~ Itinerant ministry worldwide; Discipleship; Tribal work in Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Burkina Faso ~
A New Year has begun, and I am full of ideas how to make things better than the last few years. I wrote a Christmas letter that I sent with the few cards I send out but thought I would share a few excerpts with you. Silver linings, Cherry blossoms in heaven, and new beginnings.
I grew up hearing “Every cloud has a silver lining.” There is nothing good to be said about Alzheimer’s. It robbed Cherry of the memory of being a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, and a multitude of other relationships and events that she experienced over her 67 years of life. What the disease did not rob her of was what the French call “joie de vivre.” We English speakers define it as a “Hearty or carefree enjoyment of life; enjoyment of living; happiness, ebullience, zest for life; or a keen enjoyment of living.” Her life was full. During her last year on earth, she went to Africa and visited Yosemite for the first time. Her last Christmas she played in the snow with her kids on Mary’s Peak. Her last week she visited a local safari park, had wonderful days with family and friends with food and laughter, and even got dancing to Dolly Parton. She laid down in bed with me; and the next day, March 12, 2022, Cherry blossomed in Heaven with her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the reason we celebrate this season. Praise His name. Knowing a loved one is not dead but is living well in Heaven makes the darkness of the clouds truly have a silver lining.
In May I returned to oversee the progress of the wells for the villagers for which Cherry’s memorial fund provided. Two of the three were completed. I was able to visit the fellowships and many believers. At Bwaybiye, the believers joined in prayer that the Lord would provide me with a new wife. When the amens ended, I must have had a look because they asked me if that was okay. I thought how could asking God to give me a new wife be bad, so I said it was fine. I returned to Oregon, but it was not long until I was heading to Zimbabwe for a Farmer to Farmer assignment. In October, I returned to the tribe to start the school lunch programs and to see the last of the wells that the memorial fund had provided for completed. Once again at the fellowship, they continued to pray in earnest for a wife for me. I rationalized the concern; a tribal women or man cannot live well in an agrarian environment without a spouse.
I have seen some major changes this year as well. On November 20, 2022, the villagers’ prayers were answered; and Sharon Perdue, a local widow of ten years, became my wife. That happened fast. In private I am asked if I regret the decision, and I say yes—I regret it was not a month earlier. We are having a wonderful time together. I experienced the loneliness for a moment; I wonder why others struggle when it seems so many are in the same boat. Maybe it is because we (globally) can’t see what lies behind the clouds and problems that so easily cast shadows, fears and doubts on our lives. Sharon and I both love the Lord and have seen trials and troubles but know God is good all the time. He wants the best for all who are trusting in Him. We are planning on visiting the Ivory Coast for about three weeks the end of January and beginning of February. It will be Sharon’s first international trip. New “adventures” are not without some anxiety, as I discovered on a recent crabbing trip, her first. As we headed out into the ocean over a very bouncy bar, she looked at me and asked wisely to go back. As we make this maiden voyage to Ivory Coast together, pray the Lord would give wisdom and sensitivity to me and courage and trust to Sharon. I can confidently say it is our desire to see our Lord glorified.
The tribal area did not have good rains this year, and it has impacted the food production. We are hoping we can be of assistance to relieve some of the pressures this has put on them. We ask for your prayers for God’s blessings to all.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Jerry & Sharon