Results of Wisconsin trip; waiting for answer on house; Pam and kids returning on 26th

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.

Gratefully,

Todd

Our daily prayer calendar (The Prices Write, May 2020, part 3)

“Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”
(Psalm 66:20 ESV)

(To download this prayer request list formatted for printing as a daily calendar, click below:)

1 Praise God for everyone who is donating furniture so we can set up our new house in Kansas City

2 Pray for the Lord to provide just the right house at a great price in KC for our family beginning June 1

3 Pray for Pam as packs our home in Croatia, for stamina & wisdom to pack & to give things away

4 Pray for Elizabeth & Stephen for continued good health in their jobs & training

5 Pray for Todd & Matthew as they drive to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, for testing by another surgeon

6 Pray for wisdom for the surgeon in Madison, WI, to know the best treatment course of action for Matthew

7 Pray for Ariela for emotional grace for all the goodbyes

8 Pray for Daniel for good adjustment with all the changes with our move to the US

9 Pray for Kirsten that God’s glory would always be her ultimate goal

10 Praise God for the wonderful moms in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day!

11 Pray for Matthew for friendships in KC that will be really helpful

12 Pray for the shipping company truck as they come to pick up our belongings in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, and ship them by sea to KC

13 Pray for Jonathan to see God’s daily gifts of mercy

14 Pray for Timothy to experience joy in his salvation & peace, & for diligence with his studies

15 Praise God for excellent health for all of us & our parents over these lasts months

16 Praise God for the kindness & support of friends in Croatia

17 Pray that our health insurance will cover all they are supposed to and even more!

18 Praise God for the lovely, furnished house where Matthew & Todd have been staying & we can all stay for a while when they arrive from Croatia

19 Pray for daily perseverance for Matthew adjusting to life with one arm

20 Pray for Natasha & Renata, translating the Bible into the Bayash language

21 Pray for Sasha, Alen, and Kada, translating the Bible into the Arli language

22 Pray for Pam & the kids as they prepare to leave Croatia

23 Pray for health, safety & stamina as they make the 24-hour trek (driving, three flights, driving) from Croatia to KC

24 Pray for everyone’s health & safety traveling to the US

25 Pray for Pam & the kids to adjust to the time difference (7 hours) in KC from Croatia & to recover from jet-lag quickly

26 Pray for our teammate, Joy Hill’s, whose birthday is tomorrow, for blessings in her remote administration ministry

27 Today is our 31st wedding anniversary!

28 Pray for Djena & Biljana, translating the Bible into the Chergash language

29 Pray for Goran & Naki translating the Bible into the Gurbet language

30 Pray for Zoki & Stanoje translating the Bible into the Ludari language

31 Pray for additional workers on the translation team & that tasks can be delegated speed up the Bible translation progress

The Prices Write (May 2020, part 1)

On our recent trip to Stanford & San Francisco, Matthew got to show me the beach at one of his favorite spots, Pacifica, CA

We are so grateful for your prayers and support. As mentioned earlier, our visit to Stanford University Medical Center did not bring the news we had hoped for since the surgeon there said that there is no surgery he can perform to help Matthew regain movement in his shoulder and upper arm. During that same trip, we also had an MRN (neurogram) done at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and we are still waiting to hear the results of that test.

University of California San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay

On May 5-6, we plan to drive to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical Center so that Matthew can be seen by another surgeon. Please pray that this would lead to a treatment that would help restore some movement for Matthew.

Sometime around mid-May, the shipping company will be sending a truck to our home in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, to load up the belongings that we are sending back to Kansas City by sea. Please pray for Pamala as she works toward that deadline to get everything packed.

She will then have until around May 25th to wrap up all the loose ends of visiting friends, coworkers, and translators to say goodbye, giving away the things we are not shipping to the States, closing down our phones, Internet, and utilities, making arrangements for our car, etc. And then the glorious day we have been waiting for: Pam and the kids will fly from Croatia back to Kansas City around May 25th. That will mark over four months since Todd left Croatia and over three months since we have seen each other! It will be so lovely to be together again.

