Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update after St. Louis

We were on the road over the weekend, leaving Sunday afternoon for St. Louis for Jack's appointment with the specialist. The trip went well. The Dr. was really nice guy who actually has been in the part of the world we were living in, doing some research with vaccines, he even knew where the capital city of Papua was and stuff like that.


His initial suspect is some kind of a parasite, so he started Jack on a funky, expensive drug as a trial, to see if it works to kill the parasite. He's not positive yet, but he is doing some tests to be sure. Beyond that, he does agree that Jack is underweight and he's doing some blood work to see if Jack has any deficiencies at all. He felt like, if the medicine didn't work, we couldn't find a parasite or if the blood tests came back clear, that jack would likely then have what's called Toddlers Diarrhea, which is bascially iritable bowel syndrome for kids. It's somehting that Jack would hopefully grow out of, but it's also an 'umbrella' diagnosis, being something that isn't really conclusive as to what is causing the problem. The Dr. wants to see Jack again in early summer to see how his growth is going.


So, we were pretty happy, but obviously hoping for a more conclusive diagnosis or idea. We may still have some more checking to do. We'll see.


For us as a family, as of right now, we still have no big plans as to what comes next. We have moved things around a  bit more in Bethany's mom's house so that we can stay sane a few more months here if need be. We were all living in one room, the four of us Potters and we were sleeping terribly, all hearing each other in the night.  Thanks to our ultraflexible mom for being willing to have her home overtaken!  We are talking with various folks in our mission who work in the states at our training centers to see what might be available for us for the next few years.  Once we know something concrete, we'll let you all know. 


Thanks for all your prayers lately, especially as we have fought sickness after sickness.  It seems we are all healthy again and are enjoying the first days of spring.  Soon the dogwoods in mom's front yard will burst forth with blossoms, the grass will turn green, the tulips will pop out of the ground in vibrant color and the world will look new again.  Praise God for the creativity he had in creating seasons!




Friday, March 21, 2008

Some News

Hi Guys,


In case you don’t here too much from us these next couple of days I wanted to update you on some news.


The not so nice news is that Bethany spent most of last night/this morning (Thursday/Friday) in the ER with a really bad case of stomach problems. We’re not sure where she got the illness but it hit her as hard as when she was sick in Papua. She’s stable now and has slept the entire day. Be praying that she really recovers and that no one else gets it. It’s been easy to take care of the boys but I’m still feeling worn down myself after last weeks illnesses. We head to St. Louis on Sunday afternoon so please be praying that we’re all feeling well enough for that.


Second piece of news is much better. We bought a used 2000 Ford Windstar van on Wednesday. It’s really nice and has some really fun/helpful details. It was just in the right price range and we’re thankful that the Lord led us to a great vehicle in time for our trip to see the Dr. in St Louis! Thank you to Mom Stroud for being so flexible in letting us borrow her car till know, but man does it feel good to have our own vehicle again!


Ok, that’s the news for now.


Joel for the Potter 4

Saturday, March 08, 2008

An Important Update

Good Morning from cool and somewhat snowy Missouri,


As I sit here this morning, I find it hard to grasp the fact that we're back in Missouri and even just had 8" of late winter snow that's slowly melting outside. This is a setting that I never imagined myself being in, at least not for several years until a furlough, but none the less, here we are.


By now, you surely know the reasons for our unexpected return to the US. Jack's health concerns had boggled our minds and exhausted our resources both financially and emotionally, as we tried to find answers as to what his problem is. In fellowship with our field and church leadership, we decided to come home for a medical furlough to be able to seek help for Jack in a much less stressful and far more familiar environment. Along with that purpose, our field leadership also recognized the critical need for Bethany especially to have some rest and recovery from what had turned out to be an incredibly stressful and painful 6 months on the field. She was at a place where she genuinely was needing time away and so this was also a factor in our medical furlough.


It's been almost three weeks since we returned and so far things have been productive on the end of getting more answers regarding Jack's health; we've established a new family practitioner (because of an insurance change to a new medical network) as well as set appointments with a pediatric gastroenterologist and an allergist for future dates. And while we're pleased to have been able to set up appointments so quickly, we at the same time have no idea how long the process of really having understanding as to what the problem is, will take. At this point the appointment with the gastro. Dr is set for the 24th of this month. We anticipate that it will lead to more appointments.


