We really don’t want this month’s newsletter to be about hospital visits and Julie’s Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy, but quite honestly, in reality, this has consumed our past month. It feels as though we have been living at Bristol Oncology Centre and driving back to stay at our friend’s house to sleep each night! In early January there were several visits to the hospital for scans and to prepare us for what was ahead and then daily treatment started on 25th January. The first week was Physically and Emotionally draining for both of us. Coming to terms with the diagnosis and change of plans were part of the initial battle we faced, but sitting in a large, very full waiting room each day with patients of all ages suffering from all sorts of cancer waiting for treatment was something we hadn’t anticipated! It has however given us many opportunities to share part of our story and bring encouragement to patients and family members.
A Month of Blessings & Encouragement
We have felt extremely privileged to be able to house sit for 6 weeks as our friends from Taunton, Somerset visit their family in Australia. Having our own space at this challenging time has been such a blessing. Living out of a suitcase again for a few months is a real ‘missions’ experience, as we left most of our personal items and newer clothes in Dallas thinking we would only be in the UK for 3 weeks. Thankfully we were able to dig out some ‘old faithful’ winter clothing from storage to see us through! Staying in Taunton has meant a 3 hour round trip to the hospital each day, which turns into 4 to 8 hours dependent on wait times and treatment. If travelling becomes an issue in the final 2 weeks of treatment we have had an offer from a family from a church near Bristol to stay with them for the final sessions. We are so thankful for the hundreds of prayers and words of encouragement we have received via email, Messenger and also Facebook posts from friends around the world. Julie received calls, texts, visits, flowers and cards and one friend brought us some meals. We were overwhelmed this month by the financial gifts we received from a few friends wanting to support us and sow financially into our ongoing ministry by helping towards transport and living expenses. We were grateful to receive financial support from our Trinity Church Family and our friends from Agape Church in Texas. Directors at Christ For the Nations Bible College are standing with us in faith and have arranged to cover the classes we were scheduled to teach and are keeping our positions open until we can return to Dallas. CFNI students and staff have sent many encouraging messages and are eagerly waiting and expectant for our speedy return. We were excited to hear that there has been a 70% increase in the number of Missions students registered for the 3rdyear Missions Major this semester, compared to Spring 2015, but we are sad of course that we haven’t been able to be part of their training from the start! We have been able to help with some class planning and arrangements for the Missions Major students via email and have been encouraging and guiding the staff and scholarship students at every opportunity. It has been a real encouragement to follow the progress on Facebook of 8 of our Missions Major students, whom we helped prepare and equip during our recent time in Dallas, as they arrived in Chiang Rai, Thailand in January for a 10 week Field School Internship with the Go To Nations Missions Organization.
We were blessed on our first day of Chemotherapy when we met the Chemo Nurse and found out she was a Christian and attends a friends church in Bristol. She was very reassuring and shared many stories of how she had seen God heal people that had serious illnesses.
So what else have we been up to?…
Before the intense schedule of hospital visits started and with this unexpected extra time in Somerset, we were able to quickly catch up with our West Country friends. Good friends we don’t get to see often invited us to dinner and we had fun playing games with their family and catching up with their news. We were able to meet up with other friends for coffee and took a quick trip to Wales to visit family. The Consultant advised limiting our activities and visits during Chemotherapy to reduce the chance of picking up viruses and infections, so it was good to be able to catch up with as many people as possible before treatment started. Our interaction with family since this visit has been limited to phone calls and Skype Calls, the grandkids find it fun to see us on their TV screen as they Skype us through their Xbox! Our grandson Keiron wanted to show us what he had made from Lego! Our grandson Ollie was more fascinated with the camera and seeing himself.
Most of our time at home during treatment days consists of resting. It’s unusual for us to get this opportunity, but we were advised that it would speed up recovery!
It’s given us the opportunity to pray for friends and family and spend more time reading the Bible and preparing for our future Missions Classes.
The Hospital advised to cut out the healthy food options during treatment to combat the effects of the treatment. Less fruit and vegetables! Mark only likes cooking (and eating) unhealthy stuff usually, so is more than happy to help with this! He did however stretch to making Lasagne one night!
How you can support us.
Pray for God’s healing power! Please pray that the side effects of treatment and recovery time will be reduced. Julie will have a consultant’s appointment, up to 6 weeks after treatment ends to give her the all clear. The effects of treatment can last much longer but we are believing for the best case scenario and miraculous results!
You can support and encourage us by emailing us with your news, even if only a few sentences! Hearing from friends and family is always an encouragement and we love to support you and pray for you too!
Accommodation from March! During Julie’s recovery time in March/April we will need somewhere peaceful to stay. If you know of an inexpensive, furnished holiday rental, apartment, trailer, lodge, cottage or something similar in the UK for any amount of time from 2nd March that we could stay at or know of anyone needing house sitters for a while, please let us know.