Last January, shortly before I started this blog, Phil and I and the Kilborns shared five days with a couple by the name of Dan and Sandy Thiessen. They were sent by the Xingu Missions board of directors to 'evaluate our readiness' for missions. GULP.
Let me just say it is a little nerve wracking finding out that two counsellors are coming to 'evalutate' you. They weren't going to do any deep light in your face inquisitions, no, they were just going to MOVE IN WITH US, for 5 days. I think, given the option I probably would have taken the inquisition! Not that we had anything to hide, but the thought of someone watching you for five days to see if you are fit to be a missionary is more than a little unnerving.
We went as a family to the airport to pick them up, which is strange when you've never met someone-thankfully it was the Kitchener airport which is quite small, and I had had the presence of mind to send a photo of us before we left so they knew who they would be looking for. When they came through the doors and waved at us we welcomed them and Sandy immediately paid attention to the kids.
Dan admitted that he was tempted to send us a photo of a completely different couple, just for fun and we knew then that we would get along just fine!
Within a very short time we felt completely at ease with them as they moved into our 'crazy commune' with us. Sandy's ability to engage children and make them feel important made me so aware of how busy my life was and how little time I spent actually playing with my children. I watched as they lit up whenever she was in the room. Dan shared with us how they had had a difficult past 10 years as Sandy had suffered from chronic fatigue. The hardest part he said, was that he always felt like part of him was missing when he had to travel without her, that they were so much more as a team. They shared with us about their own experiences as a missionary family in Israel when their children were small. We laughed, we hung out and just got to know each other. We packed a lot into those five days and it felt like we had new family members.
After the five days were over we had to say good-bye but with assurances that we would write and stay in touch, that they would help us with any problems or issues we might be having with the transition. And with their full recommendation that we were ready to be missionaries. We have kept in touch over the last 10 months, Sandy has often been the first to comment on these blogs and we have been able to skype a few times. The last time we spoke she said she was feeling better than she had in years and was even thinking of coming to Brazil with Dan in January, I was overjoyed!
Two days ago, again on facebook I noticed a tag on Dan's status that said 'for updates on Sandy please see our daughters blog'. I clicked the link and what I read shocked me to the core. Sandy had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Even as I type this now, tears are streaming down my face. I was immediately so heartbroken for her, for her family and grandbabies that I know she absolutely loves with all of her heart.
The latest update said that she was still in hospital after a biopsy but would be returning home, where she chose to be. Her family is gathering close and they are praying for peace and for as little pain for Sandy as possible.
I know you may not know her or her family but trust me when I say it would be impossible not to love her if you did. So, could you please pray for her, for her family, for the love of her life as they have to face the unspeakable?
Sandy, if you are reading this or having someone read it for you, we love you and we are praying for you, and hopefully people who read this blog will be praying for you too.