Watching faith become sight

In the letter written to the Hebrews, we read, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) While preparing for a new term overseas in our Wycliffe ministry, I’d say that we’re witnessing many instances of “what we hope for” as well as “what we do not see”. You’ve probably gone through such periods in your own life—it’s the details that appear different. Read on to understand what it’s like for us right now.

Our family is about two months from our scheduled return to Germany. In faith, we have purchased tickets for a departure on August 5th. Each of us has a valid passport. These are things we do see. Easy enough. There are other things, which we do not see but we hope for, that must take form so that we can actually go.

The faithfulness of the churches and individuals who support us allows us to report that we do see a great portion of our monthly financial needs met. That is thanks to the Lord we serve, who works through these generous people. The “ministry budget” approved for our next term in Germany, however, is more than what we receive now. The difference is driven by increases in the cost of living and the need to plan for sudden, large expenses. To reach 100% of our ministry budget and be free to depart, we need to receive an additional $270 each month. This amount is part of what we hope for.

One sudden expense came from the home that we own in Texas, which we are renting out until we can sell it. Early this year, we were surprised by a large bill for repair work done between tenants. These expenses are being paid back by the incoming rent, thankfully, but now the rent isn’t covering our mortgage. Until the end of the year, provision for the mortgage payments and our own housing expenses is another thing we do not see … yet.

We also experienced higher expenses during this year in the U.S., where the cost of living has been greater than in Germany. These situations have taken a worrisome toll on our savings. The increase in our ministry budget will help us prepare for and recover from such periods as we serve Wycliffe internationally.

Our initial home will be an apartment in the building close to the top of this picture.

Without faith, those things that we do not see could tempt us to lose confidence. But our amazing God has bolstered our faith by encouraging us and lifting our hopes!

He has blessed us with certainty in our housing over in Germany. When we arrive, we’ll be staying in an apartment at Wycliffe’s Karimu conference center. The original booking went through the first few weeks of school.

This is the front of the house that we hope to call home beginning in December.

We were thrilled to have time to look for long-term housing, but our Lord wasn’t done yet! We received word that a family we know from church is building a new house and wants to rent their current one after they move in December. After some waiting and uncertainty, we learned that the house would be available to us! It seems just what we hoped for.

What a relief to know that we would have a place to call home! But our Lord wasn’t done yet; he wanted to take care of the interim period, too! The fabulous folks at Karimu worked hard to clear us to stay in the apartment all the way until December, barring extreme circumstances. We are amazed by all these developments and thank God continually for his goodness to us. As we face so many things that we do not see, the gift and blessing of assurance in this aspect of life overwhelms and encourages us.

We are confident that our Lord still isn’t done. If he can settle our housing arrangements in Germany, well in advance of our departure, then surely he can and will provide for everything else. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “… I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6, NLT) Katherine and I believe wholeheartedly that God’s “good work” in us includes our serving him and Wycliffe in Germany.

By what means will he “continue his work”, transform our faith in what we do not see? It will include our brothers and sisters who care for and pray for us. Perhaps it will be you. Perhaps it will be someone you know who also understands the importance of continuing God’s work in this world. Please think about this and consider supporting our ministry regularly so that we can resume our service to Wycliffe in Germany:

The Wycliffe Ministry of David & Katherine Liddle

That link to our ministry page at Wycliffe’s website can always be found on the “Join Us” page at Liddles.net. Regardless of whether you give or not, we ask you to pray to the God we serve that he will give confidence and assurance to all the areas of life in which there are things we do not see. We can’t do this on our own; we need the Lord, and we need you. Thank you for your love, and your concern, and your generosity!

Our son has gone partially nuts

More about my tardiness in publishing updates … in the next update.

You’ll probably remember that our son, Caleb, has a number of food allergies. It’s especially easy to recall this fact if you’ve ever had us over for dinner. Broadly speaking, one of those allergies has been tree nuts, which includes things like cashews, pistachios, pecans, and more. We’ve know for several years that he is not, however, allergic to pecans in particular. He was tested specifically for this because we had two large pecan trees in our backyard in Texas. That could’ve been awkward.

Our boy has been through a number of tests with an allergist here in Germany. Some of them have been better experiences than others; Katherine would be the better storyteller on that score. But in the latest round, the allergist encouraged Katherine to do some testing at home as a result of low, low numbers in Caleb’s blood tests (IgE levels). Home is more comfortable.

The test subject was to first try chopped hazelnuts baked into food. (Eating something baked, versus raw, can reduce the possibility of a reaction.) Chocolate almond cookiesThen we were to watch for the usual symptoms. So the test preparer, namely Katherine, prepared something delicious with hazelnuts bought in the shell. And then the test subject ate said delicious somethings. We watched, and watched, and watched, but he did not react to the nuts. He did react to the deliciousness, though, but not in any way that would concern an allergist.

Over the span of a few weeks, Caleb was to keep eating things with hazelnuts in them. Poor boy … so many yummy muffins and cookies, and so little time. Now he eagerly cracks them open himself and pops them in raw, and we now have a new source of protein (and much-needed fat) for him.

He’s been through the same routine, successfully, with almonds. We’re equally happy for that, too, but almonds are terribly expensive here.

Whether you’ve ever had to prepare food for our son or not, please be thankful to God with us for this change in Caleb’s life. He is, and he has the crumbs to prove it!

Six little, five little, four little allergies …

For four weeks now, Caleb has been eating a food that was previously off-limits: wheat. Blood tests done in the U.S. last year indicated that he was much less likely to develop a reaction to it. However, there was not enough time to follow those tests with a food challenge. Working through a new contact – and subsequent friend – here in Germany, Katherine made an appointment with an allergist at the children’s hospital run by the German Red Cross in nearby Siegen.

Based on the exam and a review of the test results, the allergist recommended that a food challenge be done. Early last month, the clinic applied a test that didn’t go so well. The poor lad had to drink quite a lot of two not-so-smoothies to get enough wheat (plus a control) into his system. At the end of the testing, he just couldn’t keep it all down.

First wheat cupcake!The doctor wasn’t convinced that this reaction was due to an allergy, and she suggested that Katherine give Caleb a little wheat here at home. So Katherine baked him some chocolate cupcakes that included some wheat flour. With little to no coercion, he tried them, liked them, and – more importantly – did not react. We waited one day, two days, and still saw no signs of his body rejecting the new food. The whole family gave up a cautious “Hallelujah!”

Over the next few weeks, Katherine tried additional wheat foods and increased the amount that our very happy boy was eating. There was still no reaction. With four weeks behind us, it seems that Caleb is in the clear!

First pretzel!Katherine discovered during this time that an area bakery, which is based within a very short walk of our home, keeps a thorough catalog of their products. It lists all of the ingredients for each item. If there’s a possibility that the product contains trace amounts of any of the common allergens, the catalog lists that, too. With that information in hand, Katherine got Caleb a treat – his first soft pretzel!

We are ecstatic that Caleb is free now from an allergy that put some of the most severe restrictions on his diet. Our thanks go to the LORD our God for hearing our prayers – and those of family and friends – over these many years. He has taken soy and wheat off of Caleb’s list now, with only milk, eggs, peanuts, and (most) tree nuts still out-of-bounds.

Praise God with us for this wonderful development! Please keep praying for our boy’s allergies and health, when you think of it. Who knows but that we may soon see more of these allergies fall by the wayside?