Sunday, August 24, 2008

August Newsletter

Dear brethren,

In Ecclesiastes 9:11, Solomon, through inspiration, wrote, "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." Although Solomon writes concerning soldiers and brave men, this idea was clearly seen in the Olympic Games that took place this year. All of the participants were very well trained, were very strong, and very skillful in their certain events. However, just one wrong twist of the body or one wrong hand or foot placement could cost the participant the gold medal. If he was just one-thousandth of a second off of his mark, he would miss the prize.

In the world in which we live, everyone is subject to unforeseen conditions. Some of these conditions are favorable and some are unfavorable. The point is that we cannot always know when or how these conditions will come upon us but we must be ready to accept them and do the best we can in spite of them. In Ecclesiastes 11:6, Solomon wrote, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."

The year 2008 has been a very eventful year in the Hill household. There have been many unforeseen conditions and, unfortunately, most have been unfavorable.

In December 2007, our daughter’s husband, Chris, left her, and our grandson Cole, for another woman. She desperately encouraged him to seek counseling and come back to them. He, however, filed for divorce in January and it was granted in May. Julie, being put into this unforeseen situation and having no money, was not financially able to take care of the lawyer and legal fees. Linda and I, out of our retirement fund, took care of this. Julie and Cole are now living in Mississippi and, at this writing, Chris in taking Julie back to court in an effort to discontinue his paying of Cole’s child support.

In February, I went to our family doctor with a severe sinus infection and extreme dizziness and nausea. After three visits to him, he told me that he had done all that he could and recommended me to an ENT doctor. The ENT doctor ordered an MRI of my head especially focusing on the inner ear. The prognosis was a tumor located in the inner ear canal that may be causing the dizziness. After reading the results of the MRI, he frantically recommended that I see a neurosurgeon. The MRI showed the inner ear to be clear but it also showed a lesion on the cerebellum portion of my brain.

In April, I saw the neurosurgeon and was told that I had either a brain tumor or that I had had a silent stroke. A tumor meant that I would definitely undergo brain surgery. As strange as it may sound, I never prayed so hard and so often that I had had a stroke. The neurosurgeon ordered another MRI (high definition), two MRAs, and a battery of blood tests. From these blood tests, our family doctor noticed that I was a borderline diabetic and that there was something strange in my thyroid gland. I was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. More tests were ordered and I saw yet another doctor, an endocrinologist.

In June it was decided that I had had a stroke and not a brain tumor. We were elated about the great news. However, after a series of ultrasounds and nuclear scans, the endocrinologist wanted to biopsy three nodes found in the thyroid gland. This was done and the nodes were found to be cancerous. I saw yet another doctor, a general surgeon, and surgery for the removal of the entire thyroid and some surrounding lymph nodes was scheduled for July 30.

Things were looking bleak before the surgery but we were reconciled to the fact that, as Solomon stated, "time and chance happeneth to them all." We are Christians and whatever happens, happens! We put our faith (and our lives) in the hands of our loving God and pray His will be done. But just when you think things could not get any worse, the week before my surgery our house flooded. We had a torrential downpour of hail and rain accompanied by great gusts of high winds. Our backyard had once had a slight drainage problem and was muddy after a large rain. We spent several thousands of dollars for a massive drainage system to take care of the problem and we had had no drainage problem since its installation. But the City of Dacula permitted a house to be razed behind our house and that changed the water run-off. It all came to our property and flooded our home. (You can see some pictures of this on our web-site: We now have to replace the flooring, the baseboards, some of the walls, and paint the entire house. Because it was a flood (our house was the only one affected in the neighborhood) our homeowners insurance policy will not recompense for the damage. I contacted the City of Dacula but, to date, have heard nothing from them and probably will not.

Then in August, I was contacted by the endocrinologist’s office. He found some nodes in my lungs and ordered a CT scan to determine whether they were cancerous or not. Thankfully, they were not. He also ordered more biopsies on more lymph nodes. He believes they are cancerous. So, there will be more testing and possible surgery.