Instead of reading stories to the kids in person, we’ve had to settle for second best, with reading stories over video chat

We have decided to push our Bible translation deadline goals back six months. Because of my time in the States for Matthew’s accident, plus the lockdowns because of COVID-19, we canceled the February and May Bible translation consultant workshops, which we had planned, which pushes our progress back quite a bit.

Having said that, we continue to make progress with the Bible translations. We have added another translator, Alen, for the Arli language. We are also praying about adding two more translation consultants to the projects. I (Todd) have been wearing many hats on the translation projects, including handling finances, training the Bible translators, evaluating and editing the translations, meeting with the translators to check each verse of their drafts, helping the translators use their translations with others in the language community to test the understandability of the drafts, recording the audio of the translations, etc.

3rd from the left is Naki, one of our translators for the Gurbet language. A hard worker & sweet mother of 3, we appreciate her love for the Lord, the great job she does in translating & her husband, Roki, who narrates the audio recordings in Gurbet

Although the translations are turning out well, the progress is going too slowly for us to expect to finish in a reasonable time, and this is because the work is bottle necking with me since I am trying to fill too many roles. The goal now, for which I ask you to pray, is that I will be able to delegate a number of these roles and be able to focus on preparing the translations to be checked by the consultants. If I could spend more of my time on that task and if others could pick up the slack in other areas, we will be able to get more of the Bible translated more quickly in these five languages.

Thank you for your love and support for us as a family, especially for Matthew at this hard time, and for the work of Bible translation for Roma speaking these five languages.

Gratefully,
Todd

Of widows, coins and offering boxes

This week I am editing the translations of Luke 21. Communicating the meaning of God’s Word across languages is always fascinating but is a highly complex task. Take Luke 21:1-4 as an example. It says that the widow put in two lepta. Luke’s original audience understood Roman coinage and new that a lepton was the smallest coin around, made of copper or perhaps bronze, and worth about what a day laborer would earn for 3-4 minutes of work. Most of us, and especially unchurched Roma, don’t possess that background knowledge, so we need to translate it as “only two small coins.”

By the way, some translators are tempted to translate it into modern currency, such as “two cents” or “two dinar,” but that is fraught with difficulty since it incorrectly assumes, first, that we know the exact buying power of these coins two thousand years ago, and secondly, that our currency will not change or highly deflate within the lifetime of those who read our new translation. This is more than just theoretical as can be seen by the fact that 25 years ago when we first moved to Croatia, they used a currency called “dinar,” whereas now they use “kuna,” besides the fact that the exchange rate 25 years ago to the US dollar was 1 to 44,000, whereas now it is 1 to 6! Add to that the reality that the Roma who speak these languages live in multiple countries with different currencies, and you can see how dangerous it is to peg a translation with an exact modern equivalent of money which is used in only one country.

This is only one potential trap to avoid in translation. In that same passage, we have to be careful to explain that the people were putting money not into a literal “treasury” but into “collection boxes for offerings to God,” which an unchurched Roma would not automatically know. And when Jesus says that the widow put in more than the rich, He did not mean that literally the amount of currency she gave exceeded the amount given by the rich, but rather that in His eyes (i.e., in the only estimation which matters), what she gave was worth more than all the others put it. Again, a footnote may need to be added in the translation to make it clear that Jesus is not spouting nonsense.

Also, there is no Roma word for “widow,” so we either have to borrow a term from Croatian or Serbian or else put an additional phrase in the translation: “a woman whose husband had died.” That phrase makes the meaning clear, but the style clumsy. Yes, Bible translation is an art, as well as a science.

Time-sensitive prayer request: possible rent-free house!

As Pam packs up our house in Croatia, our cats (Pepper and Pippin) love to sleep on top of the luggage!
Ariela, “queen of the tree”, in our backyard in Croatia

Prayer request: As you know, we have been looking for a place to rent while we live in KC. Although we had planned to sign a lease this Thursday to move into a townhouse for $1255 in monthly rent, we found out yesterday that there is a possibility that a different house might become available for us rent-free. Our friends are asking permission for us to be allowed to do this beginning on June 1. So, please pray that by Thursday we will get an answer, and that, if the Lord wills, we would be allowed to live in that house rent-free. Thank you for praying for this amazing and time-sensitive prayer request.

