I just wanted to pass along an update from my brother, Chad and his family...
Our little family of 4 will not be able to observe Columbus Day this year, but will move from the 11th to the 13th of October. How can this be, you may be wondering--do we own some sort of time machine? Not exactly, but we will be traveling through time in a large winged metal tube at a high altitude to skip October 12th. And in the spirit of Mr. Columbus, we will be crossing an ocean, though at a much greater clip than his clippers ever could (OK, so maybe they weren’t clipper ships, but it makes for a better pun…).
That’s right—we are flying back to PNG in less than a week! We will be leaving the USA on Sunday the 11th (just shy of midnight from LA, to be exact), and will cross the international date line during our 14 ½- hour flight to Sydney, Australia, landing there the morning of the 13th! Then on to Brisbane, then Cairns (all in Australia) for a couple of nights. After 37-plus hours of travel (about 24 in planes and the rest in airports), we will try to catch a bit of extra sleep in Cairns before leaving for PNG on the morning of the 15th. By the beginning of the following week, Lord willing, we will be back in our village home again, ready to resume our ministry there!
Please pray for us as we travel. Although I think we’re now past the need for wearing bathrobes on the airplane (knock on wood), the challenges of transoceanic travel with 2 active boys (almost 5 and almost 2) still warrant some extra prayer for their parents! Add to that the usual adjustments and also for continuing strength and stamina as we leave the flat pavement and hit the uneven muddy mountain trails again.
We cannot leave the US without first acknowledging all of you and the incredible blessing you’ve been to us through these difficult circumstances through your prayers, support and encouragement.
To recap the situation for you, 7 months ago (in February), Chad began feeling some pain while we were in the village. This pain then worsened over the next several months despite taking a long course of several antibiotics. We were able to push through until the end of May, when we came out a bit early for a scheduled translation check of Romans (which went well, praise God) to see the doctor at our mission center. At that time, it was necessary for us to return to the US. The months of June and July were largely spent seeing doctors and looking for answers. During one of these visits, a small tumor “just happened to be” found in Chad’s bladder which was malignant. We praise God that he enabled the doctor to find and then remove it by surgery on July 1st.
Shortly after this first surgery, we were able to continue seeking answers for this mysterious pain. A neurosurgeon evaluated Chad and put him on some strong medications and steroids which led to no improvement and so we went back to our family doctor in Sanford. He then referred us to a specialist who “just happened to be” one of only 2 in the country and 4 in the world who has performed the type of nerve surgery needed to help Chad’s pain. He also “just happened to be” the only one in the world using a new robotic system to perform the surgery in a more non-invasive and precise manner. And then, he “just happened to be” located a 2 hours’ drive from where we’ve been staying!!! Do you see the “coincidences” just piling up one after the other here? Hmm, looks like the loving hand of God to us…
So after consulting with this specialist, we had (and still have) no answers to the cause, but now finally had a course of action to deal with the problem—surgery to stop a rogue nerve from firing in an endless cycle of pain. Early in August, Chad’s second surgical procedure, a nerve block, was more of a test to see how helpful the main surgery might be. Although results were inconclusive (and somewhat painful), we were convinced that we should still proceed with the main nerve surgery on Aug. 24th.
When Chad underwent this 3rd surgery of the summer, he was one of only 200 in the world to have it, and only the 32nd patient to undergo this doctor’s specific robotic nerve microdissection and cauterization to stop the pain. And we are pleased to tell you that the surgery was a success in ending the constant pain!! Wow, what a gift from God that has been!
Chad’s fourth and final surgery in the space of 2 months (the beginning of Sept.) was on his right knee, which had been injured back in April. The arthroscopic procedure cleaned up some damaged cartilage behind his kneecap and also took out some torn pieces of meniscus. And that surgery has been an overall success, too, with just some exercise needed to continue to rehab and strengthen the knee and lower back and core. These exercises are beginning to pay off as Chad feels progressively better on a daily basis.
Though we would never choose to go through an ordeal like this again, God has graciously brought us through this, and our family is ready to sacrifice October 12th this year and maybe a few hours of rest along the way in our eagerness to rejoin our co-workers and friends in Toboland.
Enjoy Columbus Day without us, and you’ll hear from us on the other side!!
Chad, Janeene, Elijah, & Zekey