I wrote the following last week and just now getting it posted. Life is busy. I’m planning another later this week since Bill starts his work with robotics therapy today. We’re curious as to what that is and how long it will last.
It’s been 12 weeks since Bill’s accident. From Lisbon to Chicago, so much has happened. Bill’s X-rays on Thursday proved his back is strong enough to no longer need his back brace. That eliminates a cumbersome piece he has had to work with before he did anything, offering him a nice bit of freedom.
The wheelchair is still how he gets around. He steadfastly works daily on standing with his walker and walking the living room and hallway with it. He still needs his upper body strength for that, as he is continually building his leg muscles and gluts. Walking with a harness during his physical therapy sessions allows for him to move unencumbered without worrying about falling. A robotics machine is next.
Now with 12 weeks of healing, he can begin his occupational therapy where he will practice getting in and out of various vehicles. He also wants to be adept at breaking down his wheelchair, taking off the wheels and various parts so he can pull it over him into the back seat.
Seems we love our independence and not having to lean on others and rightly so.
The pastors’ children.
God’s Word when we need it:
Ironically, a couple of Sundays before Bill’s accident while we were living in Lisbon, I was to be in the nursery for the English service and teach the children in the evening for the Portuguese service at IBEC–Igreja Baptista Evangélica das Colinas. In wanting to be spiritually fed while getting ready for church, I listened to a sermon from our home church Fellowship Bible Church in Searcy. I had started listening to the series on the book of Mark. That morning, Pastor Doug Grimes was sharing from Mark 2—Up on the Roof—about the paralytic being dropped down from the roof of Peter’s mother-in-law’s house where Jesus was speaking and healing.
What struck me that morning was how Doug described the role of the four friends. They went above and beyond in their unselfish serving for their paralyzed friend. What captured me was the love they had, but most especially I was taken by the love of Jesus that radiated when he spoke to the paralyzed man, healing him, making him whole by forgiving his sins.
I’ve read that passage many times before and afterwards. Even re-listening to Doug’s sermon, I grasp Jesus’ love being spelled out as explicitly as when I sat on my bed that Sunday morning. Was it in preparation for what was to come that I imagined Jesus standing before Bill with His unconditional love that’s eternal?
From boxes of food, warm clothes and cleaning supplies from the Richmonds, gift cards from the Richmonds and Williams, Cheryl’s cookies from the Williams and Ari and her crew to autumn decorating love gifts from the Moores, we are surrounded by your love.
Eight-year-old granddaughter Maddie Grace created artwork and then found a long-sleeved t-shirt she thought was perfect for Pop. “We have to get it!” she told her mother last week, “and send it now! Cause it says ‘Champion’ on the front and then Bam! he’ll see the back, and it has my school and that we’re ‘Warriors’!”
How often over these twelve weeks have we experienced such great love. As with the four friends in Mark 2, you are those friends and family through all the ways you are loving us, praying for us, breaking through that roof to do what you can to inspire us through your lives. In that way, we are not meant to be so independent, as in being without community. Covid attempts to isolate us, but we can’t let it. We need not be so lonely in a divided land.
As I mentioned during those first two weeks, I couldn’t have done it all by myself without Melissa’s and Nick’s help. As our time to fly out of Portugal approached, Bill was to take the AngelFlight to Chicago, but I was going to need to fly commercially. Ari and Nick both offered to fly to Lisbon to fly back with me. It was decided Nick and Joe would come, and then Ari would help me move to Chicago two weeks later.
Only the Friday night Nick and Joe were to fly to Lisbon from NYC, they couldn’t. That lane was closed.
As they drove home from the airport, Nick said, “I guess Nonny will have to fly back alone.”
Joe replied, “No, we’re going to keep trying until we get there.”
Thus, they did the next day. And with their organizational brain skills I lack and that perseverance we love in our family members, they helped me tie up those loose ends, getting me back to NYC safely for a time of rest.
