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Friday, February 25, 2011

Facing Fear and Loss

On Tuesday February 22, 2011 the world lost a great man.  Rob Hall was someone who lived out what he believed, he grabbed life by the horns.  He was real, he was loving and gentle he was a true example of trying to live like Jesus.  From the minute you met Rob you felt at ease, like you didn't have to put up any false fronts, (because he would probably see right through them and ask you why you were putting them up anyway).  In the little time I knew him I can say I was truly blessed.

I still can't believe he is gone.  I can't believe we won't share a coffee this summer and hear of their escapades in Europe and Africa while our children make a racket and a mess.

When I tell most people about our move to Brazil I get a mix of reactions, shock, blank stares, and of course the questions, 'why?' 'what will you do with all your stuff?'.  When we talked with Rob and Kate this summer about our feeling led into full time missions the reaction was 'awesome' they got us, and we got them.  We talked about getting off the hamster wheel of life and really living it, with our kids.  Believing that what they would learn, experience, taste, touch and feel in  a life less structured would enrich their lives far greater than it would harm them.  That there was no better time than NOW to do it. Because we never really know how many tomorrows we have.

Of course when I got the news, and the reality of what happened, and how long and how deeply this would affect his family I felt that old familiar darkness creeping in.  I called Phil at work and through tears and sobs told him what happened, I asked him to please come home.  My dear sweet children looked at me with such concern asking why I was crying.  Kathryn, Simeon and Cameron's Daddy died.

When Phil got home I went to my room and crawled under the covers, fighting an intensifying feeling of panick and fear...all of the what if's racing through my head, the 'what are we thinking?' accusations of how could I possibly think of putting my family at risk??

You see, for those of my friends who are reading who have not yet begun a relationship with God, as much as we can hear the voice of God the other side has a voice as well and it's main objective is to find your weakest point and dig at it, until you doubt, fear and become stuck.  The fear of losing those I love is my weak point, and Satan was having a field day with this one.

I began to pray.  I prayed of course ceaselessly for Kate, the children and both families that they would find some comfort, some peace through this.  I also prayed, and clung to God for all it was worth, like the only tree in a hurricane He is my lifeline in these storms.

With God's help I am fighting that fear.  Rob spoke at our church on one of their last Sundays before leaving.  That morning I was feeling some fear and doubt about what we were walking into I asked God to speak to me today to encourage me that we were walking in the path he had set out for us.  Rob's sermon spoke nothing but encouragement to follow God's path in your life, even if it was risky.  I spoke to Rob afterwards and he continued to encourage me to go for it, that fear had no place in our lives.  I am so thankful for that conversation.

Yes, sometimes it is scary to trust God with all your heart and all your mind and with all your soul.  But the alternative?

I read of all the impact that Rob's life has had on those he touched, and the huge impact he had in such a short time in Zambia and I am moved to tears (again).   It would do nothing to honor his life were we to not follow what we feel God calling us into.  There is a time when all of us will leave this earth and we are not privy to the when and where.  If Rob knew his time was limited would he have done anything differently?  I think those who knew him would say no.  The front page of the blog they were keeping while they travelled said this:

"A world adventure with kids? Why not? For the first time in a long time we have no greater obligations than our family. Our kids can be carried, changed on the grass, happy with a stick as a toy, so we are selling our house, free ourselves of clutter and OFF WE GO! 

The plan? To learn what it means to be on an adventure with God. Sharing ideas on helping people launch their own adventure and hopefully in some way using our skills to bring justice and mercy to those in need."
And that is exactly what they did.

 There is a life after this one and we will be re-united with those we loved here on earth, there is no sorrow or pain or tears.  So for Rob I rejoice in knowing that he is standing with his maker and hearing Him say, 'you have done well good and faithful servant'.  But for his family and all those who loved him I am deeply, deeply saddened, that we will have to go on in this life without him in it.
I want to include a bit of what Kate's brother wrote, he went to Africa to bring them home:

"Kate and I headed out into the fields later to grab a couple of rocks to place on his casket in Canada (we could only find rocks on pathways--the fields were void of them), and it was just so amazing to see Rob's passion growing. There was even a huge patch of sunflowers. So Rob. Kate pointed out a field of dry rice (a type of rice that can grow without being flooded with water) and told how at one point the whole patch was neon yellow. She thought that it was a cool looking colour but Rob said that it was because they were sick. So, the next day he headed out with all the compost he had produced and sprinkled it over the field. The rice crop is now a very bright green, and all the Africans have started their own composting piles. Awesome.

The last thing I'm going to write has to do with the drive home. Picture the national geographic Africa, just with quite a bit more green--it's rainy season here. Kids with big bellies, mud brick homes, kids playing soccer with a deflated ball, and a very bumpy road. Kate tells me that there's a saying here, that you know a driver is drunk if he is driving straight on the road. These roads are so terrible that a single pothole could swallow an entire car. So, there we were zig zagging down the red dirt road passing national geographic africa on all sides. And, as the people we were passing noticed that it was our Katie in the car, they stood to their feet to wave, to take off their hats, and to show their respect. Apparently, Rob spent a lot of his time teaching this terribly poor community that surrounded the bible college, how to grow food. They were thanking him and thanking Kate. I felt very humbled."

 Rob loved his family, and as you will see from many of the pictures he often had at least one of his children in his arms.   His lovely sweet compassionate caring wife Kate and their three wonderful children Kathryn, Simeon and Cameron are so incredibly sad.  Please if the story of his life has touched you, go to and click on the 'donate now' button or you can send a cheque, or go directly to the bank.  The details are all there.  Give whatever you can, they gave up their house and most of their possessions to follow Jesus and give themselves to people in need.


Shelley said...

It`s so true, isn`t it Jenn. Stuff like this raises fear in me too - I doesn`t matter where you live, the fact is that we don`t have any control over these things. That scares the hell out of me.
Go to Brazil Jenn - you are right that it is what Rob would tell you to do - and me here in my safe-feeling life in Ontario is no less safe than you are, from a terrible loss like this.

The only thing I know for sure is Ì will never leave you or forsake you`...


Living India said...

I wondered where you were in all of this, but God uses everything so well. When I was in India and so sick I was reading Elizabeth Elliot's book and the bits of Jim's journal that made it clear that he knew his life would be short, yet he went on with everything as it unfolded. That helped me to stop asking for guarantees all the time and just get on with it. I sure did not expect things to be the way they were. God carried me through it anyway. I was very sick and lonely and feeling like a failure yet I know God used it all to impact the girls there. So many times I come back to "where else can I go Lord?" We do not know what is ahead of us and how many days we have (many or few) but I know that your heart beats to glorify Jesus whatever that means. He is helping you to just let go and trust HIm. The Lord is using this experience to strengthen you Jen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for such a touching reflection on my brother. Bless you guys.
John Hall

Carolyn Vogel said...

Hi Jen...I also thought of Elizabeth Elliot a few days ago also when reflecting on the journey that lies before Kate.
I read it back in '82, when I was first in was fabulous. We had to write an essay about a line from the book..."Vision without the cross is purely fantasy." Ponder that one...
I will look up the name of her book again for you...may help fight your fears!
with love

Carolyn Vogel said...

Found it...
"Through Gates of Splendour"...Elisabeth Elliot.