How to pray for us:
1. Pray for our ongoing transition from Africa back to America. Wow!
2. I (Curt) continue to recover from my African illness. Doctors believe I have a post-infection disruption of my digestive system.
We are thankful for continued steady (but slow) improvement.
3. Direction as we fit into a new culture and location.
I’ve always been fascinated with words.
What they mean.
How the same word can mean different things.
During our transition from Africa to America, three words keep popping up in my heart:
Empathy is to share the pain of another.
I’ve been where you are.
This too shall pass.
You’ll get through it.
As my illness dragged into the second month, my African friends showed deep empathy. They knew exactly how it is to be sick for extended times.
Malaria. They expect it yearly.
Dysentery. They know the difficulties of staying near a latrine.
And they show empathy to others on the same journey.
Empathy. It’s a good word.
“Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It's the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else's pain is as meaningful as your own.”
A second word I’ve been studying is humility.
Africa teaches you humility. Your taxi driver fluently speaks six languages and you struggle picking up a second.
America teaches you humility.
You return after three years away.
The whole world has changed.
You depend on a six-year old grandson to show you how to turn on the TV.
Being ill for an extended time also teaches humility.
You’re dependent upon others.
Never knowing how the day is going to go.
You spend lots of time in the bathroom. (One of my African friends who had a similar illness learned to play the harmonica during his long bathroom sojourns).
I’ve also been humbled by the way we left Africa. We had planned a “spiritual victory lap” of saying goodbye to all of our precious friends in the refugee camps and villages of Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, and Chad.
That’s not how it worked out and this deeply humbled me.
The remarkable thing is that all of God’s work in these places is continuing apace. He doesn’t need us to get the job done.
It’s also a good word.
It’s a good place to be.
A third word at the top of my vocabulary is adversity.
Adversity isn’t a good word
But good things come from it.
In adversity, we learn what is really important and have the opportunity to cast off the chaff of the non-essential.
Adversity is something we all deal with.
It’s part of the package called life.
One of my African co-workers who has endured Job-like adversity in the last three years said it well, "Difficulties either draw us closer to God or away."
Sometimes a person’s troubles are very evident. Most often, their adversity doesn’t show.
That’s why we should give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Be nice to each person you meet.
Everyone is carrying a heavy load.
Words for the journey.
Even though we aren't in Africa, our commitment and love for the folks there is still deep.
Chadan is the group we've served with. Their focus is on South Sudan, Chad, and their borderlands.
You can continue to learn more through our website, blog, and at www.imb.org.
Open Hands Missions is our personal ministry to connect Americans to the great needs of Africa. Our present focus is on getting God's word into hands, hearts, and ears.
In addition, we are committed to the training of pastors and church leaders in the Chadan region.
Photo (above) Jack Iles examines "The Laughing Hole" on a Wild Azalea Trail Journey.
Speaking of the journey, here’s what is going on in our lives:
DeDe and I are moving into a house in Alexandria, Louisiana. Folks are astounded that we’re not returning to Dry Creek. My answer is, “There’s only seven reasons why. Alexandria is where seven of our grandchildren live.”
It’s the first time we’ve lived in a city.
It’s a transition that will take time.
A word from DeDe:
I am so very thankful for all of you who have prayed consistently for us. I always knew that people were bringing our needs and interceding for the unreached in Uganda, South Sudan, and Chad. Please continue to join our Lord in His work in this desperate area through prayer.
A word from Curt:
I’m excited about opportunities to write, share, and speak. I’m more sure than ever that writing is my calling for this season of life. Pray for wisdom and insight as I seek to write for maximum influence and impact for the Kingdom.
This is my guideline for what I’m calling “The Wow! Life”:
1. Be curious.
2. Be amazed.
3. Tell a story.
I look forward to sharing stories with you through this newsletter, our blog, and future books.
Four of the Iles Kids (L to R) Luke, Maggie, Jude, and Noah Iles with Daisy Mae Thomas at church in Pineville, LA. Many of you "met" Daisy when she and her adoptive Mom, KB Thomas, lived with us in Uganda. Daisy is from the Alur tribe in Uganda's West Nile District.
Before she left for the US last year, I told her, "Daisy, there's an important term you must know to live in America. Repeat after me, 'Chick-Filet.' "
If you enjoyed this Story Letter, please share it with friends.
We’re excited about updates at The Creekbank. Drop by www.creekbank.net to see for yourself.