God's mercies NEVER FAIL! He has been so gracious to us during this year-long furlough that we can only sit back in wonderment that He loves us so much. Does that mean we have not been without problems and difficult times? No, but He has never left us nor forsaken us.
After leaving the beautiful state of Idaho, we had some meetings in Montanna where we enjoyed great fellowship with a couple who has visited Uganda several times. We left at the beginning of a snow storm in preparation for a long day of travel in our journey toward Oklahoma. For those of you who have never been north, there is little else but dirt and trees between Billings and Cheyenne. After eating lunch on the outskirts of Cheyenne, our van refused to start. A mechanic came and confirmed Keith's diagnoses: the fuel pump was out. The temperature was 30 some degrees with wind gusts up to 50 mph. It was cold! We continued to hang out in McDonald's, while the mechanic would work for 10 minutes, jump in his truck to warm up, and then repeat the cycle. Then the grim news that a brace had broken and would not arrive until the following day. We tried calling Baptist churches in the area but received no answer. We tried a Baptist help hotline, and they weren't able to find any assistance in the area either. Looking around, we spotted a motel within walking distance, so Keith walked over to see if they had a room available. As he was discussing our situation with the lady at the front desk, a man in the lobby offered to drive over and get our luggage. How thankful we were for this kind gesture and also that we were able to have a warm place to sleep. Because of the delay, we had to cancel our Wednesday meeting for that week but knew that God had protected and provided for us all along the way.
We finished up January with a missions conference at my sister's church in Oklahoma, so our children had a great time with their cousins. As we were driving through Ft. Worth, our back tire fell off and passed us on I-35. Keith was able to maneuver safely to the side, and then went to find where our tire landed. Within 2 minutes, a policeman had pulled up behind us. He had been called to an accident that was a couple of miles up the road, but radioed in to say that he would be staying with us since we had a van load of kids. A supporting pastor that was just a couple of miles away, came and picked up the children and I, while Keith waited for a truck to come get our van. Several parts had to be replaced, but we were back on the road in less than 4 hours.
We are now two days away from leaving. (I had begun this post several weeks ago!) Our lives have been very busy with packing, catching up with friends, and general moving responsibilities. Our health is taking a beating, so we appreciate your prayers. We have had a great time with each of you in the States and have been blessed beyond measure. We love being missionaries and are grateful that God would choose to use us in such a manner. Be sure to stay in touch with us and remember that you have an invitation to visit us.