As most of you know, our 21-year old son, Matthew, was in a severe motorcycle accident near Walnut Creek, California, on January 18. He spent 46 days in the hospital and underwent ten surgeries, including the amputation of his left arm at the elbow. We praise God for sparing Matthew’s life during the accident and operations. It is a great gift (“Matthew” means “gift of God”) that Matthew is still with us, and for that, we are very grateful.
We are also so grateful for all of you, for your overwhelmingly encouraging response through prayer, financial giving, and notes. You, as our brothers and sisters in Christ, have amazed us with your kindness and love. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus in helping us navigate this unexpected journey.
At the same time, there is a very long road ahead for Matthew. The surgeons in California saved his life and his upper left arm, but he has no movement or feeling in the shoulder and arm. We are currently getting second opinions and applying for Matthew to have nerve reimplantation surgery at one of three hospitals in the US, which offer it and which are covered by our insurance. Our prayer is that he will be accepted for surgery at one of these locations.
If he is accepted and the surgery is successful, the best-case scenario, humanly speaking, is that the nerves would regrow over a 12-18 month period, and Matthew would regain the ability to move his shoulder and upper arm.
In the next couple of weeks, Matthew will begin the process of meeting with a prosthetist in Kansas City. They will make a prosthesis to use in place of his lower arm and hand, and an orthosis to help support, stabilize and protect his shoulder and upper arm.
Jonathan, with whom Matthew lived in Oakland, has been amazing as he was at the hospital with Matthew, especially in the early days when everything was touch and go. Elizabeth took three weeks off to come from Kansas City to help with Matthew’s care. Todd has been with Matthew in California during this time, and at the end of March, he and Matthew will be moving Matthew’s things back to Kansas City. The Lord has provided a beautiful home for Matthew and Todd to stay in for April in Kansas City. We are applying now for approval to rent an apartment or house beginning in May in Kansas City, with enough room for Todd, Pamala, Matthew, Kirsten, Daniel, and Ariela.
We want to be available to help Matthew at this critical time as his body continues to heal and is weaned off pain killers, as he pursues more nerve treatment, as he is fitted with a prosthesis and orthosis, and as he learns to live with only one hand. This obviously has enormous implications for Matthew’s education, career path, and future as a whole, and we want to be closeby to help him navigate all of this. We estimate that it will take probably two years for this process.
Through all of this, our mission, Pioneers, our Bible translation partner, The Seed Company, and our home church, CrossWay Bible Church, have been very supportive in our decision. We all agree that for the next year or two, we should be based in the Kansas City area with Matthew.
What does this mean for the Bible translation projects? We currently have 10 Roma Bible translators, and seven Croatian translators, working with Todd to translate the Bible into five Roma languages spoken in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, and Montenegro. We have completed 50 Bible stories and over half of the Gospel of Luke, and we continue the initial drafts of the rest of the New Testament. Thankfully, we all work in our respective homes on the computer, using software programs that synchronize so that we can all work together on the translations of Bible books. We are just as committed as ever to continue doing the Bible translations. The Roma and Croatian translators will continue their work at their homes, Todd will continue his work, but from Kansas City instead of Slavonski Brod, Croatia.
The biggest challenge is what to do about the times when Todd or our translation consultant needs to meet face-to-face with the translators. Some of this can be done virtually using Zoom for video chatting and screen sharing. At other times, Todd and the consultant will fly back to Croatia and Serbia for in-person workshops.
Because we need to be based in KC for the next couple of years and paying for rent there, it is not feasible for us to keep renting the house in Croatia. Pamala is currently packing up our house and my office in Croatia, so our things can be shipped back to Kansas City. We are now looking for an economical and efficient way to send our belongings back from Croatia.
All of these logistics are quite challenging with the COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements that are in place in Croatia as well as the US. Kirsten’s school in Germany is currently not holding classes, so she is living at home in Croatia and taking her classes online.
Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support as we navigate all these adjustments. We are convinced that none of this is a surprise to our Sovereign God and that in the end, He has ordained to use it for our good, the ultimate good of Matthew and our other children, and even of the Bible translations for the Roma.
As one of my favorite songs says, “Whate’er my God ordains is right.
He never will deceive me.
He leads me by the proper path.
I know He will not leave me.
I take content, what He has sent.
His hand can turn my griefs away
and patiently, I wait His day.”
(Samuel Rodgast, 1676).