Nerve reimplantation not an option for Matthew at Stanford

Thank you for praying for us. Matthew and I are staying at a hotel near the airport in San Francisco. He and I met with the new surgeon at Stanford in Palo Alto, California, this morning. His opinion is that, in all probability, the nerves were avulsed entirely (ripped from the spinal cord) for Matthew’s hand, arm, should and upper back, and that, in all likelihood, there is no treatment that can remedy it.

He did order a special x-ray and will let us know the findings. However, those reports will only give information about Matthew’s breathing function and shed light on whether another set of nerves was damaged or whether they might be available for use in the case of a nerve transfer if that option is even still possible. He also would like to see the findings from the MRN that Matthew will have on Wednesday at UCSF. 

This surgeon’s opinion is that true reimplantation of nerves into the spinal cord is not possible. He has not seen it done and is not aware of it being performed successfully in the US.

This is not the answer we wanted to hear, although it is satisfying to finally meet with another specialist and get his opinion. We had been working for a long time to find another specialist, covered by our insurance, who was available to evaluate Matthew as a candidate for further surgery.

Please pray for the MRN on Wednesday, for the doctors at UCSF as they interpret the imaging, for the surgeon at Stanford as he interprets the x-ray, and for all of us as we continue to pursue advice from these surgeons.

There is always the possibility, since there are many unknowns with nerves, that some of Matthew’s feeling or use of his arm stump would slowly return. We continue to ask you to pray for that. Until then, it looks like the best road ahead is to continue to work on getting Matthew a prosthesis that will allow him to utilize, to a limited degree, his left arm and mechanic hand or hook.

Please pray as this reality continues to sink in, and as another hoped-for door seems to have slammed closed.

Grace does not mean that everything will work out the way we had hoped or the way which we interpret as being the most beneficial or useful. Grace often means patience, peace, contentment, and an eternal perspective in the midst of the very circumstances we were praying so desperately to avoid.

Thank you for your prayers.

Todd

Matthew and Todd flying now to San Jose, California

Todd & Matthew on board in KC en route to San Jose
Ariela’s artwork for Easter
Spring weather has arrived in Croatia. Ariela (pictured above), Daniel and Kirsten are being troopers with all the changes of packing and moving

We continue to be amazed at God’s provision. In the same way (as I have translated repeatedly in Luke’s Gospel) that the people “marveled” at what Jesus did, Pam and I continue to “marvel” at God’s provision.

Matthew and I are at the KC airport preparing to fly to San Jose, California (via Atlanta of all things since they changed our flights due, presumably, to not having enough passengers going directly from KC). We’ll be in the Bay Area in CA through Thursday. We plan to meet with a new surgeon at Stanford Monday morning to get a second opinion from him about Matthew’s condition and his advice on the best surgical treatment, specifically to find out if Matthew is a candidate for nerve reimplantation surgery. On Wednesday, we will go to UCSF (San Francisco), so Matthew can have a magnetic resonance neurography (MRN). This highly specialized imaging will give the new surgeon at UCSF the information she needs to provide us with a second opinion on the best surgical treatment for Matthew’s condition.

God has provided to put this puzzle together so we can visit both UCSF and Stanford on this one trip. He has provided through a friend who bought the airline tickets for us using his frequent flyer miles. He is providing through another friend in California who, since they could not host us due to the COVID-19 lockdown, paid for a hotel for us to stay in and will be paying for a rental car as well.

In KC, God is providing through friends for our furniture needs for the townhouse we will be renting. Friends from our home church became executors of a house full of furniture (!), and they are giving us a ton of it. Stephen’s parents and others from our home church are graciously providing other furniture needs we have. Additionally, the gracious hosts of the house where Matthew and I are staying have said we can use the house in May as long as we need it, which will make the transition to the townhouse easier and give a place for Pam and the kids to be with us when they first arrive as we set up the townhouse.

Lord willing, Matthew and I will be able to begin using the townhouse April 30 and will start the process of getting furniture moved in. We don’t yet know when Pam and the kids will come back to KC as that depends on packing the house and the shelter-in-place rules in Croatia.

So praise God with us for these fantastic provisions. And also please pray for the following needs:

1) For a good appointment at Stanford, for all the medical records from UCSF to reach them, and for much wisdom for the doctors and us in deciding about surgical treatment for Matthew.

