Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Hello dear friends,
I initially hesitated to include ministry news with an update on Traci’s health but decided to do it anyway this one time. Future updates won’t interweave the two as I do here.
Since I learned about Traci’s diagnosis in Germany on my way to a YouthReach event in Novosibirsk, Russia, called History Makers, I thought I would begin by saying that even though I returned to the States as soon as I heard from Traci, History Makers went on without me. 30 leaders gathered together just south of Novosibirsk to delve deep into The 8 Core Values of Christian Leadership. It was a life changing time for all who attended. I am so proud of Ruslan and Martin and Anya and Yan and Brad and Justin for going on with the week-long retreat without me. It is a testimony to the strength of our ministry and our partnerships that nothing we do depends on any one person other than Jesus himself. As long as he’s present in Spirit then truly all things are possible. Since I don’t Facebook I encourage you to befriend Ruslan Asadov (the one with the white afro hair as his profile picture) and see some of the pictures of this great group that gathered together. The feedback from everyone I’ve heard from was basically “thank you” and “I’m changed forever.” Praise God for that!
As some of you have heard by now, Traci’s big day is set for September 7 at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. She’ll have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstructive surgery. We have consulted the 2 surgeons that will carry out these two processes and feel very, very comfortable with both of them. God has opened so many doors to get us in to the practices and under the care of these two very skilled and compassionate women. We are thankful to our friends Ann and Patty for making meeting Dr. Amerson possible when originally we were told it would be weeks before she could see us. We are grateful to Dr. Amerson for getting us in immediately to see Dr. Alexander who will perform the reconstructive surgery. Just every step of the way God has thrown doors open for us and we are acknowledging to Him and to you our gratitude.
Traci will be in the hospital for 3-4 days following surgery and will then begin recuperating at her parent’s home in Lilburn so as to make trips to Northside shorter and easier. She hopes to return home to Monroe, GA by September 18 or 19. If the cancer has not spread then we pray no further treatment will be necessary. If it has then we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
It is literally an hour by hour journey we are on. Honestly, some hours are better than others. One hour might be filled with great courage and resolve and the very next with the question of “why Traci?” The shock still hits us at times but all in all we are doing quite well. Prayers, emails and PHONE CALLS from places like Siberia, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zambia, and even Texas have truly empowered and encouraged us. Thank you all so, so very much. You are truly the hands and feet of Christ to us at this time.
That is probably enough for now. We’ll update you again just before September 7 with last minute prayer requests and any needs that we just can’t get taken care of ourselves before we go “offline” for a week or so.
May God bless you all and please know again how humbled and thankful we are for your love, support, and encouragement during this time.
Rob on behalf of Traci, Benjamin, Nate, Aidan and Anna
Sunday, August 22, 2010
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did for me.'
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thank you again for the overwhelming amount of prayers and encouragement that have come our way the last few days. It’s humbling and very reassuring.
It’s been a long but blessed day. We met today with a specialist who is now our doctor of choice. Dr. Amerson is wonderful (just like the 418 patients of hers we’ve met the last few days promised us she would be), experienced, and is about as people a person as we’ve ever met…yours included. She really put us at ease while also letting us know the path in front of us.
She also got us in immediately with the plastic surgeon of her choice. Dr. Alexander showed us our long term options and assured us that she’s seen this kind of cancer many times over and has helped many women move on from it with the rest of their lives.
Between the counsel of these two medical professionals, the testimony of a woman who was right where Traci now is now but chose another treatment path, as well as the Spirit’s wonderful peace that just continued to surpass our understanding, Traci decided to move forward with a double mastectomy and immediate reconstructive surgery. The benefits of this are many and I won’t go into them now. Surgery will be 4 hours with 3 days of recoup in the hospital to follow that. As long as her post op pathology on her lymph nodes show no additional spread of cancer, she should be back to full speed within a month or so of her operation. We’re hoping to have the surgery by the end of this month or early next. There are few more tests/scans she needs this week to rule out some additional concerns. Once those have all been done and she is clear then we can finalize the surgery date.
Your love and support of us and our family blesses us like never before.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
A little different tone to this Reaching to Russia newsletter. I expected until 24 hours ago that I would be writing this from Frankfurt or Moscow or Novosibirsk asking you to pray for our History Makers Journey in Novosibirsk August 15-21. While I still do ask you to pray for that my full attention is now turned to my wife Traci who was diagnosed two days ago with breast cancer.
