The Saga Continues aka Never Use Humana

It turns out that our insurance company has spun us around too long and now Kyrie’s surgery has been cancelled. The hospital requires 14 days prior to be cleared, but we are past that now, so the surgery was cancelled. While we are furious, we have some hope in that the doctor thinks she might be big enough now to do the procedure in his office, so we are praying that the waiver with our insurance goes through prior to September 1st, which is the new date to attempt this procedure in his office. Please pray for us.

Many people are just as confused as we are in this process, so I would like to take a moment to put in Summary This Process from Kyrie’s Birth to Now.

  • Louis and I chose to have Kyrie here in the States because of the trauma of taking Davy to the hospital two days into our move to Lebanon. We also desperately want our children to know their family here (whether through blood or otherwise). This is a decision we will take up into prayer in the future as we continue to have children.
  • Upon arriving in the States we entered into the process of getting insurance that would cover us having Kyrie and any problems that might ensue for any of us while we were here. (In the future Humana will NOT be an insurance we choose). The numbers on paper looked good, and we were saved from thousands of dollars in the hospital having her by getting insurance.
  • When Kyrie was born the pediatrician that comes to see the babies found that she had an imperforate hymen. I, Annie, had this as well, but it was not discovered until I was about 8 and had had many infections, and it was quite traumatic for me to get the procedure done. So, we were blessed to find out about the need for surgery so early on.
  • We immediately made appointments for Davy and Kyrie to see our pediatrician here, but then found out that while our pediatrician does work with Humana they do not work with the specific Humana plan we have, making him out of network. Our idea of having a pediatrician we could always come to in the States was gone, and the referral he had given us for the surgery was also worthless. So we spent some time finding an in network pediatrician. The one we found has too many patients and not enough pediatricians, so every appointment we make is a month or so out. By the time we saw her to get another referral months were passing.
  • With the referral we made an appointment with a surgeon, but the earliest they could see us was June.
    At this point we made the decision for Louis and Davy to go to Lebanon without Kyrie and I in May. We had teams coming to Lebanon for our first sets of summer trips for VBS and we needed to have Louis there for that. We sent Davy in the hope that the surgery would happen soon after the consult and we could join them ASAP.
  • The teams went well, great in fact, but Davy did not handle the separation well. He was having a terrible time, as were we all, and the consult led to a surgery date of August 27th. So, we brought the boys back in the beginning of July. We took time in Colorado to check in with Horizons.
  • When we got back to Arizona in the middle of July, Louis spent an entire day on the phone with Humana to determine how the procedure would be covered. We made sure to do it over a month before so that there would be no surprises. We gave all the information to the surgeon’s office who said that it sounded routine.
  • Now it is August, her surgery is approaching and we receive a call from the surgeon’s office saying that Humana has denied coverage. Two more days Louis has now sat on the phone with Humana, our primary care pediatrician, and the surgeon’s office. The information we had at first, Humana claims, is wrong. And now that it is a week away from the surgery, the surgeon’s office cannot keep our place in line at the hospital, so the surgery has been cancelled for August 27th. The surgeon’s office and our pediatrician are very nice and on our side of this and have been working hard to help us out and get us back together as a family and back to Lebanon. Humana has blocked us at every turn. We are hopeful now that Kyrie is big enough to have the procedure accomplished in office at the surgeon’s on September 1st.

    Please pray:

    • For the doctors and assistants who have been tirelessly working alongside us to get this taken care of now.
    • For the increasing stress to not take a toll (Louis and I have both begun to get sick during all of this and have had several minor injuries that I just know are a result of the stress. Davy and I have begun have nightmares every night again as well.)
    • For us to be able to put our energy into our work for Horizons and in discipling our senders here in the States (Look forward to some announcements soon of workshops we would like to do with those of you interested in learning more about ways to help out our mission to Lebanon and other missionaries you may know.)
    • For clarity as we make decisions for our family
    • For comfort in this time of disappointment and frustration

You do not know how important each one of you is to our lives. Without your prayers, concern, and love we would not be able to do any of this. We are battling loneliness and fear and culture shock all the time, but are able to see the hundreds of you that are supporting us by receiving this newsletter, and we know that you are behind us 100%. That is why we are running to you now with our need. We need prayer more than ever. Please ask your churches, small groups, friends, pastors, and anyone you can think of to join us in prayer as we approach this September 1st appointment. Thank you.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

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Kyrie Rebekah Has Arrived!

