Matthew and I are in San Francisco this week. Please pray for his surgery this Friday. He will check in at 5:30 am for his morning surgery which will last several hours. The goal is for the surgeon to successfully re-route nerves from his spinal accessory nerve and maybe from some intercostal (rib) nerves so that they will grow to give him function at the suprascapular and deltoid. Practically speaking, this means that after the nerves grow (over a year or two) he would be able to support his left shoulder and perhaps move the shoulder and upper arm. The surgeon will not know until she is in the middle of the operation what the conditions of his donor nerves are and to what degree they can be transferred. Please pray for much wisdom for the surgical team, for complete success of the nerve transfers, for safety for Matthew and then for quick recovery.
He will remain in the hospital over the weekend and we will find out early next week when he can be discharged and when we can fly home.
This letter is a “stone of remembrance”–a testimony to give praise to God for His provision. As many of you know, our family has gone through major trials and transitions since January 18 when Matthew had his motorcycle accident. Through all of it, we have seen God provide our every need on each step of this journey.
When we needed a place to live, He provided a 6-bedroom house for us to rent in Independence, MO (Kansas City). This gives us room for Matthew to live with us and for Todd to have a home office for Bible translation work. The Lord used church friends to provide free furniture to furnish the house and willing hands to help us move everything.
When our van broke down and would require thousands of dollars to repair, He provided $25,000 in unexpected gifts so we could buy a 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan with only 13,000 miles on it and provide it with a 7-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
When we needed a second car, especially for teaching Kirsten to drive and for her to use to take early college classes and get to a job, friends donated a 2004 Volkswagen Passat in great condition.
When Matthew needed transportation, another friend donated a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 1500!
When we needed to transport our belongings from Croatia back to the States (pictured above at the warehouse), our home church gave a very large donation to cover the shipping and importing fees. (It should arrive sometime the latter half of July.)
Now that we are getting very close to the end of the recommended time window of six months in which Matthew needs to have nerve surgery, He has provided a surgeon who will do the operation. And just for fun, God also provided a sweet, totally white kitten, whom we have named Bela (which is Serbian for “white”). We can say with Samuel, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (see 1 Sam 7:12).
Matthew and Todd will fly to San Francisco July 6, Matthew will have his surgery on July 10, and we will return to Kansas City when he is discharged from the hospital, which will hopefully be the following week. The goal of the surgery is to transfer intercostal (rib) nerves and a spinal accessory nerve to his deltoid and suprascapular so that after a year or so of the nerves growing they will provide lift to his shoulder and upper arm stump.
I (Todd) am working with the Roma translators in editing, correcting, and improving their drafts of Luke chapters 22 and 23 in the Arli, Bayash, Chergash, Gurbet, and Ludari languages. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are not yet sure when I can travel back to Croatia or Serbia to meet in person with the translators.
Thank you for being God’s instruments in our lives to provide for us through your prayers, giving and encouragement.
Thank you for praying. God has graciously answered prayer for our vehicle needs. Through three very generous donors, we received funds to buy a 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan with only 13,000 miles and a seven-year full-coverage warranty. We are so grateful for your prayers and God’s provision.
Matthew will have nerve transfer surgery the week of July 6 at UCSF. He and Todd will fly out to San Francisco in time for an exam by the surgeon, followed by surgery and recovery. We don’t know precisely how long the process will take, but we plan to be in San Francisco for a week or two. We have been researching and praying about this surgery since the accident (which occurred January 18), and Matthew’s six-month window in which surgery should be performed closes July 18.
It is a big answer to prayer that the surgeon has agreed to do the procedure during this time window. Thank you for praying for all the research and medical tests leading to this point. Please pray for a successful surgery, and that the results of having the intercostal (rib) nerves and spinal accessory nerve transferred will be that Matthew will be able to lift his shoulder and upper arm after the year or two needed for the nerves to grow
Please continue to pray for us as we unpack from the move and set up the house we are renting in Independence (KC), Missouri. Please continue to pray for strength, grace, and efficient progress in unpacking and setting up the house.
Please also pray for one of our Roma Bible translators and his wife, one-year-old daughter, and mother-in-law in Croatia. They have come down with symptoms that look like COVID-19. Please pray for their protection and rapid healing.
We are blessed to have you as friends and prayer partners! Thank you, Todd
Just a quick update on our vehicle needs. Thank you all for praying. 1) As I mentioned in the previous update, a car has been given to us by friends, and we are so thankful. It has helped us through a very tight spot and will be a fantastic second card for our family, especially as Kirsten learns to drive and commutes to school and a job. 2) Another friend has decided to donate a pickup truck to Matthew! Our friend will do some work to get it ready, and then we will go to Freeport, Illinois, to pick it up, and Matthew will drive it home. Praise God! 3) One of our supporting churches is sending $5,000 toward our van need. Praise God for the generosity of God’s people. Please pray for wisdom whether we should use those funds to repair our current, older van, or for God’s provision of remaining funds so we can buy a replacement van.
Thank you all for praying for us. Last night I sent out an SOS prayer request about our need for vehicles. Less than 18 hours later, we were driving a car that is being given to us, and were able to return the rental van with before being charged for extra time usage! The Lord provides (Yahweh Yireh)! Very kind friends, who used to teach Daniel and Ariela in AWANA on our 2015 furlough, are giving us this car which we can use as our second car. We will use it for Kirsten to learn to drive and get to college classes and a job this Fall. Praise God for His provision and for the kindness of the Body of Christ.
