Friday, August 29, 2008

"Why Couldn't God Let Him Grow Up First?"

Nate's question echoed the thought that was on everyone's mind day before yesterday. I struggled to find the answer as Nate stood there, arms around his daddy who was sobbing. Nate struggled to keep back his own tears. Hetee had tried so hard to be strong but after so much pressure, you just cave in.

Today was, no doubt, one of the hardest days of my life. When my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I wanted nothing more than to crawl under the covers and wish the day away. But, we were due at the morgue to pick up the tiny white coffin and bring baby Yalalt's body to its final resting place. As difficult as the task at hand seemed, I wasn't about to let Enkhmaa and Bogi go through that final goodbye without standing by their side.

We gathered outside the morgue, family, friends and church members-- a crowd of about 40 people-- and waited for the doors to open. In Mongolia, there are no funeral homes or services to help the families during their time of loss. It was up to the church today to help as much as we could.

We filed into the small room in the morgue and circled the coffin clockwise, in Mongolian fashion. It was open and we could see a small portion of his face, mostly just his mouth as the rest of his face and body was swaddled. Enkhmaa was inconsolable and I had to fight the urge to run away. She touched his cheek and then crumpled to the floor. Hetee another pastor friend carried her out.

The graveyard is a ways out of town. The cars follow the car with the coffin in single file, slowly, with caution lights blinking. Enkhmaa rode with us while Bogi accompanied the coffin in a micro bus.

Enkhmaa sobbed and we prayed for the ability to hold it together and minister to her. Hetee spoke of heaven and she quieted, listening with a blank look in her eyes. We hummed and sang Amazing Grace, and other songs to bring comfort. I assured her, again, that Yalalt was now in a place where he no longer suffered pain or fear, but he had been given a new body and we would all see him again one day.

That was the hope we had that her unsaved relatives didn't understand. They were hopeless and saw no end to their own suffering, and that's why they grieved so openly and loudly. We were sad and desperate but not hopeless, like they were. We are saddened at the thought that we will not see his face this side of heaven. We are desperate that we will not be able to kiss and smell his hair and his breath (smelling is all important to Mongolians) on this earth again. It leaves a void but we know that it is temporary. We will be comforted. Our tears will be wiped away. What a promise of hope!

We buried baby Yalalt today. I think I buried a piece of my heart with him. Our family has been changed by Yalalt's life and early passing on to heaven. Our tones and gazes are softer. We reach out to touch and hug one another with the a fresh realization that life is a vapor. Each touch could be the last. We never know how long our children will be ours. It's a lesson to me, to not take their precious lives for granted.

Today, Nate wandered further than usual on his bike and Hetee and I set out to look for him. As we separated to search, I was filled with panic. I fought the urge to sob as I rounded the corner by the university in front of our house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Hetee running across a nearby field and I felt sick to my stomach as I imagined the possibilities. On any other day, I probably would have been very level headed about the whole thing, but on a day like today, I couldn't block the awful images going through my mind.

As it turns out, Nate was perfectly fine. He and his friend just thought it would be fun to test the boundaries. When he saw me, crying and really mad, he knew it was a bad idea.

Thank you to those of you who are praying and giving to help Enkhmaa and Bogi move. Please continue to pray for me, too. After spending 3 days with the grieving parents, I can still hear Enkhmaa's wails when I close my eyes at night. It's hard to sleep. No matter how hard I try, I keep imagining myself in her situation. It's not on purpose, it just happens. So prayers for a sound mind are much appreciated.

God bless you all and thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I don't know where to start. Our family and this little boy, Yalalt's family really need your prayers.

Yesterday on the way to a meeting, we received a phone call telling us that he had been injured and that we needed to go to the hospital. We picked up the dad and baby sister on the way and rushed over. After hearing from the dad that Yalalt, age 1 year and 3 months, had fallen from their 5th story balcony, we began to pray hard for a miracle. We arrived at the hospital and found the mother, 20 year old Enkhmaa, sobbing.