Now two weeks old, we have finally had the time to sit down and write to you about what has been going on the last few months.

The last time we sent out a newsletter Louis was in Lebanon working with the youth, the team, and some visitors from America and China.

Louis came home February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day, and we have been going since then.

The season of Lent kept us busy at our church here in the States, staying connected, building relationships, and teaching Davy about this season leading up to Holy Week.

TIROSH was March 19th – 21st, and since Annie was ready to pop, she decided to help out (secretly hoping to induce), so that she would be with Louis the entire time. In addition, Davy helped each day. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and teaching Davy about ministry as life, rather than ministry just being a part of our lives.

Just before Holy Week, Davy got a stomach virus which he passed along to Mommy. Because of the due date being literally the next day, when Mommy was vomiting violently on March 27th, her doctor told her to go into the hospital triage to get checked. In the hospital we were informed that Annie was having contractions every four minutes, and she was dilated. But after a few hours, Annie still really not feeling the so-called contractions, and rehydrated from the IV, we decided to go home to see our little boy.

2am March 28th, Annie woke up with pain increasing, and by 7am the contractions could not be denied any longer. At contractions 3 minutes apart we headed to the hospital, and at 1:30pm Kyrie entered the world!

When we went home, the stomach virus that had seemed to miraculously disappear had remained with Davy, so we spent Kyrie’s first few days home trying to keep Davy from sharing drinks, trying to figure out pediatricians, and trying to let Carol/Cadee/Louis’ mom rest because she had also gotten the virus. Also, it was Holy Week!

Davy’s homeschooling curriculum had a whole unit on Holy Week, we did the Resurrection Eggs as a family, and he was really excited to celebrate at church. He can tell the whole story of Jesus from Palm Sunday to Resurrection, and so it was fun to take him to church for Palm Sunday, for him to bring the Palm Leaf cross to Kyrie in the hospital, and each of the services throughout the week. Louis preached for Maunday Thursday. Davy even got to do his first cross nailing, where he nailed his sin of hitting to the cross. It was a really beautiful and special time for our family, and we were very glad to share it with Kyrie. Several times during the week Davy shared the story of Jesus with Kyrie, and he is really showing how great a big brother he is and will continue to be.

We are so excited ot be returning to Lebanon in May, God willing. We have a huge summer planned with teams, new staff, and continued language learning.

Prayer Requests:

  • Kyrie has to have a minor surgery before we can begin planning our return trip to Lebanon, so pray that we can figure out insurance and timing without stress.
  • We have several teams and individuals coming to visit Lebanon beginning in June, so pray for us to be energized to help with the planning and training pre-arrival, and be ready to hit the ground running when we return to Lebanon in May.
  • Annie is healing well, but her hips were pretty beat up during the pregnancy and delivery, so prayers for continued healing.
  • The original purpose of coming back to the States in November was to finish fundraising and we are still only 2/3 funded.

Baby Update

In this post:

  1. Thank You
  2. Gender
  3. Due Date
  4. Name
  5. Health Insurance
  6. New Contact Information For Us
  7. Coming Soon…

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been able to take time this holiday season to see us amidst everything you are up to. Thank you to everyone who has helped us set up events to share about Lebanon and hopefully gain some new partners. We have so much hope for our family return because of these essential times of reconnecting with all of you and feeling your love. Thank you for all your prayers, donations, food, hugs, stories, and listening.

We have been rushing around like crazy to see everyone and do as much fundraising as possible before Louis leaves on December 29th to go back to Lebanon. As always, you, our faithful team have been caring for us in so many ways. One thing we have not stopped to share is the details about our upcoming baby. Mostly because we just haven’t had the time, and so we wanted to take time to share with you all we know about this upcoming baby. There are so many things that you all have been asking us, so we want to answer as much as we can, but if you have any questions please leave a comment on the blog or reply in an email and I will happily get back to you. We love you all so much, I put the outline of what will follow so you can skip down to any information you want to know.