Our health insurance has been good all through these traumatic experiences. They have paid their part faithfully. However, there have been co-pays, deductibles, MRIs, MRAs, CT scans, ultrasounds, blood tests, hospital fees, doctors fees, prescriptions, and there will be more to come. And in October our health insurance premiums will be going up by about $400.00 per month. I do not know how much will be needed. To date, we have not received anything from the hospital concerning the surgery debt. My estimates are from $5,000.00 to $7,000.00.

Thank you for the cards, calls, visits, and prayers - especially the prayers. Please continue to pray for us. But brethren, we also need your help in assisting us financially. From Genesis 22:14, we know "Jehovah-jireh" (the Lord Will provide). May our God continue to bless you.

We will continue to fight a good fight, to finish the course, and to keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). We are Christians and whatever happens, happens!
In Christ Who Saves,
- Jimmie

* * * * *

Greetings from Georgia!

I’m at a loss where to begin this letter. The events of this year have been staggering, as Jimmie has told you, but the last two weeks of July were particularly difficult. Three things stand out about them -

Julie and Cole. Our daughter and grandson moved to Mississippi on the same day that we learned that Jimmie had thyroid cancer. She was actually preparing to unload the moving truck when I called her with the news. Having them so far away for the first time did not help.

The Flood. Combating water and clearing debris was physically and emotionally exhausting. If you have been to our blog and seen the pictures you know the damage was extensive. I called a water disaster team immediately hoping that if the water was removed quickly the floors could be saved. We had been through a similar disaster 19 months ago when a bathroom toilet went berserk and soaked the floors in several rooms so I really wanted to prevent as much damage as possible.

It was a shock when the men began almost immediately to rip out walls, baseboards and our still new floors. That was NOT the action I had expected. But they showed me where the water had already found its way beneath the plastic undersheeting of our bamboo laminate. The water was too deep in the house and the floors were too soaked to be salvageable. The flood had started about 7:00 in the evening and we all worked until 2:30 the next morning. The disaster crew stripped the house of anything wet, but Jimmie and I had to work along with them relocating our possessions to the few remaining dry spots in the house.

The second shock came a few days later when we learned that the damage would not be covered by our homeowner’s policy.

Cancer Surgery. Of course, those are two words you never enjoy.

But through all of this there have been many things that have actually been extraordinary blessings. Some that come to mind immediately are –

The stroke.
Jimmie had been ignoring some minor symptoms indicative of a thyroid problem, assuming they were age or stress related. He certainly would not have been to a doctor yet had it not been for the stroke.

Our family doctor, Richard Schlossberg.
Jimmie’s blood tests were actually ordered by another doctor and it was really only a minor fluctuation in the results that prompted Dr. Schlossberg to order additional testing. I am so thankful that we went to his office rather than a lab. Our battle is not over yet, but without his diligent attention we would not know that we needed to be fighting.

William Howard.
For several months now he has voluntarily taken on additional duties to help Jimmie at the New Hope Road congregation.

Bruce and Beverly Roberts.
These dear friends drove all the way from northern Pennsylvania to help us with clean up after the flood and to be here during Jimmie’s surgery.

The New Hope Road Church of Christ.
The brothers and sisters of our home congregation have been absolutely wonderful in more ways than I have room to list.

Family, friends and brethren.
Near and far, loved ones and others we scarcely know have been a tremendous encouragement and comfort.

I am happy to tell you that our blessings have far outnumbered our disasters. With God’s help that is always the case.

In Christian love,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Thank You Note

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." Philippians 1:3

The year 2008 has been and continues to be an unusually trying time. Since that moment on April 15th when the doctor stunned us with the news that Jimmie might have a brain tumor, our whole life has been upside down. The news that he had had a minor stroke instead was a wonderful relief, but we scarsely had time to dust ourselves off before we got the diagnosis of thyroid cancer on July 14th. The days since have become a blur as we rushed through more doctor visits, hospital testing, then surgery. Less than 48 hours after Jimmie's thyroid was removed the doctor's office called with the news that Jimmie needed more doctor visits, hospital testing, and possibly more surgery. So our life has not righted itself yet.