But another critical factor determining the length of our stay here in the US has also become even more of determiner. As I said earlier, Bethany was extremely exhausted and worn out when we returned home and has not been able to work through, on her own, the struggles we had in Indonesia these past months. And at the same time, I also realize that I have some personal struggles to reconcile all that has happened in these last 6 months, in my own thinking. So much of what we experienced just doesn't make sense. Our whole family needs time to recover and heal and then a time of stability. And with all things that are part of emotional and spiritual wounds, knowing the time it takes to healthily recover is not something that can be quickly or easily determined.


I realize though through all of this, the fact that what I am becoming as a believer in Christ, is far more important than what I am doing or have done for Him. And so, while I can't totally reconcile all those happenings, I can understand how the Father is using it to shape me. But, even with that understanding, not a day goes by that I don't often experience sadness or frustration or confusion.


Another and a final factor that is determining how long we will be here is our current financial status. In short, we are in a place where we have been forced, due to many circumstances totally beyond our control, to be in a state of debt, significant debt. Bethany and I from 1 month into our marriage, have always lived according to a tight pre-determined budget and have been able to live debt free since then. But during the last year, from very unexpected taxes to unexpected moving and setup costs and then another unexpected move in Indonesia as well as an expensive medical trip to Singapore and finally our return home, we are now in a place where we must consider every financial decsion with so much care and evaluate what we do so that we can pay off this debt to both our credit card, as well as an equal amount to the very gracious field of Indonesia and also to our family.


So, to keep this email from becoming any longer, we have made the decision, the very hard decision, to step off of the field of Indonesia. We feel that at this point in time, it would not be wise for us to return under these circumstances. Our family needs to recover from actual sickness, as well as from emotional struggles and exhaustion, and we don't feel it would be wise to accumulate more debt to return to Indonesia at this time.  Returning represents tremendous stress on our family as a whole. Please understand that this decision was made with the complete aggreement and counsel of both our church and field leadership as well as many other wise people who we've sought counsel from.


But, let me make it abundantly clear, WE ARE NOT IN ANY WAY RESIGNING FROM FULL TIME MINISTRY OR NEW TRIBES MISSION. We still are confident that the Lord will use us in a role here in the United States. New Tribes has three training centers that have a whole host of personnel needs and each one of those positions fills a role that is vital for our purpose of seeing unreached people groups, reached. We have always talked about how we believe that this ministry that we seek to be a part of, looks like a wheel on a bike, there is a hub in the middle (we would call that, the church), vital and absolutely necessary spokes that support the rim (the support roles both here in the US as well as on the field), and finally the tire, the part of the wheel that touches the ground (which we see as the tribal teams reaching the unreached where they live). When we were in Indonesia, we were part of those 'spokes' and now as we seek to serve here in the US, we'll again be spokes, absolutely necessary parts of this work!


We are at this time seeking where and when the Lord would have us step into this new role as a family. Not an hour goes by that we don't shake our heads in amazement that this is where we really are, but we have to tenaciuosly believe that our God will work all of these things out for His good! And again, let me retstate, we are still serving with NTM, only now, it will be in a different location.


Please Pray with and for us! We have so many unknowns on our plate right now. We'll obviously continue to constantly keep you updated on what's happening and how you can specifically pray with us.


We love you and can't do this easily without your support.


Joel for the Potters


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

update after the first doctor's apt.

We had the first doctors visit since coming home this past Friday.  It went well and we feel confident that this doctor will be a good one for us as a family.  She listened through Jack's history, agreed with the doctor from Singapore that her first thought was Celiac Disease, and then gave us some things to do for him in the meantime between now and his specialists appointment later this month.  She also let us know that she thinks the specialist may want to re-do some of the tests we had done in Singapore so we'll be prepared for that, should it come up. 


Some friends in St. Louis have opened up their home for us to stay with them while we are in St. Louis, so that is a praise!  We may have use of a church van for that trip as well, but we aren't sure quite yet.  God has also provided some bonus gifts financially right now to help with the extra expenses we have.


So overall we have had good news regarding Jack and  his medical care here.  Please continue praying for us though as we try to be patient for the specialists appointment. 

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Photos from the birthday party

Here are some pictures from Jack's birthday party yesterday. We all had a great time, especially Jack, as this was really the first year he "got" that it was his birthday and all that entails!