Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas

We had a good, relaxing Thanksgiving season this year. Dawn’s parents came from Michigan to stay with us for a week, and we celebrated in the usual way with a big meal on Thursday. Hannah, Hadassah, and I started the day by running in local 5k races on Thanksgiving morning. The girls ran their race on a team with some friends from church in one location, and I ran as part of a 4-man team in a different race in a different part of Kansas City. All 3 of us had a good time exercising our bodies and spending time with friends. My teammates were high school runners who I had the privilege of coaching during our home school cross country season. They are young & fast, and I am the slower ‘used-to-be-that-fast’ middle-aged man. But we made a pretty good team and won the open division of the team competition. The prize was a gift certificate to a local running store, so I will be getting a new pair of running shoes sometime soon.

During this season, I reflected on what it means to be thankful. Many times we are thankful for our country and its Biblical heritage, as we remember the Pilgrims and their desire for religious and political freedom. George Washington & Abraham Lincoln both set forth days of thanksgiving for our nation to remember the blessings of God. But really the call to thankfulness is much older than that, and it is directly proportionate to our reflecting on what God has done/is doing for us. Here are some verses that I mused on as we enjoyed this holiday of thankfulness:

I Chr 16:8 – Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
I Chr 16:34 – Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Ezra 3:11 – And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ps 33:2 – Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Ps 54:6 – With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good.
Ps 79:13 – But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Ps 136:1 – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Ps 136:2 – Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
Ps 136:3 – Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
Ps 136:26 – Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.
II Cor 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Col 1:12 – giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Rev 4:9-10a – And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.

From these few verses, I see that thankfulness is sourced in who God is and what He does; it can be expressed with music, and as a sacrificial offering; it should be passed on to the next generation, and it will be done throughout eternity. May our hearts and minds be truly thankful for the abundant life that is ours because of a relationship with God.

Now on to another subject – our status with NTM. We have been in communication with both our home church and our mission leadership. All of us are in agreement that we no longer have to resign from the mission, but rather we will be taking steps toward getting back to PNG. A typical home assignment (HA) consists of 12 months of being in our home country, speaking at churches, getting reacquainted with supporters, and spending time with family. In 2011, we used approximately 5 months of our HA time prior to our plans being changed by the unexpected death of my father. The following 2 years were spent caring for my mother and working on Bena translation. Now that that season of service has come to an end, we will be returning to our remaining 7 months of HA, where we will be spending that time doing some travels to speak in supporting churches, as well as getting connected with more churches here in the Kansas City area. If you or your church want us to come for a visit, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are also available for home Bible study groups, homeschool or Christian schools, Sunday School classes, or any other venue. We enjoy sharing about PNG and what God is doing among one of the people groups there. We will also be spending a few months in Michigan with our home church. They desire to get to know us better and to deepen their relationship with us.

Part of our HA time will also be spent continuing to search for answers to Dawn’s and Hannah’s health issues. Each of them have several symptoms, and it seems to be pointing toward adrenal fatigue as a root cause of what they are experiencing. We continue to pursue diagnostic testing, but up to this point most test results indicate everything is normal and healthy. One of Hannah’s tests did reveal that she has thyroid antibodies (her number was borderline of normal), which means that her body is trying to attack her thyroid [We told her to stop doing that, but she hasn’t heeded our instruction 😉 ]. Our next step in evaluating Dawn is an adrenal stress index test, followed by a parasite test and a food sensitivity test. And Hannah probably will also require similar testing. In all of this, we are enjoying God’s goodness, and are wanting to rest in His perfect timing. We are encouraged as we have seen some good progress over the last few months (with more rest, and more intentional dietary supplementation), but we still have a ways to go.

News from PNG: We recently received news from PNG that the young Bena church is not currently meeting together because of some ongoing friction among some of the members. It is disheartening to hear such news, but we do understand that with immaturity and lack of a thorough understanding of the counsel of God, these type of setbacks will occur. The young believers need more exposure to God’s Word, more time to ingest His Word, and more time to put it into practice. They also need to practice the things of God that they do know and understand. We look forward to getting back to PNG to reestablish relationships and to come alongside the believers in real and relevant ways, with the purpose of continuing to plant & water God’s Word into their hearts & lives.

Enjoying God’s goodness,
Rich & Dawn