A missionary friend put us in touch with a mechanic who is willing to look at our van and can probably repair it for much less than we have been quoted. Pray for wisdom whether it is best to repair the van, for ability for the mechanic to repair it less expensively, or for provision of a different van. (The ones we have priced so far are too expensive.)
That same friend gave us leads on a couple cars which might be possibilities for Matthew. Please continue to pray for an expensive, reliable car that Matthew can buy very soon.
Matthew had a video appointment with the surgeon in San Francisco and heard most of the results of his neurogram. The neurogram confirmed that at least three of the nerve roots were completely torn from the spinal cord and that two others were damaged. Matthew has decided to have surgery to transfer some intercostal nerves and the spinal accessory nerve which, if successful, would grow to provide some movement for the deltoid and shoulder. July 18 marks the end of the six-month window in which nerve surgery should ideally be done. Matthew has sent in a request to the surgeon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to perform the surgery, and a backup request to the surgeon in San Francisco in case UW-Madison is not available in time. Please pray for the Lord’s will and that Matthew can have the nerve transfer surgery very soon.
We are so thankful for a place to live. The $1/month house did not materialize, so we are renting a house for a year and our new address is 1803 S. Hawthorne Ave., Independence, MO 64052. We are grateful for all those from our home church who donated furniture to set up the house and helped us move.
Please continue to pray for Pamala as she continues to unpack and set up house.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support.
Please pray for us. Our van, the only vehicle we have, broke down and the repair estimates are between $4,500-6,000. The van itself has 180,000 miles on it and is only worth about $1,200. We went car shopping today, but the ones we looked at were quite expensive. If any of you know of reliable vehicles for sale at a low price, please let me know. We actually are also in need of a reliable and inexpensive second car for Kirsten to use, and Matthew also needs an inexpensive car since his was totaled and salvage in California. Thus the Prices are praying for 3 cars! 🙂 Please pray for the Lord’s provision.
We are back together as a family! Pamala, Kirsten, Daniel and Ariela arrived in Kansas City the night of May 26. The following day was our anniversary so the timing was perfect.
We’ve located a house in Kansas City and plan to sign a one-year lease and move in the first week of June, Lord willing.
God was gracious in answering prayer and giving Pamala strength to pack up our house in Croatia as a single parent and get our belongings on the truck. The shipment is in process now of going by land to the Croatian coast where it will then be transported by sea to the States, and then by land to our house in KC.
There were many precious goodbyes and last visits Pam had with our Croatian and Roma colleagues. They were so helpful in helping get things moved out of the house.
Matthew is still waiting to hear the results from the neurogram he had done in San Francisco last month. We are eager to hear what this detailed image shows and whether it can demonstrate conclusively whether his nerves were pulled out of the spinal cord (avulsed) or only torn or bruised. He had another test (“sniff” test) and we are waiting for the final results of that, but it looks like it confirms that his diaphragm is not working at all on the left side. If you remember, this is important information since one treatment that has been offered is to reroute some of the nerves which currently go to his ribs for breathing, and yet he already has less ability to breath due to the damage to his phrenic nerve to his diaphragm.
Please pray for wisdom for Matthew to know whether or not to have surgery to reroute some intercostal (rib) nerves and/or the spinal accessory nerve, in order to try to restore movement to his shoulder.
We are still waiting to hear from the prosthetics company whether our insurance will cover the prostheses we would like him to have.
Even though separated by 7,000 miles, we were able to meet with the Bayash translators and our Bible translation consultant and edit their version of Luke chapters 17-19.
Thank you so much for praying for us a family as we navigate these changes, for Matthew’s healing and recovery and for continued fruitful progress on the Bible translations for Roma.
In several hours, on Thursday morning in Croatia, the truck will arrive at our home to ship our bins, boxes and suitcases across the Atlantic!
Thank you for praying for me and the children during this marathon!!! As you see, God has once again answered prayer (in the way we like it)! Friends are helping me with the loading of the truck and distribution of our other home, office and school things.
Our hearts are with people on both sides of the ocean regardless of our residence. May 26 is our flight date. Thanks for praying that will indeed not be cancelled by the airlines.
And please continue to ask God for the perfect home for us in the Kansas City area. (We will know one way or another about one great option on May 22.) Our Forever Home of Heaven requires no packing!!! And no passport is needed for that citizenship, but your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life upon heart repentance and belief in Jesus Christ!
Today Matthew had a video appointment with the surgeon in San Francisco. We had hoped to hear the results of the MRN (neurogram) and have the final piece of the knowledge puzzle to make a decision about potential surgery. Unfortunately, they have not finished processing all the data so we will have wait for another meeting next week. And in the meantime, we need to have one more test done locally in KC and need to get some of the medical records sent to a couple of the surgeons.
Please pray we can get all the test information conclusions and get them to the various surgeons.And pray especially for Matthew as he has to decide whether or not to do the surgery. To do the surgeries could restore some movement to his left shoulder so he could hold it up and raise his upper arm stump to some degree, which would be extremely helpful, especially in using a prosthesis in the future. At the same time, surgeries have risks, and he would be sacrificing some of the muscles which help him breath and some back muscle functions, since the nerves which currently go there would be re-routed (transferred) to his shoulder.
By the time Pamala and the kids make it to the States, it will have been over four months since Todd left, and over three months since we saw each other during their visit to Matthew in San Francisco. Pam bought these signs for Matthew to remind him as we have gotten closer to the time when we will see each other again. They are hanging up at the house in Kansas City were Matthew and I are temporarily staying.