This is Greg writing - Lise usually handles the blog these days, and its really good to be communicating directly with you after such along break. I think we recently shared some particularly defeating news: I've developed something called antibody-mediated rejection, and I've got some unpleasant medical stuff coming up.
Part of the reason that this news is so wearying is that it really felt like we were moving on from all of this over the last couple months. We were so excited to be heading up to Pennsylvania for visits to our hometowns, and then moving on to Florida for our summer placement of taking seminary classes.
Because of the hospital stay I have coming up (I'll be getting something called a "port" in my chest so they can do some special plasma treatments and B-cell removal), I won't be able to come to PA. I really, really was looking forward to giving many of you a hug and hearing about your lives and thanking you for everything you've done in ours - you are all like precious family to us, and it would have been so good to see you face to face.
After the port treatments, I start 4 weeks of a special type of chemotherapy that targets B-cells instead of T-cells. For that reason, both Lise and I can't attend our classes in Florida. Its a little bewildering how much a 5-minute phone call can screw things up.
A huge part of what I've been learning and growing in this spring is seeing Jesus and His plan and mercy even in troubled times - and I have to say that even though Elise and I feel like we got knocked down again right now, there are a lot of really precious mercies wound up in this circumstance. First and foremost, there's no immediate threat on my life - they found it and are treating it quickly enough that I should be able to avoid any terminal fears involved. Its not going to be fun, but fortunately its one of those things where you just grin and bare it and then, in all likelihood, get up and get back on track again.
Secondly, we are still very much going ahead with the Ministry Partner Team parties. I won't be able to attend (I'll physically be in the hospital during both the Zelienople and State College gatherings), but Elise will still be there, and we would still love and be blessed by your company. So if you were planning on coming, do still please know that you're welcome at Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church, and/or Dan and Rosemary's family ranch in State College.
In addition to food and spending time together, we would also like to add an element of a prayer gathering to each celebration. There will be some centerpieces out to help you know what to pray for, and it would mean the world to us if you would consider joining with some fellow team members to pray that God would either fix this quickly or give us the faith to get back up again. This may be a familiar prayer by now, but it continues to be a much-needed one ; )
Finally, Elise and I are putting together some really nice packets that we'll have at the dinner, and we would ask you to pray over whether God is leading you to take one as you go (they'll just be sitting out, so please don't feel compelled to take them if you don't want to). The packets will have a bunch of information in them regarding our ministry - we want to ask you if you would be willing to refer us and our ministry to a friend or loved one who might be interested in joining with us as a Ministry Partner. Many of you will recall us needing to build a team of ministry partners before we were allowed to report to assignment here at Mason - this would be the same process, and we promise to exercise the same respect and care as we always do when asking someone to consider joining our team.
The reason we find ourselves needing to raise support at this time revolves around the government's new healthcare legislation, which dictates that the members of our organization can now only reimburse $10,000 of medical expenses/year. While this works for most families, it doesn't even come close for me. In the past, through your extraordinary generosity, Elise and I have been able to remain on staff and able to afford the medical care I need. We now find ourselves in a situation where we need to raise $2,000/month in new monthly ministry partner donations (which we can then arrange to access as "additional salary" for specific medical expenses - it's heavily taxed, but we can still access it, which is the key). The parties in Zelienople and State College are NOT about our financial needs - rather, they are a celebration of all that God has done through you here in Northern Virginia. I just wanted to ask if you would grab a packet or two and pray over them - and I wouldn't ask unless the need to get started on reaching this goal wasn't great. Both Elise and I love you so much and don't want to presume upon you - please know and believe that.
All that aside, please come and eat delicious food, talk with my lovely wife, and see some of the slides and displays Elise is making to showcase what Jesus has done through you here at George Mason University. You all truly are God's hands and feet.
All my love, Greg