As some of you know, our year started with sadness and cross-country travel. Right after Christmas, Elizabeth's father became suddenly ill and was hospitalized shortly afterward. He quickly ended up in the ICU, and passed into glory about 2 weeks later.
We ended up driving cross-country at the very beginning of January to be there for whatever happened. Thankfully, God allowed us to have an appointment already scheduled for Elizabeth in Salt Lake City, which required us to travel down - and thus escape a storm that shut down our entire town and the interstate across the whole state of Wyoming. We ended up driving an extra two days across southern Utah and into Colorado to go across to Massachusetts. However, in God's goodness, we made the trip safely and had a couple of days with the family before God took him home. We are still heavy with grief, but thankful that his suffering is over and holding tightly onto the hope of seeing him again some glorious day.
We ended up spending almost a month in Massachusetts, helping Elizabeth's mother through the process and establishing a new normal. We are so thankful for the time we had, for the ability to uproot and travel at a moment's notice, and for the outpouring of love many of you showered upon us during that time. An additional blessing during that time was catching up with two of our supporting churches, including being able to preach and present an update at Plymouth Rock Bible Church.
We got home in mid-February and had to dive right back into life and ministry, helping several people in Kemmerer and Cokeville during physical suffering and even the passing of a believer in Kemmerer and his funeral. Add in our regular ministries of preaching and teaching in Cokeville, music in Kemmerer, and leading men's Bible study on Wednesday nights in Kemmerer (plus our own never-ending medical appointments), and life is never dull!
Yet while life hasn't slowed down, and we are still trying to catch up, we are also looking forward to more ministry opportunities this summer. In addition to helping with Kemmerer's VBS in mid-June, we are praying and planning for VBS in Cokeville from June 29th through July 1st. Please pray with us for good attendance and for the support and help we need to accomplish this outreach. We also request prayer that we would be able to schedule an evangelistic team sometime in the next year to help us in doing special services in the park. The community is heavily LDS, and there has been an increase of late by the LDS bishop to pull people away from hearing the Gospel. An event in the park with music could help us overcome some of this opposition and to present the Gospel in a way that will gain more hearing. We also ask for continued prayers for those who we have contact with but are unsaved, specifically J&C, the A's, R&R, B, and the R's.
On the health front, Elizabeth continues to improve. She has had good reports from a few doctors this month, although they are keeping her at current medication levels for a few months to make sure things are truly stable. Continue to pray for her energy, as the meds continue to cause noticeable fatigue several days each week. For James, much remains the same, but he has started seeing two new doctors that will hopefully be able to help and not just attribute the issues to a mental disorder.
We also want to share an answer to prayer and the fulfillment of gifts many of you have sent over the last several years. The night before we drove east, God allowed us to purchase a new-to-us Toyota Sequoia with 40k miles. Of course, the first thing we did was take a very long "test drive" of about 2500 miles! In all seriousness, though, this vehicle has already been a great blessing and will hopefully continue to be so with the ability to pull a trailer for VBS and other outreaches to Cokeville, so we can transport all the necessary equipment without making multiple trips in our van.
On the financial front, James has received a higher disability rating from the VA and an adjusted level of compensation, as well as full payment of his grad school loans. We give thanks to God for this blessing and are praying that the Army will authorize James to additionally receive his pension. Although they initially said he could carry both incomes, they are now telling him that because of federal bureaucratic regulation, he is not allowed to be paid "twice" by the government except under particular circumstances. James has applied to one program already and has been denied, and has now applied to a second program that is directly with the Army. Please pray that the packet will go through the process quickly and that God will allow a positive result.
Thank you for praying with us, and lifting up us and the ministry here in Wyoming to God!