Dear IARBC family,
Life takes some interesting and unexpected turns, at least from our perspective. We make plans, as we should, but the Lord directs our steps (Pr. 16:9). We make our plans, but are careful to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” It would be arrogant and sinful to do otherwise (James 4:15-17).
God is in control, He knows, and He provides. So, we trust Him and find Him faithful as we have always have. We walk by faith and not by sight. This honors Him and pleases Him.
The last week in June we headed out to northern Maryland to Sandy Cove Christian Retreat Center along the northern tip of Chesapeake Bay. This trip to this year’s GARBC Annual Meeting would include Council of 18 meetings, encouraging our Iowa teens at Talents for Christ, enjoying the fellowship and preaching, and perhaps a seafood meal along the way. Everything was going according to plan until about 3:00 am Wednesday morning, the first full day of the conference. Many of you likely know some of the story. Sandy woke up with a pain in her abdomen, and I was awakened shortly after that. We decided that she needed medical care and headed out to the nearest hospital ER that we could find. The people at the desk were very helpful in confirming our choice of a hospital. To make a long story shorter, it was determined after two days of tests and analysis that she needed an appendectomy. The surgery Friday afternoon went smoothly and she was released about supper time. Of course, all of this was not on our radar, nor could it have been. But God knew and He provided;
* The mother of one of our Iowa TFC teens is a doctor. She came to see us in the ER during the “what is going on here” phase and became a good advocate for us as and a great encouragement being that we were far from home.
* One of the doctors we were referred to had us come back in for a different test. He was very kind; he was concerned about the vomiting and was very helpful in getting a definitive diagnosis.
* A very kind nurse took pity on our plight of being so far from home and personally escorted us to our next testing location. She gave us her phone number, offered to help us find a place to stay for the weekend if we needed one, and came back the next day to see us on her own time.
* As we waited in the ER again on Thursday evening, planning for surgery the next day, I called the airlines to move our flight from Friday evening to Monday evening. Sandy needed the weekend to recover and gain some strength for the trip home. They waived the rebooking fee (medical waiver) and booked us on the same flight three days later. This was the July 4 holiday weekend.
* Pastor David and Debbie Strope stopped by Friday afternoon before Sandy’s surgery to encourage us and pray with us. I believe they left the conference a little early to be sure they could connect with us. It was sure good to see these dear friends. They assured us that people at the conference, and others in various places, were praying for us. You all know what an encouragement that is when you are facing some kind of difficulty.
* The surgical team was great and the procedure went well. We heard that, among the staff, we were the “couple from Canada”. I guess Iowa sounds a lot like Ottawa. Some thought we were from Ohio, and one mentioned that he thought we were from Idaho. We laughed with them, but actually it was a blessing that they understood we were a long way from home and wanted to assure us of their concern for us.
* After being released from the hospital Friday evening, we drove back to Sandy Cove. The conference had ended around noon that day, and we still had all of our things in our room (we had both stayed at the hospital Thursday night). We had contacted Sandy Cove earlier and asked if we could stay the weekend for a Monday departure. They said that they had a group coming in for the weekend and we would not be able to stay Saturday and Sunday night, but we could stay Friday night. That was a huge blessing. They even told us that as we had missed the bulk of the conference, and had not used the bulk of our meal package, that they would credit our missed meals towards one night’s stay. The credit “happened” to be just the right amount to cover our Friday night stay. Needless to say, God used them to be a great help to us.
* We still needed a place to stay for the weekend. So, Thursday evening, sitting in the hospital ER, after calling the airlines, I got on my computer and looked for a motel. I was concerned that with the holiday weekend it may be difficult, but after a short search I booked a room at the motel nearest to the conference. When we arrived there Saturday afternoon, the lady at the desk took pity on us and moved us to a room on the first floor so Sandy would not have to climb any stairs.
* After a refreshing weekend for Sandy to gain some strength to travel home, we drove to Baltimore Monday morning. We had recently been learning to build “margin” into our schedules so we planned the day accordingly. The drive on I-95, as well as the airport, were not as congested as we had thought they might be. God also gave us the back row in the airplane with a little more leg room, close proximity to the restroom, and a little space to ourselves. We, again, were amazed at God’s provision in these simple but meaningful blessings.
* Without knowing that our trip to Maryland would include an appendectomy, we had decided to fly out of Minneapolis on a non-stop flight to Baltimore. The tickets were significantly cheaper than flying out of Des Moines, and we had planned to attend a family reunion in the Twin Cities the day after the conference. Also, a non-stop flight is always appealing, so we were truly grateful to the Lord for directing our steps to arrange this direct flight. Following surgery, this was a tremendous blessing. We arrived safely at MSP airport ahead of schedule, and of course needed to drive home to Iowa. Sandy felt good so we drove home Monday evening. God kept us alert and we arrived home safely.
We can say with Ezra, the good hand of our God was upon us. You all have seen His hand during unexpected and trying times. We praise Him for this and felt the need to share His goodness to us with you.
It took longer than we thought, but Sandy is back to 100% and we are back in the saddle of ministry among our IARBC church family. To God be the glory for his help and his healing.
This is one bookend since we last wrote.
The other bookend is that Sandy is now serving the Lord as the Interim Dean of Women at Faith Baptist Bible College for this school year. She has finished her third week of serving in this capacity, and is enjoying investing in the lives of these young ladies. As this is a full-time position, she will not be working at the FBBC Bookstore until the school year is over. There is much for her to learn. But there are many capable people helping her with the transition, and she loves what God has set before her to do. God prepares you for what He calls you to do. We are grateful for this ministry opportunity for her. She has so much to offer these students and it is a good fit for her.
We also believe that her new position is a great way to complement our ministry among our IARBC churches. What a great way for us to connect with Faith students, faculty, administration, and staff! What a great way to further this partnership in ministry with Faith! We are already enjoying these things.
Much has happened between the bookends, and I plan to fill in some of the gaps in future articles of Across Iowa.
But for now, please…
* Thank the Lord with us for His direction and provision while we were in Maryland.
* Pray for Sandy as she begins her new ministry as Interim Dean of Women.
* Thank the Lord for a great IARBC Men’s Retreat.
* Pray for God’s hand of blessing on our IARBC Women’s RENEW Conference at the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp on September 8-9. Faith Taylor, wife of Dean Taylor (Pastoral Training Professor at FBBC), is the speaker.
Thanks for praying for Sandy during and after her surgery. Thanks for the many notes and words of encouragement along the way. This is part of what makes our fellowship of churches so precious. Friends in life and ministry praying for one another, and working together for the cause of the Gospel.
We love you and thank God for you.