Certainly, I could have flown that international flight alone. Except I would have been without a cell phone since our US phone line was not able to be restored, and we were ending our Portugal phone contract. I reasoned people did that all of the time decades ago. But having family with me, staying with family in NY and AR nourished me so I could turnaround and nourish Bill.
A fun story from our time in Portugal when we obviously needed others:
After we moved to Portugal in mid-November, we were dependent on others for almost everything. Kyle Farran, director over ABWE’s Western European Section, along with his wife Heather and their three daughters offered their time and energy for our survey trip and first weeks in Portugal. They initiated us into the important stuff. The first few times they took us to Jumbo—a jumbo grocery store in a massive mall, the power of fish stench knocked our sense of smell to its heights. Slabs of salted cod—3 feet long and thin as cardboard—were stacked high on shelves next to aisles of seafood.
We needed help with everything. Not knowing the language or the streets to anywhere, we were also fortunate our two pastors and their wives, Beau/Valerie and Adam/Melissa, spoke Portuguese. We called them often and they tutored us daily in learning the culture, the foods, the best places to shop and how to get there.
“Oh, the whole milk is in the orange box on an unrefrigerated aisle?”
“So do they have sour cream here? It’s called what?”
Both families lived only two blocks away, making it easy for us to have many meals together. They became our family. Even as we hated to bother them, we called or texted often.
“Just text Beau or Adam,” I said daily while I added, “if you don’t, I’m calling Valerie and Melissa!”
They alerted us that everything in Portugal takes time, even with Google maps and translation apps. Whether it was getting our paperwork done and redone (and maybe redone again) so we could receive our crate of furniture from the US or applying for residency cards and drivers’ licenses, they simply said, “getting one item knocked off your list on any day is a true accomplishment here.”
Yet, there was one day Bill and I chose to be adventurous. While out accomplishing our one thing for customs clearance, we decided to go into the inner Lisbon circle to book a hair appointment for me. New friends Carole and Tim had suggested a trusted hairdresser. Finding the lovely tree-lined street, Bill whipped into a parking spot. How easy was that! And Hot Dog! the hairdresser could cut my hair that afternoon if we could come back in an hour.
Certainly! we said since we had spotted an Italian restaurant a few doors down and could have an early dinner. Finding a great restaurant open in the middle of the afternoon was another treasure for our day. The food and service made for a now favorite spot. Carole and Tim made their way to the hairdresser’s shop for Carole’s appointment. While I got my hair done, Bill went to have a coffee and conversation with them. Carole soon joined me and my new styling friends, with conversations in English, a welcomed treat.
Being mid-December, it was dark when Bill and I finally left.
We walked to our car, except there was no car.
We searched up and down the street, car by car: NOTHING! By then we were in a daze with The Twilight Zone soundtrack playing through our heads.
Did someone steal our car?
Had Bill remembered to lock it?
What do we do now?
We wandered back into the salon. The stylis’s wife made some calls. Yes, it had been impounded. They did that a lot we discovered, especially right before Christmas.
Had we put enough money into the meter box? they asked.
What meter box? we answered.
In this strange land with a strange language, Bill called Beau and Adam.
“Take an Uber and meet us at the police impound lot,” Beau advised.
Walking through the chainlink fence with our two pastors waiting before us, Bill and I hung our heads low, much like teenagers at a police station would do facing their parents.
Knowing Portuguese, Beau spoke with various ones to get us through the process, being directed to a long line and finally making it into the heated trailer office for the nice policeman to walk us out to our car.
Beau said in his jovial way, “You know I was just remarking to Adam how we hadn’t heard from the Robertsons in a couple of days, noting our independent ways.”
Learning through our mistakes, at least that night, was a high price to pay for an independent spree.
The next morning we were greeted with a pan of Valerie’s famous homemade cinnamon rolls and a card, welcoming us to the Tow Club!
