Tuesday, June 24, 2014

another CRAZY Moose adventure: baby edition

 {this is an email Josh sent to a few pastor friends back home that perfectly captures the last 72 hours...}

This morning I was catching up on Pastor Joe's teaching through the Psalms and I came to Psalm 105. As I was watching and thinking through the Psalm and the things Pastor Joe was saying I was struck with how applicable the truths of this Psalm are right now for Kristen and I.

On Friday June 20th at 1:30 there was a scheduled tour of the OB department of the hospital here on the island. That morning we got a call from our friend Jacob (he and his wife are nurses here) and he asked if him and his wife Meg could see us before our tour. So Kristen and I went over to their apartment at 1:00, and we had no idea what they wanted to talk about (of course we were curious).
They sat us down and proceeded to tell us that the hospital staff was informed that morning that the hospital had to shut down (to a degree) the OB department for over 3 weeks. Evidently, the hospital planned very poorly and were going to be down to only 3 doctors for 3 weeks and only 2 of those doctors are able to deliver babies (usually there would be at least 9 OB doctors). (We are thinking, "What a great time to short staffed...for our first baby!") Therefore, they were advising the ladies who were 38 weeks pregnant and over to leave the island and go south to Timmins Ontario, and have their babies at the hospital there. The moment we heard that, as we were sitting in Jacob and Meg's living room, we both looked at each other and smirked and said, "we aren't surprised." From that first moment we had that peace that surpasses our ability to understand! We had NO idea what we were going to do, where we were going to stay, when we were going to leave, or how we were going to pay for all of the travel expenses!...Yet we had a peace. We knew without a doubt that God would pave the way, and pay the way.

From there we went to our scheduled tour. As the tour was happening we asked the lady showing us around if what we had heard was confirmed and if so when do we need to leave. She said (and I kid you not), "Oh, you heard about that?" (That response affords a big LOL!). Kristen and I couldn't believe that they were not going to tell us on that tour. As we talked we found out that there was a staff meeting at 2:30 to discuss what exactly the hospital was going to do (and apparently they would specifically discuss us and our case being that we are non-Native and Americans with really no where else to go). On our way out we ran into 2 doctors that we know and are friends with and they said that someone would call later and give us the needed details. But one of the doctors looked at us and said, "Oh, I feel so bad for you guys!" (We thought that was funny.)

Later that afternoon we did receive a phone call from a doctor and he told us that we did in fact need to leave Moose Factory and go to Timmins to have the baby (this is still Friday). He said that we would be OK to leave on Thursday the 26th (which was a relief because Meg and Jacob, our nurse friends, said we would have to leave on Monday the 23th--which would have given very little time to plan and prep!). So we began to plan as best we could; we asked around and got in touch with the VERY few contacts we have in Timmins, and of course we prayed and we trusted the Lord. Mind you, the hospital was offering zero financial aid for our trip out, they just said you have to go, and this is all because of poor planning on their part. As you can guess we had to really ask the Lord to keep us calm about that. (If we were First Nations [Native] then our travel costs would be covered, so we are on our own.)
This is getting long so I'll skip ahead to yesterday, Monday the 23rd. Monday morning comes and we still haven't really nailed anything down--we don't know where we will stay and we don't know if we will go to Timmins ON or another town called New Liskeard (also in Ontario but further than Timmins). However, one of our friends here started a fundraiser for us by selling baked goods! It was a total surprise to us, yet a huge blessing and confirmation that the Lord was going to provide. And another good friend on the mainland in Moosonee deposited some money into our account; so the Lord is providing and we are encouraged.
Within just a few hours yesterday (Monday) all of our plans fell into place--or I should say, were divinely orchestrated. Another friend has parents who live in New Liskeard Ontario and she said that their house was empty (her parents are away for about 6 weeks) and we were more than welcome to stay there (and there is plenty of room for my in-laws to stay there as well when they arrive on July 3rd!). The hospital there is great and they have a great OB department and they are willing to take us on short notice. Also her parents said we could use the car that they left once we get there.
Then, another friend who lives up here, who is going out on Friday on the train (same day as us: the 27th), said that he and his wife would drive us to New Liskeard on Saturday after we get off the train Friday night. So in a matter a few hours our housing was covered, our transportation was covered, and people have donated almost $800 towards travel expenses!! It is hard to express to you just how above and beyond God has went in preparing and providing for our trip! He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! (Eph. 3:20)

