Hello family and friends,
It has been a little while since we last wrote to you. We hope that you have had an amazing summer filled with many memories. I find that generally, summer tend to be much slower than the rest of the year—many workers go back to their home countries for a time and programs and ministries are on hold till the fall. The seasonal switch from summer to fall is when everything picks back up again. However, Roni and I have found ourselves insanely busy this past summer. We have enjoyed the travel that has come with new ministry opportunities and have also found great value in resting when we are home before the next travel comes.
One ministry opportunity that we were a part of is a Worship camp that happens every other year. Roni was asked to teach guitar and I joined in the seminars and other courses that they had throughout the day. It was a very intensive week with lots of teaching. There were over 140 people who attended this camp many of whom were teenagers or young adults. It was so neat to see so many locals come together to learn and grow in worship. I was one of a few foreigners who were able to attend. This was the first opportunity I have had to join a local camp. I was honored to be invited into that space.
We joined one class that was talking about grief and worship—a topic that I have never heard talked about here. At the end of the class, we were able to break into small groups to discuss what grief has looked like in our own lives. The lady who taught this class is a pastor of a local church; in their fellowship, they have built incredible relationships with one another. When they know someone is going through a difficult time, sometimes they need time to cry alone or someone to sit and cry and pray with them. To know your church body in such a special way is so beautiful. I felt really impacted after hearing this class—especially in this season of grief I am currently in.
Only a few weeks after our friend passed away, I found out that a family friend of mine in Canada had also passed away. I have experienced so much death in the past year. Over ten people I know have passed away in these last twelve months. It feels like just as I am processing someone’s death, another person I have a relationship with passes away. As you can imagine missing events like funerals never gets easier.
Please keep me in your prayers as I grieve the loss of my friends and family members.
Roni along with a couple of other teammates have made trips into the earthquake zone. They were able to enter one of the cities that was hit the worst—there is nothing left in this city!
Since the series of earthquakes, they have started building shelters for the people who have survived and stayed in their city (see photo). The men on our team helped build seven shelters in one day! The heat in this city is almost unbearable yet people are working day after day to help with what is needed.
The following day, our team visited some contacts and were able to pray together as well as hear what the current needs of these families are. Some of the families already know the Lord others do not, but they were able to pray together. Roni told me that they all really sensed the Holy Spirit in these visits.
During their visits, they heard devastating stories:
- One lady said it was a miracle that her and her husband survived as they heard the people around them screaming.
- Another family shared how they lost over a hundred relatives.
- One man was rescued from the rubble by a family member and taken by ambulance to a hospital. Later his relatives went looking for him. Not knowing where he was or even which hospitals were still standing, they finally found out what happened. He was taken by ambulance but only to the hospital parking lot where he was left to die like so many others.
There are still so many people who are grieving and have experienced more trauma than we can ever imagine. These are just a few stories from our team’s trip, with so many more stories that we have not yet heard.
Please pray for the survivors of the earthquakes. Pray for the workers who are there faithfully serving. I believe that this type of work can be very traumatizing so please pray for people’s mental health.
Our friends who we visit in a nearby province recently shared a beautiful testimony, which I wanted to pass on to you. A local woman, who was attending their fellowship, had a husband who was supportive of her faith but he himself did not have the same belief. The family moved away to a different place, and on a recent visit, our friends told us that her husband has since come to know the Lord! They had the opportunity to baptize this lady’s husband. God is drawing people to himself in ways we can not often see with our human eyes. How beautiful is that? Sometimes we even get to be a part of what the Lord is doing in people’s lives, and what an honor that is.
Please pray for this family that they will continue to learn more about what being a disciple of Jesus looks like. We would love prayer for our friends who continue to serve and pastor in their province.
Roni’s Visa: We have finished and sent in his visa application for Canada. When we started his application earlier this year the wait time was sixteen months. After we sent in his application the wait dropped down to thirteen months. We were thrilled to hear that by this time next year, we could have a result from his visa. After years of trying to come to Canada together, we are hopeful that this visa could be accepted.
Sue’s Visa: At the same time we were finishing up Roni’s visa we were starting my visa process. Every time I have gone through the visa process it’s been different. Different papers are required each year, interviews are never the same, and wait times vary. You never know what to expect. As I have mentioned in previous updates the visa situations here are getting worse—we have heard of family visas being rejected recently as well, which is my visa type.
We are reminded (through the stress of visas) to trust the Lord. I keep hearing Him say “But, do you trust me?” When I lived in Canada I never knew the struggles of visas. I could not imagine what it feels like to not make future plans because you don’t know if you will still be in your host country.
We would love continued prayer in this season of waiting for visas. So much unknown, yet, at the same time I want to begin with plans for both here and future plans for our Canada trip.
We are so incredibly blessed by each of you! Thank you for taking the time to read how the Lord is moving here in the Middle East. We would love to hear from you too!
Roni & Sue