Hope you all are doing well as we quickly approach the end of the year. For us it feels a lot like sliding into home plate. Or, like we're on a merry-go-round that is spinning a little too quickly...we would appreciate prayers for God's sustaining power and grace in our lives, and that even in the midst of all the craziness of life, we might be at peace.
*Last Wednesday, James's family traveled to the US Consulate in Sichuan ( that's "Szechuan" for all you Americans) to apply for visas to the US. Thankfully, they were all granted a visa. (Thank you, HRC, for making it so doggone easy to enter the US these days!) We are so excited for them, and really looking forward to their time in the States. (Of those traveling, only one has ever been out of the country.) They'll be staying with us and, together with our family, generally causing a scene on the scale of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in our neighborhood. I'm thinking about painting the Chinese flag on our garage door just so everyone around knows we are that family. James is contemplating whether or not we could roast a sheep over our backyard fire pit, and whether the HOA would notice.
*James is buying his flight ticket today (Monday) for his flight to China (Friday). Yes, we know it is kind of last minute. Sometimes, that's how we roll...and sometimes, that's just what life allows and we have to roll with it. James will be in China for just over 2 weeks. He will return the week of Thanksgiving with his family.
*James's health continues to generally improve. I often tell him that he is the world's first asymptomatic stage IV cancer patient. James is coughing less and is even able to run for short bursts. He told me that his lung capacity feels much improved and "less blocked." He is still taking Synthroid for his underactive thyroid. We don't know if that is a permanent condition, or if it will reverse itself with time (since it was medically induced). Lately we suspect that he is overdosed - we are praying his thyroid can be checked before he leaves the country.
Is James being healed? Is he being given life and health despite progressing cancer? We don't actually know. We do not know what God is doing, other than the obvious sustaining & giving of life...and we are okay with that. We are indeed very, very thankful. We would appreciate your prayers for his upcoming trip, that it would be fruitful, and that he would have strength to keep a daily schedule jammed with meetings, pastoring, preaching, counseling.
*The drug James's doctors have been working to approve has been, not surprisingly, denied by our insurance company. Although the drug has been used successfully to treat colon & breast cancer, it does not have FDA approval for use with lung cancer...so insurance considers that "experimental" and has denied it. James's doctors continue to contest that decision with reams of medical evidence. We are finishing up an application to Pfizer directly as another means of procuring the drug. Either way, we are relaxed. We know that God is most definitely not limited by insurance companies. As Job once declared, "For He will complete what He appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind."
*James continues to have opportunities for ministry here. He has been writing articles for a Chinese devotional that is distributed to Chinese Americans and the house church network within China. Within a day of publication his articles often have over 30,000 views. He has also been able to preach at a local Chinese church and is often asked to share at others. He is relishing these opportunities, and we are enjoying fellowship with our Chinese brothers and sisters (including getting to host a few for dinner last week!).
*Tomorrow I will apply for a passport renewal and then visa so that I may return to China with my in-laws at the end of their trip. I will spend the majority of my time back in China working with our restaurant staff and giving them support where needed as we quickly approach the holiday season. (Hello Dali friends - I will see you soon!)
*And in my little corner of the world...this past spring I helped a chef test recipes for an upcoming cookbook. I found out my name will be listed in the credits (along with many others, LOL). I'll let you know when it comes out - it will be delicious! More importantly, I am working on a digital Bible study for kids for Advent (specifically, on the promises of the Messiah and their fulfillment in Jesus) that will be launched before Thanksgiving. Let me know if you want details!
I think that about wraps up the crazy. I foresee a lot of days of me in a ballcap in the coming weeks. And coffee. A lot of coffee.
I hope your coming days are filled with bonfires, marveling at the changing seasons, taking deep breaths of cool air, and candy (the good kind).
Thank you (thank you!) for your many, many prayers.
~james and kristen