2) For successful MRN imaging at UCSF and much insight for the doctors and us as they also give us their second opinions.

3) Logistics for getting the furniture moved and the townhouse set up in KC.

4) Strength and wisdom for Pamala in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, packing up our belongings there. Stamina for long hours of packing and being a single parent, and much wisdom to know what we should move to KC and what we should give away and to whom.

5) For all the logistics (which are hampered by COVID-19 lockdown) to work out so Pam can give away the things we are not bringing back to KC, as well as cancel the utilities, etc. which is complicated due to my not being present in country to do that.

6) Wisdom and logistics for Pam and travel permission for the moving company to pick up our belongings for shipment by sea to the States.

7) For the 20 of us in Croatia, Serbia, and the US translating and checking the translations in the 5 Roma languages. We are currently focusing on Luke 20, on the incident when Jesus was questioned about paying taxes to Caesar. Please pray for wisdom in the myriad language decisions, for God’s wisdom and empowerment to translate well, and all for His glory.

8) For wisdom for our colleagues and us to work out the best workflow and division of labor of how to handle the various administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting aspects of the Bible translation work, which is more complicated when I am not living in Croatia.

9) For what to do with our car in Croatia, for wisdom in stewarding it, and that it would be a blessing to others in Croatia while we are away.

Gratefully,

Todd

Visiting California for more tests & second opinions

Christ is risen; He’s risen indeed! The weather was beautiful in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, for Ariela, Daniel, and Kirsten to enjoy an Easter egg hunt with Pam (pictured above). Matthew and I enjoyed worship at home in Kansas City with Elizabeth and Stephen.

Thank you for praying for us. Matthew has had good appointments here in Kansas City with his primary care physician, chiropractor, and a physical therapist, as well as a video conference call with a surgeon at UCSF in San Francisco.

The surgeon in San Francisco has requested that Matthew have a magnetic resonance neurography (MRN), which is expensive and difficult to find. The MRN is crucial since it will give her the most up-to-date and detailed picture of his nerve damage, which she needs to know the best surgical course of action to take. We have scheduled to have the MRN done in San Francisco on Monday, April 20.

The neurosurgeon at Stanford has an opening to examine Matthew in person on April 22, so Matthew and I plan to fly to the Bay Area April 19-23 for these two appointments.

Last week we toured the townhouse in KC MO that we were approved for, and it will be available April 30 for Matthew and me to move in. Friends from our home church are gathering a list of available furniture that many are donating to furnish the townhouse. We are so humbled and blessed by how everyone is coming together to help us.

Pam continues to heroically be a single parent back in Croatia and pack up the house there to move our belongings back to KC. Please pray for God to give her incredible strength, wisdom, and joy as she undertakes this overwhelming task.

This week I’ve been working on checking the Bible translation drafts of the parable of the wicked tenants in Luke 20 in each of the 5 Roma languages. In 20:16, after Jesus finishes the parable describing the atrocities of the vine keepers and the owner’s retaliation, the chief priests and scribes respond to Jesus with “May it not be!” (in Greek). The ESV renders the idea as “Surely not!” Interestingly, in the Roma dialects, the idiom is “That God not give/allow!”, the same way it is expressed in Croatian and Serbian. Another tidbit is that where in v. 17 it says that Jesus “looked directly at them,” one of the Roma languages uses, literally “looked well/good at them,” which has an idiomatic meaning of “cutting them apart” with the look. Yes, Jesus was serious and did not mince words.

So, the Bible translations continue to move forward, our move from Croatia to KC moves forward, and praise God, progress is being made with Matthew’s medical treatments. Thank you for your prayers!

Todd

Found a townhouse; began the process of getting Matthew a prosthesis; continuing to pack Croatia house

Ariela & Kirsten making cupcakes
Ariela’s artwork and a bouquet for Mommy

Thank you for praying for us! 1) Praise God that we heard back from the apartment complex to which we applied that they have approved our application to move into a rental townhouse in Kansas City, MO, on May 1st! We have not seen the townhouse in person yet, but Matthew and I plan to go this week to view it. Pam and the kids in Croatia will be on video chat with us then so I can walk through and show them the new place, which will be helpful for Pam to know what we` will need for the home as she packs up our rented house in Croatia. 2) Please pray for God to give Pam much strength and stamina in packing, and wisdom to know what to bring to the States and what to give away. Pray that we can distribute the things we are not taking, which currently isn’t possible with the lockdown due to COVID-19.

