Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Magnet for Hope and Healing - Will you help?

We are so excited to announce that we have 25 Pray for Cambodia magnets that were handmade in Cambodia by a growing Christian organization that employs and teaches new skills to amputees who are victims of landmines. The magnets will be a thank you gift for the next 25 families, individuals, or churches that commit to a recurring monthly gift for our ministry in Cambodia.

We recognize that this is not a big gift. We recognize that these magnets are not worth a lot of money, but we are so excited about these magnets for three reasons:
  1. Giving you these magnets is a meaningful, tangible way for us to say thank you for your financial investment in our family!
  2. Placing the magnet in a prominent place will remind you to pray for Cambodia and for us!
  3. The purchase of these items supports a good Christian organization in Cambodia that is doing great things!
Landmines were laid in Cambodia during the ousting of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and continued until its demise in 1998. To impede the return of the Khmer Rouge, tens of thousands of Cambodians were forcibly enlisted into constructing a barrier minefield along the entire 466-mile Cambodia-Thailand border.  I’ve read that Cambodia is also littered with other kinds of unexploded ordinance (UXO), left over from half a million tons of bombs dropped on Cambodia by the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Although 50% of Cambodia’s minefields have now been cleared Cambodia is still one of the most landmine impacted countries in the world with over 64,000 casualties recorded since 1979 and over 25,000 amputees - the highest ratio per capita in the world.

At left, the man's sign says: "My name is Phuen.  I don't beg. I want to work.  Please support me that I can help my children they go to study.  Thank you for being [kind]!!!"

Between my first and second trips to Cambodia, I read numerous memoirs (I would love to lend you one!) written by Khmer Rouge survivors. It was these stories that burdened my spirit for the Cambodian people and during this time that God wrote Isaiah 61:1-3 on my heart
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Chum Muy, one of only seven  Khmer Rouge prison camp survivors from prison S-21
Landmine victims are one of the most visible evidences of the remaining damage of the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge. Yet the emotional scars are much deeper than the physical scars.

My heart truly aches for the older population in Cambodia - those who continue to live with great amounts of pain and grief.  I so desperately want them to know the Hope of the Jesus Christ, but the calling seems too great because I don't know how I can reach this population.  Will you PLEASE(!!!) pray with me?
  • That God would prepare the way for my encounters with the older population.
  • That God would prepare my heart to grieve with them.
  • That God would equip me to speak to their hearts.
  • That they would embrace the hope and love of Jesus Christ.
  • Because this population largely does not speak English, pray that I will succeed in my attempts to attain fluency in spoken Khmer.
To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, & Sophear

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sophear's Heart - Praise God!

When Sophear was dedicated at 12-days-old, we chose the following verse for her.  I'm amazed at how appropriate it has already become in her short two years of life!

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you.
(1 Samuel 12:24)

7am; ready for surgery
Thank you to the many of you who prayed for our little family last week! We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and concern that we have been shown. I asked my friends on Facebook where they are praying from - the forty-something who responded represent fifteen states and twelve countries including: Bolivia, Canada, Haiti, Cambodia, Kenya, Mozambique, Hungary, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Australia, Albania, and Japan!  When I couldn't find the words to pray, I was comforted to know how many people were praying for the three of us, as well as Dr. Kumar, the anesthesiologist, nurses, and hospital staff.

Sophear, Mommy, and Dr. Bunny Rabbit preparing for anesthesia
We tried to prepare her for the surgery, separation, and hospitalization.  On Tuesday night, we took her to Build-A-Bear workshop.  We paid a little extra to give her Dr. Bunny a heartbeat and explained to her that just like she put a new heart in her bunny, the doctor was going to put a new heart in her while she was sleeping (okay, that isn't quite what happened, but it's the best I could come up with!) and she would feel better (or "better better better!" as Sophear likes to say).
The surgery on March 16th went well. The hole was larger than anticipated and the doctor affirmed that we made the right decision to move ahead with surgery and not delay.  The doctor inserted a "metal mesh" and he said it will take six months to build up a strong enough blood clot in the hole to prevent the mesh from sliding out.  He took before and after pictures, but technology failed so he wasn't able to show us.

Sophear watching Mickey Mouse Club House in recovery
(Olaf was a gift from her post-op nurse)
The surgery lasted about three hours and I was able to see Sophear in post-op (recovery) within 30 minutes.  The space was very small - with post-op patients (kids) on either side of Sophear's bed - but the staff finally permitted Titus to join us about 30 minutes later.

The next four hours were emotionally exhausting.

Sophear was uncomfortable and anxious.  She hated the IV.  She wanted to be held, but we were instructed to not let her move her legs for three hours.  Her face was pale and swollen.  Her voice was hoarse.  Apple juice, goldfish crackers, the Disney Channel, her dolls and toys helped, but three hours passed very slowly.

The nursing staff was incredible.  I do not know how to effectively or sufficiently thank them for their every effort to make all three of us more comfortable.

Sophear was excited to have a blue bed!
We were excited that she drank four sippy cups in five hours and they could stop her IV fluids! 
With the exception of blood pressure tests and changing the dressing on her wound, Sophear was an incredible patient! Even at midnight and 3am, she actively engaged in "helping" take her temperature and holding the stethoscope (a word Sophear and Daddy are both still practicing).  She called everyone in uniform "doctor" including: nurses, lab techs, transporters, etc.  She loved sitting in the bed with Mommy and going on rides through the hospital, waving and saying "Hi doctor!" at everyone we passed!  She won the hearts of many at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital - a blessing for our own hurting hearts.

