Hey everyone. It's been awhile, and a lot has happened. This past month, especially, we have been so busy.
In the beginning of October, we traveled to Camarillo to attend a friend's wedding. We spent a lot of time visiting with close friends and family which was an amazing treat. Seeing Wesley and his best friend, Micah, first greet each other with a big hug, melted my heart. We ended up extending our trip in order to see some missionary friends from Germany. While in the States, we had an amazing time camping and exploring Zion National Park. Our three week trip felt too long, but looking back, we needed that calm before the storm hit once we returned back to Mexico.
Upon returning, Rich was able to finish a good amount of our kitchen. There is no way he could have done it without the help of our friend, David, who is so knowledgeable and skillful in almost everything it seems! He has helped us tremendously and we are so thankful! There is still more to be done to make it a full functioning kitchen, but it has come a long way! Pictures still to come.
On Oct. 31st the first of a series of "hits" happened to our family. As many of you know, my parents are also missionaries here in the same town we live in. We got a call that my dad was coughing up blood. My mom immediately took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. It was a shock to all of us. Looking back he did have some symptoms, but the symptoms are easy to misdiagnose as other mild ailments. Upon diagnosis, they discovered my dad has a 4cm x 4cm hole in his lung. I will spare you the gruesome details, but I will say I have never seen my dad so weak and ill. It's been very emotionally hard for all of our family.
My parent's entire household and our little Payne family got tested and we all came back negative. Yay! In about a month we will all get retested, just to make sure.
Upon first doing research on tuberculosis, Rich and I were quite alarmed. Tuberculosis is very prevalent in our area. We wanted to go into panic mode, but quickly realized we needed to be asking the Lord for his will for our family in regards to this situation. The Lord answered and gave us an unexplainable peace that we are right where He wants us to be.
In fact, I can see the hand of the Lord orchestrating for us to be here exactly for this specific timing. My parents had to leave their ministry and all the children they care for in order to get my dad treated. My dad is still contagious, so my parents are living at a separate house and we won't be seeing my dad until doctors declare him not contagious anymore. This could mean a few more months.
The second "hit" came with the news that a close friend had unexpectantly passed away. Our friend Micah Sopher, was the son of some local missionaries who also live in the same town here in Mexico. As missionary kids, Micah and I were friends and attended school together. Rich was also friends with Micah for many years. My older sister married Micah's older brother. Micah was one of those who wasn't just a friend, but a brother. We miss him tremendously.
The third "hit" came a few days after hearing of Micah's passing. I was in a car accident that ended up completely totaling our mini van. I was the one at fault as I was turning onto a main busy road. I've always thought of myself as a responsible driver. I always look both ways twice before turning, as I did this time as well. I have no idea how I didn't see a red car coming. Along with me in the car was my youngest son, Wyatt, and two of my Mexican siblings, Rubi and Dani. Rubi and I had bruising and muscle soreness, Dani got a concussion, and Wyatt, though very scared, suffered no injuries. (Yay for safe infant carseats!). Thankfully the worst of the other driver's injuries was some needed surgery for one of his fingers and a few stitches on his head.
I can't even begin to tell you how traumatizing this accident was. The Lord intervened in so many ways. Our friend, who's a Mexican lawyer came to the scene of the accident and helped smooth things over with the police. Here in Mexico, you are guilty until proven innocent. If it weren't for him and another ambulance driver smoothing things over with the police, I would have been put in jail. Seems extreme, especially since injuries were minor, but that's how things are done down here. The ambulance driver also worked behind the scenes to call a local clinic to remain open for us past their open hours, in order for us to get the best care and avoid public scenes.
The response from our local church was incredible. While we were being seen by specialists in the clinic, many members from our church went to the scene of the accident. The prayed and ministered to Rich, helping him with translation when necessary with the police and our Mexican insurance agency. On Sunday, our Pastor ended up not preaching his prepared message, and instead the whole congregation spent the service in worship and prayer over our family. But they didn't stop there. The next day, a big part of the congregation came to our home and walk around the yard and prayed for our home and family as well as worshiped the Lord. Their overwhelming response has been such an encouragement to us. It is so wonderful to be apart of a church body that loves as a family.
The fourth "hit", happened the morning after the accident. My parents had a lady living with them for the past couple of years who has been helping them care for the children. The day after my car accident she unexpectedly resigned so we moved into my parent's home to care for the household.
Let's just say, I've always deeply respected my parents for how much they sacrifice in caring for their household. But now living in their shoes, my respect has grown even more. Including ourselves, we are caring for a household of 19 people. Seven of those are young kids ages 6 and under. We hit each day running and the pace is fast and never ending. With so many people, there is always things to do. Each night we collapse into bed.
The young kids physically drain us, and the teens mentally drain us.
I never thought I'd be parenting 8 teens at my age. Rich and I are growing a lot. We are realizing we are in "love school". Learning to love with Christ's love despite the teens "being teens" ( if you know what I mean ;) A big prayer of mine is to see all the children through God's eyes as He sees them. To have His heart so we can respond in love and not react out of strong emotions.
The fifth "hit", happened to our beloved cat, Toto. Turns out he swallowed a part of a baby's bottle nipple. It got stuck in his intestines. Thankfully the vet was able to remove it through surgery and Toto is recovering well.
Through this time, we've realized how important it is to have a strong foundation and knowledge in our identity in Christ. We can not do any of this in our own strength.
This past month has been very hard. But the Lord is so good.
He'S SO GOOD! He has given us such a gift of grace and peace in the midst of all this chaos. The Samantha you all knew who lived in the States and who frequently struggled with just being a stay-at-home-mom to 3 boys would have been hysterical and emotionally overcome a long time ago. I know it is only by the Lord's grace and strength that we are able to have the energy and positiveness through everything. Rich and I have grown closer in our marriage, our faith has grown, and we are excited to see what the Lord has in store for us next.
We need all the prayer we can get. Here are some prayer requests:
1) Continued protection from any illnesses
2) Continued grace and strength from the Lord to continue caring for all the children.
-that we will be able to connect well with the kids and see them through God's eyes,
3) for wisdom in finding ways for us to have balance and times of relaxation so we don't burn out or lower our immune systems.
4) Financial provision for our financial needs
5) Healing and recovery for my dad
6) Please also lift up my Mexican brothers and sisters who are missing Mom and Dad. It is uncertain what the next few months will look like for the recovery of my dad. My Mexican siblings are worried they won't be able to spend Christmas with their parents and are worried Christmas will fall short for them. Though we don't know what it will look like yet, we intend to celebrate Christmas with them and make it as joyous an occasion as possible.
If you've lasted this long, in my blog, thanks for taking the time to read what's been happening in our lives. We miss and love you all.