3) Praise God also that we had a very constructive appointment at Advanced Arm Dynamics in Overland Park, KS, on Monday. They patiently worked with us and explained to us the options for the type of prosthesis that they could design for Matthew. We are very thankful that they feel confident that they can create one which will allow Matthew to flex the prosthetic arm at the elbow and then rotate and open and close a prosthetic hand or hook. When Matthew’s chest and back muscles on his upper left side had been tested in San Francisco a few weeks ago, they showed no electrical impulses. But yesterday, when they tested them in Overland Park, they detected impulses as he flexed his chest and back, which will be enough to power an electrical elbow, wrist, and hand. We 4) praise God for this glorious good news!

Prostheses are not cheap. 5) Please pray that our insurance will approve the very best prosthetic arm option for Matthew, that the approval will come quickly, and that Advanced Arm Dynamics can begin building the prosthesis very soon with insurance approval.

Please continue to 6) pray for what to do with our car in Croatia. The registration runs out late next month, and we will not be getting new visas and registering it annually.

We have begun getting hospital and doctor bills and trying to sort out what insurance will cover. (The first of the two hospitals in San Francisco has billed our insurance for over $1,000,000. We have not yet seen bills from the second hospital.) Some of the bills are being disputed or denied by our insurance. Would you please 7) pray that insurance will cover as much of the costs as possible. Pray also that our applications for disability insurance payments, as well as Medi-Cal coverage for Matthew will be approved.

Last week I filled out a lengthy report on the progress on the Bible translations in the previous six months. We 8) praise God for milestones met for four languages of finishing over half of the Gospel of Luke, printing out Luke chapters 1-2, completing and printing a 685-page full-color, illustrated Bible storybook with 50 stories, and beginning the process of making audio recordings of these stories and Luke. Please continue to 9) pray for me, the 11 Roma translators, and seven Croatian translators, and our international consultant as we continue to progress on translating and editing Luke and various other sections of the New Testament, for God’s enablement to clearly and accurately translate His Word.

Thank you all for praying for us!

Todd

Matthew and Todd back in Kansas City

Thank you for praying for us. Matthew and I arrived in Kansas City last night and are settling into the place where we will be living in April.

Our trip from Oakland to Kansas City was eventful. First of all, because of COVID-19, things are shut down in most places, so we couldn’t find a way to give away the extra furniture that was left in the apartment where Matthew lived, which we were not able to fit into the rental van. We were finally able to dispose of the furniture, but it was very, very stressful, and set us back so that we left later than planned. Thankfully, the van we were provided at the rental was a stow-away version where all the seats go down into the floor, thus maximizing the amount of space available. We were able to get a lot of Matthew’s things in the van, with almost no room to spare.

Then, after loading up our luggage and groceries from where we had been staying in Walnut Creek, CA, and saying goodbye to the dear family who hosted us for a month (!), we headed off. Thankfully, we were able to pick up the last of Matthew’s prescription medications, which had just been cleared by insurance before leaving town.

We traversed California, went through Reno, and were in the middle of Nevada, and it was dark. As I drove, I suddenly saw what looked like the burned-out hulk of a car in the lane next to me. This stretch of the highway has a speed limit of 80, which I was definitely going. I veered over to avoid whatever it was in the other lane but ran over something. Immediately, the low tire pressure light came on, and I pulled off on the shoulder. 

We went back to see what had been in the road and found a young man Matthew’s age, covered in blood and walking around in shock and confusion next to what was left of his car. It must have veered off the road (maybe he fell asleep at the well), and he overcorrected because it had obviously rolled. It was smashed on the front, top and back, and the windows had blown out. A truck driver who stopped to help had the foresight to put road construction barrels out in the lane of traffic to keep others from driving right into the car, which was completely blocking the lane. (There were hundreds of road construction barrels, just lining the roads for no apparent reason; praise God they were available!)

