Dear Friends and Family,
The past several months have been eventful ones for us here in Missouri. Several of the events were unexpected, but nevertheless came from the hand of a sovereign and loving God. My mom returned to our home after a 2 month stay in a rehab facility following a fall in early April. With that return came the realization that her health has deteriorated to the point of needing to be in a wheelchair, and her dementia is more pronounced. Before she could return, we had to make the house wheelchair accessible, which meant I poured a sidewalk and built a ramp at the entrance, and I replaced the carpet with hardwood flooring in the living room, hallway, and her bedroom. We also sold her house during that time, so we had to spend some time getting that house ready for sale. Since her return to our home, we have also elicited the assistance of a home health company to come help care for my mom. The initial efforts to get all of that work organized and completed took up a good chunk of my time for the past 2 months, but now as a result we have more freedom in our daily lives which enable me to spend more time in translation work, and for Dawn to spend more time in her many responsibilities. We are thankful for the Lord’s continued guidance and provision.
For the past 5-6 years, Dawn has been experiencing some health struggles, with gradually worsening symptoms. After Josiah’s birth, symptoms escalated to the point of needing more attention. After various doctor visits and tests, we have come to realize that we are most likely dealing with a weakened immune system that is affecting her thyroid. We have recently found a product that is rebuilding her body at a cellular level which is quickly & positively affecting her health. We are very thankful to the Lord for His leading in this area, and are happy to have a healthier wife/mom in our family.
Other family events over the past few months have included completing another year of home schooling, a violin recital, many activities with the church youth group, camping in Estes Park, Colorado, and participating in a week long Christian running camp. Four of our children were athletes at this camp, while I was a coach and counselor. Dawn also filled various gaps to assist in the camp running smoothly. Now we are gearing up for another school year, which will start in mid-August – Hannah (11th), Hadassah (10th), Jordan (8th), Havannah (6th), and Josiah (potty training).
Dawn and I will be celebrating our 18th anniversary this month. What a wonderful privilege it has been to spend those years with my best friend walking together as we walk with the Lord. To have a ministry partner and a partner for life is truly a huge blessing. Thank you, God!
We have not heard any recent news regarding the Bena Church. The only report we have received is that some small pieces of plywood have been stolen from our village house. We continue to pray that God will do His work mightily in the hearts of those Bena who know and love Him. Pray with us that we can find some consistent line of communication with the believers, so we can better encourage them in their walks with the Lord. From what we hear from PNG, the laborers coming to the Field are few, but the needs are still great. We would so like to see some missionaries join us in the work of church planting among this people. The time is now for laborers to come forth into the fields, and to trust the Lord for the harvest.
I completed the initial steps of translating the book of Ephesians. It is one of my favorite NT books, and I enjoyed the opportunity to study it and then translate it into Bena. I found myself rather bogged down with the armor portion in chapter 6 because it is not a common Bena practice to get dressed with intangible items like truth, righteousness, and salvation. Commentators were also divided on whose traits these are – some say that they are the qualities of a Christian, so we should be putting on something that we already possess; others say they are the qualities of God, so we should be taking on His characteristics. In English, we can be somewhat vague and just say, “the breastplate of righteousness”. But when translating in many/most tribal languages, there is a need to explain what a breastplate is, and what that has to do with righteousness, and whose righteousness we are talking about. Only time spent with native Bena speakers will determine whether or not what I have on paper communicates God’s Word correctly or not. And that is the next step for the Bena Ephesians translation project. While Ephesians awaits native-speaker involvement, I will be moving on into the book of First Corinthians. I am looking forward to this new challenge, and I’m humbled to think that God would use someone as insignificant as me to do this monumental task of translating His Word into another language.
We have had several opportunities for ministry while we are here in Kansas City caring for my mother. Both Dawn and I have had teaching opportunities in the local church that we attend. Dawn (piano), Hannah (violin/piano), and Hadassah (flute) are also involved with playing their instruments during worship services. And a new opportunity for Dawn has come to fruition in the past couple of weeks. She is teaching the Creation to Christ lessons (the same lessons we use in the village) to a young lady who grew up in church, but knows she is lacking in a foundational understanding of God. For example, in a recent lesson which mentions the Trinity, she was excited as she realized that Jesus is part of the Trinity, and therefore is God! The foundational teachings about God creating everything in Genesis is also challenging her ideas about evolution.
To be honest, sometimes we find ourselves desiring to be back in PNG doing something “big” for God, rather than simply meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of an 89 year old widow. Those are our thoughts, but when we return to God’s Word, we find that He is now giving us an opportunity to obey a portion of His Word that we didn’t have opportunity to obey before.
“Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God…But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Tim 5:3-4, 8
Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to practice godliness in this manner.
· Spiritual growth & unity among the Bena believers
· Continued improvement in Dawn’s health
· Further increase in our monthly support level
· Opportunities to be a witness for Christ
· We will be participating in 2 different missions conferences this Fall
· God is faithful to us regardless of our faithfulness to Him
· God’s Word addresses every aspect of life
· God has increased our monthly financial base by adding a new supporting church
· We are seeing improvements in Dawn’s health
Thank you for standing with us in this ministry that God has entrusted to us. May you better comprehend the height, depth, and width of God’s amazing love for you.
Rich & Dawn