One week before the date on this letter, we rejoiced in the birth of LaDonna Elizabeth (7 pounds 9 ounces, 20 inches long). She was born at 9:14 a.m. on July 3 at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. Just two days after we brought LaDonna home to my in-laws’ house, we were back at the hospital overnight to get treatment for her jaundice. Sabrina and our new girl are doing well now. All of her siblings are excited, including Noah, even though it means he’s not the baby of the family anymore.
With the opportunity I had at the end of March to preach a conference at my and Sabrina’s alma mater and the church of our mission board, we scheduled our furlough six weeks earlier than previously planned; this extra time gave us a unique chance to travel in the U.S. as a family a little more than usual before Sabrina needed to stay near her doctor in preparation for the baby. The beginning of May saw us taking a two-week Midwest trip where the schedule included two missions conferences at supporting churches, a full day at the Creation Museum, Sabrina’s “debut” as a Mother/Daughter Banquet speaker, and (for our three older kids) a first-ever ice skate outing. In June, along with several other good meetings, I had the honor of speaking eight times during our mission board’s Candidate School for new missionaries.
In prayer letters leading up to our furlough, I had made requests for a phone and a vehicle. A full-service handset (courtesy of a good man in our sending church) and a new Kia Sorrento were waiting for us when our family arrived in Louisiana; one of my father-in-law’s sisters wanted to make sure with the Kia that Sabrina would be comfortable whenever I travel solo (with me using the Taurus that was given to us to own during our previous furlough). A special friend of our family (whose children took piano lessons from my wife while we were served on our sending church’s staff before deputation) allowed us to use her Suburban for our almost 3000-mile Midwest excursion in May. By the end of May, my father’s sister gave us her TrailBlazer to use for the duration of our furlough. The Lord has more than adequately provided for our needs (and wants) through dear friends and family members.
In the middle of May, I made a trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to Chicago in a 24-foot Budget truck for the purpose of bringing Bibles and personal items for a container to Nigeria. There’s much effort from many people that goes into such an important shipment. I wish to thank the printing ministry of Faith Baptist Church in Tacoma, Washington, for donating over 10,000 Bibles, New Testaments, and John/Romans. Bible Education and Missionary Service (BEAMS) in Gulfport (Mississippi) and Community Baptist Church in Lodge (South Carolina) helped tremendously with the storage and loading of the materials (the church also paid for the truck and fuel). Several students and staff from Hyles-Anderson College helped me unload the truck once I reached Chicago. Our friend John Camiola (servinginnigeria.com) would appreciate your prayers, as he has the responsibility of shipping and clearing the container in August. Finally, we are deeply indebted to Evangelist Don Wattenbarger and Liberty Baptist Church in Crossville, Tennessee, for raising funds toward the whole process.