To summarize: We were told that we cannot have our baby here, where we live, because of poor planning, and that we have to leave our home and travel over 5 hours away without any monetary aid from the hospital who is telling us they can't take us. We have no where to go, no where to stay and no way of getting there--and this is our first baby! The circumstances on the horizontal were totally against us and could have caused great anxiety, BUT "He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness" (Psalm 105:43). "He is the LORD our God" (Ps.105:7) and "He remembers His covenant forever" (Ps.105:8) -- He will never leave us nor forsake! Truly, underneath are His everlasting arms! So all of our plans are covered and accounted for! We are leaving Moose Factory on Friday the 27th on the train and we will arrive in New Liskeard at the house we will stay at on Saturday the 28th. Our train tickets are covered, our 2 and 1/2 hour ride from the train station in Cochrane to New Liskeard is covered and the hospital in New Liskeard has accepted us and we have an appointment there on Monday the 30th.
We could not have asked for a better arrangement. We are now looking forward to this trip and even MORE excited for our son's arrival! "Truly God is good"!! (Ps.73:1).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pray for my mama

:: Hey family and friends ::

I come to you with a request that is very important to me.

Would you take some time to pray for my mom as she has what we hope to be her final surgery on Friday? 

For those who don't know, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer last June. She had surgery last October that left her with a temporary ostomy bag, then went through several months of radiation and chemo, and now, on Friday, she has her last surgery to do a reversal, hoping that the bag will be a thing of the past.

The hospital that she attends (Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Illinois) was incredibly impressed with her recovery after her first surgery last October, which my mom totally credits to the abundance of prayer. 

I have been praying so much. Someone who my mom knows who has the same type of cancer and who had the same procedures had a very bad experience with the second surgery (the one my mom has on Friday) and actually preferred to go back to living with a bag. Please pray that my mom's body kicks back into gear, that all the different parts involved will reawaken and that she heals so quickly.

She'll be driving up to Moose Factory with my dad just 4 weeks after the surgery to meet her first grand baby. Please pray that everything before that goes well so that they can have a smooth trip. 

Please also pray for my dad. He has been absolutely wonderful through all of this. He is so unbelievably selfless. My mom brags on him all the time. Pray for strength for him. 

I can't express how much we appreciate your prayers. 

Thank you!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

LONG overdue update

Hey y'all, 

LONG time no talk. 

I realized today I haven't given a thorough update since September...whoops.

That's what happens when life, travel, morning sickness, and more life exist.

We have officially been living in Moose Factory 2 years (and 3 days shy of 1 month)

Today I'm going to, as quickly as possible, give you 10 updates and some prayer requests...here we go!!!

1) We originally committed to staying in Moose Factory 2 years, but we certainly don't think it's time to leave yet. The church had a meeting about this last week and asked us to stay longer and gave Josh a lot more responsibilities, so he's now basically the full time pastor. We really don't know how long we will be here, we are just trusting the Lord's leading and timing.

2) I am 26 weeks pregnant. Everything is going great, I update every couple of weeks about my pregnancy at www.lovedonesimply.blogspot.com . We will be having baby boy here in Moose Factory. My estimated due date is July 9.

3) We are going home for a visit in May. We are getting a much needed trip to the beach for JUST Joshua and me. This thrills me to no end. Then we will spend a week in Atlanta, then a week in Philly. It has been a LONG winter, so we are excited for some warmth. (Philly...Atlanta...don't fail me!!!!)

4) I find it very hard to update on our ministry, because it truly is every day life for us. An average day (we don't have an average day!!!) for us looks like:
Long quiet times in the morning (one of the biggest blessings during this time)

Josh studies to preach

I do homemaker things, cook..clean...laundry..prepare for baby.

