January 31, 2009

A Challenging Season

Dan had a conversation with a friend the other day just after his house had been robbed. He was saying that it was so hard to be sold out for God because it immediately makes you a target and he was getting tired of all these hard things that kept happening to him and his family. He thought it would be easier to live a mediocre life because there was still a bit of blessing, but then you were left alone because you were not a threat to the enemy. It got me thinking…he certainly has a point. These last couple months and weeks have been super challenging for us Hartleys and our missionary teammates. We feel like we are living with targets on our backs currently!

We are in need of prayer support more than ever.

Here are a few of the things that have happened recently:

As you know, we Hartleys took a couple of health hits a couple months ago with chicken pox, a kidney stone, an infected appendix getting cut out, and recently I had a severe allergic reaction to 2 shrimp I ate and was itchy and had a unsightly rash for 2 days. Currently my “morning/afternoon/all day” sickness from the pregnancy is making life really challenging right now. The nausea is awful and so far the prescription I have isn’t helping much. I know it is just for a season, but ugh! One of my sisters had a miscarriage a couple weeks ago and as you can imagine, there is nothing that makes you want to jump on a plane more than family who is hurting. I wish we were able to be there in person to support them.

Our teammates, the Siakis, have been planting a church and they have had some really challenging issues because their worship leader is sleeping with his girlfriend and his parents (who are in leadership at the church also) didn’t have any issues with it and invited her to live in their home. She moved right into the worship leader’s bedroom! The whole church found out about it and took sides – pastor vs. worship leader. (In Africa, it is common in many cultures for the future wife to prove she is fertile by getting pregnant before they get engaged. NOT good for believers!) Obviously this has been super stressful for the Siakis! Then, shortly after this came to light, the assistant pastor dropped dead with no warning. It was a huge loss for their church as well as personally as Pastor Keith had helped with counseling the wayward couple and the family as well as firmly supported Paul Siaki in his stance against sex before marriage.

The Witherow family had a really close call last weekend. They were invited to the Allen’s house (another American missionary family – she is in my Beth Moore study) for lunch and while they were ringing the gate bell to be let in, the Allens were actually in process of being robbed at gunpoint. The robbers had jumped the fence, came in through the sliding glass doors, tied the family up, beat the dad on the head and took a bunch of their stuff. The Witherows were still in the driveway trying to figure out what was going on when the Joe Allan ran out of the house all bloody and asked them to call the cops. John Witherow sent his wife and kids home and stayed to help. The Allens ended up moving in with the Witherows this week until they can sort out increased security and/or a new place to live. Then after listening and listening and listening to the Allen family process their trauma, on Thursday night, Witherows took another hit. Heather’s mom called to say that her sister (Heather’s Aunt) had been found dead and the initial reports indicate that it may have been suicide. Talk about a tough week!

Two close friends from church were also robbed recently. One family was robbed while on a mission trip and the other family was robbed during the day when the house was locked. They broke through a window and locked the nanny in the closet while they took things. Their 18mo old daughter was standing in her crib watching the robbers run through the house. Wow.

A good friend of mine had her purse stolen at knife point and it happened just a few weeks after she miscarried. I had the privilege of processing the events with her.

I don’t write these things to scare you or to glamorize what we face over here, but it has been a challenging, stressful, difficult season for us and people close to us and we really need your prayers. More than ever, we need God’s protection over our homes and families; we need peace and trust in God so that we won’t live in fear. God has been doing some amazing things and we obviously are threats for the enemy!

On Sunday evening, a small short term team from Canada is arriving to do some training at some conferences here for two weeks. This team is lead by our former teammates Craig and Heather Kraft who moved back to Canada last May. Dan and I aren’t in charge of this one, but we will be assisting on multiple levels. Craig and Heather will be staying at our house for two weeks and we are really looking forward to time with them. We’ll be driving to Swaziland with the team from Tues – Friday to help them with a conference and Dan will install carpet and tile at the Chomba’s Hope House Orphanage. This will be the final touch on the room and the orphan guys will be able to begin using it! This is a major milestone and we are really excited about it! I’ll send pictures next week.

Will you take a moment to pray for us as you read this?

- Pray for PEACE and COMFORT for the Allen family who are all pretty traumatized by the armed robbery

- Pray for Heather Witherow for REST and for COMFORT for her, her parents, her Aunt’s son, and that they will be able to connect with family through the time zones to encourage and support each other.

- Pray for the Siakis, that God will soften their worship leader’s heart to receive correction and to be turned back to the Lord. Pray that God will bring a wonderful, godly man to come alongside them to support them to replace their asst pastor.

- Pray for the Days, Janse Van Vuurens, and the Robberts who were burglarized recently – for PEACE and the ability to SLEEP WITHOUT FEAR.

- It seems almost silly for me to ask you to pray about my nausea after the severity of the above requests, but our upcoming week is filled with company and travel and it would be wonderful to have a respite from feeling so sick in order to do ministry.

- Pray for the Canadians as they do ministry in Swaziland this week for a successful conference and be an encouragement and blessing to the Swazis.

We couldn’t do all God has called us to do here without your prayers and support of us.


Janell for us 4

PS. Just for fun, I have attached a picture of the security measures of a house that is right across the street from our church. They have the highest level of security we have seen here so far! They have 28 electrified wires, spotlight sensors, video monitoring, and razor wire fencing on their fence and gate. While most houses aren’t quite that extreme, the majority in our neighborhood have electric wire and/or razor wire around their property. As far as we know, it isn’t anybody famous. This is just part of life here. I bet these owners added another layer of electric fencing after they saw me taking a bunch of pictures of their fence!

1 comment:

Jodi said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. My prayers are with you and I sure hope life gets a little bit less stressful for you and for you new little one! I don't think I could do the whole missionary thing, but I have the utmost respect for you and those who do! God is surely with you and guiding your way!