Evidently having your car towed is part of the initiation for newbies in Lisbon. Later we realized, we had parked in front of a small parking garage door. They’re quite plentiful and easy to miss. What did we know? Not much.
After I got back to the States last month, I got to see Valerie, Beau and the kids (Avery, Owen and Landon) while in Searcy. On furlough since June, they had driven down from Missouri for us all to have lunch, along with Shannon and her kids.
“Yes,” Beau said in his jovial way to Shannon, who serves as the Global Missions Director at FBC, “when most of the new missionaries come, we are glad when they can gain some independence, maybe going from a 4 to a 6.” He laughed. “But Bill and Ann, after a few months, were already about an 8 1/2!”
When the paralytic was healed, he surely became more independent. Yet, if he forgot what Jesus did and his need for Jesus, if he forgot his need for others like his faithful friends, he gained nothing.
Why we surround ourselves with God’s Word:
For all of the many times God’s promises come to mind during a battle, one was when I was in my late 20s. I was 27 and I had to have a hysterectomy because I had tumors and cysts that had to be removed. What could have been an overwhelming time was one where great faith and love kept me. The tumors were benign.
Three years later at 30, I began feeling the same pain. I could barely get through a day of teaching without being exhausted. I finally went to the doctor. My gynecologist found a grapefruit-sized tumor. Dr. P scheduled another surgery for the day after.
During my drive home, I was overwhelmed considering the work I needed to do in the next hours, the upcoming pain I knew that was part of surgery, the hassle of stopping my life to heal over the six weeks, and the fear it could be cancer. Ari was only 9. We were scheduled to go through a four-day adoption workshop in preparation with an adoption agency in Oklahoma. That would have to be cancelled.
As I hit the steering wheel, questioning, “Why, Lord?” the cassette tape in my car played a Twila Paris song “Do I Trust You, Lord?”
“Do I trust you, Lord? Does the robin sing?
Do I trust you, Lord? Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
And You got to know I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love
Do I trust You, Lord?
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain
You were God before and You’ll never change. I will trust You.
(Full lyrics follow with credits.)
Gratefully it was benign, and the time that was delayed by the surgery meant for us to go through the adoption process when the time was right for our baby to be born for adoption.
One of the first couples we met during our survey trip to Portugal—Jon and Marilyn—proved to be wonderful new friends, also helping us through much. During the months when Bill and I were packing to move to Lisbon, we found out Marilyn had lung cancer—the kind nonsmokers get. Yet, she has continued through all of her treatments with the greatest of dignity. She and Jon have been missionaries in Portugal with ABWE since the mid-80s. They were going to serve two more years when she received her prognosis. She is presently in Hospice in the US. Please pray for her to be relieved of her pain. Please pray for her family in the US and Portugal.
There’s also a special 23-year old from our church in Searcy who is fighting ovarian cancer. Back in November the last Sunday before our move, Maddy, a barber in a neighboring small town, gave Bill fifty-dollars for our mission work. We used it to buy groceries for a new friend we got to know in church who is from Nepal and is blind. Maddy is generous like that. Even in her young years, Maddy’s faith is great, and she teaches us much through her example. Please add her to your prayer list.
Sometimes my little heart can’t understand
What’s in Your will, what’s in Your plan
So many times I’m tempted to ask You why.
But I can never forget it for long
Lord, what You do could not be wrong
So I believe You even when I must cry.
Do I trust You, Lord? Does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
And You’ve got to know, I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love
Do I trust You, Lord?
Do I trust You?
I know the answers, I’ve given them all.
But suddenly now, I feel so small
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul.
I know the doctrine and theology
But right now they don’t mean much to me
This time there’s only one thing I’ve got to know.
Do I trust You, Lord? Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind.
And You got to know I would rather die.
Than to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?
I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain.
You were God before and You’ll never change.
I will trust You, I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Twila ParisDo I Trust You lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group