Aug. 20, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

A week ago we took our youngest daughter, Hana that is two and a half years old, to see a doctor at the local Vista Clinic. We're still in America but we were planning on going back to Serbia this Friday. The doctor confirmed what we had feared. Although we haven't yet received an official diagnosis from a specialist, it looks like our daughter may have Autism - "a brain disorder that effects communication, social interaction and creative or imaginative play." The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for us. We have been reading up on this illness, calling and visiting doctors, meeting with parents of autistic children, etc. all in an effort to find out just what we're up against and what kind of steps we should take to help Hana's condition. We desperately need your prayers during this sad and confusing time. Even though this is an extremely difficult time for us, we really sense the Lord's peace that surpasses all understanding and are so thankful to Him for His comfort and strength. If it weren't for Him I know we would have had a nervous breakdown by now for sure!

Here are some questions that have been really bothering us that we need a lot of wisdom for:

* Should we stay in America to try to get her diagnosed or try to get it done over in Serbia? (This would take at the most 45 days to do here in the States. Our other kids have to start school soon).

* If we find out she does really have autism, should we spend several months over here to take her through therapy and get parental training or should we try to do this over there? (There are many more resources and programs available for autistic children over here than in Serbia. The latest, most advanced research is being done in the States to try to find a cure and also to find more effective methods of therapy. Everyone has told us that the sooner we start therapy, the better chance there is for us to improve Hana's behavioral patterns).

* Should Jelena quit her part-time job as a counselor/teacher for a local high school in Sombor to dedicate more time to helping Hana with therapy? (The kids, Jelena and I all get Serbian medical insurance through this job. Jelena's salary is $500 a month. We will need as much extra money as we can get for: special gluten-free foods we have already started giving Hana which are hard to find in Serbia, possible trips over to U.S. for testing, therapy, etc.)

* What about our church? Should I try to find replacements for our ministries in the church in case we decide to go to America or will our coworkers be able to handle the load by themselves?

* If we decide to come back to America, should we sell all our belongings in Serbia to help with expenses here or should we consider it a temporary visit? Who would stay in our house? Where would we live over here? Should we stay at family members' houses or try to rent something? (Our support is too low for us to live off of over here).

So, as you can see, we have a lot to think and pray about. A lot of adjustments will need to be made, even if we don't end up moving back over to the U.S. We would love for God to just heal Hana and let us get back to work as usual on the mission field, but He may have some greater plan He wants to accomplish through all this that we just don't understand. Pray for a miracle, but pray also that God would help us trust Him and not lose heart if He decides not to perform one. We'll keep you informed on everything that's going on.

Love in Christ,


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