Heartfelt greetings to our friends and family,
It has only been four months since Arwen slipped quietly into eternity – there to rest continually in the presence of our Lord Christ. We knew that our sorrow would run deep, but that hasn’t lessened the blow of grief as the reality of her loss continues to leave a massive hole in our lives. Arwen’s presence is sorely missed. Without her we are still a family of seven, yet the dinner table feels empty. We constantly feel as if we’ve miscounted our children or as if we are forgetting something. We miss Arwen’s singing and her laughter. We constantly feel like she’s just around the corner or about to arrive home from somewhere. She was more than a daughter and sister to us; she was a dear friend and a beautiful soul.
On the morning of Arwen’s homegoing, our neighbors and friends, Derek and Chris, were in our home to collect Arwen’s body. Another neighbor and friend, Tom, was also visiting to comfort us. Tom offered to pray with us when little Irene responded that she wanted me, her papa, to pray too. Though uttered through tears, this was and still is our prayer:
Father, you are good in all things even when we don’t feel it, but we are thankful that you do show us your goodness so often and even now in our sorrow you have shown us your goodness. For me and for my family, I choose thanksgiving. We are thankful to you for the outpouring of your rich blessings in our lives. We’re thankful that you have given us Jesus Christ as an assurance of hope in our lives. We thank you that because of that assurance we know that Arwen is with you now and that we will see her again because of what you have done through Christ. I don’t have much to ask of you because you have already given us everything in Christ. I ask only that you would allow us to see your goodness and that we would become truly grateful for all that you have done as you open our eyes to your goodness. Thank you for the chance that you have given Arwen and us to show you to those around us as we trust in you, even in the weakness and frailty of our bodies. May your son, Jesus Christ, be glorified in our lives. May all of our words and deeds point others toward Him. You are good in all things, Lord. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
As much as we would not and could not choose such sacrifice, we accept the circumstances that the Lord has given us. We understand that in all things, even this, He is giving us good and righteous works that we might walk in them – all to the praise of His glorious grace.
In Christ, we are finding our way forward. We still have joy and hope, though we take turns crying and comforting each other as well. Arwen’s work here is done, but the Lord has left us here to carry on for a little while longer. Ultimately, the true work belongs to the Lord God and we are but humble servants whose calling is that of simple, trusting obedience.
Work in the hospital and clinic has continued to bear fruit. There are encouraging days when those who hear the gospel of peace respond with faith in Jesus. There are several recent examples of lives immediately changed by the work of God – attitudes and hearts softened. Also, there have been several patients recently who died in the hospital after long and involved admissions to our service but who accepted Christ before entering into eternity. You can find more details about these patients and their stories at our hospital’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/HBBTogo (or visit hbbtogo.com).
There have also been many encounters which do not lead to immediate responses, but we choose to faithfully share the truth in obedience to God’s word. There have been a string of palliative patients, those with terminal illness, who have heard the gospel, seriously contemplated the truth, and rejected the Lord. These moments can be discouraging, but it is the Lord who will bring about the increase according to His sovereign will. Arwen’s testimony of faith and hope in God has been instrumental in many such encounters. Pray with us for these souls.
The other children have all but completed their studies for this year. We hope to expose them to more ministry opportunities both in the hospital and villages as we find a better sense of balance and calm in our lives. Irene has endured several flares of her bowel disease, so we continue to pray for wisdom regarding that.
Be in prayer for our family as we plan a brief retreat this summer to collect ourselves and rest for a time as we continue to process the changes in our life. Pray for Irene’s health and for mental and spiritual peace for each of us as we grieve and seek the Lord as our comforter. Pray for ministry opportunities here in Togo, both within the hospital and outside. Ask the Lord to open the door for mobile clinics and for the right church plant for our family to become involved with. Pray for opportunities among the local unreached and Muslim peoples. Pray, above all, that the Lord Jesus would be glorified through the work He has given us here.
Know that we love and appreciate you all. We pray for you also, that the Lord would be glorified in your lives and testimonies. Do not cease to pursue Him.
Seth, Becca, Caspian, Elora, Gwynevere, Irene, and Kalmar