It’s A Girl!

1.2.276.0.26.1.1.1.2.2014.353.77362.5570255.12451840.fceba418f00.0000000000

Due Date

March 28th, 2015 is the official due date.

Last time our doctor wanted to induce earlier due to Davy’s size and since the healing process took a long time we want to follow any advice in that direction as we get closer, so we are keeping an open mind for the two weeks prior as well. And Louis will be back in time for Valentine’s Day, February 13th he lands in Phoenix, so he will have plenty of time to be here when we have to go to the hospital.

Name

Kyrie Rivkah Liss

Yes, there is a lot of story behind her name that we will share more of in the upcoming months, but we will start with just the definitions of the name. The Kyrie is a liturgical song, it is Greek, meaning Lord have mercy. Rivkah means Rebekah.

Health Insurance

We have health insurance beginning January 1st. We opted to start out with out of pocket so that we could start having doctor’s visits, and the ultrasound since we are already over half way along. Beginning January 1st all three of us will be covered until we are one month away from leaving. Then we will be switching to Good Neighbor Insurance, which specializes in missionary insurance. Once again, there is a lot more information some of you might be interested in, and I am happy to answer any questions. Just shoot me a message.

Liss Contact Information

Whether about any of this information above or anything else we want to stay in touch with all of you, but since getting back we haven’t had a very good way to get our contact information out there. If you do not receive our emails CLICK HERE. We don’t want to post all of our information on our plublic blog, but it will be emailing out with our newsletter.

Coming Soon…

We are working on some business cards and brochures with Horizons which we will be able to offer soon, and would really appreciate if all of you would take a few to share with friends and help get our work out there to some new people who might be interested in coming out to help, or funding our being in Lebanon. As we continue to prepare for baby, we still need to get enough for our monthly pledges in order to be 100% funded when we go back. Our budget will be changing slightly as we reevaluate what we actually need on each line item, and include newer expenses. Stay tuned, and email us if you have any way of helping us with fundraising or just want to know more about how everything works.

Quiet Time

What I have heard from people over and over is how hard it is to find time to do Bible Study, Quiet Time, Devotionals, and/or prayer time. Well, I know how that feels. What God has been teaching me over the past few months is to seek His approval in all things. So, as I write about my commitments, know that we are all in a different season of our lives. At one point in my life (college) I was part of a prayer walk group that met 3 times a week from 8pm to midnight. That was an amazing time of maturing in prayer, building fellowship with that group, and was only for a year of my life (in school years). At another point in my life I took the 40 days of Lent to commit to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening for time with God. This was possible because Davy was napping a lot, and nursing, so I would read the Bible while nursing. That was an amazing time of giving everything to God, and each of these seasons has helped me learn about myself and God.

Let me tell you about the season I am in currently. Some of you are reading this to figure out how I will be doing this whole Blog Bible Study thing, and some because you are a part of our prayer team for Lebanon. Either way, I hope this will encourage you and help you connect with me better.

This past week I have recommitted to having quiet time every morning before Davy wakes up. Since making that commitment, I have had no nightmares (for those of you who know me, this is a big deal.) Lebanon functions on a slightly later timeframe than my life back in Arizona, USA. Our wake up time each day is 9:00 AM, so when I made this commitment, it meant that I moved by wakeup time back to 8:00 AM. Then I felt convicted because I want to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up as part of my Potatoes not Prozac plan, so I moved my wake up time to 7:30 so I could eat and still have an hour or so with God all before Davy wakes up. As you can see, for many people this is a doable time, and for others even 7:30 is later than they start their day.

