In January 2005, we celebrated Mom’s life service in the Orlando area. She was loved by so many people there; in turn, they loved us through honoring Mom.
Being Mom’s primary caretaker was an honor … and … it was emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. Having never raised a child, I was suddenly parenting – my mother. The responsibility of “keeping her alive” was overwhelming at times. Once the dust began to settle, I noticed health issues of my own including severe acid reflux and depression. I began seeing a counselor but declined antidepressants.
Elisabeth and I continued getting together. She mentioned that each furlough they gather food, cleaners, medical supplies, and other things they might need the following four years. These items are packed in barrels and shipped to West Africa with other necessities. Rick built a large storage pantry in their home, but life stayed so busy, they usually just hunted for items when needed. I can still feel how my heart leapt as I thought, “I could unpack those barrels for her!” But, but, but… would I be courageous enough to go? When the Arnolds shared that they needed someone to set up their computers and a Wi-Fi system, Gregg and I decided to visit Senegal together to help them get re-settled.
The Arnolds’ home is a safe haven. In the evening, we would venture out; it felt like walking through a National Geographic magazine. The village people were welcoming and gracious, even giving us African names, Guy and Khadija Bathily. As we sat on a pretty floor mat in our adopted family’s house, eating with our hands from a common dish, we were overwhelmed by their friendship and generosity. I’m thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted God’s invitation to go to Senegal. I trusted God in a whole new way.
Two months later, we took our first of five trips to Arequipa, Peru, helping train Peruvians lead their church youth. I fell in love with the Peruvian translators and continue to keep in touch with several.
In December, Gregg’s brother, Doug, was diagnosed with melanoma. After several surgeries and a year of grueling treatment, he has remained cancer free. Thank You, God!