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So Close, Yet So Far Away

 

Visa Update

As we mentioned in our last blog, the next hurdle we needed to overcome for our South Africa visa was finding a place to perform the required TB chest x-rays. After every door we tried to push on seemed to close, we finally decided to ask God what we should do (funny how we can try everything in our own strength and only engage God about the situation when everything we do fails). Well, we prayed together, and God told Todd the name of a hospital and Jen the name of a health clinic. We decided to contact the health clinic first. As it turns out, the clinic did not do x-rays, but referred them to the hospital that God told Todd. But, because we obtained a referral to the hospital from the clinic, we were able to get the chest x-rays at a significant discount. It is awesome how God provided each of us with a piece of the puzzle, and brought it all together!

Sometimes the closer we get to completing a task, the further away it appears we are, especially when things are not happening in our timing. We have one last requirement to fulfill, and that is to obtain international health insurance. We do have a couple of leads. We are just awaiting God's provision to make that purchase. Please do keep this in prayer, as we need to see the provision come within the next couple of months or we will need to redo the background checks, physicals, and x-rays.

We had not anticipated being in the United States as long as we have. As a result, we have made the decision to remain with our families for the holiday season. That means that our estimated time for returning to South Africa will be sometime in January or early February.

What's been happening in our lives

The morning of Monday, October 9, greeted us with a text message from Jen's sister saying, "We are alright." We were unsure of the message's meaning until Todd received a phone call from a friend of his in Florida asking about the fires. That prompted a turning on of the television to see what was going on. While we were a 20-30 minute drive from the fires, the sky in our area was filled with smoke and ash was falling. Stores were sold out of respiratory masks (N95 and P100 masks are recommended when trying to protect from breathing in smoke). Parking lots were filled with people who had fled the fire areas. The hotel where we had spent our wedding night was on fire, and ultimately burned to the ground. An estimated 3000 homes were lost in Santa Rosa alone, and that does not include businesses. Some of our friends were among those who lost homes during the fires. It took approximately 2 weeks to extinguish the fires.

We had a couple opportunities to volunteer at one of the evacuation shelters close to our home. Many of the evacuation shelters have now closed, and places, including our home church (to donate click here), have become resource distribution centers. While some resource distribution centers have seen few to no fire survivors, others have seen a number of them. Organizations such as Samaritan's Purse are helping people sift through the ashes of what used to be their homes to locate any surviving items. Churches are adopting families to help get them back on their feet. Many survivors are staying with family or friends, but others are sleeping in their vehicles, and possibly even on the streets. There is much work to be done, and people will be requiring assistance for some time.

One good thing that has come out of all of this tragedy is the fact that many of the churches have started working together to meet the needs of fire survivors. They are coordinating with each other and have put aside denominational differences to love people. Forty churches gathered at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds for a time of prayer, worship, teaching, and to find ways to be involved. We pray that the unity continues even after the needs of the fire survivors have been met.

On a lighter note, Todd celebrated another year of life during October. Time was spent with our families enjoying some of the scenery at Point Reyes National Seashore. If you ever have the opportunity to pay Point Reyes a visit, it is well worth it! Lunch and dinner were part of the day's adventure, followed by one of Todd's favorite desserts, strawberry shortcake!

What God has been teaching us

Many people are familiar with at least some aspects of Abraham's life. Abraham believed God's promise of a son coming forth from his loins and growing into a multitude of people. His faith that God would keep His promise resulted in Abraham being credited with righteousness (see Genesis 15:6). Twenty-five years later he saw the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise with the birth of Isaac. One would think that Abraham seeing the fulfillment of that promise would also be the fulfillment of the credited righteousness. But is wasn't! James 2:21-23 tells us that the statement, :"Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness" was not fulfilled until he was put in the position where he needed to sacrifice his son Isaac, the child of promise. Receiving what we are promised by God does not fulfill our credited righteousness. Our credited righteousness is fulfilled when there is a possibility that the promised thing could be taken away from us and we still believe. Abraham knew that the promise of his seed becoming as numerous as the stars in the sky was to come forth through Isaac. He therefore reasoned that if Isaac was to be sacrificed that God must be able to raise him from the dead (see Hebrews 11:17-19). Sometimes we see the first part of a promise from God come to pass and hold onto it so tight that we do not step into the righteousness that God has for us and see the fulfillment of the rest of the promise.

What do you need to sacrifice so you can step into your credited righteousness and see the remainder of God;s promise to you come to pass?

Prayer points

  • For the survivors of the Santa Rosa fires, the families who have lost loved ones, and the  efforts to rebuild
  • That the unity of the churches would grow strong during the fire relief efforts, and would continue long after the fire relief is complete.
  • For those affected by the natural disasters around the world: The United States, Mexico, Caribbean , Southeast Asia, and others.
  • Our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus
  • We quickly wrap up the remaining items for our South African visa
  • For God's provision so we can complete the South Africa visa requirements
  • For favor with the South African consulate, and that we would receive approval for a 3 year visa.
  • Rain for the Western Cape of South Africa.  They have received some rain recently, but not near enough to deliver them from the extreme drought they have been in.
  • That we would fulfill everything that God has for us to do during our time in the United States.
  • Whatever God lays on your hearts!

Did you know?

We have added teachings to our website. The audio versions are in mp3 format so you can download them for free and listen to them on your phone. Check them out!

Click below to watch our latest video teaching titled, "What's Eating You?"

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