When you see the Bottle Tree, you know you have arrived to the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay. This distinctive landmark derives it’s name from the shape of its trunk (in the local language it’s actually called the Drunken Tree). It can reach 75 feet and is extremely drought resistant due to the fact that it can store water in its trunk. This is important in a land where temperatures can remain near 110 degrees for months, rain is infrequent, and the wind is fierce.
When 5 and 2 come knocking you welcome them! True, at first with a bit of sorrowful wonder that they should have arrived so soon, but quickly you embrace them and your heart fills with joy. How could it do anything else when they come as two redheaded,happy hearted boys? Happy Birthday both of you!! We love you!
Dear Loving and Concerned Friends,
Finally! I am so blessed to be sitting here in my own home, thinking about you, having the chance to write to you myself. How can I even begin to thank you for accompanying me through these past two weeks? For walking through them together with me, holding my hand, leading the way when I myself had fallen blind? Your unceasing prayers and expressions of love bolstered my faith in our Great God and His mighty power to turn all my darkness to light.
Though I found myself blind in one eye, I was not overcome by fear, nor did I fall captive to the darkness of discouragement. Indeed, I was surrounded by great peace and true rest the majority of the time. Only let me be very clear that it was His light, His peace, and His rest.
And now the blessed light is returning to my left eye as well, rather much more quickly than we had even hoped. Each day, I see more and feel less disorientation with the disparity in my vision. Yesterday I was able to see color for the first time and read large letters without great strain. The distances are still a blur, but I can identify large objects such as cars and trees easily enough. God has been so gracious to me.
I want you to know that I am absolutely CONVINCED that this experience has come to pass so that God will be praised, so that together our hearts could exalt His name together. “My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising You; I declare Your glory all day long. I will tell everyone about Your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me.” Psalm 71:8, 15
As you praise God with me, please also remember to pray for:
- Good rest. I have not been sleeping well for the past week. Mercifully, friends have been helping with the kids and meals! After today, Brad will be on school break as well so he will be available to help with our two sweet, redheaded boys.
- My continued healing and the ability to know my limits (not a great strength of mine!
- My acceptance of each day, with the vision I have, as a gift from His hand.
Thankful for your part in this miracle,
P.S. If you would like a peek into what was going on in my heart through this time, please feel free to visit my personal blog at myplaceofpeace.blogspot.com.
Thanks again for your prayers for Shilo over this last week. Seems hard to believe this whole ordeal started only one week ago. We had an encouraging visit with the eye doctor today. He was impressed with the quick recovery of her left eye after just 3 days of IV treatments. She went from being totally blind on Tuesday to being able to see the outlines of people and shapes today. This is an unusually fast rate of recovery, and we attribute it to God, of course, answering all of your prayers for healing. So the doctor was much more optimistic about her chances of full recovery of her vision than he was when we saw him 3 days ago. He is hesitant to say how much vision she will recover, because in actuality it is impossible to predict as it all depends on how much damage was done to the nerve. But based on conversations with several doctors, and some reading we have done on optic neuritis, it appears that the majority of people who have had it recover most of their vision to the point where they can function quite normally. Ultimately, we know this rests in the hands of God, and we are trusting Him for a positive outcome, if it is His will. It can take several months, however, for full sight to be restored. So these next weeks and months will be a waiting game for healing to take place. We appreciate your continued prayers for healing, but we are thankful to God for the quality of medical care we have received, for the quick recovery so far, and for friends like you who have rallied behind us in prayer in this time of need.
Shilo will continue her IV treatments until this coming Sunday. After that, she will take a much reduced dose of the medicine via pills for three more weeks, which she can do from home. So we will probably head back home early next week. Thanks again for your prayers. We have felt God’s peace in our hearts this week, even amidst fearful circumstances. And we have seen God go before us, preparing the way through the body of Christ for quick access to quality medical care, and in other tangible ways like people caring for our boys while we visited so many doctors, and loaning us their vehicle when ours broke down.
We will try to update you periodically over the next several months as to Shilo’s progress. We are encouraged by her progress, but know she is far from being completely healed. Your ongoing prayers are needed and appreciated.
