Who Am I?  Part 21

The last article in my life journey story ended with the announcement of my son’s diagnosis of leukemia and our departure of our family from our mission work in Papua New Guinea. The first chemotherapy treatments for Eric occurred in Brisbane, Australia since it was necessary to start treatments as soon as it was possible. It was five weeks before the first window of opportunity presented itself for us to take Eric back to Canada and to continue with his treatments there.

Those early days in Brisbane and our trip to Canada deserve their own story, and I hope to tell that in some future article. I will relate one part of it though so you can get an idea of what our family was going through at that time. When we left PNG,  we barely had time (actually less than 24 hours) to pack a few suitcases. What happened next occurred both in Brisbane and then also in Calgary. Here is how it played out.

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Upon landing at the airport, we immediately took a taxi to the hospital. The four of us in our family, along with our eight suitcases, went up to the Admitting Desk and announced our arrival almost like you would do when you check in at a hotel. The hospital had already been alerted to are coming, and so the chart was already there for Eric. The nurse, or attending clerk, would go over the admitting papers and confirm all of our personal information. We did well on all of the lines until she got to one of them.

The question that stumped all of us was this one, “And what is your local address?” We heard the question. We looked around. We looked down at our luggage. Then we looked at the nurse again and said, “Here?” And that was the beginning of the next three years that we all now refer to as “The Cancer Years”. Not a very promising start, was it?

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Obviously, our primary focus in the years of 2002 – 2005 was to take care of Eric as he went through his 33 months of chemotherapy. Those were very difficult years for all of us, and for a lot of different reasons. But God was very good to us in many ways, and many people were very kind and helpful to us as we walked along this road. And certainly our faith in God and our love and commitment to each other in the family were also what helped us to survive those years.

But for me personally, I was faced with a huge issue that had no immediate answers for me when we first got back to Canada. I had to answer the question of, “So what do I do now?” I had prayed for, and prepared for many years to be a Bible translator. And in the previous five years to this moment, I had actually been involved in translating Scriptures into the N. language of Papua New Guinea. But now what was I going to do?

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The decision of what to do with me was partly taken out of my hands. The leadership at our international office conferred with the Board members of Pioneer Bible Translators of Canada and made a decision which they felt would be in our best interest. We were immediately “unassigned” as members of the PNG Branch and were reassigned to be staff members of our Canadian PBT organization.

What was positive though, was that this did give me something to do. I was asked to become the Director of Recruitment for PBT of Canada. (Isn’t it funny how we like to give ourselves titles?) And so in the midst of these difficult health years for Eric, suddenly I was given a sense of purpose again, and all of us need that in life, don’t we?

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For over two years then, God took me on trips all over Western Canada in order to publicize our mission and to try to recruit new members. At the same time I taught Greek and Missions courses for one year in a Bible College in Calgary, and then the next year I taught New Testament studies and Missions in a Bible College in Regina, Saskatchewan. (You never know where you’ll end up when you commit to serving the Lord, do you?)

This wasn’t exactly what I had planned to be doing as a missionary, traveling across Canada to do recruitment.  But if PBT of Canada was going to really stand up as an independent mission organization, then it would have to grow by getting new members.  It was in 1994 when God put the vision in my heart to see PBT-C be born, but by 2002, Jill and I were still the only missionaries in the mission.

There were some seeds planted in a few individuals and couples during my two years as Director of Recruitment.  Just like the parable of the four kinds of soil, I did see that many people showed little interest, some showed rapid interest but fell away later, and still in a few others there was receptive soil to the idea of becoming active with our mission group in Canada.

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Well, that is a quick overview of what happened for our family and how my ministry work for the Lord took a different turn. Many other things have happened to our little mission in Canada. Suffice it to say that our Canadian Board has become strong and quite active lately. And Jill and I are not the only missionaries now who are a part of PBT-C. Not in every case, but in some cases, I’m glad to know that I had a small part to play in that.