Five days later, we are very thankful to be so far "on the other side" of healing.  Sophear's x-rays and echo cardiogram show evidence that the hole is already closing.  Dr. Kumer wants to do follow-up in two months.  She will take a daily children's Aspirin for six months, but should be back to herself very soon!

On Sunday night, Sophear helped Mommy make a blue cake to announce that she's going to have a baby brother!
We are very grateful for God's favor on Sophear and her recovery.  We praise Him for how He is taking care of us while we take care of Sophear.  I cannot imagine the heart ache of going through something like this without promises like:
He is Healer (Psalm 30:2)
He is Father (Isaiah 64:8)
He is sufficient (Isaiah 40:29-31; 41:10)
He is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10)
He has plans to prosper and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11)

In our family, St. Patrick's Day will always be a day to celebrate life, healing, and prayer!

Palm Sunday

With thankful hearts,
Titus, Jewel, & Sophear

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sophear's Heart

Like many other babies, our girl was born with a hole in her heart called a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus). Unlike most of those other babies, Sophear's hole has never closed.  At ten-months-old, on Christmas Eve 2014, Sophear had her first visit to a children's hospital and to a pediatric cardiologist.  We were scared.  We are still scared.

The heart is an important organ.  And Sophear is a little girl.

The ductus arteriosus is an artery connecting the main body artery (aorta) and the main lung artery (pulmonary artery). The ductus allows blood to detour away from the lungs before birth.  After birth, the opening is no longer needed and it usually closes within the first few days of life outside the womb.  Sophear's ductus never closed.

The human heart has four chambers: two upper chambers (the atria) and two lower ones (the ventricles). The right atrium and right ventricle together make up the "right heart," and the left atrium and left ventricle make up the "left heart."

The heart circulates blood through two pathways: the pulmonary circuit and the systemic circuit. In the pulmonary circuit, deoxygenated blood leaves the right ventricle of the heart via the pulmonary artery and travels to the lungs, then returns as oxygenated blood to the left atrium of the heart via the pulmonary vein.

In a child with PDA, extra blood gets pumped from the body artery (aorta) into the lung (pulmonary) arteries. If the PDA is large, the extra blood being pumped into the lung arteries makes the heart and lungs work harder.  As a result, the walls of Sophear's heart are growing thicker, with the risk that they will not thin out again without intervention.

The heart is an important organ.  And Sophear is a little girl.

On Wednesday, March 16, Sophear is scheduled for surgery at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.  We check-in at 7am, with surgery expected to begin by 9am, and lasting between two and four hours or longer.  I can't think about it too much without feeling paralyzed and broken.  It's not a complicated surgery. The risks aren't threatening.  We have full confidence in the Great Physician.

But the heart is an important organ.  And Sophear is my little girl.

Would you join us in praying?
  • Yesterday, Sophear had some flu-like symptoms.  Pray that she is healthy and strong for surgery.
  • Pray for Dr. Anil Kumar, the anesthesiologist, and the other medical staff during surgery.
  • Pray for Sophear's recovery in the hours and days following the surgery.
  • Pray for our nurses during the recovery and hospital stay.
  • Pray for peace for our hearts, especially during the days and hours leading up to surgery and as we sit in the waiting room.
  • Pray for our fundraising efforts - the surgery, etc. is very expensive and we're just not sure how we will tackle the medical bills.  We're also not sure how we're going to fundraise for the medical bills, because honestly, it's all just too much right now.

If you would like to receive updates during her recovery, or you would like to write or record a greeting or well wish for Sophear, click HERE.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers and support!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

With thankful hearts,
Titus, Jewel, & Sophear

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Getting the Word Out

Our first support letter has been mailed.  It was an enormous amount of work for us, but a great experience.  Having to contact family, friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, [and anyone who will listen] and ask for  money, for prayers, for invitations... doesn't really sound like a fun (or even semi-appealing) task, but we consider it a privilege.

We are grateful for the opportunity that we have been given to raise our own support, to build our team, and to connect personally with our supporters! We look forward to getting to know YOU better by not only sharing with you our story, but pausing to hear yours.  We look forward to learning how God can use us in your family's life, already recognizing that you are a huge blessing in ours!

And we have faith that God is going to use us to call more workers into the harvest field!  We see this as an opportunity to advance the cause of the Great Commission throughout North American homes and churches during our time of traveling, speaking, and support-raising.  We are excited about sharing what God has done and challenging others to find their own ministry and purpose!

Huge praises:
  • Praise God for the generosity of a supporter who used her own resources to print our many letters.  (Saving us almost $400!)
  • Praise God for extra hands to help us fold, stuff, address, and stamp the letters.
  • Praise God that our letters weighed under the limitations for a 49 cent stamp!
  • Praise God for the kindness of the staff in the Indiana Wesleyan University Post Office for giving their time to run our letters through their sealing machine.
Thanks, Mom!
How you can pray over our letters:
  • Pray that God will call other families, individuals, and congregations to support us.  
  • Pray that those families, individuals, and congregations will be obedient to God's call to support us.
  • Every envelope contained two letters and two prayer cards.  Pray that the recipients will be faithful to share the extras with someone who might take an interest in our story or ministry.
Thank you.

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, & Sophear