Departure Date Set!!...AUGUST 3RD!!

Our departure date is set and we have our one way tickets in hand!! We will depart the states on August 3rd, arriving August 5th to the place God has asked us to call home. Ethiopia! We feel so humbled and grateful to all of you who have prayed, financially partnered with us in ministry, spoken words of love and encouragement over us, given us wise counsel, poured into Brian's medical training, and been spiritual leaders and encouragers in our years of following Jesus. We would not be where we are without you. So thank you to each one of you!!!

As always, we pray blessings over you and how God is at work in your life. He is faithful not only through the beautiful moments and easily joyful times, but also through the hard times, the seasons of waiting, the unknown, and the challenges. The Lord is with you, faithfully watching over you in every circumstance of your life. 

A favorite quote that hangs in our hallway says, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." -Jim Elliot

May we each live every moment of our lives to the hilt for God! May we be all in for His glory!!

Eyes on the Prize

In May of last year, with only a couple of weeks notice, I jumped on a plane to Ecuador.  An earthquake hit north of Chone, Ecuador, affecting the surrounding areas.  The earthquake left people without homes, clean water, food, proper hygiene, and hospitals.  Hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured with no one to care for them.  Samaritan's Purse flew out their first field hospital (essentially a state of the art MASH unit) to the area, summoning all available doctors, nurses, and OR staff to join them in bringing physical and spiritual healing in the name of Jesus.  When I got the call, we all knew I was supposed to be there...Click HERE to read the full story!

The Beauty of Surrender

When Brian first told me he felt led to do missions in Africa, I thought, “Good for you, buddy!  Have fun with that!”

That was almost 14 years ago.

Fast forward to today, and I can say that not only do I feel called to go to Africa, but I count it all joy to be able to say yes and follow God to Ethiopia.  I am a planner and a list maker, but God has shown me that His ways are higher than mine, and always, oh, so much better!

Surrender is hard.  It involves digging deep within to let go of that which you hold closest to your heart.  It involves saying that you are willing to let another lead you through the battle.  

I love the story of a little girl who was given a necklace for her birthday that looked like pearls.  Every night her dad would come in at bedtime and ask her if he could have the necklace.  She would clutch them tighter and grimace, not wanting to let go of that which she so loved.  He would relent, but the next night he would ask again.  As the days went by, he could see the struggle in her heart as it manifested in her eyes; those which loved her daddy and wanted to obey, but also loved her precious necklace.  Finally one night, as he came in, she handed him the necklace with tears in her eyes.  As she did, a smile broke upon her father’s face.  He took the necklace, and then with a father’s joy reached into his pocket to give her a replacement…a real pearl necklace.

Isn’t this so with us?  We think we want something so badly, thinking it’s the best, it’s our favorite, there’s nothing I want more.  And yet, God has more for us.  He wants us to let go, to know that what He’s asking of us will be real and beautiful, and the things, hopes, dreams, and desires that we hold so tightly to pale in comparison to the splendor and joy He is ready to give us.  As I have learned to say yes over the last 14 years, I have learned to trust in His asking, to know that what He has for me is good. Amazing.  Incredible.  He has never promised that it would be easy, but that in Him we are overcomers.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

So we hold tight to the Lord as we have handed Him our greatest treasures, and we trust the beauty that awaits us in Soddo.  

Changing Lives

Mihret's story is an emotionally charged one for us.  When we first learned about Mihret, we were awed and humbled that God is calling us to be involved in similar stories.  We are grateful that He has opportunities ahead for us to be able to do the same as those who cared for Mihret when there seemed be no other way for her.  To see her life transformed by the skills of Soddo's orthopedic surgeon and the love and care given by the hospital staff, just reminds us of why we are willing to say yes.  Medical missions can change people's lives.  

"Imagine being 27 years old and having never walked upright.  That was the plight of Mihret.  She had been born with a congenital knee dislocation in both legs that made it impossible for her to stand on her own two legs.  I saw her in the ER one day recently.  She came from Addis Ababa - the capital city five hours away.  And she had heard that our hospital was working miracles for people who had never walked.  Her entire life, Mihret had crawled on her hands and knees.  She wore flip-flops on her hands to protect them from the hot city pavement.

