Hello! from IOWA. We hope this greeting finds YOU healthy and virus-free. Just as this is an unexpected time for everyone, this is hardly how we envisioned the second half of our sabbatical time to be spent. As MH4H sent us on sabbatical January 2, 2020, we have missed being connected with you all.

While attending a church service in Tennessee the second Sunday of March, the main theme of the sermon sparked a memory of when our kids were young. We had a cassette tape that we played over and over again of a dramatization of the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20). In the part of the story where the angel approaches the shepherds in the field, the angel called out, “Fear not.” The shepherds on this audio cassette reacted, “AAAHHHH!!!” The angel encouraged the shepherds again with a bit more determination, “Fear not.” Again, the shepherds responded, “AAAAHHHH!!!” The angel, NOW a bit irritated, replied, “What part of FEAR NOT are you NOT understanding?… Never mind, listen up.”

So the sermon three weeks ago addressed the need to not be fearful of the current events that were upon us. That continued message was shared this week during an online service from Michigan as the pastor began by saying we must choose FAITH over fear. AND … that we should not get TOO accustomed to ‘going’ to church in our pajamas!

Sprinkled quite liberally throughout scripture, these words are found….”Do not fear”, “do not be afraid”, “do not give way to fear”, “do not be anxious”, “cast all your anxiety on him”, “don’t be alarmed”, “do not worry”, “do not lose heart or be afraid”, “do not be fainthearted”, “do not be terrified”. (Google “do not fear in the bible” and see where to find these references.)

GO to scripture, READ, FIND these words for yourself. REMIND yourself of ALL these occasions people had reason to be afraid and God gave encouragement and comfort with this assurance. We have this SAME assurance today, all day, tomorrow, all day. Do not fear.

As you see the world in crisis, it is fitting to lament over this very unprecedented time. Lament flips to HOPE because God shows up and is present with you by the power of the Holy Spirit. And oh! how important to keep HOPE during this time. Our patience will be tested. Our FAITH will be tested.

Kinda seems as though some of you may now find yourselves in a similar ‘sabbatical’ mode. How are you spending your time?

We have reflected, regrouped, reloaded, and now, maybe we will be challenged even more to do these things all over again.

We have been from ‘sea to shining sea’, seeing the sunrise over the Atlantic (above) and the sunset over the Pacific (below).
We have enjoyed a tremendous amount of the beauty of the United States of America including an up-close and personal moment with this Florida gator. After the fact, we learned if you are ever chased by an alligator, you should run in a zig-zag pattern as they can’t see straight ahead. Really good to know! “Fear not!”
We arrived at our ‘home away from home’ in Tennessee the evening that a monster tornado demolished a chunk of the Nashville area. About an hour from where we were staying was a hard hit location.
We had the privilege of serving as part of the relief effort. We were able to assist a Nashville area restaurant by serving burritos to other relief workers and help organize and distribute piles of donations that had been given for the benefit of people who had lost everything. Fear not, God will care for you in many ways during a time of need!
A plank from a wooden dock floated to shore on East Lake Okoboji after a light windstorm. This goose had always wanted to try his skill at “stand-up paddle boarding”.
And then striking a YOGA pose.
The performance came to an end. His audience all left!
After several early mornings of noticing the unusual behavior of this male cardinal, we had to again, google, “why do cardinals repeatedly fly into a glass window?” This was the explanation…

“This is a problem that is most common in the spring as male birds are establishing and defending territories. The male sees his reflection in the window and thinks it is a rival trying to usurp his territory. He flies at the window to try and make the rival leave. Stopping this behavior can be difficult. Covering the window is one option, however, in most cases, the bird will just find a new window and start again. Another option is to put a mirror out in the yard in a place where the male should find it, and let him fight his phantom rival out there away from your window!”

So, we just make the most of his quirky ways and wake up early each morning to the sound of this cardinal fighting his phantom rival. Maybe HE should ‘fear not!’

The beavers are already going stir-crazy from COVID-19 quarantine. The expression, “Busy as a beaver” is used for good reason. OH! if we could all be so industrious, especially NOW!
This is the office door of the ‘Beaver Boss’. 🙂
Does this have anything to do with “social distancing”?
A new career in food service could be in sight. Well, maybe not!
Our son, Michael, with his wife, Brittany, pregnant with Liam and holding Essie in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our granddaughter, Ivy, and our grandson, Oliver, were visiting from Spencer, Iowa. We are in our usual practice of communicating with our family the same way we would as if we were in Haiti, using Facetime, sending photos and messages. We must say that this is a uniquely, awkward time to be ‘homeless’. A bit inconvenient right now to be perpetual house guests. 🙁 BUT we are grateful for a beautiful place to stay during this time. Fear not! God provides!

Four month old granddaughter, Lila, being held by her dad, Jonathan, in Holland, Michigan. Thankful for the technology of being able to stay in touch, in the usual way.

Choose FAITH over fear. Beware, keep your eyes open and choose FAITH. This leads to peace. Don’t make the angel ask you, “What part… of fear not… are you not understanding?” 🙂

PSALM 91 God Our Protector
1)Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, 2) can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” 3) He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. 4) He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you. 5) You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day 6) or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in daylight. 7) A thousand may fall dead beside you, ten thousand all around you, but you will not be harmed. 8) You will look and see how the wicked are punished. 9) You have made the Lord your defender, the Most High your protector, 10) and so no disaster will strike you, no violence will come near your home. 11) God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go. 12) They will hold you up with their hands to keep you from hurting your feet on the stones. 13) You will trample down lions and snakes, fierce lions and poisonous snakes. 14) God says, “I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord. 15) When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them. 16) I will reward them with long life; I will save them.”

3 Comments

  1. Laura Carlentini

    Loved your message and it was fun when you talked about the cassette tape you had as I remembered your store where I bought a lot of my cassette for backup music and Craig was always so helpful in ordering them for me. I loved that store and getting to know you and your family! God has done a great work in all our lives and thru this Covid 19 I believe he is doing an even greater work! I am so thankful to have you in Haiti with the beautiful Haitians. I look forward to maybe seeing you before you head back and this social distancing is over. I will be traveling again to Haiti God will with our granddaughter Stella. That is my prayer!!!!! God bless you both!

    Reply
  2. Marilyn Clauss

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed your pictures and comments. We are definitely going through a new experience. It is my hope that we gain much from this wake up call from God- appreciation for what blessings we have, appreciation for others who make our existence as we know it possible, gratitude for the beauty of creation, family and friends, and freedom to worship Our God who made this all possible-just to mention a few. God Bless you and keep you safe.

    Reply
  3. Dawn Westphal

    What an uplifting message, Christi! May God protect you and grant safe travel back to Haiti.

    Reply

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