
In our tradition, unleavened bread is the way we've always done it. Why? Because Jesus took the unleavened bread at the table with the disciples when he transformed the Last Supper into the Supper of Christ. But does our new covenant feast have anything to do with the significance of the lack of yeast? No. So why should we be bound to that. To say, "Jesus took it" is not enough. To comment on the metaphor of yeast as sin seems like a wrong fit. Other denominations use a loaf of bread. Should I tell him to stick with the leavened cookies, or do I tell him that he must find a substitute (or give him a recipe for homemade unleavened bread). Is it wrong to tell him a loaf (baguette) of French bread would work just fine? Is it wrong, by giving him the recipe for unleavened bread, to push him to a corner and say "that's the only way to do it!"
For the wine, I prefer the good stuff (I mean a good Merlot might go down real nice, huh?!) They say it spoils too fast. They prefer the sweetened juice, but it costs too much (for a reference, it takes about 3-4 weeks of offerings to purchase that juice...can you imagine us in the States spending the equivalent of a month's contributions on the crackers and grape juice?!) This pastor friend would like to know if they can use something else? Again, we go back to Jesus' example at the Last Supper. "You will not take this fruit of the vine again...." So, we can say, that's the key phrase. As long as it's a fruit of some vine. Oh really? What if there are no vines here in Benin (they were in abundance in Jesus' landscape). Are we bound to that phrase or is there another substitute. What about orange or mango juice? Not really a vine, but whenever local pastors teach from John 15 (I am the vine....), they speak of orange trees. Or is it better to use something that LOOKS like blood (is that the reason Jesus chose the cup from the table?) So no orange juice.....what about Coke? Kinda. Or they do still a Kool-Aid like cherry water. That's red (not blood red, but a shade of red).
One problem with either the wine or the sweetened juice here is that if there's not money in the budget, they'll forego Communion until they do...sometimes that might take a couple of months if a medical need of a church member comes up and dwindles the cash box to nothing. Should I tell them they are sinning by doing that?
What about WHO can take it? We've always stress "baptized believers". When Paul is condemning the Corinthians (1 Ch 11) for perverting the purpose of communion, it appears there is a real MEAL situation ("one remains hungry, another gets drunk"...can't hardly say that if you are talking about a tiny morsel of a saltine and a thimble of Welch’s….PLUS, going back to the “WWJD” argument, didn’t he share a full meal…that was what the Passover was…a family celebration). So, shouldn’t we invite our children to partake as well…just because they are not baptized believers, do we not still claim to raise them under the joy of the new covenant? Can’t they celebrate that with us? Or do we still maintain the litmus test of baptism and thus pass the plate AROUND those on the pew who haven’t been baptized?
I remember when a non-believing friend came to church with us one time in Littlefield…when Communion was passed, we didn’t think of telling him he wasn’t “allowed” to partake…so we were shocked to see him take the ENTIRE 4x6 wafer in his hand and say “thanks!” Hysterical.
I could go on and on....curious about your thoughts. What would you tell my Aja friend?
Monday, August 08, 2005
Found it on Dave Barry's blog...pretty funny stuff there every day.
Kelly and Jonathan arrived safely, AND a surprise guest, TORI! They arrived at DFW last night and are doing well! Daddy and Timothy are having Daddy Boot Camp for the next week or so...more reports on that later on....(not as rough as it sounds; Daddy's not too big on "camp" stuff anyway). Pray for our family as we are apart from one another.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Yesterday was a full day! I started out the morning with my dearest Aja friend, Laurance (left). She and I attended the graduation of a young girl in our church. This young girl, whose name is Victorine, has just finished a two-year apprenticeship. She is now a professional seamstress. She came several weeks ago to my house to invite me to her graduation. It is a custom here to wear an outfit made out of the same material as the graduate to show your support. She asked if I wanted to purchase the material and I wholeheartedly agreed. I am so proud of her decision to persevere in receiving this diploma, giving her the confidence that she can have her own trade and not be dependent on others. It is most common here in this polygamous society for women to be one of many wives, to have several children, and no way to support them. The husband, unfortunately usually spends whatever money he has on himself. Victorine has equipped herself for her future and that is something of which to be proud. Of course we also pray that she will marry a strong Christian man who will honor God’s desire for only one wife!
