Shalom, haverim! Greetings, friends!
Peace, goodbye, hello, wholeness, completion--these are some of the many translations of the Hebrew word
shalom. And that is what Matthew and I are filled with this morning: God's perfect shalom.
Last night, our children came home for a 6-month furlough from Kenya, where our son Clark has served for more than two years as the only pediatrician for 2 million children.
Many times over the last two years Clark and Val have felt overwhelmed by three burdens:
- the clinical workload (working 80+ hours a week,),
- the high death rate (more children died in their first month there than all of Clark's five years practicing in Kentucky), and
- cultural barriers within the hospital that seemed insurmountable.
If none of these three areas changed, Clark and Val knew they would not be able sustain their ministry over the long haul. But in His perfect timing, God blew through all three of these barriers!
Over the last few months God not only brought a second pediatrician to help carry the load--the Lord provided resources so Clark could renovate and double the capacity of the NICU; brought short-term coverage so he could write a training manual for the nurses, interns, and medical staff; and blew past the cultural barriers so that life-saving treatment for pre-term babies would now be covered by the Kenyan national health program. What a good and gracious God we serve!
In addition to these ministry miracles, our grandson, Luke Matthew Sleeth, was born last June 24. Though nothing compared to the hurdles Clark and Val faced daily, Matthew and I have been pining to meet our first grandson. I can't fly, so we have had to do the impossible: be patient and wait.
All that waiting came to an end last night. Our children and grandchildren are finally HOME. We can barely believe it is true. I remember last January, when Matthew and I were so grateful we could count the months rather than the years until their homecoming. And, last September, when we could finally start counting the months until their return on ONE HAND. And then just after Christmas, when we started crossing off the days.
The Hebrew word for return is
shub. Shub is comprised of three Hebrew letters. The shin stands for
Shaddai, one of the holiest names for God. The middle letter, vav, looks like a vertical pole or ladder and stands for linking, or connection. Hebrew scholars say that the letter vav hooks together heaven and earth. The final letter, bet, stands for house.
The shub, or return, of Clark, Val, Hannah, and baby Luke from Africa feels like a homecoming on steroids. It is the linking of heaven and earth, the fullness of God's peace within our home. It is the indescribable wholeness of our complete family, breaking bread together under one roof.
Hallelujah! God's perfect shalom has filled the Sleeth home. With all the busyness and turmoil escalating here on earth, I pray that God brings shalom to your home, too!
With love and prayers,