20 May 2000
After another 36-hour grueling journey, we have returned home safely. We have been home for roughly another 36 hours and are both feeling pretty jet-lagged, but we wanted to let you all know of our safe return and give you some final thoughts on our Thailand mission trip. First of all, we'd like to once again thank all of you who have so generously supported us both financially and with prayer. We both feel that we accomplished the majority of what we had set out to do at KRCH and we realize that this is in no small part due to your faithful prayer support.
If there was any question in my mind about whether or not my work with Melodie and Melba was of benefit over the past two months, it was wiped away when I received a note of thanks from Melba in which she describes how she believes that my presence in Thailand was a direct answer to her prayer. The note is just too personal and dear to share over the Internet (it made Eric cry), so I hope that you can just take my word for it. It was very fulfilling for me to see how God used my time at the Kennedy Krieger Institute two years ago to prepare me for helping Melodie and Melba. I often felt so discouraged working at KKI and frequently wondered why I was staying there for so little money. Now I know at least part of why it was so important for God to have me persevere there and learn the skills that I did.
It was a tremendous blessing for me to spend the final block of my medical school career at a hospital with patients so in need that even I could be of benefit to them. I think that I was very much able to use my gifts in ways that helped both the patients and the staff and I believe that Dr. McDaniel enjoyed my fellowship (I know that I enjoyed his). Personally, the experience has helped strengthen my confidence and has helped me hone my medical diagnostic and procedural skills.
The big question on many of your minds (and also ours), is, "What next?" While in Thailand, God continued to kindle our passion for missions. It will still be at least 9 years (and possibly more) until Eric will be fully trained as a surgeon and will have fulfilled his service obligation to the U.S. Air Force, so we will have plenty of time to continue seeking God's leading with regard to our future role in overseas missions. There is no question that during our mission trip to KRCH, God revealed to us some specific things that would be very important to us should we become full-time missionaries in the future. First of all, Eric is certain that for him to remain an effective disciple of Jesus in the mission field, he would need to be much less busy than Dr. McDaniel is. It is a never-ending problem in underserved areas like KRCH that the need is often so great that it can become easy for a person meeting these needs to have no time to take care of themselves. Secondly, even if in the future as missionaries, Eric's primary role overseas were that of a physician and Jennifier's primary role were that of a homeschool mom, we would both want to be in a situation that would also allow us to play a significant role in Christian community building and disciple making. Finally, perhaps our greatest loss during our time in Thailand was not feeling part of a unified team of fellowshipping believers with common vision and goals. If we become full-time missionaries in the future, we are certain that fulfillment of this need of ours would be a prerequisite.
As most of you know, Eric graduates in one week and a few days later we will move to Biloxi, Mississippi, where Eric will start his surgical internship. We hope to see many of you at our graduation party/mission trip follow-up party/going away party this Friday, May 26, at 6:00 pm at our apartment (if enough people come, we'll actually be at our apartment complex's clubhouse). If we are able to get it ready in time, we will show a slide presentation covering our trip. We will also eat pizza and generally fellowship. If you need directions to our place please email Eric at his new email address listed below. For those of you who will not be able to make it to the party, we wish you God's blessings and hope that you will keep in touch (we don't know our new address yet, but our email addresses are below). Thank you again for your interest in and support of our trip to Thailand.
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