Thank you for your prayers for us. We feel very loved and encouraged!
Our trip to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M) Medical Center went very well. Shout out to all the Wisconsinites–they are such kind people!
Our trip was uneventful, though tiring since it was two back-to-back nine-hour days of driving. The team of surgeons at UW-M was very thorough and answered a lot of our questions. They did another EMG test since it had been almost two months since Matthew’s other EMG. This EMG test confirmed what the other test did, that Matthew has no nerve function in his arm and shoulder, although, in contrast to the earlier test, it showed some slight nerve function in his trapezius.
The surgeons at UW-M do not perform nerve reimplantation surgery, even though we had been told that they do. It is not done at all in the US. Although there have been reports of success in the UK and Spain, no US surgeons attempt it because its success rate is very low, and it has the potential of causing more damage, including paralysis.
However, unlike the others we have consulted at John Muir, UCSF and Stanford, the UW-M surgeons do think it could be worth it to attempt a nerve transfer from his intercostal (rib) nerves, and also try to reinnervate a nerve from the trapezius region, both of which could potentially give Matthew the ability to lift his shoulder and hold out his stump, which could be extremely beneficial for his quality of life and the use of a prosthesis.
Unfortunately, there is a risk involved, and also there is a trade-off and loss. Transferring some of the intercostal nerves would decrease Matthew’s breathing capacity, which is already lower since the phrenic nerve was also avulsed or torn such that the left side of his diaphragm does not work.
Next Wednesday, we have a video call with the surgeon at UCSF to find out the results of the MRN (neurogram), which Matthew had in San Francisco two and a half weeks ago. We will be consulting with her and getting her advice on the next step.
So, please pray for Matthew to have much wisdom since he needs to decide whether or not to have the surgery at UW-M. There is the potential payoff in regaining the use of his shoulder, but this comes with the loss of some breathing ability and the general risk that all operations bring. Pray for Matthew to have the Lord’s guidance to know what to do. And also, please pray for the UCSF surgeon as we meet with her and get her opinion next week by video.
One of the best things about the trip to Wisconsin was that a dear brother in the Lord whom we had never met in person, drove four hours round trip to visit us. Not long after Matthew’s accident, a mutual friend had put us in contact with each other, and he and Matthew have been in contact by phone and text for the last couple of months. He had had a motorcycle accident in 2001 and was injured in almost exactly the same way as Matthew. After years of pain and treatment attempts, he also had his left arm amputated. He has been so helpful in giving Matthew practical tips for living as an upper extremity amputee since he’s been doing it now for over 15 years. He is now happily married, has a little girl and another baby on the way, works full time, fishes, hunts, uses a chain saw, plays volleyball, etc., etc. It was such an encouragement to meet a brother who has walked this path before. Most of all, he loves Jesus and was such a gentle encouragement to us to keep walking closely with the Lord and trusting His good plan, even in the midst of pain, loss, grief and disappointment.
Thank you for praying for Pamala. Packing is going well, and Croatia has loosened some of the shelter-in-place rules so that it will be easier for people to come to our house to pick up the things we are giving away, and easier for Pam to make goodbye visits and finalize details with closing down our phone plans, Internet, etc.
Her flights were again canceled a couple of times, but now she has tickets to fly back to the States May 26. Please pray that these flights will not be canceled and that we can get most of the money from the canceled flights refunded.
Please also pray for the right home for our car, either for our local church in Slavonski Brod, or for some other missionary, or that we could get it sold quickly since it would be best to have it done before the 26th.
We do not know whether we will be able to have the rent-free house. We should be able to get an answer May 22. Please pray for the Lord’s will in that, and that if it be His will, the answer would be yes! It would save a lot of missionary support to have a rent-free home!
Our dear friends donated a ton of furniture to us. Since we don’t yet have a place to live, the owners of the house where Matthew and I are temporarily staying graciously allowed us to fill their garage with the furniture, and other kind friends helped with the hard work of loading and unloading the truck loads and trailer loads. Thankfully, the weather that day was beautiful for moving.
It looks like we will have another Bible translation consultant joining the team to focus on the Ludari language. Of the five languages we are translating, this one has by far the least amount translated, and the translators are the least experienced since we started the process much later. Please pray for a good transition working with this second consultant and that we can make quality and speedy progress to finish the Gospel of Luke by early next year.
Thank you all for praying.