There's not a Bible school in the world that can prepare you for something like this and Hetee and I both felt inadequate as we broke the news to them that the baby had died. Hetee dealt with the police as I tried to comfort the mother who was sobbing uncontrollably and beating herself in the face. She blames herself as she was the only one home with the kids when it happened. And she let him go out onto the balcony, where under normal circumstances, there was no way to fall. But yesterday, the baby's stroller was out on the balcony, offering a curious toddler a way to climb up and see over the barrier.

Yalalt was a very special boy. His mother and father were not married when Enkhmaa because pregnant for him. They were pressured on every side to have an abortion, but stood firm despite criticism and extreme poverty. They got married and had Yalalt. Two months after he was born, Enkhmaa became pregnant again. This time they were faced with even more difficult odds and, again the family pressured them to abort. Again, they stood firm and 9 months later had a baby girl, in our home. I was her coach during labor and, Bogi, the dad, caught their little girl.

Although a baby himself, Yalalt, which means "Victory", loved being a big brother. He was so full of life and was always on the move in typical toddler fashion. Enkhmaa was constantly blaming herself for his bumps and bruises. With a newborn to care for, it was hard to watch Yalalt closely sometimes. I'd assure her that it happens to the best of us; our kids go off exploring and wind up getting hurt. It's part of life, just do the best you can.

There aren't enough words in the English language to express how much Enkhmaa and Bogi need your prayers right now. They are overwrought with grief and are not receiving much support from their lost relatives. They need supernatural peace right now, especially Enkhmaa, who has not been able to talk (besides calling for Yalalt) and can barely move.

This picture of Yalalt was taken during our Summer Camp, in July.

Why God spared his life from abortion yet chose to have it end this way is beyond me. I'm glad I don't have to offer answers to those kinds of questions. He is God and His ways are certainly not our ways and we can't understand His thoughts.

For now, we are just resting in the comfort that one day we will be in heaven where there will be no more tears or suffering.

Yesterday, as the grandparents were crying, I couldn't help but remember how angry they were at us for encouraging Bogi and Enkhmaa to not abort. They had even turned their back on them financially and otherwise for their decision to keep the baby. Why were they crying now? What could have possibly changed in 15 short months? Was I the only one seeing the irony? Or did they see how unfair they were being, too?

Please, again, keep us all in prayer as we move through the feelings of grief and as we care for the family and the rest of the church.

Bogi and Enkhmaa's rent will be up on September first so we are raising 6 months worth of rent money for them. We will help them find a different apartment to rent and pay for the first 6 months, at least. If you want to help please go to our ministry website and click on the "donate" button to make your contribution for Bogi and Enkhmaa. Every cent will go to them, to help ease them through this difficult time. (Please type "Yalalt" on the donation form or let us know by email,, how much you have given.)

Any comments or sentiments can be sent to Hetee's email address,, and will be translated and given to the parents. You may also leave a comment for Bogi and Enkhmaa on this post. We will make sure everything gets to them.

Thank you for standing with us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just Misc Stuff

Hello everybody, I just wanted to let you all know that our email and skype are not working at the moment. If anyone needs to contact us urgently, please write to Hopefully, this will get settled soon. (Sara, I miss you!!! And I have a long email waiting to be sent)

I have a few posts brewing in my head but, unfortunately no time to actually write them. So please bear with me as the posts may be few and far between in the weeks to come. But then they might not.

Oh, and please note the the changes in the "care package" lists. We have a couple packages on the way so I have removed the items from the list that we have coming.

Thanks again to all of you who have sent packages. We really, really appreciate it!

In other news, Nate will be starting school this Monday. He will be attending a private Mongolian school. I have really mixed feelings about all this as I was expecting to homeschool. Nevertheless, right now we think it's for the best and I guess we'll see. I will be homeschooling Abi in the mornings, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Kenny is fussy today. It's only 9 am but I can already tell it's going to be one of those days...