September 30, 2017 My dear husband and best friend went home to the Lord on August 31 after his struggle with cancer. I am so glad that he is no longer suffering however I am missing him greatly and don't know how I will continue without him. I am currently here in Mexico closing up our house here and preparing to return to Georgia on October 9.
Although Manos de los Amigos will not continue in its current form, I plan to stay very active in ministry here in Mexico and support other missionaries who are working here. I am not sure what the future holds for me but am praying for God's guidance and direction in everything I do. It is hard when you don't have your companion to discuss these types of things with, especially when you are confused and uncertain what you should be doing.
I don't know yet how I will make my livelihood, where I will live, or what direction in life God desires for me. Please pray for Charity and me about these decisions, especially that he will provide what we need for relocating back to Georgia until I can find a job. I know that God has provided for our every need and has been with us in every situation that we have encountered and, although I do not understand why He needed Ronnie with Him at this time, I am confident that even this is in His plan and there is purpose in it. Pray that God will show us clearly what we should be doing and where we should live. Pray for my children as well as they come to terms with the loss of their beloved father. It is a very difficult time for us all.
Thank you all so much for your support, prayers, encouragement, and help during this time. I cannot express how much I appreciate you all and am grateful that God gave us such wonderful friends and family. May God richly bless you all.
June 30, 2017 I am so bad about updates; please forgive me! It has been a long while since my last one and, in the meanwhile, Ronnie and I have been back home in Georgia since June 1. We left Monterrey just after his last radiation treatment to come to Georgia. Since arriving, Ronnie has had many problems with eating and keeping food on his stomach. It got so bad that he ended up vomiting blood which resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room at Northside Hospital in Canton. The doctor there did a CT scan that showed that the stent, which we had thought was gone, was actually still in his stomach pushing against the stomach wall. There was a concern that the stent possibly had penetrated the stomach wall and they told us we needed to consult a gastroenterologist ASAP.
We made an appointment with Dr. Goel in Marietta and had a consultation with him on Friday, June 23.He immediately referred Ronnie to Dr. Mayfield, a thoracic surgeon, who met with us on Wednesday, June 28. He sent Ronnie from his office straight to Kennestone Hospital to help with Ronnie's pain and to schedule the stent removal for the following day, June 29. The stent fortunately had not penetrated the stomach wall. Ronnie currently remains in Kennestone for some further tests but should be discharged tomorrow. Next week, we will be returning to Kennestone to have another test called a EUS to re-stage the cancer and determine what to do next.
During the stent removal, Dr. Goel determined that Ronnie's stomach is being extremely sluggish in digesting food and they are giving him some medication to help with that, as well as more testing to see why his stomach is not digesting food properly. We are very blessed to be receiving such good care and treatment here at Kennestone. Please continue praying that the doctors will have wisdom and discernment as they evaluate Ronnie's condition. Please continue keeping us in your prayers as we seek His will in what we should do next. Thank you all for the love, calls, encouragement, support, and especially all the prayers! It means so much to us.
P.S. We just received word that Ronnie is being discharged this afternoon from the hospital!
May 26, 2017 Sorry that I haven't updated sooner. Ronnie has 4 more radiation treatments left and then a waiting period before having the PET scan to see what has occurred with the cancer. He has been very weak and unable to eat much; because of his weakness and hospitalizations, he has skipped two different weeks of chemo and as of now he has lost almost 50 lbs. During this waiting period for the PET scan, we are hopefully going to Georgia to see our family (and friends who live in the area) since Ronnie has not been there in about a year now; he stayed here during the Christmas holidays to finish the roof at the Children's Home in Ramos. So he hasn't even met our youngest grandson yet, Judah. Of course, we are praying the God has performed a miracle and there are NO signs of cancer left in his body!
While we have been at the hospital in Monterrey each weekday we have had the opportunity to share God's word, hand out Bibles, pray with people, and play with the children there. I am taking some large bubbles with me on Monday to entertain some of them. It has been a blessing to minister to so many people but it is also heartbreaking. I wish I could do more.
Please continue to pray for us. Praise God all the Radiation and Chemo treatments are covered but we are still trusting God for enough for the PET scan and doctor appointments when we return. Please continue praying for us as we seek God's will in all this. At this point, we (nor the doctors') know what the next step will be. As stated above, we are praying for complete healing so please pray with us for this.
April 30, 2017 Ronnie has not felt as well today and has had a hard time keeping things on his stomach. We are not sure why he feels so much worse than he had been feeling but he goes back to Monterrey on Tuesday to resume his treatments of Chemo and Radiation so please be in prayer about that since those take so much out of him.