Sometimes Josh and I will go visit, sometimes we'll get visitors, sometimes the youth will stop by after school, sometimes we will have a counseling session, sometimes we will get phone calls from people needing guidance, to tell us a praise, or just to talk, sometimes I bake cookies all day long so trips like the one in May can happen, a LOT of "popping in" happens here...totally spontaneous, I love it. (see...not very average) Just today I had a woman from the church come by for 3 hours to chat, another friend popped in, and a man from the church in Moosonee came to visit Josh! So fun!

Almost every night at 7 PM we have something, Ladies Fellowship, Love & Respect (we are going through it with our friends who are engaged), Church, Youth Group, more Church. 

We have people over for dinner regularly.

We play sports with the kids on Saturday's. 

Monday is usually our Sabbath, when we take time to rest and spend time together after several busy days of studying and a very busy Sunday.

 So there isn't really an average day, our life is living, loving and serving the people in Moose Factory, so that looks different every single day. It is often challenging, but even more often rewarding. The Lord continually encourages us, and we are blessed to see fruit on a regular basis.

5) Josh has been asked to preach in Moosonee every Sunday morning at 9 AM. We go over there every week, then afterward jet to our 11 AM service in Moose Factory, where I teach Sunday School. The river is on the brink of breaking up, so he will go over by chopper for a few weeks, then boat taxi, eventually. He's been doing this for a few months now, and I think they will use him as long as he can continue to go! He of course LOVES this, and gets a real THRILL when he gets to preach 3 x in one Sunday! :)

6) For those wondering, Josh's eyes are doing okay! Nothing drastic changed after the surgery. The surgery stopped the disease in its tracks, which is great, but no vision change which is what we were hoping for. His next step is to get a hard contact, which turns out to be a very complicating thing when you live on an isolated island. It will take 7 trips to the eye doctor in Timmins to complete the process (which means 2 things that we don't have spare of...time & money). It could be done in 3 or 4 visits if we could go back to Toronto, but again...time & money. Sooooo, I suppose we'll cross that bridge one day???

7) We got OHIP! Ontario Health Insurance Plan. This is the BIGGEST blessing! We had to pay for a few months worth of hospital bills...prenatal appointments, ER visits, etc...and those bills were NOT fun. So thankfully we no longer have to pay for my prenatal visits or trips to the ER or having a BABY.  Huggeeeee blessing! 

8) After 2 years of being here and spending time with the youth I wouldn't say that we've had what the world would say is "success". We don't have a lot of kids coming to youth group, we don't have any kids truly living for the Lord, many of our kids that we have grown to love dearly have fallen into the sex, drugs and alcohol life style. From the outside it would look like we've failed. It has never been about what Joshua and I could do though. We didn't come in with unfair expectations and certainly didn't think WE would be the ones making tons of changes. The little successes we have had or witnessed are by the grace of God and we are so thankful for those things:
1) Kids getting in touch with us when they are hurting.
2) Consistency from a few that come to youth group
3) Beaming smiles when some of the kids see us in public
4) Last week 3 BOYS (ages 13, 14 & 17)  stopped by our house, came in, had cookies, and chatted with us for 30 minutes, then shook Josh's hand and left (and my jaw is still on the floor...so thankful!!!)
5) A 15 year old girl dropping in after school and staying for dinner
6) The youth's parents showing their appreciation for us
7) Seeing that *some* of the things that we've said over the years are starting to resonate with some of them. 
8) More and more respect toward Josh and I when we pray or share from the Bible (huge growth from when we first came)
9) No youth suicides (or any, for that matter) in 2 years in June. (this is such an answer to prayer!!!)
10)  Kids excited year after year to go to Project George (the week we spend in the bush). We are so thankful they love it so much!

Nothing is our doing, never has been, never will be, but we are grateful that the Lord can use us in some way. We are encouraged by the fruit and growth we have seen, heart broken for those who have heard of the hope and freedom found in Jesus and been encouraged by us yet are choosing a different road, and hopeful with all the sowing of the Word that it would not return and that some day they will surrender their lives to the Lord.

