In all honesty, I expect hard times. Yet, up until this week, most things have gone so amazingly well that I was somehow hoping that we would escape the trials. It’s okay to snicker here. I don’t really know how I could be that naive. This week proved that tough times will come and will go, and the Lord will show us mercy and blessing.
This last week started with a lovely time of attending the church of some dear friends from SAT-7, Jane and Steve Williams. It was an intimate time of worship and fellowship. This was followed by a nice lunch together with the Williams. Steve wasn’t feeling well that day and we left them with wishes of rest and comfort.
Monday started with a sense of accomplishment in getting our home in order after the move. Most things of urgent need had been put away and only a few boxes and totes remained in some rooms. I also had a sense of peace about getting acclimated to our new Cypriot surroundings. It had been 7 weeks on the island and we were making it. Not a bad start. We were also thankful for the Lord’s provision of a home, car, health and safe travels.
So, then, Monday really begins to reveal itself with the inklings of a week of trials. A project that I’ve been assigned to complete at SAT-7, which should have been quite simple, begins to get stubborn. Also, I found it curious that Jane and Steve aren’t in the office and I inquire about that. It is inferred that Steve really isn’t very well physically. More to come later on this. At home, later, Sarah and I begin what becomes a week-long discussion about the state of our finances. There are a few things that we would like to buy for our home that we decide to wait on (a microwave being one of them).
The week continues with various, trivial discomforts. Delays at work, another piece of financial information that gives us pause, and our confidence starts to erode just a bit. It happens that way, doesn’t it? The enemy patiently chips away at a seemingly impenetrable wall that is really only a facade. Pretty soon, we stand there like the little dutch boy. The feeling of helplessness is very surprising. How could I get to this point? I have very clear memories of how the Lord has blessed us. How he has delivered us when all seemed impossible. He has been gracious to provide a vision, very recently, that illustrates how all we need to do is hold tight to Him and He will bring us through. Yet, here I was beginning to get wet.
It turns out that our health insurance is almost twice what we had budgeted for the year and there is no explanation for it. Also, a surprising amount of large deposits are required for non-EU nationals (i.e. “foreigners”) to set up any type of service like internet, water, electricity, etc. Oh, those weren’t in the budget either, because these are new deposits that are required in Cyprus and no one at SAT-7 knew of them to tell us ahead of time. We find out that it apparently takes more than 3 weeks for a check to clear here from the states and there are incredible fees at the Cyprus bank to process the check (we are talking over 75 euros). Yet, the check we wrote from our U.S. bank account to ourselves here in Cyprus left our U.S. account weeks ago and we don’t know when the funds will be available. I’m not sure where the money is (floating around in space), but it isn’t here in Cyprus. We can certainly deal with this, but it requires some creativity and planning. These little trials by themselves could be managed, but they begin to add up.
Another full-day delay in my project at work on Monday. I was starting to hope for the weekend and it was only Tuesday. I wasn’t liking Tuesday much. In fact, it turned out to be a day that I would like to take a mulligan for. Yes, it was full of little trials, but then it proved to be much more than that. Steve and Jane came into the office. Steve walks in to talk to me like he has done many times in the last 8 weeks. You see, Steve has been a wonderful friend, already. He has made many special efforts to see that I’m surviving. He called it his afternoon constitution – stopping by to check on me. So, in walks Steve, this time looking weak and sick. He tells me that after an MRI, the doctors have discovered a tumor on his pancreas. He says that they are leaving Cyprus for Aberdeen, Scotland the next morning. Pancreatic cancer is a deadly cancer to get. It will be at the very best, many, many weeks before he can return. We both understand that there is much uncertainty in this. We pray. We ask for healing and comfort. We share a few manly tears and he leaves. I pray more. “Why?” Now, I hate this week. It is no longer a mildly irritating week.
The week continues its previously trivial pace with an added weight. The little dutch boy wants to stop trying to salvage the wall. This is when the Lord begins to remind us of His love for us. When we give up, and look up to Him and say, “I can’t do this.” He responds with a way through. We were reminded that we aren’t alone. It’s very much like Elijah. Our perception was beginning to take hold as reality. Yet, He is faithful to show us the truth.
We were reminded that, indeed, we aren’t alone. We were invited to dinner with Terry and Jackie Ascott on Thursday. Terry is the SAT-7 founder and CEO. It was a nice time and they are a lovely couple. Then dinner with some new friends on Friday. It starts to seem possible to continue. Then, the Lord graces us with a bombshell of blessing. The Muncie Alliance Church kids sent our family a care package. In it were many special things for the kids. For Calvin, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, a card game, fun workbooks, water guns and much more. For Elisa, markers, workbooks, stickers, a jump rope and much more. They squealed and grinned from ear-to-ear as they opened each item. Most touching were the letters and cards made for our kids. The friends that they missed so very much, remembered them. They loved on them.
For me this was the Lord’s provision. You see, we were noticing that both kids, but especially Calvin were not quite themselves. We would ask Calvin if he was doing ok. His answer would always be a quick, “yeah.” But, we didn’t buy it. He, especially, didn’t seem fine. We also noticed that he has developed a nervous tick lately. It is clear that the major transitions the kids have experienced have taken their toll on him. Yet, as parents, we have struggled with how to deal with this. So, when they began to open the gifts from the MAC kids, the joy returned to them both. It was a deep down, true-to-the-core joy. It was love. To know that even though we are thousands of miles away, they aren’t forgotten and are loved, made all the difference.
In our gift box, were also two pounds Alliance World Coffee. This was a special treat for Sarah and I – a little piece of home in a cup. Now, dinners, gifts and coffee can’t change the trials of the last week. They can’t make Steve healthy. But, the Lord knew that we needed to know that He loves us. We needed, this week, to know that we aren’t alone. We needed to know that we don’t have to stop the flood on our own. In fact, it isn’t our job to stop the flood at all. We are simply to say, “Yes, Lord. May your will be done.”
We have sadness that our friend is sick. We have frustration that not all things are working out perfectly. We have some concern about our finances. But, we also have a God who has provided every need. We have a God who has already claimed victory over death. And, He is a God who loved us before we knew Him. And, He continues to love us even when don’t get it quite right. He is our God and we are His children. Today, we know this!