On Cyber Monday last November, the local airline had a special for round-trip tickets for $65! Where should we go for 'Fall Break' from school? "The jungle!" has been the answer from the kids since a medical trip to the jungle we made as a family in 2008. Several missionary friends, most notably the Wiests and Welshes (fellow Nebraskans) live in Pucallpa, so we decided to go there. Pucallpa isn't a typical vacation destination ("I've never heard of anyone coming here for vacation," stated the missionaries whose home we stayed in.) But for a week's vacation, we found plenty to do, boat rides to parks, the zoo, etc. Amy and I even celebrated our 20th anniversary on Wednesday. Friday, we went to Cashibo, the missionary airbase where the planes can take off from either land or water to take missionaries out to the tribal villages. It was the birthday of one of the MK's so most of the kids from the mission high school were there. One of the missionaries has a small outboard so we were waterskiing and tubing. While waiting in the water for the boat to turn around I suddenly felt a 'pinch'! 'Ow!' I said. "Probably a piranha!" yelled back the driver. Then suddenly, I got more than a pinch! 'Ow!!' This time the piranha got a chunk off of my foot! I was done. I didn't really needto waterski that badly! If it weren't for the fact I'm running the Lima marathon next week, it wouldn't be a big deal. Hopefully, it will heal up by then. All the kids got out of the lake, but the water was too inviting, and soon they were back in again, rationalizing that they've swum there for years without being skeletonized like a wading bovine. Despite there being 20 kids there, Sarah was the next to get bitten (Georges are either especially tasty or easy to see because of our light complexion in murky water), and another MK also got a piece taken out of his foot, but that didn't keep the rest out.
Careful where you swim,
Allen & Amy
Good luck to you French-speakers!
Here is the video clip created to promote a year-long collection of meditations on the theme of "May Your Kingdom Come". I contributed to this effort with one humble offering (those of you who heard me in Australia would have heard something on 1 Cor 15: 36-58).
This collection was prepared for the 3-day Conference I helped with early April with 220 women from 30 different countries participating. We had such a blessed time. In the different sessions that addressed the theme what transpired the most was the fact that the Kingdom of God is advancing inexorably. One of the features of the conference was the chance several women had to share "Seeds of the Kingdom", in other words, ministries they were involved in (and had often started with one very small step of obedience) and that were the sign that the Kingdom of God was truly gaining ground.
A wonderful, rich time.
For some reason, God had us 'foster' a malnourished young girl for 10mnths, her name is Jocell. She came to us weighing just over 6kgs and was five years old. We bonded immediately with her and she quickly became a member of our family and the christian community in which we are living in the Philippines. She learned English quickly, loved watching The Wiggles on Sophie's iPad and swimming in the above ground pool we brought over from Australia. Her health went up and down due to her lower resistance to infection and she also had many Acaris worms (something we were never prepared to see) that she was infected with by eating sand from the dirt floor of her home on a small island. Her mother had said that she was treated so we were not at all expecting her to be so infested. The reason that her family had us look after her is because she was 'failing to thrive' on the formula given to by the Malnourish Team here. Usually the children stay with their parents and the formula is taken to their homes once a month for twelve months and during that time the ministry works with the family to provide a livelihood for them so that they can rise above the devastating poverty that has led to the malnourishment of their child/children. Jocell was the middle child of five.
Jocell was able to speak with her family and have them visit during the months she was with us. These were delightful times for her and she loved to share her 'blessings' with her siblings eg dolls, clothes and food.
We left the Philippines in late Jan 2013 to return to Australia for a five week break and Jocell went back to her family two weeks later (weighing 12kgs!). However, within three weeks she was brought back to the ministry centre unable to sit up, having sores on her arms and legs and barely able to talk. The mother said 'she is not eating'. We were so shocked to hear that she had lost 6kgs within the three weeks and reasoned that she must have not eaten at all in that time. She was taken straight to hospital and given food through a nasal drip. Within days she was in a critical condition and I decided to come back to the Philippines a few days early to see her and pray for her.
By the time I got there she had been incubated by hand for a couple of days. I asked the Dr's if there was anything at all we could do and they said that there was only a slim chance but the thing she needed most was a mechanical incubator as the mother would get tired during the night and not supply adequate oxygen. We searched the city for a machine but not only was there none available, but there were waiting lists for each of the handful of machines in the whole city. The next morning at 11:25am Jocell died .
How can I say that we were grieving but full of joy at the same time? Well, our wonderful loving Father had shown us all something on the last Sunday before we left for Australia. I was preaching that morning and I had to share how I thought that God was showing us all something that morning. What was so special was that Jocell was up the front with the worship team with her little wooden ukelle singing loudly and raising her hands in praise to God. Why was this so special? Well, I had taken her up the front only weeks before to see if she would share a word of thanks (as we all often do) but she got absolutely stage shocked and just stared and hid her face. However, this Sunday she was full of love and joy. I noted to the group that God was showing us how our love had made Jocell whole, we had each shown her God's unconditional love in various ways and now she was able to put aside her shyness and praise God in abandonment. What a gift from God. He knew He would be taking her to himself soon but gave us a glimpse of the joy that she would be experiencing with Him.
We all still miss her but are so comforted in the knowledge that she is with the Lord and we will see her again.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Sunday: Jocell praises the Lord
Five weeks later: I am incubating Jocell the night before she died.