Dorothy has been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH - a rare and serious lung disease) and most likely has Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD - an extremely rare lung disease with no known treatment and doing a lung biopsy to confirm PVOD is dangerous to someone with PAH). Dorothy is on oxygen at all times and is unable to walk more than short distances. The Hazards are working with a specialist care center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There are no plans for them to return to Africa or take on other overseas appointments for now.
Dwight is using his gifts and skills to minister in the SIM USA Office. He has joined the Information Systems group to assist in the setup of SIM USA's internal intranet, training returning missionaries in the risks and proper care in dealing with e-mail and Internet risks, documentation of policies and procedures and other duties while Dorothy's ongoing medical needs are being addressed. They are still on missionary support with SIM and plan to continue to minister through SIM as the Lord leads.
Our recent updates:
God’s Peace (2020-06-01)
My last blog, which you can read at www.ddhazard.org, was entitled “God Revealed through Trusses.” Well, here is chapter two. Last week a huge storm came through, blowing all the newly installed trusses down. (This picture was taken with a drone by a church member.) These aren’t just any trusses. As I explained in my last blog, they were custom made for our church. They had been installed properly. They had braces, both temporary and permanent ones in place. They even had hurricane precautions in place. But the storm was such a display of God’s power, the trusses came down.
This creates a significant slow-down in building. The insurance appraiser has had to come. The trusses have to be reordered and remade and reinstalled before we can continue. And with some irony or His timing, our pastor had just started a series on the book of Job two weeks prior. When all was taken from Job, his worshipful answer was, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1.21) And later when his very health is taken away and his wife tells him to just curse God and die, his response is, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2.10)
The second story is about very good friends, the Rs. Almost 21 years ago, they adopted two babies from Kenya. Six years later, they were asked to care for a young Sudanese baby who had been brought out of war-torn Sudan. They have been trying for almost 14 years to adopt this girl. They would make it just so far with one set of lawyers, only to reach an impassable roadblock. Then they would start all over with another set of lawyers, and this process was repeated numerous times. This girl has no passport nor an official identification card from any country. She has not been allowed to leave Kenya. Her parents have not been out of Kenya together, nor have they had a furlough since she has been with them (except for a brief visit to the UK to attend another daughter’s wedding, while the girl stayed with friends.).
And then comes Covid 19. Because of this pandemic, the US was offering evacuation flights to Americans and those living with them could get a special visa. After a whirlwind of paperwork and running from one place to another, the Rs had the visa in hand and 24 hours later were on a flight to the U.S. where they are allowed to stay for one year, during which time they are confident they will be able to adopt their 14 year old daughter.
Both of these stories represent years and years of prayers, not just by me, but by many. Our little church first started in 1994 and like Rs adoption process, has gone through many ups and downs. I see other correlations. Both of these situations represent faithful saints doing what God has put before them, including praying, leaving the results to Him, trusting Him. Both situations have been impacted greatly by forces outside of our control, but not outside our Lord’s. Both situations have and will continue to bring the Lord glory.
I have been thinking a lot about peace lately. Peace is so opposite what the news is broadcasting, what the world is offering. I am halfway through the book of Isaiah. What has already struck me is how frequently God promises good things in the midst of His proclamations of judgment and wrath against His enemies.
In Isaiah 9.6, generations before His birth, Jesus Christ is promised: “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This peace is a precious gift from our Father to us, His children.
In Isaiah 26.3, God makes this promise, “You will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” About this verse, Matthew Henry says, "Thou wilt keep him in peace; in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events."
And later in the same chapter, verse 12, “Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us.”
Dwight and I had the incredible privilege and blessing to visit the R family in the home they are staying in for a year, just an hour away from us. I can’t tell you the joy that overwhelmed me to see them all standing in front of me, together on American soil, proving the faithfulness of our Father. We didn’t hug one another, but oh, did we talk!!
So, the same God who allowed the rafters come down, used Covid 19 to bring the R family together to the U.S. He IS the One Who accomplished this. Like Job, how can we accept the good from God and not the seemingly bad. And knowing that, trusting Him is what truly does bring me peace.
May His peace reign in your heart during these confusing times!
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
GOD REVEALED THROUGH TRUSSES (2020-05-12)
It has been our great joy and privilege to watch our new church building be built. Dwight and I (and quite a few other church members) watched today as the crane operator skillfully hoisted the truss that had been hooked to the end of ropes, swung it out and around, bringing it to workers standing on platforms whose job was to secure the truss into brackets and with support cross pieces. The crane operator did not release the tension on the ropes until the truss was safely fastened in.
In talking to our pastor and the general contractor, we learned quite a bit about the process and the trusses themselves. First, they were designed to give a better sound in our church when we are singing. So, they aren’t just for the purpose of holding the roof up, although that is definitely the plan, but they are to beautify our praises to the Lord.
Second, they seem so wide and unwieldy. With the wind blowing the way it was today, it seemed like they should just snap. But because of precision planning and placement of cross pieces, these trusses won’t flex more than a ½ inch where they shouldn’t flex and can flex as much as a couple of feet where it is helpful for them do so.
The process was incredible as there was one crane operator whose job was to get the trusses from the ground to the top of the building. There were two men whose jobs consisted of hooking the ropes onto the trusses so that they could be lifted by the crane. One of these men kept looking at a laminated diagram of what trusses went where and where the supports (some temporary and others permanent) needed to be fastened to the whole structure. The second man on the ground was in charge of tying a guide rope onto one end of the trust and he would keep that rope taught as the crane lifted the truss up and around and down into its spot. Only when it was fastened into pre-placed brackets was the rope released, ready for the next one.
