Family Update (Big News) - April 2021
Considering everything that’s happened in the past 4 months, it feels like it’s been an eternity since I wrote one of these updates. When I look at how God has orchestrated this time, though, I can’t help but be amazed. I left my job in Phoenix and we moved back to Tennessee right at Christmastime. The very week that I drove our car across the country, I started having severe back pain and other symptoms that we would eventually find out were coming from testicular cancer and a 13-inch tumor that was pressing into one of my kidneys. Apparently, I had developed this cancer while we were still living in Bangkok, and six months later it spread to become the mass on my back. Then, right at the beginning of February, that tumor sent a blood clot to my left leg, leaving me bedridden for about a month.
It might seem strange to say I was relieved when we finally got all of my medical tests back, but I hated not knowing what was going on with my body, and once we knew what was happening, all the puzzle pieces fell right into place. I had surgery to remove the source of the cancer and was placed on an intensive chemo regimen, of which I have just 2 weeks left. I also had to be put on blood thinners and had a filter placed below my heart to catch any blood clot that might try to take a vacation to my lungs.
I won’t lie and say that this process has been easy. I have been blessed to make it this far in life without ever having a surgery or being admitted to the hospital, so this was all new to me. Plus, this chemo regimen has left me feeling at times like I couldn’t go on another day. However, despite everything, my body has held up fairly well (by comparison) and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support our family has received since we first got the diagnosis.
Before I move on to other important topics, I also want to say that I am still processing all the ways God has used this bout with cancer in my life, but I can already see a little bit of what He is doing. One passage that has been on my heart since this started is Psalm 23. If you don’t know this passage well, I would encourage you to go read it, as it is one of the most beautiful psalms in the Old Testament. The verse that has been on my mind especially, lately, has been verse 3, where the author writes, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.”
Over the last year or so, I have been on a journey to understand the anxiety that I have lived with for so long, and am increasingly learning how to be free from it. This year, it was as if God stepped in and threw me on my back in a very literal way, in order to “make me lie down in green pastures.” What that means for me specifically is that I have had to learn to rest my soul, stop worrying that I will miss opportunities, or that I am doing the wrong things with my life, and, probably most importantly, to enjoy the season of life that I am in, being mindful in each moment rather than living in the next task or goal ahead of me. I made the comment to a friend recently that this cancer has cured me of my anxiety, and while that might be (okay, is) an overstatement, it still carries a lot of truth to it.
Back to Thailand
When we left Thailand in June of last year, we had no idea what was going to happen in the world in the coming months. We had been tossed, against our wills, into a world of church closures, lockdowns, mask mandates, quarantines, cancelled social events, and visa impossibilities. We tried to find a way to get back into the country, but by August, we knew there was no way it was going to happen for at least a year. Thus began our involuntary “furlough.”
We are happy to announce, though, that we are going to be able to return to the foreign mission field this summer, barring nothing unexpected happens with my health or the government situation in Thailand. We now both have secure visas to get back into the country, and we will be moving back up to Chiang Rai, the city in the north where Liz's parents live and where she grew up.
In order for this to work, and for our family to stay "on the field" in Thailand, we need your help. Right now, we are endeavoring to do something that we haven’t done much of, which is putting together a financial support team. Because of my battle with cancer over the past few months, I haven’t been able to share at churches or meet with possible partners yet, but I am confident God has the right people already prepared to partner with us in serving among some of the least reached people groups in our world today. By God’s grace, we have also been approved to join Ripe for Harvest, a missions organization that will provide us resources, financial accountability, encouragement, and support. (www.ripeforharvest.org)
If you are someone who follows and prays for us, I want to ask you to consider and pray about making a monthly commitment to help us reach our financial goal. You can do that, for now, by letting me know that you are interested in becoming a partner, and once everything is finalized with Ripe for Harvest, you will be able to give monthly through their platform. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Again, this process is still fairly new to us, but I am genuinely excited to see what God will do when he starts stirring in the hearts of his people to get even more involved in his mission in the world.
Pray for my Family
Before I close out this update, I need to ask you to pray very seriously for my cousins, aunt, grandmother, and others on my mom’s side of my family. This past Monday, Liz and I woke up to more tragic news-- that my 16-year-old cousin had been involved in a fatal car accident. I am still in shock, and I find myself constantly thinking about how I have no category to even try to imagine how my cousin and her husband feel right now. There was a beautiful funeral service for him this weekend, and the love and support was palpable. However, as all of us who have lost loved ones know, grief tends to come in waves and at the most unexpected times. So, please pray for the Flatt family, especially in the coming months, and if you would like to send them a gift, there are GoFundMe accounts set up that I can direct you to.