After returning home, I prepared quickly for our regular Friday afternoon meeting in the village of Dekpo. Dawna and I have been going there regularly now for three months.
We always take with us several friends from the Kaitemy church. Pictured to the right, Bridgette, Laurance and Josephine (Sossa’s wife) come with us to encourage the women in Dekpo. Together we teach, pray for, and support these ladies, many of whom are new Christians. On this day when we arrived, we decided to walk around the village and visit people in their homes and pray for anyone that we saw that was sick. We greeted many people and prayed for a number of people struggling with illnesses and again we had opportunity to pray for five orphaned children.
After leaving this village, we stopped at a reception that was being given for Victorine.
We drank a Coke with her and had our pictures made in clothes made out of the same material! We then got back in the car and we dropped the women back at their homes. At Josephine’s house we stopped the car and went in so that Dawna and I could see Baby Lael. She is doing so well and is so absolutely precious. I have such a hard time leaving her there.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
On another subject, once at home I had to begin packing. My dear grandmother Val Cardwell is in her last days of life. I have been given the opportunity to come home for one week to Fort Worth and hopefully see her one more time before she dies. She has lived a long and faithful life. Because of her belief in Christ, she leaves a legacy of children and grandchildren who follow the Lord. Our family and extended family are gathering at her bedside in Fort Worth. I will join them soon, arriving Sunday night.
Please pray for comfort and blessings for my mom and her two sisters.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Several months before Lael was born, Ega and Lokadi asked us to name their fourth child. Throughout Lokadi’s pregnancy we had the opportunity to pray with her. Just 2 weeks before the baby was born I prayed over her at an all church gathering. As I prayed for her I sensed that should the baby be a girl, we should name her Lael. It is Tori’s middle name and is mentioned in the Bible (Numbers 3:24). Its Hebrew meaning is “belonging to God.” Before Ega’s little girl was born it seemed a perfect name. After the obvious miraculous intervention of God’s mighty hand in her birth it seemed a perfect name. One week later as her mother passed away, it was the perfect comfort to remember that this sweet baby girl “belongs to God.” It is God who spoke her into being. She belongs to him and He will make a way for her.
Tonight Ega asked us to come for a private naming ceremony at Sossa’s house. This is where the baby has been staying since she arrived from the hospital. Ega’s mother has been her primary caregiver there. We offer baby formula that is given to her in a bottle.
The last time we gave the name for his child we had a special evening at his home with just he and his wife and children. He thought it would be too sad to be again in his home, naming the baby without his wife.
Ega asked us to come and give him counsel as well as the name. When we arrived we talked for awhile, held the baby, took pictures, and Randy even was able to feed her a bottle. Randy began his counsel with Proverbs 22:6, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” He also referred to 1 Peter 5:8 which says to “be alert because our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He talked about how important it is to be intentional in guarding the influences on your child. The pagans that are around us desire to have their influence on the training of our children and it is our responsibility as parents to protect them and to be alert to what they hear and see.
Randy then transitioned to the scriptures that accompany the meaning of her name. John 8:47 says that “he who belongs to God, hears what he says.” 1 Peter 2:9, 10 say that “you are a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Randy then told Ega how I prayed for the name and we believed that her name should be Lael. Through God’s power Lael was born and given life. Because he breathed life into her and spoke her into being, she belongs to him. If she belongs to him then she will hear the words of God!
We are saddened that Lokadi is not here. Yet it is through her suffering that Lael is alive and we see a testimony of how God brings light from the darkness.
After sharing the name, we prayed for Lael and then shared gifts with Ega for Lael. We then shared a meal together. It was a very sweet time with our dear friend. Our dear friend who is forever changed. Joy and laughter have characterized this man and his family from the first day that we met them nearly 6 years ago. We are deeply saddened by what has taken place and at the same time eagerly. anticipating the plan of the Lord unfolding. We are confident the Lord is here and we see the glory of the Lord in the life of this dear man.
Thank you for every prayer that you lift on behalf of this family.