If I had been feeling better, I could have stayed all day watching this happen. As it was, we watched 5-6 trusses being placed. When we came back home, my niece and I did our Bible study. We are in 1 Corinthians and were sharing what extra commentaries we had read and how they helped us understand the passage of chapter 2.
On 1 Corinthians 2, 6.9, Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; Matthew Henry comments, “Those who receive the doctrine of Christ as Divine, and having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, have looked well into it, see not only the plain history of Christ and Him crucified, but the deep and admirable designs of Divine wisdom therein.”
At the church site, I had been rather awed by the whole process, but it was in doing the Bible study with Manda that God showed me the correlation between what I was studying and what I had observed. The word that connected the two is “design.”
Before the start of any of the new building, there had to be a design. The architect had actually designed different trusses that would have been absolutely beautiful, but would not have had the necessary strength. So, after weeks of literally going back to the drawing board, they came up with the finished design you see pictured above. It is now going to be conducive to beautiful sound when we are singing, but it is also going to be very strong. God does that with me. He allows me to do things that go beyond just utilitarian, that add beauty.
Second, the fact that the trusses are very rigid going one direction and yet flexible going another. To be the best use, they need to have both those functions, and this was accomplished through the very careful, intentional and precise placement of cross pieces. If man does this with something like a truss, can’t I trust God to do so with me? God gives me flexibility in so many ways. What am I going to do with my time? How am I going to treat others? What am I going to accomplish? But, there are other ways in which He asks me to be rigid. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was born to a virgin and walked on earth as fully God and fully man, was crucified, died and buried. He rose from the dead, breaking the power of death and sin. He left the Holy Spirit here for the equipping of His people. He will come again. No flex in those areas, just as there is no flex in the 10 Commandments.
Third, all the people working together to accomplish the task made me realize again how from the very beginning God created us to be in community. Working together. We don’t all have the same task. If there wasn’t someone operating the crane, the truss wouldn’t be lifted. If the men on the ground weren’t making sure it didn’t blow away in the wind, it would have swung into something it shouldn’t have. If the men above weren’t ready to secure it into place, it wouldn’t stay. And before any of that came to be, there had to be someone to draw the plans, people to build the trusses, more people to inspect them, and yet more people to deliver them. The kingdom of God needs each and every one of us that God has called. We all have our assigned task, a task that He has skilled us for. 1 Corinthians 1.7 says “you do not lack any spiritual gift.”
I know that it feels very hard to live in community in these days of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, but we are no less part of the kingdom of God because of this virus. I feel like it is a time more than any other where I need to know when and where to flex and when and where to be rigid, strong.
I love that these lessons came together as a church is being built for the glory of God. We are God’s people, and we are being built together for His glory. I could have gone on and on with analogies which came to mind, but I am going to stop here with this: I do so love when God reveals His plan, His character and His hopes to me through earthly things.
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
A BREAK (2020-05-01)
Yesterday was the maiden voyage of Cecil and Fiona, Dwight and Beka’s new kayaks. Upon Beka’s suggestion and my urging, they both bought kayaks. We live so close to large Lake Wiley, with its many inlets, and the Catawba River that it made perfect sense to invest in a way to enjoy these resources.
I know I have mentioned before I love water. From the smallest brook to the largest ocean, I love being by water. So, while I couldn’t join them in kayaking, I was able to sit by the shore at the boat ramp. Which gave me the opportunity to do another of my favorite things – people watch!
It was a busy place. There were two men disassembling a very worn out U-shaped floating dock. The pontoons were full of holes and the decking had definitely seen better days. They were using a tractor to haul away sections they had cut apart. The excitement came when one fully dressed man, hat and phone included, fell into the water! He wasn’t hurt and I hope his phone is salvageable.
The other two boat ramps were an almost constant buzz of some boats being launched and others coming out. There were watercraft ranging from humble kayaks to jet skis to very expensive speedboats; from old to new. There were people by themselves to parties up to six; small children and retired. And a wide range of expertise in launching or trailering their crafts.
As I sat and watched, it made me think of how diverse our world is. From humble to showy, from small to large, from novice to experienced. But what made me happy was how everyone was patient with everyone else. No one became upset when someone took a really long time to get their boat back onto their trailer, or when one boat was only tethered at one point and floated to block the way of another boat trying to leave the loading dock. Friendly greetings were thrown about and help offered when it looked like it was needed.
Then came the icing on a cake. A man and his dog, Ally, a one-year old golden retriever with a summer haircut, came down to play. I never did ask the man his name. I was able to pet and talk to Ally until she and her owner went out onto the dock. He threw a tennis ball as far as he could and Ally enthusiastically, excitedly jumped in, swam to the ball and retrieved it. For the first bit, she would quickly bring it back to her man and he would throw it again. But, after repeated trips, she wearied a bit and would come up on the loading dock and play with the ball, trying to keep it under water with her paws. It was hilarious and all who watched her were laughing at her antics. She was just having fun. When she had a bit more energy, up she jumps onto the dock, for her man to throw it once again.
What a beautiful way. For just an hour or so, we forgot about the COVID 19. People were naturally social distancing, each in their own boats. And now that I think about it, no one was wearing masks. People were just enjoying the beautiful day and God’s creation.
This reminded me of Isaiah 16, which is the second chapter devoted to the prophecy against Moab. In the middle of 23 verses about God’s judgment against Moab is written, “In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a Man will sit on it – One from the house of David – One Who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.” (Isaiah 16.5) In the middle of God’s wrath poured out against His enemies is the promise of Jesus Christ.
So, Lord, I thank You for this break. I thank You for the provision of kayaks and lakes and rivers. I thank You for dogs and people. I thank You for You. I thank You for the reminder that it is OK to take time out to just enjoy You and all You have given to us.
God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.