She was poor, and didn’t even have enough money to get x-rays taken of both knees.  We worked out a deal so she could at least get the x-rays and talk to our orthopedic surgeon about treatment options.  Since birth, her dislocated knees had only flexed in the wrong direction, making it impossible to stand.  But Dr. Anderson saw her in the clinic and felt like if her knees could be fused, she could stand, and even walk with assistance.

She didn’t have a penny to pay for such a surgery, but our Benevolent Fund covered her.

A week after admission, she underwent the first surgery on the left leg.  A complex procedure that lasted hours and involved putting a rod through her femur, bridging the distorted knee, and going into the tibia.  Mihret lost a lot of blood, an issue complicated by the fact that her blood type was O negative – the most rare type.  But she got transfused, and recovered for three weeks before having the right side done.  According to Dr. Anderson, “With the experience on the left side, we were able to do the right side without as much bleeding.”

Just a few days after that, for the first time in her life, Mihret stood upright on her own two legs.  

We have a weekly chapel service at the hospital on Wednesday morning that is attended by most of our hospital staff.  We gave Mihret the opportunity to attend chapel, but not just attend.  To walk down the center aisle.  Never before has our staff reacted to a patient's recover like they did with her.  There was exuberant cheering and applause, and some of our staff cried as Mihret gave thanks to them and to God.  A day of rejoicing at Soddo Christian Hospital that will not soon be forgotten."

Stories like these are the ones that cause us say yes to moving halfway around the world.  They are the ones that cause Brian to want to volunteer his skill to bring hope and healing to those who feel like they have none.  But is physical healing what changes the world?  God used physical healing in Mihret's life to show that He cares for her, despite her desperate position.  He put a team of people together at such a time as to provide medical care at no expense to her and to be able to share that she was not forgotten. She was not an outcast, as she had probably felt and been told her entire life.  She was worth all that was gone through to bring her off her hands and feet, to stand up tall and beautiful and know that all that God had for her was beautiful and good.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Will you be part of our family's story as we move across the world to show love and hope through physical healing?  Will you be part of changing the world in this beautiful way?  Will you join us financially so that we may do the work God has asked us to do?  We cannot do it without you!  We are all the body of Christ working together to share His name and spread His glory throughout the southern region of Ethiopia.  We would be so honored to know that we are able to serve because of you!  

Praises and Prayer Requests:

{1} God has moved mountains in allowing Brian to be able to obtain his medical license now rather than waiting an extra year before we could go!  We are so thankful for God's perfect timing!  We are working toward setting a specific time, but we will be headed to Ethiopia in January or February of 2017.

{2} We also just found out that Brian will be able to become fully board certified while working overseas.  This seemed like an impossibility, but again, God has shown us that He is greater than our biggest obstacles!

{3} Please pray for our hearts and minds as we prepare for such a big move.  Although we are excited to serve the Lord in Ethiopia, leaving friends and family will be very hard.  Please pray that God will continue to show us the beauty in the hard parts of doing what He is asking us to do.  

{4} We are 1/3 of the way to being fully funded!  Please pray about becoming a monthly supporter.  By beginning your support now, you will also be contributing to our family's start up costs for such a big move. We are humbled that God is asking us to take part in stories like Mihret's.  By being a monthly supporter, you can be part of those stories too!

 

**The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Samaritan's Purse.** 

Preparing for the biggest move of our lives!

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been over a decade now that we have been talking about doing medical missions in some capacity, and we are now in the full throws of preparing our family for the biggest move of our lives!  As part of the Samaritan's Purse Post-Residency Program, Brian will be soon working alongside a mentor orthopedic surgeon for two years in Soddo, Ethiopia.  Soddo Christian Hospital serves over 30,000 patients per year, and currently only has one orthopedic surgeon for a region of about 5 million people.  The need is great, and we are answering God's call to go and love and serve the people of this southern region of Ethiopia. 

So many of you have been by our side through the journey we have been on, and we would be so honored to have you stand with us as we embark on this next adventure.  We are grateful for each of you and hope to have the chance to personally connect and share more of our heart for Ethiopia very soon!  In the meantime we have two videos below that show our heart for missions and Ethiopia.  

Please keep an eye out for upcoming communication and stay in touch with us at apeaceofourlife.comapeaceofourlife@gmail.comfacebook.com/apeaceofourlife, and instagram.com/apeaceofourlife.

With Love,

Brian, Autumn, Elisabeth, Abigail, John, and Alexandria Hodges