Dear Friends and Prayers:
Thanksgiving Day is all about giving thanks to our Maker, and we certainly have had a lot to be thankful for. We enjoyed a wonderful big meal with all Mike's new in-laws yesterday, and that was a special treat.
It is also refreshing to see all the outdoor decorations for the season - reminders that there is Someone to be thankful to for all the blessings that we enjoy as a nation! Of all of our American public holidays, Thanksgiving is the one that seems closest in character to its original intent. If there were some way to incorporate more thankfulness into the other 364 days of the year, things would change for the better!
When we first were making plans for our trip to the U.S., it seemed very unlikely that we would be able to travel as much as we have. But the Lord has been really blessing us. Our friend Pablo who took over my job in New Orleans in 2005 volunteered to drive us to Florida to visit friends. It was a great opportunity to spend time with him, and also visit some old friends from our church in New Orleans.
We also stayed with our new friends from a church near Sarasota who have visited us twice in Wales. They have a wonderful fellowship based on a farm, and when we got there late last week it just felt like home! They have a campsite out in this palmetto forest, and we enjoyed seeing lush vegetation that is totally different from our local woods!
It seems like forever since we left home, and are now counting the days to get back again. We have actually had to extend our trip for a week to get some unexpected dental work done for Gladys. Even in this the Lord has been so faithful in providing this as a donation. We would appreciate your prayers that everything goes well for her, and also for our dentist friends that are making this possible.
In all this has been a good time of touching bases with many people and renewing friendships and interest in our work in Wales. We realize what a privilege it is to be able to do what we do, and look forward to the many things the Lord still has in store for us. We are delighted to be working with so many other saints that He has been calling into prayer and putting into strategic places around the nations.
May you be encouraged in His wonderful grace,
Dick & Gladys
Friends and Prayers:
It has been a full two weeks, and God has been awesomely good to us. Here is Gladys with our oldest son Peter in southern California. You can imagine our joy at seeing him again after six years! He is super busy in his job, so we'll only get to see him once again this coming Sunday, but it is wonderful to be able to visit face to face and try to catch up on so many years. As big as he is now, it's hard to believe we ever really rocked him in our arms!
He is almost finished his three years of recruiting duty and ecstatic that this extremely demanding job is coming to an end. Later this month he finds out where he will be stationed next. He is hoping for Hawaii. Good choice!!
Meanwhile, Grace is enjoying her adventures in Ethiopia with Mercy Corps. She has had some very interesting experiences, and is getting a first-hand understanding of what life is like in such extreme conditions - scarcity of food and safe drinking water, and villages with nothing more than basic shelter. In one place she was the first white woman people had ever seen. And so even more than usual, she is a real magnet for kids, which she loves!
Here's a bit of her description. "It was about a 5 hour drive through beautiful mountains and villages full of people wearing the most colorful clothing. I think that Saturday is a major market day; it looked like everyone was at market. It was so colorful and masses of people barely moved an inch to make way for the car. The drive reminded me a bit of Guatemala, it was pretty breathtaking.
"This is the most remote place we have yet to stay. There are no hotels or even restaurants in the town. Kids crowded around the open gate to watch me for at least an hour. It's difficult to interact with them though due to the language barrier. They just smile at me until I'm sure their little faces go numb, and then if I get near them they let out a scream and all fifty kids taking off running. It's quite entertaining."
In stark comparison to the very dry and poor areas of Ethiopia, southern California lives in the lap of luxury! In the midst of these "economic hard times", supermarkets and stores are packed with people buying everything imaginable and freeways are teeming with countless cars. Life here in the "land of plenty" seems to rush on at a frenzied pace, with most people devoid of any sense gratitude to a bountiful Creator and oblivious to the desperate needs in the world around them. It is actually shocking.
This contrast brought to mind the words of Isaiah 25:7 that says, "And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations."
The bottom line however is that whether we live in poverty or plenty, we all breathe the same air, and live and die like all flesh. What really matters is if we allow Him to destroy the veil - if we have met and received Him as Savior. We all need Him more than life itself!
Isaiah continues in verses 8-9, "He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day:
" Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
We are starting to miss our home in Wales, but are so glad we can cry out to God and declare His word from wherever we are at the moment. Thank you Jesus!
With love in Jesus' name,
Dick & Gladys