While our recent 2.5 month stint in the States may not have been quite so dramatic as the infamous hobbit’s tale, it was not without event! I (Jessica) actually have a whole other post that I wrote while we were in the US, but after starting it, I was never able to get back around to editing it. I apologize for dropping the ball on communication with those of you who we did not get to see in person. Here’s to a new and more consistently communicative chapter in our lives!
Instead of trying to summarize all that has happened in the past months; I’d like to share a couple moments when we saw the hand of God at work around us. The Lord has been so faithful to us, and we are so thankful to Him!
Small Town Church, Still a Big God
We were honored to be invited to speak at many churches throughout the southeast (well, I guess some weren’t in what a true Southerner can rightfully call the “south”east but you get the idea). At one church in north Georgia, God gave us a sweet surprise. Holly Springs UMC has been unbelievably kind to us over the past couple years. They are a little country church that doesn’t let their small size get in the way of how big they share God’s love. They send us notes of encouragement, birthday and Christmas gifts for the kids (like, a lot!), and basically just remind us that we aren’t forgotten. So we were really looking forward to the Sunday we would speak in their service and get to thank everyone in person for their above-and-beyond support.
After the service, I noticed across the room that Josh was approached by a woman who looked kind of Taiwanese. I knew that was pretty unlikely because in my entire childhood in that city I’d never once met someone from Taiwan and that little church was the last place I’d expect someone from Taiwan to wind up. But when I asked Josh about it later, sure enough, she was Taiwanese! She had only been to the church once before–just in time to hear that missionaries from Taiwan would be coming to speak– and she made sure to come back to meet us. God went out of the way to encourage all our hearts through that meeting. Praise the Lord for divine encounters!
I don’t often share much detail about Hosanna’s medical life. This is partially to protect her privacy and also because we often have far more questions than answers and don’t know what to write. Thankfully, coming back from the US we have many more helpful techniques and medical answers to make moving forward “on our own” in Taiwan a less daunting task.
One year ago, August 2018, Hosanna began having absence seizures, sometimes called staring seizures. At first I thought she was just ignoring us or being silly at mealtimes. Once or twice a week swiftly turned into episodes at every meal, and then became hundreds of seizures all throughout the day– in the car, at therapy, while playing– anywhere and everywhere. At the time, we didn’t know if these were seizures, a behavioral issue, or a response to some unknown stimulus. It was terrifying. I remember driving her back from therapy, watching her “pass out” over and over again in the rearview mirror with nothing I could do to stop it.
After receiving inconclusive test results in Taiwan (“just try to keep her from getting stressed” was not the most helpful advice we could have received) we decided to pursue further testing in the US. This is part of why our stay was as long as it was; we needed a lot of time to fit in many specialized appointments throughout GA, KY, and OH. We started with a 1 hour EEG at Cincinnati Children’s (which we LOVE!) but Hosanna didn’t have any episodes until they removed the monitors. So they requested we come back for a 24 hour EEG, which we were hard pressed to find any time in our already packed schedule to do! Thankfully we had exactly 2.5 days when we were in KY that they were available to schedule us; and so on the Fourth of July, after attending the Wilmore parade and cheering on the lawn mower brigade, we packed up our crew and headed back to Cinci.
We were kind of dreading the 24 hours with Hosanna stuck in a hospital room… that’s a challenge with any 3 year old, but with one who has some unique behavioral issues and pretty much refuses to sleep if there’s a person nearby, we were expecting the worst. We prayed that God would give us all grace, and especially peace for Hosanna through all the new procedures (and new boundaries to be tested!).
We bought Hosanna a new doll as a special toy to take with her to the hospital. For the first time in her life, she chose a name for a toy. The doll’s name? Grace. When Hosanna had to lay still while they attached electrode after electrode, she held on to Grace. When she played in her big hospital bed with the assortment of toys brought by the staff, Grace was always right next to her. When she got scared by the blood pressure arm cuff or was going under anesthesia for her MRI the next day, Grace was held tight. I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for such a precious picture of His perfect grace in our lives. How I long to hold onto the Lord’s grace in the way that Hosanna held onto her baby Grace– as a constant companion, come what may.
Hosanna did AMAZINGLY, and the test results were, for the most part, good news. While we don’t know why she has the seizures, we do know it isn’t caused by any malformation in her brain, which means she will likely outgrow them. The frequency has already decreased from over 100 a day to about 5-10 each day, sometimes none at all. We praise God for these medical improvements and answering our prayers for her peace during our stay at the hospital.
The Lord blessed us through so many people who hosted us in their homes, gave us medical and therapy advice, babysat our kids, gave financial gifts towards God’s work in Taiwan, listened as we shared our story, and shared their stories with us. If that was you– thank you! While I’m not sure we would ever feel like we had “enough” time to visit with everyone as much as we would enjoy; we are grateful to be back in Taiwan.
We FINALLY have a routine, and can step back into the community and ministries we’ve been away from all summer. More on that in our next Mailchimp update, but the stories you’ve just read were on my heart and I wanted to share them and thank the Lord for them publicly while they were still fresh!
We love hearing from you, so please leave a comment or shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace to you,
-Jessica (on behalf of the other 4- Josh, Hosanna, Judah, and Evangeline)