Hi there! I don’t know anyone else’s e-mails but you can share the news. I told Dan he should please try to make me a file called “Joan’s Friends” - I’ll work on it. I don’t know who I’ve written ---nobody actually and am way behind again —how’s that? It is the worst it has been with 136 ---but I will eventually read all my mail and catch up with everyone.
Last you heard from me I was in a serious delivery case (I am an RN and a midwife)—it was rough and I prayed an awful lot ---which is how it should be and usually is. The lady did not know her due date —spent 3 nights at separate times in our house in “labor” and no progress. The one time I even gave some Pitocin to keep labor going and by morning still no baby and still no progress at all. The baby was not coming down at all – so not normal. Took her for a sonogram (only costs $20 out here) and all was well, baby lined up, heartbeat fine; sono said that baby wasn’t due for yet another week! I had calculated her date on what she knew and thought baby was due May 1st anyway.
So, the next week she comes again in labor ---stronger contractions this time – again slow and no progress by morning, gave more Pitocin and that baby came at 9:15 AM with a face presentation. That is a difficult delivery with the baby’s face looking all swollen and bruised. Two single girls out to visit, plus my daughters and sister Becky were able to watch (the lady delivered the baby at my house) ---not the nice easy, fast delivery to watch. Well, that baby came out limp and not breathing ---more stress and prayer for sure, but came around and was fine. After a day the face looked way better and after 3 days was a cute baby ready to go. I do feel like if it had been in the hospital the baby would have died ---can’t say, but those people don’t seem to do anything for the baby or know how to help revive one. There are people who do ---but are they there. I was glad to help. That family has such a hard time.
First all his family moved in on them about a month before the baby was due —8-10 people to feed, this is a poor family; to the point that the husband moved out and the lady came to Becky’s or my house to get a night sleep (I think that is what all the false labor was about). Then the day after the delivery they got a message that her father had died in their village and they had to go there for the funeral ---lots of troubles.
Meanwhile we were trying to pack and sort. Took Andy and Becky to Abidjan with a load of our luggage as well (WHICH WE WERE ABLE TO LOCK UP IN A ROOM NEAR THE AIRPORT ON A MISSIONARY COMPOUND) ---filled up the car, and Tabitha who had been out here helping us ---all leaving at the same time. We got the majority of our stuff packed and taken to Abidjan so that when we came in the next two weeks we’ll only have the last minute stuff to bring with us. Tabitha’s was a 2:40 AM flight – not so fun, but cheap – same as ours two weeks later. We were able to sell both our other dogs which was a huge answer to prayer as well. Dogs that need upkeep just don’t fair so well when left with a guardian. We have Yao staying in our house and he is very good —a deacon in the church that we trust well.
I felt things spinning way too fast, trying to keep the kids together, Bible reading, memorizing, organizing praying a lot —like something bad was going to happen, pray some more and leave it there. Then on Friday it all began! Around 4 PM Dan cut the top of his left thumb off. We were at the beach ---our last good-by, and he was home alone. He managed to get out of our yard and get a neighbor guard to help him slap a bandage on it to stop the bleeding and drove to the beach to get me. We raced home to find the piece in the workshop and then on to the hospital to see if they could sew it back on (kept it in cold ice water). After going to 4 different clinics and the hospital we finally came to one that called in a specialist surgeon on bones and that type of thing. Some of those clinics were laughing, no patient manner, not sterile, etc. So, the doctor said he could not sew it on ---could have in Paris or the US, but not in Africa ---need microsurgery to see the small blood vessels. Maybe we should have tried to bring it to Paris, but how to go with all the family and the timing was just beyond our thinking at the time. And now I am sitting here trying to think if there is any way we could have done it – sent Dan on ahead alone? Me come later with all the kids? We probably could have done that, but at the time that wasn’t in our thinking.
So, the doctor sewed it up, didn’t have to cut off anymore —it was cut off right at the base of the thumbnail so he will still have that use of the joint. I’ve got all the medical supplies and have been changing the dressing —please pray that it heals up without any complications.
After church Sunday we went to Abidjan —all was fine, re-organized and life was okay a bit getting ready for our flight – also at 2:40 AM. We went to the airport at 10PM and Dan went to get our luggage only to find that the man had gone to another country with the key and we couldn’t get our luggage!!! What a mess —it seemed, though God is in it all. Dan wanted to break the door down, pay for it to be fixed, give the guards some money, on and on ---NO WAY. Should have called a police I guess – maybe. Then should we delay our flight – no more space on the next planes for 13. On we go without most of our luggage. SO – here is where God is so good, we were able to check through all our carry-ons that we didn’t want to deal with. Bottom line —everyone keep smiling. We don’t know tomorrow, but we know the ONE who does —take His hand and keep walking in the dark.