But through all of the many disasters that have dismayed us this year we have found many things for which to be thankful. We are thankful for dedicated doctors, caring nurses, and clean hospitals here in the USA. We are thankful for all of the amazing technology that makes diagnosing illness swifter and curing cancer a more positive possibility. We are thankful for good lawyers, information readily available on the Internet, and cell phones to keep in touch. But most of all we are thankful for you - our wonderful family, friends and brethren. You are the ones that have helped us get through this year still relatively coherent. You have been a blessing to us.
  • To everyone who has sent us an email, card or letter - we have not had time to respond to all of them but we truly appreciate each one. You have been a great encouragement.
  • To those who have called us on the phone, stopped by the Truth for the World offices or this blog, or otherwise passed along a message that you were thinking about us - it helped to know that you care.
  • To everyone who has given us hugs, or come to the hospital or house to visit - we love you. You have been a wonderful comfort.
  • To those who have helped us financially with the sudden expenses - thank you. It was certainly needed.
  • To all who have prayed for us - we especially want to thank you. Prayer is a powerful blessing and we cannot begin to express how grateful we are to know that so many are appealing to God on our behalf.
Thank you! May the Lord bless and protect each of you.
- Jimmie & Linda

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Great Flood

July was quite a month. A few days before Jimmie's cancer surgery a major storm front moved through Dacula bringing with it hail and tremendous wind and rain. It was the rain that got us the worst.

The old house behind us had recently been demolished and the land regraded for future construction, but the planned retention pond was completely forgotten before the new owner dropped the construction idea and put the now vacant land up for sale. So ALL of the water on this higher property came straight at us rather than down the storm drains where it used to go. The deluge knocked down a tree, wrecked our yard and destroyed our privacy fence.

It also flooded our home.

Jimmie and I were armed with every towel and cloth we owned and were each manning a door as we saw the water rising above our fish pond outside. But when the water started invading the house it came at us everywhere at once through the foundation. It was like a bad sci-fi movie from the 1950's. Water 1/2 inch deep soon covered our living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom.

Jimmie and I continued to fight the water while waiting for help to arrive, but it was a wasted effort. The floors throughout most of our house had to be ripped out, as well as baseboards and some wall board. The water disaster crew even drilled holes in all of my bottom kitchen cabinets to dry the water. When they left at 2:30 AM the next morning we truly were living in a disaster area but now with 18 fans and 2 huge dehumidifiers adding to the confusion.
The 2 small front rooms were still intact so Jimmie did not want to move to a motel or one of the many homes offered to us by the wonderful brethren at New Hope Road. We camped here and ate take-out since the kitchen was completely inaccessible as we tried to start some clean-up. My primary concern was getting the debris removed quickly so that I would have somewhere to bring Jimmie after surgery. With the help of some wonderful friends we did that. Bruce and Bev Roberts drove down all the way from Pennsylvania to lend a hand, even bringing their own bed so they would have somewhere to sleep. The youth group from New Hope Road - William Howard, Seth Howard, Nathan Howard, Robert Rogers, Steven Rogers, Carl Jenkins, Bill Fancher, & Joseph Fancher - took care of the debris in the back yard, working right through another storm and refusing to stop, while Katrece & Lydia Howard helped inside the house. Another dear sister, Emily Jester, brought us a carload of large throw rugs to cover the bare concrete.
We have not started any reconstruction yet - that would be another disaster waiting to happen until the property behind us fixes the problem that caused this one - but at least the house was livable again before Jimmie returned from the hospital. For that I can't thank these dearly loved brethren enough.

- Linda

Thursday, August 7, 2008

His Name Was James

I watched carefully where I stepped as I followed my translator through Ashaima. The animals roamed free in this densely populated village and there appeared to be a small creek of raw sewage winding its way through the dirt streets. We turned into an alleyway lined with small kiosk's that sold everything from spools of thread to sun-dried fish that smelled worse than the sewage. After so many twists and turns I was hopelessly lost but finally my translator stopped at our destination - a small kiosk where a woman had expressed a desire for a Bible study.

