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June 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
Writing a monthly newsletter can be challenging, yet it does have its rewards. Each month we sit down, look at pictures and try to put into words what we have done. This is great for us as it forces us to reflect on what God has brought us through as we attempt to determine where He might be taking us next. If we didn't write a monthly newsletter, we might not remember the many people and places God has brought into our paths. Looking at the ministry opportunities the Lord has given us, we realize how wonderful and mighty He truly is. As God unfolds His work before us, we understand more of the truth that our lives are as a vapor and each day He gives us is a gift. He is the Giver of Life and we are responsible for what we do with the time He gives us. We have so much for which to be grateful.
Last month, we shared about Kenny spending several weeks helping our dear friend Wilda. He took her to several hospitals and doctors. The last hospital they went to seemed willing to help, but sent her home saying there was nothing more that could be done. Driving another two hours each way, Kenny then took her to meet a surgeon to get his diagnosis. The hospital there told Kenny Wilda had liver cancer which had progressed too far for treatment. This left us all emotionally crushed. Wilda's diagnosis was particularly difficult for him since it occurred during the same time period we lost Shelby to cancer nine years ago. He was feeling the same helplessness all over again.
Wilda was our youngest daughter, Brigitta's, older, biological sister. When we lived in Haiti in 1995, Ken and most of our older children were out on a medical team in the bush area. While they were gone, Debbi, who was the only driver left at home, tried to take a young woman down the mountain to a hospital. The woman died in the car on the way. This was Wilda and Brigitta's birth mom. Both girls came to live with our family when Wilda was 3 years old and Brigitta a newborn. After living in our home for more than 6 months as we were working on adoption papers, the father and his mother chose not to let us keep Wilda. We were heartbroken as we had already grown to love this precious little girl as our own. Wilda was also devastated as she remembered the starvation to which she was being returned. We did everything we could to continue providing for and giving care to her through the years.
After hearing the doctors all predicted Wilda only had a very short time left to live, our daughters immediately planned a quick trip to join Kenny in Haiti and visit with her once more. Brigitta decided she wanted to see her again before she passed away and asked our daughter, Holly, to join her. Sara and Holly were both very involved in caring for Wilda as a little girl as well as checking on her throughout the years. They were both completely devastated by the news. Sara, who is in the beginning of a pregnancy with twins, was especially disappointed she couldn't join them.
Kenny did not tell anyone that Holly and Brigitta were coming, so Wilda was very surprised when the they arrived. She remembered Holly and was glad to see her, but had to be told who Brigitta was since they were both so young the last time they were together. Wilda could not take her eyes off of Brigitta. They all cried when they met again. Brigitta is our only child who never spoke any Creole so Lussade, Kenny and Holly interpreted for the two girls. Wilda held tightly to Brigitta's hand the whole time they were together not wanting to let go when it was time for them to leave. The main reason Holly wanted to go was to be sure that Wilda knew Christ as her Savior. Lussade, his wife and Holly all prayed over her several times. The uncle who had been caring for Wilda, said she was a Christian and had been attending church. The pastor of the church visited her each week to have prayer. We were so grateful to hear this. Holly and Wilda spent time talking about Jesus and heaven and seeing Shelby again. Wilda knew Shelby well and of course loved her so much. Wilda was very peaceful after that visit and the uncle told us the next day that she had slept through the night peacefully. This was something that had not occurred in a long time. Praise the Lord! He wrapped His arms of comfort around her and gave her rest.
Although the purpose of the trip was visiting with Wilda, Kenny also made time to take Holly and Brigitta by the OSM schools. They enjoyed visiting with the children and showing them love. Holly hopes to return in the fall with her family and can't wait for her daughters to meet these precious children. They also made a quick trip to the the Merci Village where they were mobbed with sweet little faces and hands trying to grasp theirs. Holly had not yet seen any of the work Kenny has been involved in, so she was especially excited about this part of the trip. She is completely in love with her younger brothers, Kenny and Micah, and is always very supportive of anything they are involved with. Many of the children in the village call Kenny, 'Poppy', so he introduced Holly and Brigitta to them as their aunts. The children found this very amusing.
Just before Holly and Brigitta arrived in Haiti, Kenny took a little orphan girl, he helps to care for from the village, out to Cayes to see a doctor. The girl, Lovena, has knock knees. He has wanted to have her seen by a surgeon for a long time. They finally had the opportunity to meet an American doctor. After examining Lovena, he told Kenny that surgery was too extreme for her legs and they will improve with time. In the meantime, there is not anything that can be done for her and she will have to live with her physical disability. She occasionally has pain and difficulty walking. This was a blessing to finally have her checked, although we had hoped there would be something they could do for her.
Shortly after the girls and Kenny returned from Haiti we received a call from Lussade that Wilda has passed away. Although this news broke our hearts, we know she is no longer in pain, but rather wrapped in the loving arms of the Savior. We're grateful God provided this last opportunity for Kenny, Holly and Brigitta to be with her near the end.
Please pray with us about 2 teams to Haiti that we are hoping to put together this fall. In August, we are planning for a work team and in September we hope to do a teaching team. If you would like to support or be a part of either of these teams please contact us. The cost is $1,400 plus airfare.
Thank you so much for your love and prayers for our family. May the Lord bless you and your families as we reach out to the people of Haiti and Mexico together.
Blessings in Christ,
The Kennedy Family