The way I typically do my morning quiet time:

  1. Pray.
    1. Talk to God, thanking him for the day
    2. I write down my high, low, and a God moment for the day before
    3. I write down at least 5 things I am thankful for today and I add to the day before as well
    4. I go through the thoughts buzzing around in my head. I write them down and give them to God.
      1. One note here. I am typing instead of using a journal right now because I didn’t bring any journals so that I could bring all of Davy’s books. When I was writing up my To Do and other buzzing thoughts in my paper journal I found myself not truly giving them to God because I carried that journal with me, and it stopped being a prayer and became another To Do list to carry around. On the computer I file the Morning Prayer separately than my thanks and highs and lows so that it is given to God. Those prayers I go through every now and then to see how God answered them, but not really to burden myself more.
    5. I find that writing out what I plan to do that day or things I am disappointed aren’t happening, helps me process and also give them to God knowing He will plan my day far better than I could.
  2. Open up my Study document. Once again, I just haven’t found a journal for study use yet, but I have documents for each chapter of Romans and Psalms prepared in advance. All you need to make your own notebook page or word document are these headings:
    1. Scripture:
    2. Date:
    3. Overview
    4. Main Characters
    5. Key Verse
    6. Cross References
    7. Conclusion
  3. Read the chapter 3 times.
    1. Yes, read it three times through completely.
    2. My favorite part is seeing verses that I have heard so many times and being able to put them in context of the chapter. Reading the chapter three times helps with this process because the first time through those verses stand out completely. By the third time through I am able to read them easily within the chapter and see how they connect to the chapter and book.
  4. Begin filling out the sheet with an overview of the chapter after you’ve read it 3 times.
  5. List the main characters.
    1. I list ever character which will let me search by words like blind man, unrighteous, etc. later.
  6. Choose one key verse.
    1. This is not a verse that is the most popular. As I said about reading through the text 3 times, verses that have been used over and over around us are not necessarily the verses that capture the chapter best.

One note I want to add is that with the Psalms I will be posting I will be sharing about how Jesus is shown in them also. It has been on my heart for a long time to share with others how Jesus really is in the entire Bible. I even bought a Bible that has commentary specific to that purpose. In my reading Psalms this past week in my ESV Gospel Transformation Bible I was encouraged and inspired by the introduction which shared about reading the Psalms with the words of Jesus in mind. Luke 24:44 says, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” There you have it, in Jesus’ own words the Psalms are about Him! So, I will include a section: “The Gospel in the Psalms” for each day of Psalms Study.

The Day I Forgot The Rules Of Movies -Written by Louis

It was last Saturday when our team leader was helping us load all 10 of our bags into his car in route to our new apartment in Beirut, when he said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Now any average film viewer knows that there are some cardinal rules to film such as: Never say, “Well at least it can’t get any worse,” lest you are immediately thrust plot first into an onslaught of tragedy. Little did I know that my declaration that our initial Rome experience was the most extreme stress we had ever encountered would jettison us into the actual worst day of our lives.

It was the trip from Heaven, which is to say that it was the trip from hell continually shown to be under the protective authority of God. It began by us realizing in Phoenix that our initial scale was inaccurate and our bags were extremely overweight. Annie’s dad was quick to jump to the rescue and help us move all of our heavy items to carry-ons which are never weighed at check-in. So we arrived at Sky Harbor Airport at 8:00 AM on Monday morning for a 10:45 AM departure only to find out that our plane was delayed for two hours. This meant that we were able to go have breakfast with our parents allowing them unexpected time with Davey that was greatly appreciated. We returned to the airport and loaded our bags only to be informed that our plane was broken, had to be flown to LAX and then to Toronto to be repaired returning to Phoenix at 8:00 PM for boarding. We were blessed with meal vouchers and so ate at the airport for free and we found a play place for Davey to spend the day waiting, though he was too stressed to eat or drink much. Then we were told that the plane was non-repairable and we were being transported to a new airline, rerouted to London, and would miss a whole day of our two day stay in Rome arriving there at 10 PM Tuesday. We e-mailed our bed and breakfast in the center of Rome to inform them and they told us the last thing we heard from them before boarding the overnight plane to London was that our new arrival time would force them to cancel our reservation. 10 hours later we touched down in London and began to try and contact the hotel owner, who did not speak English, over a payphone using credit card #1. We tried calling three times before our card was frozen having not informed the credit card company we were being rerouted to London. We then looked up on the board and saw that the connecting flight was also delayed so we rushed to the counter to see if we could get an earlier flight only to be told that the flight was not delayed but boarding right then in another terminal. After a mad rush we jumped on board at the last minute and landed four hours later in Rome at 10 PM.