I got this news as I was about to fly to Moscow from Frankfurt. Thanks to my late father leaving me some Delta Airlines flight privileges and some help at Aeroflot and the Sheraton I was able to get my bags back, cancel my onward travel, and get a seat on a Delta flight back to Atlanta in time to join Traci, her mom and two wonderful friends at Traci’s first post diagnosis appointment with her doctor. 20 hours later, here I sit trying to put into words all the stuff going on in my and my wife’s mind and heart. Can’t yet do it so we’ll stick to what we know which is basically God is perfect. As long as that is true NOTHING can be doubted or questioned as being outside of his workable plan. On a more rudimentary level we are aware of some other things too.
First of all, we got it early. Very early. The earliest this doctor who had been practicing for 16 years says he has ever heard catching this type of breast cancer. That’s a God thing and we praise him for it.
Second, treatment is available and highly effective. It involves a mastectomy initially with possible post operative treatments which is something we’re still wrestling with but something that becoming more and more viable on the heart and head level. Still though, kind of a shock to us at the moment.
Third, History Makers goes on without me. Ruslan Asadov, Ministry Manager Extraordinaire, will facilitate all the remaining work (and there is a lot of it so drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to encourage him if you will) and ready Novosibirsk for the 2 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 Romanian and 26 Russians who are arriving this weekend to begin this one week Journey together.
Fourth, we are surrounded by a host of seen and unseen witnesses who are loving us, affirming us, encouraging us, serving us, and holding us up. For that we are very, very thankful. Please do add Traci to your prayer list over the next few weeks especially as surgery looms for sure, continued treatment possibly, and recovery by all means! Since I don’t Facebook, we’ll use this avenue for updates as time goes on.
Thank you. Hardly enough I know but it’s sincere I promise. We thank you for your love for us and we your willingness to stand with us on the road ahead.
Rob, Traci, Benjamin, Nate, Aidan and Anna
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Elizabeth Morrow and friends decided to take on the Browne boys of Monroe, Georgia in their challenge for YouthReach International's Lemon-Aid for Orphans initiative. Their goal was to raise more than the Browne's $185.33 stand from earlier this year.
Every customer walking into the Food Center doors of the local Wal-Mart were greeted by 3 young ladies handing them Lemon-Aid for Orphans business cards, accompanied by a perky "We're raising money for orphans in Ukraine and Russia!" The older guys, Tony Morrow (Elizabeth's dad) and I, kept busy offering carts to the customers while Elizabeth's mom, Shana, was pouring the lemonade and accepting the donations.
at the Lemon-Aid for Orphans stand in Abilene, TX
After 3 hours in the Texas summer heat, over $214 was raised to provide birthday gifts, Christmas presents, and school supplies to orphans in need! This was not the first time Elizabeth took the challenge - in mid-July outside of a local United supermarket, she and her friends raised almost $400! Way to go, Elizabeth!!!
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Just before that we had been talking about Dima who is an orphan at St. Nicholas Orphanage in Novosibirsk. Dima is the cute kid you see smiling at you in the Orphan Sunday is Coming video on the front page at www.youthreach.org.
Dima is an orphan and has been for most of his life. This orphanage is the only home he knows and the kids he lives with are the extent of family he can call his own. Dima has been a part of our family's summer every year for 4 years now. It's a joy to see him every May or June and it rips us up to say goodbye every July or August.
Nate has it on his heart that Dima deserves better. Nate is blessed to be a part of making things better for Dima every summer but even an 8 year old knows that is far less than what Dima needs. Dima needs unconditional love and support. Dima needs someone to listen to him. Dima needs to know he is valued, listened to, not an accident, accountable, and sought after.
YouthReach International recently launched an Orphan Sponsorship Program where people can sponsor specific orphans and be a part of the "better" that Nate knows Dima deserves. Thankfully Dima has a sponsor already but so many more do not. What grieves Nate about Dima should grieve all of us about every child.
Consider sponsoring an orphan through our Orphan Sponsorship Program. Become aware of their dreams, favorite food, and hobbies. Get a picture of them. Pray for them. Go on a trip one day with us to visit them. Be part of the answer to giving them something better. Check out www.youthreach.org/orphansponsorship for more details.