It was 1983, and I was in Ghana, West Africa. This was my first time in a foreign country, my first time to not understand a single word being spoken around me, to have to go through military checkpoints with soldiers carrying automatic weapons, to see such extreme poverty and the affects of famine, and be the only white face in a sea of black ones. But none of those firsts concerned me at the moment. This was also my first time to lead a campaign Bible study and I was scared to death.

The lady at the kiosk brought out some chairs and we pulled them into a circle in the only space available, right in front of her little clapboard stall. I took a couple of deep breathes to get my thoughts together and started. A lifetime - or perhaps only an hour - later the woman declined our invitation to become a Christian. Then I heard another voice and looked up. I had been so focused on the Bible study that I had not noticed a crowd gathering but there was a semicircle of at least 25 people behind me completely blocking the alleyway. They had been standing there listening quietly. Now a young man who worked at the next kiosk spoke to my translator, telling her that he wished to be baptized. Sadly, he was on duty and could not leave the shop but he asked that we return the following day when he would be off. His name was James.

The next morning my translator again led me through a maze of dirty streets to the market alleyway but this time we also had in tow my husband, Jimmie, and his translator. I held my breathe most of the way, wondering if James would be there, so it was a relief to find him. But James was not alone. He had taught his brother the Gospel the night before and they were both waiting there with their towels to go to the water! Jimmie sat down with them to be sure they understood the plan of salvation and the one true church while I continued on to another Bible study farther down the alleyway, so I did not get to see them baptized. But I was thrilled just the same.

And I was thrilled again in 1985. Jimmie returned to Ghana on another campaign and my only request before he flew off was to please find James. Happily that turned out to be easy because James was still a faithful member of the congregation in Ashaima.

Most of the time we have no idea how our words or actions affect others outside our immediate circle. We focus on our own life and never realize that the world is watching us, judging us, deciding if they should follow our example whether good or bad. I am so thankful for the young man in Ghana that brought that lesson home to me. I hope to meet him again one day.
- Linda

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August 2008 Report

Dear Christian Friends,

Deja vu is one of those French terms that it used interchangeably in English, rather like a la carte, hors d'oeuvre, or RSVP. They need no translation. Unfortunately, July was a deja vu kind of month. It feels like we have experienced and reported these things to you before.
For most of the staff it was business as usual. John Grubb worked on additional DVD lessons in Chinese. Benjamin Richardson and Dave Komisak recorded English radio and television. And the secretaries - Linda Hill, Ellen Mills, and Kristen Underwood - handled the multitude of tasks that they usually handle.

But William Howard had difficulty with the printing press - again. It remained uncooperative for such an extended period that he finally had to move the printing of the August Update to the Duluth church building and borrow their copier in an attempt to finish it on time. And problems with the printing press, as usual, created problems with shipping. As our supplies of one correspondence course depleted our overseas shipping came to a sudden halt. Since we send our foreign teachers ALL of the courses that they will need with their students together in large supply, a shortage of just one booklet delays everything until it can be printed again.

And Jimmie Hill, our Director of Publications, continued to have serious health problems. Earlier this year it was thought that he had a brain tumor, but that lesion turned out to be a minor stroke and we were all greatly relieved. However, while doing a battery of blood tests, a possible problem with his thyroid was spotted. We all hoped that would also turn out to be minor but it did not. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in mid-July and on July 30th both lobes of his thyroid gland and numerous lymph nodes were removed. We are still awaiting reports to learn if the cancer had spread beyond his thyroid, so please continue to remember him in your prayers.

On a non-deja vu note, the Truth for the World Mission Forum is on the horizon and each one of these is completely unique. This year's theme is "Revive Us Again" and the speakers will be Rudy Cain, Denton Landon, Gary Atwater, and Michael Barclay. November 14 - 16, 2008, will arrive quicker than you think so please start making your plans now to be here.

We are blessed to have friends like you. Thank you for being a faithful part of this work.

Staff of Truth for the World