Thank you for your continued prayers for Shilo. Last Thursday she started to feel pain and have loss of vision in her left eye. The problem worsened even after seeing an eye doctor in our little town several times. By Tuesday, she was totally blind in her left eye. We came down to the capital city on Monday and God worked it out for us to see a top notch eye doctor at one of the premier eye clinics in the country. He diagnosed her with optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve. Today, after two IV treatments she was able to see shadows pass in front of a light. This is just a small sign of progress, but at least is an indication that the medicine is starting to bring the swelling down in her optic nerve. We still don’t have any guarantee that her eyesight will return, but it is the first time we have seen her symptoms get better instead of worse since this whole ordeal started just last Thursday. So we are encouraged by that, as well as by all of you praying. Please continue to pray that God will bring complete healing. Our first course of action is to bring the swelling down, which will hopefully bring the eyesight back. Shilo’s eye will be re-evaluated by the retina specialist and our general doctor on Friday afternoon, and then we will make a decision about what to do from there. We are praying for a miracle, if it be God’s will, that by Friday her eyesight will show significant improvement. If things have not improved significantly by then, then we are praying about the option of possibly returning to the USA for continued treatment from an eye clinic there. But for now we are confident in the medical care and course of treatment we are receiving, knowing that it is the standard course of treatment for swelling of the optic nerve, regardless of location.
Shilo was released from the hospital today, and will be allowed to return twice a day for continued IV treatments. But at least in the meantime we can be together as a family at the mission guest home, which is a nicer environment than being cooped up in a hospital room. She will continue the treatments until Friday, at which point she will be re-evaluated. Ultimately we know this is all in the hands of God, and so we rest in His will for our lives. We appreciate your continued prayers.
If you’d like to read Shilo’s personal reflections on this ordeal, click here.
Brad for Shilo and the boys
It seems hard to believe that it has been 2 months since we left Pennsylvania to come to our new home in Paraguay. We have been enjoying our first weeks in the country. Find out more below.
Thanks for praying for a safe delivery of our baby. Our son, Samuel, was born on August 31, and is now two months old and growing like a weed. Check our news updates for all the details.
Thanks too for praying about our decision about where to serve God next. At this time, we feel God is leading us to continue our ministry to MK’s and their parents in Paraguay, South America. You can also read all those details in our latest news update on this site, or in our upcoming newsletter.
Announcing Samuel Collin Cain
Born August 31st, 2008
8 lb. 15 oz.
21 inches long
Samuel Collin was named after his paternal great grandfather, Connie Collins Cain, whose godly influence profoundly impacted Brad’s life. Grandpa Connie has a wonderful sense of humor, always has time for people and is very bold in sharing his faith. We would be proud if our little guy followed in his great grandpa’s footsteps.
Thank you so much to those of you who have been praying for us as we have seen our lives change dramatically these past several months. It seems hard to believe that just back in May we were living in Venezuela. Now we are experiencing a completely different type of life in eastern Washington state where we have settled for the first part of our home assignment. We are bracing ourselves for a cold, northwestern winter, unlike the 95 degree Christmas times we have experienced in Venezuela. But we have really enjoyed being able to be close to Shilo’s family during this time, especially for the birth of our second son, Samuel. We have seen God bless us in many ways in providing affordable housing, a vehicle, and the company of family and friends. God has also provided the unexpected opportunity for Brad to teach in a local Christian school for part of the year. We are trusting that God will use his time there to encourage some of the students to consider missions as a viable and much needed career/ministry path.
Many of you have been praying with us as we have sought the Lord’s direction as to where He would have us serve Him next since we had to leave Venezuela. Thanks so much for your prayers. We are happy to report that at this time we feel God is leading us to pursue Paraguay as our next field of service. The NTM field of Paraguay is looking to open up 8 new tribal works in the coming years, and is trusting God to provide the necessary church planting missionaries to meet that goal. With such a potential influx of new missionaries, New Tribes Mission in Paraguay has recently started a new school for MK’s called Chaco Christian Academy. The school is only in its second year, and has a critical need for more teachers in order to meet the educational needs of all the MK’s on the field. So we feel privileged to have a part both in meeting this need, and in facilitating these 8 new tribal church plants through the educational ministry of the school.
Please pray with us as we seek God’s will as to where we should serve Him next. We are currently considering either Paraguay or Mexico. Both fields have a need for teachers and have asked us to come. We hope to make a decision by the fall, to leave time to make the necessary preparations for leaving for the field in the summer of 2009.