Category Archives: Updates

Whoever said that “all roads lead to Rome,” probably had a better itinerary then we do…. Driving to Seattle today… first flight from there at 11:30pm… next flight tomorrow just before noon… then boarding our final leg tomorrow evening and arriving in Rome on Wednesday morning. Not the best itinerary, but the destination is worth it!

Final packing check: Hulk hands – check; Ironman masks – check; Thor hammer – check; bulk bag of Smarties – check; 150 plus ring pops – check; bags of chocolate – check; 27 Gesu (Jesus) t-shirts – check; toothbrush – check! We’re good to go!!!

We are so excited about returning to Rome! We were able to use air miles to buy our round trip tickets to Rome, so we’ll be leaving today and returning on November 16th. From the beginning, planning for this short-term trip has been unlike any trip we’ve ever made. For one thing, it’s the smallest team we’ve ever taken. There will be four of us, Elisa Scharze (who has been praying for a chance to serve in Italy for 3 years!), our 12-year-old granddaughter, Kerenna (happy dance!) Michael and myself. We’ll be teaming up with Calvary Chapel Rome to help with their Fall Festival – Festa di Autunno, as well as some construction projects at the church. As we have prayed for this trip, our plans have been changing as God has gradually revealed more of His purpose for this trip. One of the changes includes helping our friend, Jen, get ready for her move back to the States after serving in Rome for three years. You can read about how God directed her to this decision in her blog.

PRAISE!

We’re happy to report that Michael is still cancer-free! It was a bit over a year ago that we received the awesome news, that God had answered our prayers by removing his pancreatic cancer! I still can’t get over how amazing it is, that our God would give us such a sweet gift! When we moved back to the States, I was bracing myself for the very real probability of losing him. We are so grateful that God had other plans! Each time we are blessed to return to Italy, it’s a celebration of God’s healing power and the wonderful way He answered the prayers of His people!

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • Please pray for travel mercies as we travel with our granddaughter and spend two days in planes and airports each way! (Cheap air-mile tickets can have pretty lousy itineraries!)
  • Pray for the plans and preparations for the Festa on October 31st – for a good turn out and many open doors to build relationships and share the Good News!
  • Pray for unity and sweet fellowship between our team and the Calvary Rome team
  • Pray for our granddaughter to experience the joy of serving the Lord and that He would surround her with His grace, presence and protection during the mission trip, as well as the Roman history visits that we are planning as part of her homeschool year
  • Pray for Jen’s heart (as I’m sure she will leave part of it in Rome, just as we did when we moved back to the States) for her ministry, her preparations and provision for her remaining 3 months in Italy
  • Pray for God’s financial provision for the construction projects we’ll be working on
  • Always, the spiritual warfare in Rome is intense! Please pray for a protective covering over each of us and that God will move mightily to disarm the forces of darkness in this place that has been an enemy stronghold for many years!

Homeward Bound

18175827_1683510034998075_828930940_oOur two months in Rome flew by so fast! Tomarrow we’ll head back to the states with new memories and many praises. We’re never sure what God is up to, but it’s always fun to see what He has in mind for us as we step out in faith and watch His plans unfold. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

We were blessed to spend our last Saturday in Rome fasting and praying with our Roman family. One of the things that the Lord spoke to my heart about, was just how important it is that we face difficult situations in our lives, in order to be better equipped as His witnesses. As we read Psalm 65 together, it really struck me how desperately the world needs to know that our God hears our prayers! (In fact, as the body of Christ, we really need to be reminded of this truth as well.) Psalms 65:2 reads… “All humanity will come to You, the One who hears prayer.”  If we were never to face an impossible situation that only God can fix, how would we ever have this testimony that draws men to their Savior… this testimony that our God is the One who hears!

We’ve spent most of our time here working on Calvary Chapel Rome’s facility. Mike made some repairs, built some drawers in the sound booth, rerouted some wiring, and built a couple storage closets in the youth room. I did some cleaning and painting (a graffiti mural in the children’s ministry as well as some plain white walls). Here are a few pictures of some of our projects. (It’s not easy to remember to take pictures when you’re working.)

The mural Shelley painted in the Children’s Ministry
Handing out Gospel tracts at the metro
Fun, Food and Fellowship for Pasquetta

We’ll miss our Italian family, but we’re already planning our next trip for this fall, God willing! On another note, Mike’s health is doing great! He’ll see his doctor the when we return (just because they want to see him every three months) but he’s getting stronger every day. Thank You Jesus, for giving us this amazing testimony of how You hear and answer prayer! Thank you for bringing us back to Italy to celebrate Mike’s healing and Your resurrection with these dear people of Yours!

Prayer Requests:

  • Travel mercies as we fly home
  • Continued good health
  • Wisdom and guidance for whatever is next

 

We’ve enjoyed a full week in Roma, sharing meals and visiting with our church family and some of our neighbors; doing a little painting in the church; putting together some flower boxes for the church patio; and most importantly, sharing about our all-powerful, prayer answering Savior and His miraculous gift of healing! You can watch a short video of the testimony we shared last Sunday at Calvary Chapel Roma here.

17239711_10212211685957814_4879545690670411626_o

I’m excited to start a graffiti painting project in the Children’s Ministry and possibly another in the youth center. Michael also has a list of projects and repairs to work on while we both enjoy the beautiful Roman sunshine and our Roman family!

DSC08441

DSC08444 DSC08440 DSC08439

 

DSC04609

God willing we’ll be heading back to Italy for a couple months this spring. We’ll arrive in Rome almost a year from the day we left Rome!

About a year ago Mike’s surgeon in Rome advised us to return to the states to “get our affairs in order” because he found Mike’s pancreatic cancer was too advanced and inoperable. 
It seems like an eternity ago, yet at the same time it seems like yesterday. We’ve done so much living and learning as we spent the past year waiting on the Lord.

After Mike’s second surgery last September, we were told that Mike’s surgeon found only the residual scar tissue where his tumor had been and the nineteen lymph nodes they tested showed no sign of cancer! What an amazing God we serve! We came back from Italy with a lot of questions, but now, one year later, we’re returning with a testimony greater than anything we could have imagined!

Mike’s doctors still want to keep a close eye on him. They said that they’ll need to see him every three months for the rest of his life. They also want him to keep his central port for the time being, which needs to be flushed every 8 weeks. This takes moving back to Rome off the table for now, but we’re happy to have this opportunity to serve in Italy on a part time basis.

We’ll be spending part of our time in Rome, helping out at Calvary Chapel Rome and hugging our church family there while testifying to the power of prayer and the greatness of our miracle- working Savior! God willing, we also hope to travel up to northern Italy to help Calvary Chapel Montebelluna move their Worship Center and Bible College into their newly purchased building.

PRAYER & PRAISES

  • Thank you Lord, for all our brothers and sisters who have waited and prayed with us this past year!
  • Thank you Jesus, for this borrowed time to love and serve You together
  • Thank you that You are willing to use weak vessels and teach us how to be Your hands and feet until You return or call us home
  • Thank you that You are always working in our waiting, that You’re sanctifying us, and beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust
  • Thank you that You take what the enemy means for evil and You turn it for our good
    and for Your glory!

Please Pray with us…

  • for good health
  • strength & wisdom
  • travel mercies
  • protection from the enemy
  • for the needed paperwork, permits and provision for the building in Montebelluna
  • for open doors to share the gospel!
  • for God to use us to bless and encourage our brothers and sisters in Italy!

We feel so incredibly thankful as we prepare to leave the hospital tomorrow! To help you understand why we feel so grateful, here’s a post our daughter shared shedding light on the sad statistics for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer…

“Not many people can say they have survived Leukemia and Pancreatic Cancer! Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 93% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 8% will survive more than five years. 71% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months.”

2-cor-9

Praise The Lord for a Great Pathology Report!

Mike’s doctor just came in to give us his pathology report, “hot off the presses,” as he said. He told us that the results showed that there wasn’t anything except the residual scar tissue where a tumor had been in Mike’s pancreas and that the nineteen lymph nodes tested were completely negative for cancer! His doctor said he couldn’t possibly give us a better report and that this kind of amazing results were extremely rare with pancreatic cancer patients! He also told us that he didn’t have to take out any of Mike’s stomach, so his digestion should recover in no time. He told us that he’d have to say that Mike is cancer free!

We feel so extremely blessed to have all you prayer warriors on our side! We serve an amazingly gracious God and can’t begin to thank Him enough for this awesome news!

I Lift my Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day there will be a “going out”… a day when our Lord will take us by the hand to walk us through a threshold… a day when we will leave our earthly residence to move into our Father’s house. That day we will enter into a glorious embrace with the Lover of our souls and we will be more alive than ever in our eternal home. He will keep us close to Him where there will be no more sickness, tears or death. As for today, He must have other plans for Mike and I. We’re excited to see what He has in store for us and very grateful to serve Him here for a while longer!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come? 

My help comes from the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

He who keeps you

will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;

the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore.”

~ Psalm 121

Thank You, Jesus, for loving us and walking us through these difficult pages. Thank you for more time to serve You with Mike! We love You!

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, Mike’s surgery was a success!

They performed the Whipple procedure as planned and his doctor believes that they got all the cancer. Of course there will be more tests to double check, but today we are celebrating and thanking the Lord for this answer to our prayers! We are also very grateful for all of you prayer warriors and we really appreciate your continued prayer as Mike recovers from the surgery.

What’s next

Occasionally, in life’s journey of trusting and serving, you find yourself on an unavoidable and unexpected detour. It seems like someone pressed the pause button and now you’re faced with a myriad of questions. Did we take a wrong turn somewhere? Maybe this new route is going to put us back on the same road we were traveling, just around the bend? Has that road been closed temporarily or permanently? Are we at the end of one journey and the beginning of another? Most importantly, “Lord, where do You want us to go next?”

Perhaps, when faced with an unexpected detour, it’s a good idea to pull off to the side of the road to pray about the route before us… To politely steer out of the traffic of fellow travelers and noise of well-meaning by-standers pointing you in various directions which may or may not be in line with God’s plan. More than anything, the planner in me wants to quickly plot the best route out of this potholed obstacle course, and get back on track. Yet, I know that’s impossible because we can’t map our own future. No one can. That’s just a silly presumption of an inexperienced traveler who has never been around the block. This fact is learned through twists, turns and bumps in the road and it’s far more obvious to anyone in the middle of one of life’s weird detours. I also happen to believe this detour is an important leg of our intended course, mapped out by our loving Father and life navigator. Still, there are so many unknowns and so many ideas bouncing around in my head about what may be next and where to go from here.

Here’s what we do know… Some things in our life ARE forever changed. My husband will need to be monitored and tested routinely for the rest of his life on this planet. He is responding really well to the chemo treatments, with only a few of the possible side effects. The chemo appears to be taking out “the bad boys” as one member of his medical team told us. When we returned from Italy Mike’s cancer cell “marker” number (whatever that is) was at 77, then it went down to 28, and today we found out that it is down to 17! The “normal range is 0-34! That doesn’t mean the cancer is gone, but there are much fewer “bad boys” (i.e. cancer cells) rummaging around in there! He has regained some of the weight he had lost, has a healthy appetite, and looks great once again.

God is answering our prayers and we know that He’s planning a complete healing! As Mike tells everyone, “He’ll either heal me here or heal me there. Either way, I’ll be healed!” (Of course, a complete healing here on earth is our prayer!)

So, while we’re in the midst of what appears to be a detour to only-God-knows-where, we have a lot of decisions to make. Since God hasn’t let us in on all his plans, we’re doing our best to stick close to Him and stay flexible. Wherever this detour may lead, in the here and now, we need to make a living, so after a lot of prayer, I’ve decided to start a business that I can pick up and take with us (wherever God leads). I’m starting a Portable Painting Party Business where I can bring everything needed to walk a gathering of friends, through an acrylic painting step-by-step. I’m working on getting a website up and running (hopefully this week). I’m also considering other painting or ministry related jobs, including painting murals, decorative interior wall treatments, tile mosaics, regular interior painting and color consulting.

We all tend to dread detours even though we know they are put there for our well being, sometimes because the road has been closed either permanently or temporarily, sometimes due to dangerous obstacles in the path, and other times because the road is being straightened, repaired or refurbished. Whatever the reason, detours are always there to benefit the travelers! They are a part of the big plan, even though they may not be part of our plan. (Uh, Yes, I am preaching to myself, now.)

We so appreciate your prayers as we seek the Lord with this big question, “What’s next?”

We are also praying for an opportunity to return to Italy this fall for at least a short-term trip (God willing).

Please continue to pray for Mike’s healing… For God’s loud and clear leading in the writing of children’s ministry curriculum… For opportunities to share the reason for the hope we have… For our family, friends, co-laborers, and body of Christ in Italy!

Be Our Strength Every Morning

IMG_0234It’s been a long month of waiting, but Mike finally has a chemo treatment schedule! A surgeon will put a port in his chest next week and then he’ll start chemo the following week. All the waiting has allowed him some time to recover from his surgery, get some of his strength back and even regain 8 of the 35 lbs. he lost. In fact, Mike’s overall health has improved so much over the past month that his doctor now believes he’s strong enough to handle a much more aggressive chemo treatment than he initially recommended. The downside of this chemo combination is that it will increase the likelihood of more adverse side effects like fatigue, weakness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, hair loss, peripheral neuropathy, and low white and red blood counts, which could also increase his risk of infection. The benefit of this treatment is the hope that it will fight the cancer more aggressively. In some cases it has even shrunk the cancer back enough to allow a resection surgery to remove the cancer. Whatever the course of action, we know that ultimately, Mike is in God’s hands. So we ask for continued prayer for healing with minimal side effects, as well as wisdom, strength, and grace for the journey.

Thank you so much for the constant stream of encouraging words and prayers! This has been a very full month enjoying the company of our family and friends in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Thank you for your helping hands and for all the visits from near and far. Our hearts are full and our eyes are fixed on the Lord as we face the coming challenges.

LORD, be gracious to us! We wait for You.

Be our strength every morning and our salvation in time of trouble.” Isaiah 33:2