9) We have a busy Summer ahead, baby boy will be here in July, my family will come up and Josh's will come too, then Josh will have to go to Project George in August (nooooo, donnn'ttttt leavveee meeee...JK, soooo important he goes), there are several teams coming up from the States and Canada who we would regularly host, but obviously won't be this Summer (I'll be a LITTLE preoccupied), and they are starting (and finishing by September) the Pastor's house which we will live in once it's done.

10) Huge PRAISE! I've been wanting to write this out and hopefully really encourage someone by this. In early November our van died, so we went without a vehicle for about 2 weeks, then went on our trip to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. On this trip Josh's dad let us use his big white work van for us to drive to Georgia, fill with a bunch of our stuff, and then drive ALL THE WAY to Moose Factory (well, to Cochrane, to be put on the train). So we were VERY blessed and thankful to use his dad's van from December until the end of January. His dad came and picked up his van, so we were again carless. While Josh's dad was in Moose Factory, him and Josh worked on fixing our old van, but realized it was donezo...and so they stopped and prayed, and asked the Lord to provide a car. Our friends let us use their skidoo, which was a HUGEEE blessing, and we did this for several weeks. Then one day we got a knock on our door from our next door neighbor. He walks in and says, "I posted my SUV for sale on facebook and someone messaged me and asked if I knew you guys. I told him I did, and he asked if I could bring the car to you, have you test drive it, and if you like it, they would buy it for you, anonymously." SAYYY WHHATTTT. So Josh test drove it, OF COURSE we liked it, and a person, who is STILL anonymous, bought it for us! Wow. 

My favorite part of this whole situation is that I was THANKFUL for the vehicle, but not one bit surprised. The Lord has not stopped providing for us since we've been here. When we announced it to the church we had at least 10 people tell us they were praying for a vehicle for us. We have truly learned about faith living in Moose Factory, and have been tried, and withOUT fail, the Lord provides abundantly more than we could imagine every single time. 

Every time, before we leave for a trip, people will bless us with a monetary gift. 

The other day, I prayed that the Lord would provide veggies in my prenatal meal bag, because there were no good veggies at the store for me to buy, but there were no veggies in my meal bag. I said to the Lord, "that's okay, if you want me to have veggies, I'll get veggies." Not 2 hours later my friend knocked on my door with a bag full of veggies that she wanted to give me because she was going out of town. 

Is a bag of veggies life changing? I guess you could say no, but I think it kinda sorta is. We have truly taken on a life of faith, and it is all thanks and glory to God. He provides, with the big and with the small.

One week we got a $600 bill from the hospital, a few days later Josh was handed a check from the church in Moosonee for $600.

Last week we had to pay $748 for a car repair (who even cares, we are just THANKFUL!!! :) ) That same day Josh was given a check for $750 from the church in Moosonee.

He provides, time after time after time. It is THRILLING living life by faith. It's almost impossible to worry! He's got us. & it is always BETTER than we could have imagined.

I hope this really encourages someone, because my life has truly been changed, and I've been so encouraged experiencing God in this way.

Prayer requests:

1) Please pray for the remainder of my pregnancy, for baby boy, for a healthy and safe delivery.

2) Pray for Joshua and me as we step into a bigger role in the church, for wisdom and guidance.

3) Please always pray for our marriage, as it is such an important asset in our ministry. The Lord has really used our marriage for His glory while being in Moose Factory. 

4) That, if the Lord's will, He would send someone (or a couple) here to solely focus on youth ministry. Our ministry is so vast, and neither one of us necessarily feel gifted in the area of youth ministry, it is a GREAT struggle for us, though we love the youth. We would never want to cut ties with the youth, but to have someone here who feels called to Youth Ministry would be amazing. 

5) It is still our hearts desire and prayer (please pray with us) that the Lord would be gracious and move here in a mighty way; that we could see an Acts 19 revival. Acts 19:17-20:  "The name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled 50,000 pieces of silver. So the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." 

For those who made it through this whole thing...wooooo!

Thank you for listening, loving us, supporting us, and praying for us!!!

Josh + Kristen