Well, as the heading of this newsletter suggests, it has been a little rough for us. I’ll start by apologizing as I know that I had mentioned in the last newsletter that Heidi would be sharing this time, but she hasn’t really had the time to commit to writing, and I am just now finding the time to write myself.
Some great things have happened since our last newsletter in August: first of all we were able to move into our apartment off campus! We have the last apartment in a line, so we actually have two extra windows and a little more outdoor green space. So that is a big blessing, and has certainly played a role in how busy we have been. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, I also ran the farm on my own for a few weeks—which went quite well. I was able to accomplish quite a lot, but also was very relieved when the other farm staff started to trickle back in from their trips to the mainland in mid and late September. In general, I have been working well over 40 hours a week—as chores have to continue being done on weekends. Another blessing is that we now have 24 students working on the farm! We are not currently running a farm track, but we do have students in the Discipleship Training School who are now working on the farm 2 hours every weekday which is lovely because we have the opportunity to do ministry again! In the midst of farm chores there are a lot of opportunities for them to process their lectures, for discipleship, and for teaching.
Outside of those lovely things, there have been a few hard things recently as well. We found out that we will be losing our largest source of support, incrementally, over the next couple of years. This news felt very sudden to us, and has been difficult to process: so we find ourselves in another support raising season. Not long after we received the news concerning our support, I hurt my back and I am still in recovery. Heidi has been having severe abdominal pains over the last few months, and after a series of tests the doctors discovered she has 8 gallstones! She will be having a consultation with a surgeon soon.
In addition to all of this our 8 month old daughter Liesl had a high fever for a little over a day before we took her to the hospital. Praise the Lord, the doctors found it was only a UTI, so we are treating that with antibiotics. The campus has also gone through its own fair share of difficulties. We had a number of Covid-19 cases on the campus and the mayor of Hawaii Island stepped in and shutdown the campus (even though cases were quarantined and managed according to the rules put in place by the Health Department). The communication between him and our leaders has been quite the rollercoaster ride. We had about 1000 staff and students tested for Covid-19 over two days! I think Heidi and I both feel very haggard and worn right now. It seems easy to relate to the line from the Lord of the Rings, feeling like “butter scraped over too much bread.” All this difficulty and yet…
GOD HAS BEEN SPEAKING TO US THIS ENTIRE TIME!!! In the middle of the hardships we have heard God so clearly and in so many ways. We found comfort from the Lord as we have leaned into Him, and He has been speaking to us as we process this loss in support. This season has lots of testimonies of small losses, only for God to come in and bring in something even better. We know that God has led us to Kona to do these works—and we trust that He will provide for us as we walk in obedience to His call. For every child we have had I have always prayed and asked what name God wants for them—and frequently the name is indicative of the season He is bringing us into. For Liesl, her name means “My God is Abundance!” And we feel so strongly that this season is meant to be an overflowing of His provision in our lives. We also find that the seasons always have a major hurtle or challenge to overcome that directly opposes the name that God has given—and we feel this loss in support is just that. Praise God that in the midst of the campus shutting down, and in the midst of a lot of things being done that could be argued as an overstep by the local government—the campus’s obedience, humility, and joyful submission has led to favor with both the local government and the Department of Health! Praise God that in the midst of this pandemic, we still have students we can pour into—students who have shown their commitment by coming even knowing that they may be confined to their rooms or to campus for much of their time here! Praise God that I have a team member who is an occupational therapist and my recovery from this back injury is so much faster than the one I sustained in 2012! Praise God that we are in the US, that we have medical care that can recognize that Heidi has gallstones, and that Liesl has a UTI—and that there is a means of addressing those things without having to fly to another country (as we have had to do during our years in Indonesia)! Praise God that our van in Colorado sold and for the friends who helped us sell it! Praise God that we have entered into our “Promised Land;” and that while the “manna” has stopped, we can step with obedience into the fullness of what God has called us to do and He will provide for us in the midst of it! Guys, the scope and breadth and depth of what God can do through us and our ministry has only grown since we have come here, and we are so excited to see what God does in the coming years through us to reach peoples of nations all across the world. These are both hard, but also exciting times.
The main thing on my mind as we move forward into the coming months is support raising. For this season I will be casting a wider net than I have in the past. Overall, this loss in support will amount to 60% of our monthly income, and the first third will occur in July of next year. I have faith that God will provide us the funds; it is just a matter of finding the supporters He has prepared for us. Outside of support-raising, I will continue to work on the farm and lean into this opportunity to minister to the students we have working there. We also will have some High School and Middle School students working with us one day a week each—which means even more opportunities to pour into potential future missionaries. Another staff should be joining our farm team any day now, so that is also exciting!
Emett had started first grade with the school that runs on campus back in September. When the campus was shutdown he had to move to doing school over ZOOM. He has missed his friends and his teacher, and the current hope is that he will be able to start attending school physically again this Monday. As a family we are still trying to figure out how to live life as our schedules and habits have to change as we transition and as things change day to day due to Covid-19 here in Hawaii. I think Heidi is pretty tired, and one difficulty we have been having recently is finding time together. We hope to get our schedules and our kids schedules figured out in this season of life so that we can begin to actually spend some time together again! We also need a new family photo! Many of you probably realize that the current one we have does not include Liesl, so that is something we are trying to address. Outside of this, I don’t know what things will look like, the pandemic really keeps us on our toes—and our hope is that we will be able to avoid future cases of Covid-19 so as to not jeopardize our ability to continue doing ministry amongst these students.