As we close out the year 2014, we still have no medical answers for the blisters that have plagued my body for nearly two years now. Last January was just the beginning of a long series of doctor visits and laboratory visits for extensive blood work, including a biopsy and blood work for cancer. Two weeks ago the allergist/immunologist that I was seeing told us that she has competed all the tests that she knows to do, leaving her results inconclusive- clinically speaking nothing lines up for a proper diagnosis. As for now, I am back under the care of the dermatologist and I am drinking plenty of coconut oil, which seems to be the only thing (and much prayer) that keeps the blisters to a minimum.
One of my greatest challenges this year was losing weight. In six months, I lost 60 pounds. I went from a size 12-14 to 4-6. I am praising God for my success and for the fact that I have been able to keep it off and actually have lost a little more since meeting my goal. One might ask, "Was it a greater challenge then the blisters?" No, but as the time continued and the information from the doctors gave no answers; the only thing that I could do about the blisters was, and still is, trust the Lord. And yes, trusting Him from day to day is a challenge for the flesh; but I have trusted Him before when things did not make since to me and have found Him faithful.
Through the later part of winter and early spring, we had the opportunity to minister to several young families in our community including Josef and Jana, a young Christian man working in Brno; Jarek, Alena's husband; Lenka, my English student; and many other friends, as well as acquaintances. The weather remained mild during our winter months enabling Jeff and Brother Reaves to distribute tracts and booklets here in Brno and also in Olomouc. James, David, and I were given another opportunity to speak with the 9th grade students at the Modrice Middle School. They have many questions, but it is always difficult to get them to share their thoughts and beliefs; whereas, our boys can continue a conversation with much confidence in the Lord they love and serve.
The death of a young family man brought much discouragement and sorrow at the beginning of summer. We had the opportunity to minister to his family at Christmas time of 2013, when he was without work because the cancer destroying his body was no longer in remission. At that time, Jeff was able to share the gospel with him. As a result of this man's death (or it appears to be the reason) several of our visitors, including Milada, Mirek, and Alena stopped coming to services. We are praying that it is only temporary.
Our members were faithful to services during the summer months, with the exception of a few holidays. The children continue to encourage us with the scriptures they memorize and their curiosity towards the scriptures. Jeff celebrated his 53rd birthday in July and we celebrated 32 years of marriage. In August, we had the opportunity to attend another missionary's family camp. With much encouragement and iron-sharpening-iron time, we quickly realized that the three days was much too short.
Once again, September brought the starting days of school, family camp in Slovakia, final days for cookouts, garden clean-up, ministry opportunities, and everyday colds and allergies. James started his senior year of high school and David, his 9th grade year. School has been another exciting component of our year of adventures and challenges. Studying geometry, physics, algebra and trigonometry all at the same time has my head going in circles; but James and David seem to being handling it, along with piano lessons and the many other activities they have going on at any given moment in time.
As I write this letter, it is sometimes difficult to comprehend that James will be graduating in the spring of 2015 and returning to the United States for college, possibly in autumn. James just turned 16 years old in November, so he may need to wait before starting. He loves programming; therefore he is looking into a degree in computer science. Praise God! We will still have David with us for a few more years, but the thoughts of the "Empty nest" has crossed Jeff's and my minds and entered into our conversation several time over the past year as we begin preparation for James.
Word and photos from our daughters show us that they enjoyed life this year in Colorado and in serving the Lord. Our grandchildren are growing up so fast and we just do not get to communicate or see them as much as we would like. We are so grateful for Skype, email, and the many other means of social media. We think about them often - Lydia, our young lady; Lilibeth, our princess; Eliana, our blondie; and Elijah, our superman, who turned 1 year old in October.
November and December, busy times here in the Czech Republic, but this year we decided to take life slowly, enjoy the peace that only the Lord can give and celebrate the holidays, both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, with just our family. It was truly a blessing. We did celebrate David's 14th birthday with friends, which is always a blessing.
Thank you for your many cards, gifts and encouraging words and most importantly thank you for your prayers, support and faithfulness.