"In time of sickness, the soul collects itself anew." ~ Latin Proverb
I certainly hope this is true, because this past month has been deeply saddening.
My grandfather died on January 10, 2010 after struggling with his heart for the past year or so. I find it incredibly difficult to live at such a great distance away from family at times like this. My heart mourns for the loss of my beloved grandpa and grieves the loss of opportunities for sharing. He never got to meet Nich. One of my hopes had been for him to be alive long enough to meet his great-grandchildren. He will never meet them either. My mom was on her way to Korea from Cameroon when my grandfather died, so she didn't find out until she landed. What heartbreak. Thankfully, she is with her family, and hopefully, that is balm to her soul.
A friend of mine has lost two men of significance in his life this past month. His father's godfather, a close family friend, died a couple weeks ago, and we just received an email last night saying his great-grandfather died yesterday. Please keep Zach's family in your prayers.
A local school district lost three teens in a car accident recently. Another committed suicide. Another district lost a young, well-liked coach and teacher to a heart attack.
Then, of course, there's the magnitude of damage and loss in Haiti. I won't say very much about this, because I could probably write an entire entry on just that, but here is a good place to check for real, reliable information and updates. Lexi and I grew up together in Cameroon (we have known one another since first grade). She and her husband Ben serve with Mennonite Central Committee just outside of Port-au-Prince, and their accounts are much more informative and accurate than much of what has been reported here (another reason why I don't watch the news here).
The stomach flu has been making its rounds in upstate New York, and Nich and I were hit hard the week following Excel (the annual Youth for Christ conference we chaperone in Saratoga). We had both been sick prior to it with cold viruses, and we are finally recovering.
For some good news ... We have agreed to chaperone another youth conference this summer, this time, in Louisville, Kentucky. This one is a week long (yikes!), over ten thousand teenagers plus their chaperones, with incredible speakers and seminars ... It only happens once every three years, and it is a wonderful opportunity for the teens to grow in their walk with God. Obviously, with over 25 kids going from our youth group plus chaperones, the cost is hefty. We will be taking a bus overnight both ways to save on hotel costs. The kids do a lot of fundraising in the three years in between in order to raise money for their trip, as well as collecting bottles, mowing lawns, raking, etc. To help with the cost for our portion, Nich and I have decided to write support letters ourselves. If you are interested in supporting us and our teens, prayerfully or financially, please let me know, and I'll send you more information.
Our young adult Bible study has committed to giving to MCC's relief efforts in Haiti as our next giving project. We've been collecting almost weekly since last year to help our African sister Coneilia build her house, and we have felt that the Lord has released us from that commitment as she is very close to having the total amount that was projected. I am thankful for these giving hearts, and I pray that they will continue to give as Jesus would.
Babies, babies, babies! There are many yet to come into the world this spring and summer, but there have been several in the past couple months! What wonderful reminders of the miraculous handiwork of Abba!
In other news, I've been staying busy subbing and working several closing shifts at Bath and Body. Subbing is wonderful and terrible at the same time. I am so grateful to be working after a year of being unable to do so, and yet, there are days when the kids are awful that I just want to come home and cry. Last Friday was such a day, and I came home and went to bed at six-thirty right after dinner. Overall, though, it is such a relief to not feel like we are as tightly bound to a budget anymore.
It's February already. With it, comes hope. I don't think hope starts when the snow begins to melt. I think hope begins when we begin to know that, although the worst of the winter is yet to come, it WILL pass. It always does. That's something I've been learning with God. The trials WILL come; He tells us that. He also tells us that He will help us overcome them, and on the other side, it is beautiful, and we are more beautiful for having made it through, sometimes gracefully, sometimes awkwardly.
"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner