March 13, 2020

Anniversaries of the loss of special people can often creep up on us with unexpected waves of grief as if it were just yesterday. But who would have thought I would be so aware of the anniversary of the day COVID became a reality in my own life (in a different kind of way). But from the looks of many social media posts, I’m not the only one.

Many of us remember the moment we began to realized COVID was going to change a lot of things.

The first Sunday with no church service in person.

The first day of virtual learning for kids.

The first day of wearing a mask in public. 

For me it was getting off the plane in Paraguay as we began our feasibility study for the possibility of a new Signs of Love plant. A woman at the end of the jet bridge dressed in medical gear and a mask stopped me to take my temperature. Say what? 

Well it did start a little earlier that day. It was my birthday and Robin had come to Chile and we were to then travel on to Paraguay together. As we sat in the Santiago airport I noticed maybe 1 in ever 6 people that passed by wearing a mask. It seemed odd. Chile had its first case of COVID just 10 days earlier and even then, it was in the far away big city from where we were residing on the Chilean coast at the time. After all we still had plenty of water and toilet paper on the shelves.

As we began to board our plane from Chile to Paraguay it really hit. We were 2 of 4 people on the entire plane! 

The flight attendants came and sang happy birthday (one of Robin’s schemes) to me in a language that wasn’t Spanish. Wait where were we going? (Come to find out they were singing in Guarani, one of Paraguay’s official languages!)

They had taken a piece of cake from first class (no one was sitting there to eat it) and put a battery powered “candle” on it for me. 

We landed in Asuncion. Once we got through the temperature check, things seemed pretty normal. At least we thought so. We had never been there be able to compare it to anything. 

Our plans for the next 2 days got more and more challenging being North Americans. At the time, the US was quickly becoming called a “hot-spot” and when people saw us they were unwilling to make much contact. Simple things like finding a public bathroom and purchasing some essential items for our boarder crossing the next day required a lot of patience. 

Were we crazy to be trying to cross the boarder into Northern Argentina, where we were told there was great need for rural deaf ministry?

If we cancelled our plans for travel the next day were we walking in fear or stupidity? We had been asking ourselves these questions in the previous days, but now we had to make a firm decision. 

We took a few hours to sit before Jesus seeking direction. I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 5. Nothing seemed to speak to our situation. Then I turned the page to 2 Corinthians 6:

“Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly… in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” (Corinthians 6:1-13 MSG)

We took this as our go ahead… “stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly… in hard times, tough times, bad times.” 

So we prepared to travel the next day. 

11:00 pm our contact in Argentina sent me a video she took of her television screen. It was the Argentinian president announcing that at midnight they would be closing all boarders and that any foreigner without residency currently in the country would be escorted to the airport and put on the next departing flight. 

We landed back in Chile to the news that they were also closing it’s boarders and the president had banned gatherings of more than 500 which was not accepted well with the already active anti-government protests that had been going on for the past few months. 

This was just the beginning of 1000 ways (big and small) that our lives would be changed over the last year.

But the one thing that hasn’t changed is God sovereignty. 

I’m grateful for the ways He has guided every step of our lives overseas the past 10 years, and we actively wait as He makes the next step clear to us.  He is graciously providing for us and using us right where we are and we desire to glorify Him wherever our feet may be. 

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” (Jim Elliot)

10 Years!

Last week marked 10 years ago that we sold most of what we owned, packed up the rest (that was later accidentally auctioned off “Storage War” style without us knowing…if you haven’t heard that story it’s a good one!) and moved to Honduras. Eight and a half years later, the week we prepared to moved on, I walked the beach of what we called “home” for so long, picking up 120 tiny shells (representing each of the 120 deaf we served there) and praying over each by name. Nine months later I hid away a few pieces of sea glass collected on a beach, this time on the Pacific Coast of Chile. A beach where God began to heal my heart and prepare my mind. Tonight I created a “remembrance box.” God often commands His people to remember what He has done for them. It draws us closer to Him and helps us in challenging times. I look forward to collecting a treasure of our time here in the States to also place in this box and to carry with us wherever God leads next! Each stone a remembrance of His unique faithfulness over so many years in so many places!

Yay, yay, yay! 🥳🥳🥳

In January 2016 Orlan, the deaf pastor in Honduras, took over preaching full time. He felt lead to start at the beginning. So together we opened to page 1 of “The Action Bible” (Genesis 1), and each week we worked through the next Bible story chronologically. In August 2019 when we moved on from Honduras I began video recording the weekly Bible stories for his sermons and we would spend time later discussing application and context of each story over WhatsApp. This week, 4 years from when we first began, I recorded the last story of the Old Testament. The last phrase I recorded in Honduran Sign Language was, “But God was silent until…”

Until…until…until what?!

Turn the page!! Until Jesus came to earth, Immanuel, God With Us! But within that page turn was 400 years of silent history.

When you have to teach something, you learn so much, and I am grateful for the process of learning as I taught and how arriving at the story of Jesus this Christmas season seems to have so much more meaning after reading straight through the Old Testament. And yet I love that with the active living Word of God, there is always so so much more to learn!

So proud of Orlan and how he has diligently memorized each of these stories as he reaches his sheep each week with the stories of God’s faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and love!

May each truth shared be planted into the hearts of the deaf that see them and grow to bear much fruit, for the glory of God!

Recent Projects

In the past several months, our SofL team spanning across 3 countries, have partnered together to develop a teaching series for Deaf leaders around the world based on Romans 12. Each lesson teaches sign vocabulary, a Bible story, a life application story, an art therapy activity, and a social-emotional activity.

We are excited for deaf leaders in various countries to begin to use these videos to teach the deaf that they have access to. Please pray for us as we finish up the remaining 10 videos in the series!

Honoring My Granny

To those of you that donated to our ministry to the Deaf in honor of Granny, a heart felt “THANK YOU!” She loved the Kingdom work we were getting to do and supported us in so many ways!

There was always something about Granny’s hands that I always took notice of. Her hands cannot count the number of cakes they have baked for celebrations, the number of pants they have hemmed for others, the number of meals they have delivered to those in need. The number of games they played, the number of scripture pages they have turned, the number of drinks they have handed the sick and elderly cannot begging to be counted on these worn fingers.

It’s not so much the hands themselves, but the heart behind the hands. To be the hands and feet of Jesus starts in the heart. The heart to comfort those who are broken-hearted by holding their hand. The heart to see her friends and family know Jesus by folding her hands in prayer. The heart to love others well by selflessly serving with her hands. Her hands might not appear to be the most beautiful hands with scares from hot oil, pricks from needles, numbness, swollen joints and age spots from 97 years of use. But to those that have been touched by these hands they are the most lovely because we have experienced the heart inside the woman and she is stunningly beautiful!

While we no longer get to hold those hands or be the recipient of the blessings they daily bestowed, as her soul has gone Home to be with Jesus, we will still carry her heart in each of us. I see her heart in each of those she left behind. Just to name a few…

I see Granny’s heart in Janet’s “get ‘er done” attitude and tender care and in Charlie’s meek strength and passion for stories. I see her in Lanita’s love for the Word and Butch’s generosity. I see her in Mom’s doing things for others and Dad’s humor. I see her in Lisa’s creativity and Jon’s quiet servant heart to do what needs to get done. She’s in Taylor’s desire to teach, Jacob’s thoughtfulness and Jess’ care for others in their greater time of need. I see her in Caleb’s desire to learn and use his knowledge to help others. I see Granny’s heart in Tara’s love for children and in Bert’s desire to leave a lasting legacy. She’s in Amelia’s desire to take care of others, in Isaac’s tenderness, and in Cole’s determination. I see her heart in Daniel’s attitude of service and I see her heart in my deepest desire to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

Granny Solomon was the heart of our family, and she left her heart in her family.We will miss her hands but we will treasure her heart in one another. She’s joined our cloud of witnesses, cheering us on in this race to finish strong with great resolve and intentionality to love others to Christ!Love you 🤟 and miss you Granny!

Lastly, some of her last clear words the day before she went home were “Tell everybody…” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Tell everybody you love them?”

“Mmhum,” she nodded.

“Tell everybody you appreciate them?” (She was one of the most appreciative people I know, especially when she needed more help in the past several months.)

“Mmhum,” she nodded with a long blink for emphasis.

So to respect her wishes, I want to “Tell everybody”, she loved you and appreciated each of you so very much!

Since we weren’t able to have a larger service for her at this time, we recorded her graveside service with just her closest family.

She will be greatly missed!

Another Way to Support

Did you know that I have started a small business 🐝 selling handmade body products 🧴 🧖‍♀️ made from all natural ingredients and essential oils? It all smells amazing and has no harmful chemicals! 🛀

I have body salves 🧴 , sugar scrubs, lip balms 💄 , beard 🧔 oil, all natural bug 🐜 spray, after sun 🌞 spray, anti-itch sticks 🩹 , and MORE! Check out my Facebook page or my Etsy to see a full list of items I offer! (The FB page is more complete at this time!)

Thanks in advance for liking our page to stay up to date on new items!

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas! 🎄

We can also create personalized labels (with bulk pricing of course!) for all our items that are great for baby 🍼 showers, wedding 👰 showers, or birthday 🎁 favors!

Don’t forget I can also personalize cup, onesies, stickers, cutting boards, plush toys, bags, coasters, etc. Let me create a one of a kind gift for you!

I have nothing but gratitude for my time in Chile…

For Birds that sang, Balm that healed, Breathing room given.

For the Bees that visited, a reminder to listen and be still.

For time to go Back to the Basics.

For Sunny days, Serenity, and Sunsets like I’ve never seen.

For Morning walks with Maya with the beach to ourselves.

For a church community to “just be” in and connections made.

For empanadas, Raffaelo ice cream, maracuya everything.

For chats with the homeless.

For time to learn, heal, process.

For Dagmar, Chio, Estella, Trini, Pablito, Pato. Matis & Angela. Pame. Veronica. Soledad & Sonia. Ismael, Paty, Mariana, Darwin, Eduin, Oscar and Oscar. Abuelo Jaime.

Thank you Chile!

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Just like you, 2020 has not turned out how we anticipated. Many of our plans have been put on hold and are now up in the air. But we are encouraged that God created the air and He’s holding all things together even when we don’t see how just yet. My passport has 4 less stamps than originally planned for this point in the year. I intended to return to Honduras for follow up training and development. I intended to return to Peru to train our team there and also to receive training as a team. I intended to go to Ecuador, because why not when we are so close and we have the time. I intended to go to northern Argentina on an exploratory trip evaluating the need for ministry to the deaf with low language there, a possibility for our next long term assignment. As some of you know, we made it to Paraguay, mid-March and were just hours away from driving over to Argentina when they closed their boarders due to COVID-19.

I don’t say all this to complain or to make my situation seem worse in some way. That being said we have made the decision to return to the States for the time being until things open up to travel again. We had originally planned to stay in Chile until the end of June when we would return to Honduras to help prepare for the annual camp. Since the boarders are closed here in South America we are not able to make a visa run like we were anticipating and due to many governmental closures here we are unable to get any clear answers about getting an extension past June. Also, travel is getting more limited with airline closures and governmental travel bans being instated at a moments notice.

This week we have packed the couple bags we came with (along with many materials I brought to take to Honduras and Peru, ha!), are saying our goodbyes to Chile and the wonderful people we met here and are headed to the airport here in a couple hours. We are beyond grateful for our time here (more on that in another post).

We will head back to Florida for the time being and I will continue doing much of what I have been doing in Chile the past several months: recording the Bible chronologically in Honduran Sign Language, preparing, translating, and distributing Bible studies and language programs to deaf ministries across South America, taking some professional development classes online and looking for ways to continue to share the gospel with the deaf virtually (until we are able to get back at it in person!).

Please pray with us:

* for this transition as we establish new routines and priorities.

* for us to be able to establish new partnerships while in the States before moving onto our new long term assignment.

* for wisdom and creativity in doing ministry during this unique time.

* for the Deaf around the world to see this time as one in which they can take ownership with sharing the gospel both with those they are in proximity to and those they have access to via technology.

* for personal growth and preparation for where God is leading next.