Some have asked about an update on our financial situation so I am updating that as well in this note. We have received sufficient funds to take care of all the medical bills we have accrued up to this time. We also still have enough to continue treatments for the next three weeks unless we have more unexpected expenses (which I am praying are over!).
Although we don’t have the total amount yet to finish out these treatments (we have 4 weeks left), we know that God will supply this need. I know that many of you have given to us very sacrificially and I can only pray that God will multiply your blessings. We are so grateful and we realize that, without you and your prayers, we could not keep going. I am sure that there are thousands of people praying for us because so many folks have said that they pray for us in each of their church services weekly as well as at home on a daily basis. I cannot overstate how blessed we feel!
Also, I want to let you know what is happening ministry-wise here in Mexico since all my updates have been mostly health related. Although, for the time being, our ministry focus has been changed due to Ronnie’s health and the daily travel to Monterrey and back through the week, we continue to minister here as God allows. We have been able to hand out tracts and Bibles in the hospitals, doctor’s offices, stores, gas stations, etc. Where-ever God sends us, we try to spread His Word to others around us. I have been able to minister to some of the people while we wait in the hospitals for treatments.
Also, God opens doors for other types of ministry as well. I have handed out some of the clothes, shoes, and other articles that God has supplied for us to donate to the people right here around us in Arteaga. Also, we were able to help a family that had a desperate need of food with that situation as well.
Yesterday, our neighbor (who is unsaved) came over to ask my assistance in helping her alter a dress for her daughter to wear to her grandmother’s 50th year anniversary event and I took that opportunity to bless her. I am so grateful that my mom taught me how to cook, sew, embroider, clean, and do a multitude of other practical tasks that have helped me over these years. I am praying that our friendship with the people around us here in this neighborhood will open the door for them to receive the gospel with their whole households.
After Ronnie’s treatments, once he has recovered sufficiently, we plan to resume our work with the Casa Hogar (the Children’s Home) in Ramos, the Orphanage (Casa de los Ninos) in Tepic, the orphanage that Roberto is working on in Mexico City, and the churches and other ministries around us. Ronnie had planned to fly down to Mexico City to discuss that orphanage with Roberto just before we found out he had cancer. We are so grateful that I had not already purchased the ticket. We are hoping that Ronnie will have time after his treatments to visit Georgia for about a month in early June. At least, that is the plan right now unless something changes. We are praying about this because I think the drive will be too tiring for him (although we sure would miss our stops with our friends, Dee and Ray). Our plan would be to travel to the border and stay with friends there overnight, then fly out of McAllen the next day. So please pray that God will give us the wisdom on what to do about our trip, when to make it, and how to travel when that time comes. If anyone has some unused sky miles, we would be grateful if we could use them to perhaps fly home. Thank you again for all you do for us.
April 28, 2017 Update for today: This has been a really good week. Ronnie, other than severe reflux issues, has been able to eat fairly normally, retaining all his food and liquids; he has more energy and less pain. We are so grateful that God has given him this week to rest and recuperate before restarting the treatments. Today was the first day he has had sufficient energy to get out and take a short walk around our neighborhood with me and Shinko (our dog). I couldn’t believe it but, when we got home, he still had enough energy to tackle a small repair project that has needed completing.
We have had several visitors and really enjoyed their visits. Steve and Debbie Poston call about every day to check on us since they left for the states for a 2 month furlough. Roger and Karen Bowman (also missionaries here) have come over and called and Glafiro, Roger, and Pastor Israel (and our daughter Ashley) have een given up their blood for Ronnie! Pastor Israel (Iglesia Bautista de Esperanza) and his family (with some friends) visited as well, helped Ronnie change the oil in our car, and encouraged us. Several friends from Iglesia Bautista de la Capital (Capital Baptist Church) brought us a fruit basket and some strawberries and visited for an hour or so. Rosy and Glafiro are coming to eat with us this afternoon and maybe play some Dominos.
Sergio and Paty Villarreal have hosted us several nights when we have needed to stay in Monterrey. Meli Solis and her famiy (Ivan, Josúe, Fer, and Gali from Monterrey) have accompanied us to the hospital to help get everything set up when we were starting Ronnie’s treatments and then she took us to her home to feed us! Mike Richardson and Jorge Garcia visited Ronnie in the hospital and Mike’s family has visited us several times in our home, encouraging us. I could go on and on… others who have called, plan to come visit, etc. We have so many beloved friends here and are so grateful that God has given us this group of people to be here at this time.
