Saturday, February 27, 2010


Dear Friends and Family,

Thanks for your concern; we are all fine. I won't bother going over the details the news is giving you, but will fill in our experiences and concerns at present.

At around three in the morning we awoke to our house swaying. It felt as though we were on a boat in rough seas. When we lived in Costa Rica we felt quakes that were rough and jarring and quick. This was a rapid side to side sway that lasted three minutes at 4.4!

As we sat on our bed in horror I remember hearing the water in our pool smacking back and forth violently. Outside all was black. Dustin had already ran to the children's rooms, where they were sleeping peacefully. When it ended we didn't know what to do. No lights, no phone, nothing to do except try to calm down and pray. We did not know whether it was a local quake or widespread. Somehow we slept.

Dustin kissed me awake a few hours later; he had a planned fishing trip and was off. He had heard on our battery powered radio that the quake was 8.8 in Concepcion. WHAT? Oh no! We were there 2 years ago for a rowing competition; beautiful place, spectacular rowing clubs. And that meant Santiago, Talca, and our beloved Chillan were in jeopardy too.

The radio batteries were dead, electric still out, so, longing to piece things together I got the children dressed with the intention of going up to the supermarket to see the tv news in the restaurant there (from previous outtages we know they have generators). I received a call just before leaving advising me to stock up on foodstuffs as supply lines from Santiago were not going to be operational for a while.

Grocery bags, check. Three children, check. Keys, check. Oh crap. Looking at our van my eyes drifted to our iron gate locked behind it. Which opens with...electricity only. BAH! How was I supposed to hike home our rations with three kids? Gritting my teeth I actually lifted our heavy gate off it's gears and track and muscled it out of the way. RAWR!

The grocery store was nuts; everyone talking to everyone trying to hear news. When I got home the electric was back on but communication was still down. I had to let everyone know we were okay but couldn't!

Water is coming out at a trickle, so I filled a large bucket with it in case it cuts off again. The kids and I watched the news with tears streaming down our faces. The cities in the photos may look all the same to you; but we have walked those streets and crossed those collapsed bridges; so sad. Kept trying to call out and finally got through. Communications still cut off suddenly.

Specific prayers: my friend Angelo's mother's home was completely destroyed and she's now living in a tent in a stadium; he's a wreck but cannot go to her due to the destroyed roads

-two sisters have not been heard from; they were surfing at a competition in the seventh region, please pray for their safety

-for our neighbors who are vacationing near the epicenter

-for our friends who cannot find their family members.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some News...

To My Most Amiable Readers,

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you!

The last few months have been very challenging, but we have been keenly aware of the Holy Spirit's presence in the midst of some of the most difficult experiences of our lives. Reuben had a serious fall from a tree house and was operated on to put a plastic plate in his head where the bones were crushed (see blog post below). That was a very frightening time for us. On top of that were painful relationships that brought much confusion and heartache. But we can truly say that God brought us through and brought healing for all involved. Praise the Lord!!!

The rowing kid's Bible study has been such a joy. We've gone through John, Acts, Philippians, and are now working through Romans. Yenny, a former rower who comes with her husband and children, asked us the other day a question about Romans chapter six. Dustin reminded her that we're only at chapter two, and she laughed saying that she gets caught up in the story and can't stop reading! We recognize in her and her husband the hunger for growth and the gifts of leadership and integrity. She has, on her own accord, started reading John with another friend who cannot come to the meetings. Please pray that Yenny and her husband Angelo would be lights in Chile among the people of Puerto Montt!

Our work with the church plant with Voni and Gigi has undergone major transformation. Previously we met in homes, but outgrew those facilities so we rented a house. No sooner had we done that that one of the families moved away and numerous others stopped coming. This was a time of both discouragment and hope (people were coming to Christ through the Bible studies we held and through visitation). But they didn't come to the house. This was a bit perplexing for us, and after discerning together we decided to stop renting the house, and just continue working in and through our giftings and natural relationships to bring people closer to Christ. Voni and Gigi are both in a very busy season of life and we are glad to see them released to focus on their friendships without the burden of leading a church. This also frees us up to invest in our relationships with neighbors and friends here in Puerto Montt.

I (Dustin) along with Eduardo (Chilean brother) have been visiting the mountains faithfully every month for 3-4 days. The group has grown to about 14 with 8 of them becoming believers and getting baptized. We have been very encouraged by this group of believers as they never cease to amaze us. Almost every time we get up there they have more people for us to share with spiritually or practically. I always come back from the mountains filled with the love and encouragement of Christ. Eduardo is a pastor of a Mennonite Church in Alerce(government housing project) and some of the people who live in the mountains also live in this neighborhood during the school year. That has been a great way to encourage the believers in the mountains and Alerce through more continuous fellowship.

One of my newest ministry oportunities has been riding mountain bike with some guys in our neighborhood. So far in the three weeks of riding bike I have met three new men and have been able to share about God as we are riding bike. We are praying that they will want to come to our men's Bible study that we have been doing with some other men in the community.

