We Don’t Do This in Italy!
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The doctor was staring with a puzzled look on his face. Just a few weeks ago, David and his sister, Debbie, were sitting in front of the admission doctor for a facility that does home care for terminal patients and eventually provides hospice, in the last moments of life. After examining all the medical reports for their mother, Maria Teresa, who has served alongside her husband as missionary for over sixty years, he asked what their mom knew of her condition. As they answered that she knew very well that she was terminally ill, he was confused. In Italy, this kind of information is hidden from dying patients, to protect them from falling into depression and giving up.
God gave us the wonderful opportunity to go to Italy again, at the end of February. This was a totally unexpected trip. We were thoroughly immersed in our secular job and ministry at Grace Immanuel Bible Church, and in fact, we were planning the missionary conference in our church and looking forward to participating as future missionaries.
The trip was as unexpected as the phone call we had received a few days before. Mom was in the emergency room and she needed a blood transfusion. This was followed by a week in the hospital and multiple tests. At the end, she was diagnosed with Acute Terminal Leukemia. Although the doctor could not be certain, the prognosis was of only a few months with no available cure. Mom has never been sick. And she is only 88 years old!
[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”right” variation=”oliive”]So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
God provided the plane tickets in a wonderful way, through dear friends. As we arrived in Italy, it was such a blessing to be around Mom and Dad, who are going through this trial with the awareness of God’s amazing grace and peace. The days were filled with times to talk and times of tears, trips to various doctors and meetings with nurses, not to mention planning matters for the future.
On Sunday we had the privilege, as a family, to honor Mom and Dad. One of the amazing blessings was that all four children were able to be there at the same time for a few days. We spent about eight hours that day, rejoicing in the work of God and glorifying Him for the work He has done through Bill and Maria Teresa Standridge, as they ministered together for so many years. We sang, we prayed, we shared from the Scriptures, we laughed and we cried. It was an amazing day, spent being humbled by the grace of God to our family.
What do you do when you know your days are coming to end on earth? We were blessed to watch Mom’s zeal for the Gospel. As David sat with her in the hospital, as she was receiving her blood transfusion, she was only preoccupied with being sure that she had tracts to give to the nurses. As doctors and nurses came to the house, they all left with surprise. I don’t think they had ever had a similar experience with any other of their terminal patients. The patient knew she was terminal, had peace about that, and was witnessing to them! Mom has been scrambling to finish her projects. Booklets to write, blogs to finish, plus, she wrote a tract to send to the thousands of people who know her all over Italy. She has started a book, as a testimony to God, on how to spend one’s life joyfully serving Him.
The ministry does not plan to end. Dad, although it’s hard to think of ministry without Mom, is planning to continue to serve. David and Bill and Maria Teresa sat down in a meeting to plan the future of the literature and publishing ministry. David will more and more take responsibility, as the plan is continue to reach the 58,000,000 Italians who so desperately need to have the same glorious hope that is accompanying us through these times.
You continue to be vitally important for our ministry. Loredana and David are trusting God to provide the funds for them to continue the ministry that was started by Bill and Maria Teresa. David will work closely with Bill, as he continues to have a vital teaching and writing ministry throughout Italy. Pray for patience and faithful trust in God as we wait upon Him.
May God bless you, as you pray for us. The verse that God has placed on our hearts is Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”. Life is short! What we do needs to be motivated by eternal values. We need to be wise in the way we plan our days, and the use of our finances and time.
David and Loredana