Happy March everyone,
We are halfway through the month, and I am one week home from my trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia (AZ and GA). Thank you to all who prayed for my trip. Our families are doing well, God is opening doors for them in ministry, our partnerships with other orgs are appreciative of what our people have to offer. Vitaly from IBT and I signed our working MOU, giving us structure for working together in five different languages and counting. Our Georgia folks even added an ethno-arts specialist to their team while I was there! Lots to celebrate as our work in supporting our people in the Caucasus region bears fruit. Thank you for undergirding us with prayer!
Thank you also for praying for my health. I decided at the airport how many crutches to take along. I chose one, and it helped me get to AZ through the airports and such, and then I used it for one day after I arrived. After that I was able to get around without it for the remainder of my time in AZ and GA. No hiking, mind you. And people had to slow down for me a bit, but by part way through I was mostly pain free and at no point was it a distraction from what I was there to do. Praising God in a big way for that!
Unfortunately one of my feet did start to bother me on the way back. I was actually wheeled through the Newark, NJ airport and off the plane in Detroit. My problems resumed full-on in the week since: both feet and my right hand flaring back up to level they were at when last I wrote. Please continue to pray that God would either take this away from me as I do my best to take care of this body He gave me and/or that we would figure out what else can be done. After the typical means of treatment recommended by my doctor have not been getting me where I need to be, I finally have an appointment with a specialist on April 3. Please pray we'll figure this thing out.
In other news, Micah and his symphony band from Moody are wrapping up a two-week tour/mission to Spain this week. They do a program similar to the one they gave here in Michigan in January (see last update), with an emphasis on an evangelistic message. It sounds like the tour has gone really well. For Micah in particular, this was his first trip on his own, and five years removed from our return to the States from Russia he said it brought up a lot of emotions being in a foreign country again. Some nostalgia, of course (he enjoyed Spain, for sure), but some things he needed to think and talk through a bit as well. Definitely a good experience for him as he grows into his own young man of faith. We're so grateful for your prayers for him and all our kids over the years.
I know I promised more information on the state of our financial support last month, but that will have to wait a bit longer. For now, please continue to pray that God would provide increases in current support and/or new financial supporters as we are in the middle of some support transitions that represent a total decrease of $2,200/month. In the process of stepping down we most recently lost $250/month in January, and are scheduled to lose another $425/mo in April. We have had some good news along the way as well, but we have a long way to go to replace what we've already lost and still are scheduled to lose in the next year. In order to give more detail I will probably cover that in a separate letter to you all in the near future.
Thank you again for praying and supporting our ministry to the Bibleless!
Matt & family