Dearest Friends,

In two days, we leave for Brazil. So, while I am between trips, I want to
answer a question that I am most often asked. "How am I. . . really?"

In the eight plus months since Mike went to be with Jesus, I have been
blessed by so many dear friends, comforted and encouraged by brothers and
sisters in Christ, too many to name. I have discovered that even though I am
a mom who still wants to care for her grown children, my sons are strong in
their faith and I can lean on them. More, I have learned so much from Josh
and Matt and their dear wives, Teresa and Jill. Their patience and care over
the past few months honor their father’s memory.

Please know that I have not made it easy for them. Mike did all the paper
work, both personally and for the ministry, and though he often tried to
teach me, I did not want to learn. I excused my stubborn refusals by stating
that I would never need this knowledge. We planned to die together or at
least, as I looked at my health, I believed that I would die first. Without
my sons, Kimberly Hutchinson, and Lisa Roerdink’s sacrificial time, I would
not have emotionally or financially survived the past months. However, I am
learning to deal with all of the many details that Mike always took care of
for me. Please pray and ask the Lord to quicken my understanding of the many
things that I do not understand how to do.

All of us in the puppet ministry are amazed at the doors that God has
opened in just the last few months. If you have been reading the e-mails,
you read that during the first three monts of this year alone, we shared
with over 32,000 children, teenagers, and adults in South Africa, Taiwan,
America, and India. However, many of you were probably unaware of how much
help I had to get ready for these over seas trips. I work with a wonderful
group of girls in the U.S.A.: Hadia Jackson, Katie Humfleet, Heather and
Mykayla Kelley. Perhaps you were amazed that I could do so much, but the
truth is, these girls did so much of the work for me. They packed for all of
the trips, organized puppets, and loved me unconditionally. Sam Shaw, our
Assistant Director, stayed with me, far from Ireland, to help me plan and
organize these trips and the puppet ministry. He literally gave up months of
his life, investing countless hours and so much love so that I could
continue in ministry. He is a true son. David Thompson, our English son, was
so faithful to call and will come this summer to drive for me. I am so
grateful for all of young people.

The men at my church, led by Bill Kelley, have fixed more things in my home
than I can name. Will Jackson and Dennis Laman have been his faithful
helpers. The Scripture says that we are to care for the widows and these men
have lived that command. So many people have called and prayed and loved me.

I am forever changed by Mike’s death, but I do not want his loss to define
my life. I want my response to this terrible pain to be what I and others
remember. I want everyone to know that if they see any strength, and hope,
and peace in me, it is all Jesus. Without Jesus, I fall and cannot stand. I
want to always remember Mike’s love and draw strength from and be blessed by
the life we had, but I want to embrace the life that God is giving me. I do
not want to be who I was. I want God to change me and I want to know Him

Before this happened, I thought that I had a tender heart, a great capacity
to love. I was wrong. God has used this event to shatter my heart and in the
brokenness, I see Him giving me a new and deeper compassion. I see so much
in me that God, my Father must change if I am to serve my children, my
grandchildren, my family, my friends, and the children of the world.

So, how am I? I am broken, but healing. . . hopeful and expectant. I am
lonely and not alone. I am comforted by Mike’s memory and so thankful for
the love he gave me. I am blessed to have been cherished. I am sad, yet full
of joy. I cry, but I also laugh. I see my weakness and find my strength in
Jesus. Please keep praying!

Gratefully, In Jesus,