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Friday, December 22, 2006

Have a Blessed and Thanks-filled Christmas!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

Seasons greetings from historical Natchitoches, Louisiana! Founded in 1714, this is the oldest town in Louisiana, and is well known for its Christmas lighting display. It was a real blessing to see "For God so loved the world..." in huge letters near the center of the colorful display reflected in the river that runs through the middle of the quaint town.

This town is where our youngest son Dicky graduated from high school almost four years ago. We all thought at the time he would most likely never be back here, but he and his brother Mike are working here temporarily, so we came up to spent a few evenings with them. They work in the petroleum industry, Mike does computer mapping and Dicky is busy over Christmas break doing reports to consolidate information for tracts of land in preparation for negotiations and drilling.

Before our departure for Wales, the Lord spoke to us in many ways about how he would take care of our children if we would only obey His calling. Since that time it has been wonderful to see how faithfully He has made good on His promises. Here is Dicky above working on a report on his latest computer, which will serve him well in his career as an industrial designer. On the leftis Michael, working on a detailed map showing the tracts of land, ownership, and mineral rights, etc. It is a real blessing to see them working together, as they did also over the summer. Their boss invited us out to lunch yesterday with the whole crew, and had very complimentary things to say about each of them. Of course this made us both very proud of them, and thankful to the Lord for his gracious goodness.

We returned this afternoon to New Orleans where we have been staying in our daughter Grace's apartment with her roommate and her giant cat Moe. We moved here with Grace when we sold our home prior to moving to Wales, and she will stay here until she finishes her public health degree. Again it was by God's goodness that virtually no damage was done to their home by Hurricane Katrina last year. The eight feet of flood waters that stood here for three weeks almost reached the threshhold of her porch, but stopped just short. Had she lived on the ground floor, she would have lost everything, but again the grace of God was perfectly sufficient just as he promised us, and we are so very thankful for His faithfulness to us and our children.

It us a real joy to just be here with them, and spend time together, here and there, when and wherever we can. Our time will seem all too short here so we are treasuring every moment. Unfortunately our oldest son Peter was unable to get enough time off from his duties in the Marine Corps to make travel from San Diego worthwhile, so we hope to see him this coming year in Wales.

Even in this detail, we can appreciate in a small way how the Lord longs to have the fellowship with His children. By sending Jesus into the world he made provision for all to come to Him through simple faith in the completed work of Christ at Calvary. And yet countless thousands upon thousands are without hope in the world because they either haven't heard the Good News yet, or are too busy or too hardened and blinded by the cares of this world to understand His amazing grace. And so we pray that His Kingdom come, and revival break through and into every heart in need of His love.

We wish you every blessing this Christmas, and during the coming New Year!

Dick & Gladys


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Immediate answer to prayer in Louisiana!

Dear Friends & Prayers:

We've been back in the States for a week now and it seems like we just got here! It is SO GOOD to see our children again. Our daughter Grace just finished her school yesterday, and Dicky our youngest son had to work in Natchitoches in north Louisiana, so we took off Sunday after a brief visit with the three here. And is wonderful to see how the Lord has been blessing us already, and we are very thankful for His goodness!

For example, before leaving Wales I had been meaning to try and arrange for a car while here, renting one for the first week to go to Texas, but I just didn't get around to it. So early last Friday I spent a long time looking online for a rental, but found the prices way too high because I hadn't made an advance reservation. I racked my brain and tried to think where I could "beg, borrow or steal" a car, but to no avail. Then after breakfast with a friend, I walked out into the parking lot and prayed, "Lord, it would be so great if I could just not have to go through this scrounging a car, and someone would just call up and offer me one out of the blue."

Well, about an hour later my son called up to tell me that his girlfriend was not using her car, and she had asked him to ask us if we would be able use to it. Isn't that amazing? Indeed we serve and awesome God. Thank you Jesus!

Here I am sitting down by the Mississippi River early this morning by Audubon Park in New Orleans.When we still lived here, the river was one of my favorite places to come pray over the years, and I had many wonderful times with the Lord here. It's banks have been my outdoors "prayer closet" and it is a blessing be be here again. It's kind of like being in the chapel, and the Lord's presence is here just now with a blanketing sweetness like the morning fog. You're welcome to read about one of my times by the river here.

Yesterday we got back from a wonderful visit to East Texas with friends we have known since before we were married. We got acquainted when they were missionaries in Guatemala in 1976, and have recently moved to a large ranch, where they are manager/caretakers. The place has been somewhat neglected and so there are lots of jobs to be done. They could have used our help for a month fixing stuff, but I had a good time doing some plumbing and redesigning a small bridge out in the piney woods. The sign above isn't from their ranch, but I thought it was pretty nice!

But it was a blessing to visit with them and encourage them in this new venture. They live there with their disabled son, and it has not been an easy transition, so please pray for them! The folks around there need a move of God just as sorely as Wales and elsewhere.

Thank you for your interest and prayers,

In His love and service,

Dick & Gladys


Sunday, December 03, 2006

. . . for the healing of the nations.

Dear Friends & Prayers:

We can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown by. We will be driving to Bath, England on Wednesday, and then fly out of London Thursday and should arrive in New Orleans late that night. You can imagine how excited we are about seeing our kids so soon. We are so grateful that the Lord has been so very good to us!

This week has been full of blessings, and I hope I can say a lot in few words here! We were encouraged by a visit we received from two men that work with a relatively young organization based in Cardiff called Waleswide.org. Among their goals are to support church plants and strengthen churches in Welsh, bi-lingual and English language communities across Wales. They are working to encourage relationships and sharing between the many Christian groups and churches both large and small. And it was a real blessing to hear of their vision and their work, and they were very interested to hear of our work here as well.

In the time we've been here, we have found that are many small church groups, and some people move from one to another over the years. But there seems to be little meaningful cooperation among the ministers of the region. In the recent past there apparently was a good ministerial group that prayed together regularly, but that came to an uncomfortable end for some reason.

On Thursday we were praying with a friend that came to see the chapel for the first time. I went up into the pulpit and read Psalm 1 out loud, and when I finished, came back to verse 3 that says, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither..." When I re-read that verse, I was drawn to Revelations 22`;1 " And he shewed me a pure river of water of life .... and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

As I read that aloud, I realized that the body of Christ here is divided and disjointed just as were so many nations in times of old. And there came a wonderful annointing to pray that the Lord would work to unite believers here. Just as the last of the autumn leaves are falling from the trees around, we prayed that the leaves of the trees of life would fall upon the Church here and bring healing to hearts and relationships that have been damaged and divided here over the years.

Jesus has said in John 13:35 that "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." And so that is one of our prayer targets lately - that we the church can really learn to love and accept and honor one another as beloved of and redeemed by the Lord himself. Our desire is that His love in and through us will shine into a darkened and needy world.

We have been so very blessed here by the many wonderful friends the Lord has given us. Last night we had a good time sharing a delicious dinner, and then fellowship and worship together. Gladys is really gifted on the guitar, and our friends here have wonderful voices, so we just had a great worship jam, and before we knew it midnight was already past!

And then when we came home from church today, there was a mysterious package on our doorstep, with a stone on top to keep it from blowing around in the high winds we've been having. We took it inside, and found this colorfully wrapped box of nice things for us, with a card from some other friends just blessing us and showing their love for us. We are so very blessed to belong to the Body of Christ! Isn't this the way it should be for the Church? This is the love we long for others to know about and experience. This is why we pray and what we pray for.

Thank you praying with us in His great love,

Dick & Gladys


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