Death and New Direction

March 12th marks eight months since we left Napa, in faith, on this adventure as missionaries. It was years of God changing our lives and calling us into His service. As the time approached for us to leave Napa the call became so strong and clear. We knew when we left that God had given us a warning that things were going to be difficult. Without understanding what that meant, the question came “How difficult could it really be?” Sure, as we made our way we were met with some challenges, like the van breaking down in Oregon, surviving a bee attack in Washington, a massive hail storm in Colorado that damaged the van, then we were delayed for almost two weeks in Texas waiting for our VISAS, finally ending back up in California where we abandoned our plans to drive down to Mexico and heeded the warning to fly down instead. Once we arrived in Mexico things didn’t lighten up, there was the first several weeks of culture shock and major adjustments, then our kids were very sick for weeks on end. We thought things were finally settling down when my dad’s health began to deteriorate.

The first week of the New Year hit us with the news that my dad was not doing well, he fell, and was taken to the hospital and then released to a nursing home to recover and regain some strength. After a few days it became clear that Jackie needed to fly home and help my mom get some things done, in order to bring him home. The kids and I stayed behind in Mexico to continue with studies since we had just begun our third level of Spanish. After about a week of being back home Jackie was ready to buy her return tickets home but felt uneasy about it, so we waited. That uneasiness was Gods restraint because four days later, my dad took a very bad fall in the nursing home. The fall caused a massive brain bleed. The doctors said he was not going to make it. Upon hearing the news the kids and I booked immediate flights home. Five days after returning home, my dad passed away as a result of the fall.

If you didn’t get a chance to read last months newsletter, we encourage you to recount the beginning of this story, when the Lord prompted McKenna and I to return home to share the gospel message with both of my parents. They both accepted the Lord and only God knew that my dad would take his last breath here on earth only six weeks later. The story is still shocking to us when we recount it. Never stop praying for the salvation of your loved ones and never hesitate to share the Gospel with them either. God hears your prayers and will pursue them to the very end, He can save to the uttermost even through Alzheimer’s. God is faithful!

Being back here in California didn’t slow down the challenges but God has had us here for such a time as this. What a blessing it has been to be here and be missionaries to our own family and friends. We’ve spent countless hours in the hospital, we’ve planned a funeral, we’ve buried my father, the kids and my mom were bit by her dog, Jackie’s mom landed in the hospital, and we moved her to a new house. In all the challenges there has also been opportunities to be a blessing. I’ve been able to minister to some people and offer helping hands all while God had our family here in Napa. It is such a privilege to serve the Lord in any way that we can wherever we are.

Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord is in the whirlwind and the storm”. The day I read this verse in an Oswald Chambers devotional I did not foresee how it would apply to our family only a few hours later. I took a look at the word, “Whirlwind” and this is what I found. A whirlwind is, “A storm with strong winds that moves in a circle” (Cambridge Dictionary). A whirlwind is also used to describe “quickly changing, evolving situations, happening very quickly.”

Things have sure been a whirlwind and the whirlwind continues. Since we have been here the question everyone keeps asking us is “When are you going back?” Our answer has been, “We wish we knew!” The Lord began stirring out heart that a new direction may be coming. An opportunity with Wycliffe Bible Translators opened up and we pursued it. Everything was going great with the process and we were coming to the very end but we just couldn’t seem to find that peace. Jackie and I had been praying and meeting with our Pastors and with Wycliffe staff, really seeking what God would have us to do. A few hours following my morning reading of Nahum 1:3 about the Lord being in the whirlwind and the storm I received a call from our friend and Pastor in Oregon. It was a casual conversation but I could hear something in his voice at the end of the conversation. We hung up but the Lord prompted me to call back and investigate a little further. Little did I know that conversation would dramatically change our direction.

I found out that our friend and Pastor needs some help at his church just outside of Portland, Oregon. With a fire and spark in my heart I told him, “If you need me, I am there.” The reply was for some much needed help. After praying about it we concluded the Lord was calling us to go to Oregon. Therefore, we are halting our Spanish studies for the time and turning our attention north to support, encourage, help, and be missionaries to Faith on Hill church in Milwaukie, Oregon. We are so excited about this new direction that the Lord is leading us. It is true that it has been a whirlwind this past 8 months, but there is no adventure grander than serving the Lord and being His servant, available to go whenever and wherever He calls us to go. “At the command of the LORD they remained encamped, and at the command of the LORD they journeyed; they kept the charge of the LORD” (Numbers 9:23).

We are still missionaries. God has not changed our calling but He has changed our location. A missionary is one sent by God to accomplish His purposes. God has a good work to do at Faith on Hill church and people need to hear the gospel there and be encouraged in their faith just as any other place in the world. We will miss Mexico for now, but we are confident that we will have opportunities to return and serve there again in the future.

Our plans are to set off from California soon. We ask that you pray for us as we make this next transition, especially that God will open up housing for us somewhere in the Portland area. Pray that our service in Oregon, “May be acceptable to the Saints there.” (Romans 15:31). Pray that we will be able to be a blessing to the church, our friends, and that we will be able to come alongside them, support them, and love them in a tangible way. Pray for us as we have started homeschooling the kids, which is making things much easier in all of the transitions. Thank you for all your prayers and financial support that allow us to serve the LORD wherever He sends us!