Now to some news. Through discerning as a family and with our EMM boss Steve Shenk, we have decided that this term will be our last here in Chile. Unless the Lord speaks otherwise we will be returning stateside around March of 2011. This is not a popular decision amongst our Chilean friends, and though I'm not glad that they're hurt by our leaving, I am overjoyed by their love and caring of us as a family. It wouldn't be so nice leaving and everyone thinking “Good riddance!” ; ).

We love our life here in Chile. Our children have many Chilean “grandparents”, “aunties”, and “uncles”. Chile is the only home they remember, Sophia being two when we arrived. It has been such an adventure, and I admit, I'm not quite ready to leave it. I (Sarah) know that my heart will break the day we leave Chile. But I am resting in Dustin's conviction that it's time to move on to what God has next for us. Please pray for us, that we might finish well, using our remaining time wisely and effectively.

We feel strongly that though our time in Chile is drawing to an end, our vocation will continue. We will have a one-year furlough when we return, during which we will likely take classes to prepare us further for future work. We are praying about two opportunities of service, both with EMM, within Central America and Spain. We appreciate prayer for our family as we discern and adjust to upcoming changes!

We would also appreciate prayer for this final year in Chile, that:

-the rowing youth would grow in faith and devotion to God

-the church in the mountains would grow and bear fruit

-God would give us words to speak to our neighbors and show us ways to reach them

-that our financial support would come in in full

-God would raise up leaders to spread His love and Word like wildfire here in Chile!

Thanks so much,

Love, Dustin and Sarah

Monday, February 15, 2010

Falling Grace

To My Most Amiable Readers....

I couldn't write of it for a long time. I was right there beside him. Reuben was playing on a tree house slide at our friend's home, charging up the slide, reaching the top and coming back down, when all of a sudden he ran off the far side. Before I could reach him his tumbling form hit the ground, his head striking a car battery.

I thought he was dead. His eyes locked to the right and his mouth contorted in pain but he didn't cry. For a long fifteen seconds the only sounds were my own "no no no, Reuben!" His arms and legs were limp as I scooped him up. He wailed. In a flurry of activity we took him to the emergency room where they took an x-ray of his head and discovered nothing. They were about to send us home with him, saying it was a concussion, when he threw up blood.

A neurosurgeon was called in and they took a scan of his skull and brain, which showed that part of his skull was crushed (behind the right ear) and was pushing inward into the brain. They needed to operate to remove the crushed pieces and insert a plastic plate. I will not attempt to convey the hell I was living through at that moment. He's only two years old.

I shakily dressed in scrubs and kissed his drug-induced sleepy face. My tears fell on him. They told me I had to go. I left the operating room a crushed little woman.

People came and supported us, but I could not be with them. I sat as near as I could to where he was. I knelt on the floor and cried and prayed. "Lord, give me back my son...Lord, heal...."

I sang. I pleaded. I stormed the doors of Heaven with Nancy praying and singing with me.

A long time passed. The neurosurgeon came. Good news, the bone fragments had not pierced the protective sack around the brain and the implant went in successfully. Also important was that he did not convulse during the surgery (which would indicate the brain reacting to injury). The next 24 hours would be delicate; waiting to see if convulsions would present or any other abnormalities.

I got to go to him. He was waking and crying and looking so small on that big hospital bed. But he looked so...ALIVE! I cradled him in my arms; his head half-shaved and an ominous bandage covering a half moon-shaped incision. We left in ambulance for the public hospital which has a NICU facility. There I had to leave him again (limited visiting hours). I protested, I begged, I told them I would not leave him. With compassion-filled eyes they firmly told me 'no'. I could hear him crying for me as Dustin supported me out of the hospital. He was scared. I was torn apart to not be able to hold him and make him feel safe. Most horrid night.

Didn't sleep. Went to the hospital bright and early and waited. Could hear him crying but was not allowed to go to him. Plotted barging in anyways. Decided arrest would be a bad idea. Finally at his side again, and praise the Lord, I didn't have to leave him again. The neurosurgeon scanned him again to check for swelling, and as no convulsions presented, we were able to transfer to the clinic where I could stay with him in a private room.

He was very angry, very confused, and struggled with his IV ports. Sleep was a blessing. My prayers turned to "Lord, let me see him smile again..." I overflowed with praise to God for sparing his life.

The next morning we got our first beautiful smile as he realized that he could make his bed move by pushing the buttons. My little boy was back! Mischievous and ornery, but he's back!!!

We got to bring him home. I needed to sleep beside him for about two weeks. I just couldn't be away from him; it brought such peace and security to my heart to feel his warm, alive little body tucked in next to mine. A week after his surgery he received a clean bill of health at his check-up. Joy. Pure joy.

I couldn't write of this before. I did so now only by blinking away tears and swallowing my sobs. This accident has sobered me, though I am a diligent and responsible parent, something terrifying still happened to our son. I am deeply grateful to the Lord; He has been so merciful to us.
Your Most Devoted,