After the paramedics came and were treating the driver, we went back to our rental car and discovered that there was no spare! It took several hours and three different roadside service options, but eventually, a very kind mechanic in a small Nevada town was able to find the right kind of tire for our van and brought it to us and installed it. 

By then it was very late, and we had been on the go since morning, so we decided to forget the hotel reservation which was still over two hours away. We booked a cheap hotel in the closest town and got to bed at 3:30 a.m.

That meant that we were a couple of hours behind schedule, so to get to Denver for the next hotel, we needed to travel 13 1/2 hours. We did, were exhausted, and got to bed the second night at 1:30 a.m.

Yesterday we made the trek from Denver to Kansas City and got in around 10 p.m. Some extremely generous hosts are letting us stay at their lakeside house in Lee’s Summit for a month, and it was a tremendous joy to walk into their beautiful home last night and get a great night of sleep.

So, thank you all for praying for us on our journey of 1,900 miles from Oakland to Lee’s Summit. 1) Praise God for His protection from the near accident, and for strength to be behind the wheel for 28 hours.

Please pray for Pamala, Kirsten, Daniel, and Ariela back in Slavonski Brod, Croatia. Kirsten’s 14-day quarantine after arriving from Germany ends tomorrow. Pam is looking forward to getting out and going to the grocery store. She is packing up our belongings from the house in Croatia, and we would ask you to 2) pray for wisdom for her to know what to pack to ship to the States, and what (and to whom) to give away.

Please 3) pray for the Lord’s timing for Pam and the kids to come back to KC from Croatia. With the massive job of packing up the house, added to the unknowns about travel restrictions in and from Croatia because of COVID-19, we are not exactly sure when they will be able to come back. We think that it will be some time in May. Please 4) pray for them as they pack the house and tie up many loose ends in Slavonski Brod.

5) Pray for the best solution for what to do with our car in Croatia. As foreigners, we can only register it a year at a time, in sync with when we get our annual visas. Our current visas expire May 27, at which time the car registration also expires. We and our missionary colleagues need wisdom whether we should sell the car, give it to our teammates (which means they would need to have the funds to register, insure and operate an extra vehicle), or some other option.

Black Forest Academy is unsure whether they will be able to reopen their campus after their Spring Break. Kirsten is living at home in Croatia doing her classes online, and we assume that she will not return to BFA this school year, but will finish out the school year with online classes. Please 6) pray for her as this means she will not physically be with friends there as we had all assumed when the school year started, back before COVID-19.

We are waiting to hear if our application for an apartment in Kansas City has been approved. Please 7) pray that the Lord will provide that apartment, or another option as a place for us to live, beginning in May, for the next couple years.

On Monday, Matthew will meet with the technicians at Advanced Arm Dynamics in Overland Park, KS, to begin the process of getting an orthosis and/or prosthesis for his left side. Please 8) pray for this huge and significant process for Matthew, for God’s provision of the very best solution for his lost arm and hand.

On Wednesday, Matthew has a video chat (Zoom) meeting with a surgeon at UCSF in San Francisco to get a second opinion for nerve treatment surgeries. On Friday, Matthew meets with our local primary care physician so they can meet him, assess his ongoing medication needs, and hopefully connect us with a physical therapist or occupational therapist for Matthew. Please 9) pray for God’s guidance for us and these doctors as we meet with them.

Bible translation is moving along well. I’ve been editing the Ludari translation of Luke chapter 5 and hope to continue soon editing Luke 19 in all five languages (Ludari, as well as Arli, Bayash, Chergash, and Gurbet). Please 10) pray for all 20 of us working on these Roma Bible translations, that we would all make fast yet accurate progress in translating, for God’s Spirit to empower and guide us, and for the resulting translations to bring Him great glory.

Please also 11) pray for someone to help with handling the finances of the Bible translation project on the field (i.e., expenditures in Croatia and Serbia) and with the logistics of organizing and hosting the Bible translation workshops and checking sessions during times when I cannot be physically present in Croatia or Serbia.

We praise God for each of you who has been so kind in giving financially, praying for us, providing meals, etc., etc. We are far, far more blessed than we deserve.

Grace and peace,

Todd