And then there are all the prayers, love, and support we receive from all of you. I am trying to write thank you notes to all you have helped with our medical needs and I think my fingers are going to fall off! What a blessing you have been! I am overwhelmed with gratitude for you all and for all the prayers we have received. Also, I want you to know that your notes and chats, emails, and contact are so important to us and keep me connected (and sane). Ronnie asks me every day to read the notes we receive so please keep writing!
April 26, 2017 Today’s update: Ronnie went to Monterrey to see Dr. Josúe, his radiology oncologist, and Dr. Jaqueline, his chemo doctor. They are waiting to restart his treatments until next Tuesday and we are very happy that they are giving Ronnie this much-needed break. In the meantime, Ronnie is eating fairly well and is maintaining liquids so we are hopeful that no further intervention will be needed regarding dehydration or other problems associated with the chemo. The doctor also gave him a prescription for some strong medicine for the nausea when he resumes the chemo on Tues. and He gave him a prescription for iron since his blood levels remain very low. We plan to rest here at home and just enjoy this break while we can. We certainly appreciate all your prayers, help with the medical bills, support, encouragement, etc. May God bless each one of you greatly! We are so blessed to have so many loving people in our lives and are very grateful.
April 24, 2017 Update on Ronnie: (Lots of them these days):
Ronnie was released from the hospital yesterday after having been admitted on Saturday due to being unable to keep foods and liquids down. He had become severely dehydrated and needed fluids as well as medicine for his esophageal pain. His total esophagus felt as if it were on fire, probably due to the acid from the reflux and the chemo. In any case, he was put on medicines for these things and given fluids. While in the hospital, the doctor ran several tests and took x-rays. In doing so, the doctor was very surprised at how normal his blood work was compared to Ronnie’s symptoms. Then when the x-rays were checked, there was no sign of the stent anywhere! They took more x-rays all the way from his neck down through his intestinal tract and the stent simply wasn’t there. The doctor said that in rare cases stents had traveled through the digestive tract, through the intestines and out of the body. I am praying that the cancer does the same thing, that it simply cannot be found!
Anyway, due to the loss of the stent the doctor suggested that Ronnie have a feeding peg inserted in his abdomen. We asked him if we could wait a day or two before deciding, so the doctor said okay, that he would send a nurse over this afternoon to give him fluids at our home so he would remain hydrated (he was still unable to keep anything down). When we got home from the hospital yesterday evening, Ronnie drank some and did not throw it up. Then today he drank water and juice and ate jello and yoghurt in the morning. Mid-day he ate some chicken soup broth with crackers, and continued drinking liquids throughout the day. PRAISE GOD, IT ALL STAYED DOWN!!!
I told this to the doctor so he did not send the nurse and he said he would wait a few days and see how this all goes. Treatments are suspended at least until Wednesday when we will return to Monterrey and see both the radiology and chemo doctors. Chemo may be suspended for another week but they possibly will resume radiation on Wed. Please pray about these things. As I said, I am praying and believing that God will remove this cancer and the doctors will be left wondering where it went. Thank you so much for all your prayers! Don’t stop praying! Love you all.
Hands reaching out to touch lives for Christ.
Manos de los Amigos is a non-denominational non-profit ministry that has been organized to help other ministries fulfill their mission of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people. People exist as both physical and spiritual beings; both of these are completely connected. Often people make the mistake of thinking that meeting physical needs is inferior to meeting spiritual ones. The truth is that both are necessary.
Our focus includes working with orphanages to provide for basic needs. Human trafficking is prevalent in the region; when children are provided safe shelter, food, and loving care there is more protection from this type of activity.
Another aspect of our ministry is personal neighborhood outreach to the youth and adults in our area. This includes providing Bible Studies, teaching seminars and Youth meetings in the building God provided us, the Manos de los Amigos Ministry Building. Another facet of our ministry is to help meet the needs of local churches by improving their existing facilities. Our goal is to be "hands of friends" to the people we serve by using our talents and abilities to serve others while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We are missionaries who have been serving God in Baratillo, Mexico for over three years and now are serving Him throughout Mexico.
Our desire is to meet physical and spiritual needs as we serve Christ and share Him with others. The Good Samaritan met the needs of the man he encountered on the road even when others would not. Meeting needs, both physical and spiritual, is what Christian living is all about and that is our desire as we serve Christ here in Mexico.
James 1:27 states, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."