Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rhoda's Story, Part 1

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other people who also love God and are touched by His grace.  Hearing someone else's story of how God has poured out His love on them is something I love, and it's so encouraging and uplifting to see how good He is to us!  Recently I received a written testimony from my dear cyber-friend Rhoda, a wonderful story of God's faithfulness to her, especially in healing her of a physical problem.  I want to share her testimony here, part by part, over the next several days.  In this first section, Rhoda gives us some background.  Rhoda, thank you so much for sharing all the ways God has touched your life!  He is so good..

God’s Love and Faithfulness
I was born in beautiful central Pennsylvania, (1963) the fourth of five children. My parents were Amish; they loved each other and their children dearly. We lived on one the most beautiful and prosperous farms in the county. My grandparents and a single aunt whom we adored lived in one house and my parents and family lived in a smaller house just across the yard, a few steps away. All we had to do to get from our house to theirs was skip down a walk laid in flat rock, past a grand old fir tree where a swing was hanging, past a natural spring that flowed with the coolest, sweetest water you could find anywhere, and we were at their house. Among my favorite and vivid memories is the whole family sitting on my grandparents’ wide, screened porch overlooking the pond, eating sweet, cool watermelon at the end of a warm summer day.  We also loved to beg our Aunt for a drink of Quick, that yummy chocolate powder mixed with cold, farm fresh milk. To us that was one of the grandest treats in the world!  It was truly an idyllic childhood that our parents created for us, and not only did we have an abundance of love and good memories and the best of what they could give us, but we were also expected to work and participate in the responsibilities. A good example of this is how my oldest brother was taught and trusted with the job of plowing the fields with the tractor when he was six or seven. Early on in our lives we learned to share in chores and do our part in doing what it took to keep the large, family operated farm running smoothly and looking its best.
The first crack that appeared in what I perceived as the perfect life came when my mother discovered she had breast cancer. At five years old I can still clearly recall the worried looks on the adult faces as they discussed what to do. However after an apparently successful surgery, everything settled back down to normal. Not known to my young mind however were some very big decisions weighing on the minds of my Godly parents. They were very unhappy with their church situation and longed to be in a more God-centered setting, not only for their sakes but they were also carefully considering their children’s future. Even more significant was the fact that my father felt a call in his heart to be a missionary, an experience he had as a young eight year old boy. He could still remember the very place and time that he heard God telling him to go and spread the Gospel to the world. Going abroad as a missionary was unheard of and frowned upon in the Old Order Amish Church where he grew up in. My grandparents were not in the least sympathetic to his views. But now, my parents they were seriously seeking, and contemplating different options.
 When Daddy and Mamma heard of an Amish church group planted in the far-away country of Honduras, they felt compelled to investigate further and finally the big decision was made- Daddy would make the trip to this big, unknown and far away country. We all breathlessly awaited his return, and he had stories beyond our imaginations, complete with several fascinating words and phrases in Spanish. He also came back saying that he would not ask his family and his beloved wife whom he deeply valued and treasured, and who had just recuperated from breast cancer, to move to such a primitive place. Much to his great surprise, she encouraged the move and after much prayer and careful consideration they both felt convinced that God was moving them into this direction.  However huge the consequences and cost, they were committed to doing what they felt was God’s will for their lives and their family’s well-being.
  After the sale of our precious and beloved farm, careful packing of some of our most valuable and prized possessions, a painful auction, passports for the whole family, and very painful good-byes, we were ready to leave the country.  My grandparents and aunt accompanied us to the New York harbor where we were booked to leave on a big ship which belonged to a fleet called The Standard Fruit Company. While primarily being used to transport just that –fruit- she was also set up to transport a limited amount of passengers. They had luxurious passenger accommodations, and to us children, this new excitement quickly made us forget all the painful separations and tearful, heart-rending good-byes. Finally, the plank was drawn, the ship clinked and clanked and slowly made its way out of the harbor. We waved at our dear family members, with everybody believing that this could well be the last time we would ever see each other. Thus, in December, 1970, began the biggest, most painful, most exciting, and eventful move of a lifetime.

Breast cancer claimed the life of my dearest mother almost 2 years after we moved. About 4 or 5 months after our move to Honduras it came back with a vengeance and caused her considerable pain and suffering. There was some limited treatment, and a lot of prayer. She battled it with determination, and worked hard to give her family her very best, but she slowly succumbed to the dreaded disease, and on October 15, 1972 she passed on. Losing her was by far one of the saddest, darkest days of our lives and with more significant, far-reaching effects than any us knew that day. That distressing loss made a severe impact on our young, tender hearts, and the loss for my dear father, strong as he was, was overwhelming.

Jehovah Jireh, My Provider
Fast forward to 2006, Lawrence KS. Almost forty years later and I am around the age my parents were when they moved to Honduras. Many books could be filled with the happenings of all those years in between then and now.
In 2002 I adopted a son, Michael Andrew, in Honduras as a single parent. He has been the biggest blessing and gift God has ever granted me. I was motivated to move back in large part for his sake and once more, just like my parents in search of a stable church setting, as well as an education for Michael, but most importantly I had not a doubt in my mind that God was speaking to my heart and telling me it was time for me to make that move. Actually moving back to the States resulted in almost as much pain as I imagine the move to Honduras had been for my parents.
The transition was not easy, and required a deep commitment to God in many aspects. A walk of faith was begun, and I had to trust God like I had never done before.  
In 2008 after living in Kansas for several years I found out that a very dear friend from Honduras was very, very sick. I quickly made arrangements to travel to Honduras to see her. She died soon after I got there. Her youngest son Jonathan was 7 years old and his tender little heart was devastated by the loss of his mother. He and I were very close when he was little, before my move back to the States. Due to this closeness he felt with me, he begged me to take him after the loss of his mother. I took it to God in prayer, and after very careful consideration and counsel I felt like all doors were opening into that direction. I very frankly told God that without His intervention I could never do this, short of His very direct involvement and help, and I took the leap. A leap of sheer faith.  A leap of faith that I will never regret taking. Because, just like He did when I decided to move away from Honduras, He was right there, by my side.  Not that things were battle-free, in fact I felt like I was in the thick of a very difficult battle. But time and time again, He won the battle for me as I waited on Him and trusted Him, and did my part. I was learning that I could fully trust and depend on the Lord God. He was becoming such a faithful, trustworthy Father to me!
With that underlying groundwork built into my foundation of faith, God had still other lessons for me. But I was happily thinking my trials and turbulent waters were safely in the past for now. Little did I know what was in store for me next.

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14