Monday, March 31, 2003

Rebecca's Journey - 23

Dear Friends,

We are now less than two weeks until Rebecca comes home permanently. What a day that will be! After 18 months in 5 different hospitals, 5 major surgeries, innumerable minor procedures and crises, we will celebrate her homecoming. God has been so faithful and so good.

Yesterday we had a milestone event: Rebecca's 1st outing. Robert and Tracy had us over to their home for an afternoon English Tea (Tracy is English). As you know, they live directly across the street. Robert and Stephen carried her up the stairs in her wheelchair to their lovely new premises. The table was beautifully set with snowy white Belgian lace and lovely china. Tracy fixed cucumber sandwiches, lemon cake, biscuits, and truffles, served in a tiered silver serving piece, with classical music playing and good fellowship. It was a luxurious hour sipping fine English tea - a good beginning for future outings. On the way back home some of the neighbors came out and waved to Rebecca. They were glad to see us out and about.

Mary Peake spent the weekend with us to help with Rebecca. Deborah Bradfield comes on Tuesday for a week. As you'll remember, Judy is back in the US for 5 weeks with her children - a much needed break for her.

From Rebecca: "'Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' (I Thes. 5:17) Years ago Paul told me that the Greek here means to 'cover all things with the umbrella of thanksgiving.'

I'm always amazed at how I can forget lessons that, over the years, the Lord has made a part of the very foundation of my walk with Him. This week I made a discovery of just such an area.

I've been having what to me is a noticeable change in my left hand (my good hand). I seem to have less control, although my mobility is still good. When I talk to the doctors about it, they can't see much of a change. And besides, they don't know what to do about it, since they don't know why I can use my left hand anyway.

This week the Lord showed me that I was worrying about it. Over 30 years ago the Lord taught us to exchange worry for thanksgiving. John Wesley said: 'I would rather curse and swear than worry.' It has been such a joy to live a life full of thanksgiving, knowing that the God of love was in control, and was sending good things. But in these last weeks worry has crept in. I was worried about my left hand! I asked the Lord to forgive me, and decided that every time I noticed any change, I would thank Him and praise Him for His goodness (and for your prayers). I am covered, and I am His. I'm so thankful that we are able to be a People whose hearts are full of thanksgiving and gratitude."

Our love to you all,

Paul and Rebecca

PS One of you asked that I put in our address:

Paul & Rebecca Petrie
Av. Gevaert, 254
1332 Genval

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Rebecca's Journey - 22

Dear Friends,

Another sunny Sunday in Belgium! Our daughter Susannah is still with us, and what a joy to have her here. She returns to Jacksonville tomorrow. Judy heads back to the US this coming Thursday for her month's break, returning here 1 May.

We have a definite date for Rebecca's permanent return: 11 April. I'm planning a homecoming party to celebrate the Lord's goodness and her return on the 12th - wonderful reasons to celebrate.

Many of the details in preparation for Rebecca's return are coming into place. The anti-bedsore mattress is here. We now have her reclinable, portable wheelchair, and on Monday the therapists will begin fitting her electronic wheelchair to her body. The "iron nurse" (a device that lifts her from the bed and aids in getting her into her wheelchair) arrives tomorrow.

From Susannah: "Having not been here since January, I'm excited to see the marked increase in general strength and stamina. She is sustaining her therapy much better than she was, and returns from it weary, but not in total exhaustion and nausea. And she is more beautiful than ever. I know this is a direct response to many of your prayers."

From Rebecca: "My 'baguette' for this week came from our dear daughter Susannah in a note that arrived before she did. She wrote out Scriptures for me, and included these simple words for the Gospel of John: 'I am the light of the world. I am the bread of life. I am the living water.' Those words have been reverberating in my heart all week.

There is a new young man (I would guess he is in his early 20's) who has had his leg amputated just above the knee. I don't know when I've seen a darker countenance. There is a cloud of sadness that hangs over him. I find myself praying: 'Lord, let the Light of the world break through his darkness. Somehow, let him come and drink from the Spring of living water.'