Everyone was excited and having fun ---Dan and I praying a lot. We arrived to a nightmare in Paris. First it was rainy and COLD. A man came to meet us at the airport to help – Thank the Lord for him. He, Dan and Ruth took off to rent the camper and were gone ALL DAY. That left me with the rest of the kids to pass the day in the airport —so fun. We KNOW that airport —especially where the bathrooms are. The kids scoured the airport for money under vending machines and in the archaid---came up with 5 euro ---hey, it kept them busy. Finally Dan and co. came back to say that he couldn’t rent the camper because their insurance wouldn’t cover the injury on his hand and we surely won’t fit in any of the little cars of Paris. Finally we rented a U’ Haul type vehicle and all piled in the back —Ahmed, Hannah and Seth rode in the front and we got out of the airport and he took us to his niece’s house. This family graciously let us all sleep in their living room (he is the pastor of a church here in Paris). We were doing some serious camping, kids on the floor, no one complaining —so sweet to see.
I want to tell all my impressions —this letter is going to get long I can see. These people have such a cute tiny apartment —only 4 fit at a half table in the kitchen – eating in shifts. We had brought food and bought some more ----no, we don’t descend on people with 13 more to feed. We were able to store the luggage at the church, re-pack backpacks and we were ready for Europe —a few of us with only the clothes we had ---wash them out at night if they are dirty ---Hey, at least we weren’t sweating. We were a bit discouraged – ready to just head to the states for sure. Dan checked on changing the tickets and just that would have cost $5,500. Okay, we are stuck in Europe. Better to use the money and see a little of Europe, then just to waste it. We spent 2 nights with this family ---very sweet people and good conversations with them, and on we went to London at 10PM —a long tiring trip but fun ---seeing the bus system, subway, ferry boat, on we went. In London we were able to rent a flat (3 bedroom apartment with kitchen for half the price of a hotel room) and stayed there 4 nights.
Impressions of Paris and London ---Godless people in a hurry and going no where. People Need the Lord!!! Witnessing where we can – compassion. Tired, but able to witness to the girl across the aisle – so good. Maybe she’ll get saved. She seemed close – an American from California. CROWDED cities, tiny cars, no parking (we were so glad not to be driving). We got used to the bus system really well and the subway a bit. It is something getting the group on and off.
In London we went to church at Spurgeon’s church. It was really good – over 500 people there and a great message. That was encouraging to see the gospel witness going out – had a bit of reform theology mixed in, but a good message. We replenished our tract supply and were able to witness to quite a few in London and pass out tracts which also had the church location on them for follow-up. I got on a skirt and was discouraged to see that it was so tight! Then Hannah was happy to inform me that it was her skirt – smile, which made me feel better. We all had matching outfits made ---half of which are still in Africa with the other half of the luggage.
Well, we saw lots of London, walked a lot, got to know the bus system very well. One day Ruth, Hannah, Seth, Lydia and I went to see a play – Romeo and Juliet and got there to find it all sold out. I waited on the steps asking, “Does anyone have tickets they don’t want?” And people came by with 5 tickets (different ones) and only one accepted money. So we all got in. It was only 5 euro to stand —which we were planning to do; but let me tell you, MY FEET WERE TIRED AND KILLING ME AFTER 3 HOURS OF STANDING. We got home at 11:30 PM after that. We did enjoy the play. Those actors sure had a lot of memorizing to do —so much better memorizing verses though.
We are now in Amsterdam about to go see a reconstruction of Noah’s ark, catching our breath and nice to be out of the huge cities – though this one is big as well. We enjoyed the canal ride yesterday and are in a bed and breakfast (though no breakfast is provided – why that name?) right on one of the canals. These are tiny places – quite nice, like on the 101 Dalmations movie where there are 3 stories of one rooms piled on top of each other with super small, narrow stairs. Our restaurant is the grocery store and the fruit stand. We are so happy to be able to get some nectarines and broccoli. We can easily make a whole meal on just that and the restaurants are SO expensive.
Sorry this got so long. Pray much for us – safety in this hectic world, and stay close to God in this Godless environment. I feel like we are in the times of Noah here – people so busy, running every which way, no time for God at all. The kids are seeing it —people with no goals in life and not even the beginning of life as it were. God is good ALL the time.
Love to you,
Everyone is fine. We’ve gone to London, Amsterdam, and now we’re in Holland with some friends. Ruth still wants to head to Germany; Dan and I want to head back to Paris, the little kids want to stay here —these are friends from Africa and they have a very large house and a farm ---horses and cows. Everyone has their own bed and have been riding the horses. It has been nice to catch our breath. So, I don’t know if we are leaving here Tues. or Wed. - I don’t care at all —just live, enjoy each day and witness at every opportunity. Holland seems to be a lot of reform churches. The kids went to the farm —a 30 min. walk, and Hannah, Esther and I are here. Minni gave me some great clothes so I am all set. I think we’ll get the rest of our stuff air-freighted to NY and have it when we get there. The little kids are who is suffering, but not much. I borrowed some clothes from the neighbors so their things could get washed and we will leave here ready to go on.
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