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We witness tender mercies and mini-miracles every day as we find joy in pressing forward. We are immensely grateful for our time of service as missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Life and opportunities continue. See our missionary and life story in pictures by clicking here: http://rayc.shutterfly.com/

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's November

Several weeks ago, we enjoyed a dinner at the Szvoboda's apartment (Lilla is a great cook, and so cute with her broken English and feisty personality). Their table service of four place settings was skillfully used to serve us a multi-course dinner. We brought our own chairs since they have only two. We were happy to invite them to stay in our home while we're on our mission. It will bless them and us. We feel so grateful to have been led to one another. Our minds starting racing about the preparations we'd need to make to prepare to depart for a mission. November is the month we hoped we would receive our call and begin our journey and service. The Lord had others plans, however.

Ray was prompted to follow through on some nagging aching and weakness in his hands. During his mission His physician cleared him for missionary service during the mission physical with the advice to proceed and have another surgery for carpal tunnel. The recovery is short, and he would heal long before a mission call would come. Well, one appointment led to another, and then another. The problem was not carpal tunnel, but spinal stenosis (narrowing of the opening for the spinal cord) in the lower neck. More arthritis fun! Typically this problem manifests itself with pain, which Ray does not have, but he does have numbness and weakness. The narrowing destroys nerves and functionality lost is never regained; putting off the surgery runs a risk. So after consultations and prayer, we reluctantly called the Missionary Department to request a hold on our application. Ray told the surgeon to operate right away, and on November 1st he had a cleanup and fusion of the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. Originally the doctors felt an additional fusion of the 7th vertebrae might be needed, but we were blessed to have a more straightforward surgery. No pain after the surgery and Ray's doing great! Priesthood blessings and supportive information, faith, and encouragement from family and friends have certainly enabled positive outcomes. Ray has a post-surgery check-up in 10 days. We continue to pray for quick bone fusion and hope to reactivate our mission application at the end of December. 

Just days before making the surgical decision, we spent 3 days in Moab with the Wasatch Cruisers Toyota LandCruiser Club and had a great time recreating with good friends in one of our favorite places.

We returned home for a surgeon consultation and then drove to St. George to spend a few days with Linda's brother and wife who just recently relocated there from Chandler, Arizona. We always enjoy time with Thyce and Harriet and look forward to having them only 4 hours rather than 12 hours away. We also had fun in the foothills of Tooele County on Halloween Day with Mike, Wendy, and the grandkids. We let 15-year old Faith drive our LandCruiser, and found feeling young again was a good prelude to a day of surgery!

Based on original plans, Ray informed his Bountiful Temple coordinators that he would have to wear a rigid neck brace for the two-month recovery, so in Saturday's mail he received a formal release as an Ordinance Worker. He will certainly miss the work. But since he does not have to wear the brace full-time, he may be able to return sooner as he's sure to be restless on Thursdays and Fridays when Linda is serving there. So for now, we'll enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations with family.

We continue preparing to rent out our home, but on a more relaxed schedule. We finished our first study of Preach My Gospel and have expanded our reading to the Book of Mormon and the other authorized missionary publications. There are still many personal preparations (like coats or no coats) we just can't complete until we know when and where we are going. There will be some advantages in not leaving until 2012. It will allow us to take care of some business issues without having to leave them behind for children.  We feel a bit letdown about the mission delay, but feel the Lord's loving hand firmly and gratefully directly the events of the last 30 days.

Indeed, November is a month of gratitude!

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