There is also a new student nurse. I can tell that she loves me. She is always the first one to answer my bell. 'I'll help!' she says. She doesn't even know it, but she's eating of the Bread of life, dinking at the Spring. Lord, in the next month, let there be opportunity to clarify for her what her hunger is, what she is thirsty for.

Often in the morning, the nurses help me get set up with my Bible and my books, and my reading glasses (thank you Chris T.) to have my quiet time. Many don't recognize what a Bible is. They say: 'Do you want the big blue book?' The other day, I was in the midst of reading and one of the nurses walked in. 'Oh, you're reading a Bible' she said. 'My husband is going for an interview for a new job this morning. Would you pray for him?' Lord, let the Light of the world break through, that she might recognize who You are.

My prayer for you this week is that you would see those who are hungry for the Bread of life, thirsty for Springs of living water, and struggling in their darkness - to see and pray for them, and to realize that you may bethe one to offer them the Bread, the Water, and the Light for which they are looking."

Paul again: Rebecca and I want to express here our gratitude to and for my administrative assistant Mary, who has been a wonderful strength and assist during this time, and for Robert and Tracy Vaughan, long time friends, who are in language study here preparing for a move to Congo. Robert is a surgical nurse. They are presently living directly across the street and have also been a great help - as well as being lots of fun.

Our love to you all,

Paul & Rebecca

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Rebecca's Journey - 21

Greetings Friends,

It's a lovely, sunny spring day in Belgium. Rebecca and I are sitting together in our living room, now her bedroom, and wanted to communicate with you.

The planning commission has concluded that our neighbors' objections to the extension were not sufficient to block the project. So everything is on "go", and construction should begin mid to late May.

Many thanks for the week of concentrated prayer. Joseph Holbrook's love and leadership in this have been greatly appreciated. Rebecca's sense of well-being has been very good, and her energy has increased sufficiently that the therapists have her back on 2 hours a day of physiotherapy and one hour a day of occupational therapy, plus her speech therapy. She is doing so well.

Annie, our French friend, was here for several weeks, and has been a wonderful help in getting into place the medical care and equipment Rebecca will need once she moves home. We have found a physiotherapist who lives in our neighborhood who worked in Chicago for a year. She has visited and is in contact with Rebecca's therapist at Pellenberg, and is ready to start as soon as Rebecca comes home. We've also found a lovely young nurse (through Annie's help) whom we interviewed yesterday, and she will be coming twice a day once Rebecca is here. Several other important details, including an anti-bedsore mattress, are in place.

Our dear friend Wendy Beckett was also here for a period and lovingly transplanted many of Rebecca's precious perennials from the area where the construction will take place. These can later be replaced where Rebecca wants them. Those of you who know Rebecca's love for her garden will appreciate what a gift this was to her.

Our daughter, Susannah, arrives tomorrow morning for a week. Then on Tuesday we will meet with Rebecca's doctors and therapists to make the final plans for Rebecca's move home. It now looks like it will be either the 4th or the 11th of April. We can't wait!

From Rebecca:

"One of the lovely things about the way Father works in our lives is that He leads us, step by step, through the processes that we need. Coming home from Pellenberg last weekend, we came around the round-about at the little lake where Paul and I walked for many years. My mind went back to our walks, to eating together in some of the restaurants that circle the lake, and I felt sad. I carried that sense of sadness through the evening. The next morning in my quite time the Lord brought it back to mind, and gently rebuked me. He reminded me of the Scripture: 'He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom.' Surely there is an important place in our lives for remembering, with thanksgiving, but when that remembering turns to a longing for what is past, it can become sin. I was given the precious gift of repentance. I wept, realizing that the Lord desired for me to look ahead and not back. What has been, has been His gift to me, but no more so than that which is ahead. That too is His gift to me. I'm reminded of the Scripture in Jer. 29:11 ' "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." '

One specific prayer request: Caring for Rebecca and our home is really a three person job. Please join us in praying for the right people, short or long term, who can assist.

Well, Friends, that's our news. May He meet you all deeply with Himself, His love, and His grace this week.

Our love,

Paul & Rebecca