We got on the phone with the hotel owner who said that he would hold the reservation for one hour. We picked up all of our luggage including 3 checked bags (50 lbs each), 3 carry on bags (30-40 lbs each), 2 backpacks (40 lbs each), a diaper bag, a car seat, and a stroller then rushed to catch the last train of the night to the center of town. We got off at the terminal at midnight and the Google Map 15 minute walk from the station to our hotel began to lengthen as paved roads quickly turned into cobblestones, sidewalks began to disappear, road signs became non-existent, and two carry-on bags broke their wheels. An hour later we arrived at the front of an apartment building in an ancient monastic section with one buzzer with the name of our hotel. Annie was in tears as we stood outside and rang the bell only to receive no response. Rang it again, no response. Time after time we buzzed the door at 1 AM with no answer. Finally a group of bikers in leather jackets came over and helped us call the number on the booking sheet. At last the owner came down yelling in broken English, “Why did you not tell me you had a baby!? I can’t have a baby staying in this room! You have too many bags, you can’t stay here with this many bags!” He eventually allowed us to come up on the condition that Davey makes no noise at all. We set Davey down in the room, and he took two steps back into a shelf corner and began to scream uncontrollably. After an hour of yelling in Italian and English from the owner and my child we all go to sleep in our bed.

We woke up the next morning to a group of Germans staying in the closely adjacent rooms who informed us that they were in no way bothered by Davey and were glad he got some rest. He could sense our anxiety and so had trouble eating and drinking that day as well. We left early with one bag and one stroller to see all of Rome in a day, and indeed we did! We went to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, 5 Oblilisks, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, St. Angelo’s Castle, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We hopped on the Metro to head home when we realized how close we were to the Spanish Steps so hopped off and I climbed all the way up to the church at the top of the steps which had a service in progress. After taking a moment of reflection I began to head down only to find that my wallet had been stolen. We then began retraced our steps and discovered it had been taken by a questionable 55 year old woman on the crowded Metro who pushed through to get on at one stop and off at the next. After a considerable amount of directions from half a dozen locals we were able to locate the police station and call Visa to cancel Credit Card #2 on the only phone in the station. The American number on the back of the card wouldn’t connect internationally from the landline, but thankfully the officer happened to have the number for Visa International with whom I was connected but who had no information related to my American account. The woman was kind enough to transfer me to American Visa while the officers yelled at me in Italian to get off their only phone. The American Visa people had to transfer me to my credit union who was of course closed, but I was able to contact stolen cards and cancel the card causing us to only be out of pocket $200, a driver’s license, and some Harkins gift cards. We finished the day at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking the city of Rome at sunset.

I exchanged the last of our saved money at the hotel for taxi fare to save our luggage and our marriage after the previous “15 minute walk” from the hotel to the station. We arrived at the airport three hours early only to discover at check-in that when our tickets were transferred from Air Canada to British Airways, Davey’s lap-infant ticket under my name did not transfer. After an hour of the lady talking on the phone she began to take a good look at our luggage and correctly assumed that our carry-on bags were overweight, our stroller was too large, and our car seat wouldn’t be allowed. An hour later we had rearranged all our weight and even found a service that could shrink wrap two of the bags together. An hour after that we had paid the fees at the counter that was still using carbon copies for credit cards. The lady eventually scribbled something on our tickets and we ran through the “dear God please help us, we’re about to miss our flight” security and hopped on the bus that took us to our plane that after the tickets were transferred over no longer had us sitting together. Thank God for Arabs who had no patience for this inconvenience and moved us around three times until we got a row together to ourselves.

Four hours later we landed in Beirut. We breezed through immigration, which was a nightmare last time, and they didn’t check any of our bags at customs. We were picked up by an old friend and taken to the apartment of our team leaders, Pierre & Gigi. Davey promptly laid down in his car seat and fell asleep having not eaten or drank well for the previous four days only to wake up at 2 AM, crawl into bed with us, and throw up everything in his stomach. He spent the next day screaming as four new teeth came in, and he continued to throw up two more times at various places in Pierre & Gigi’s home every time we put anything in his body. He woke up the next morning and we gave him water on the couch on which he promptly vomited. I then declared that it didn’t matter if we had nothing in our new apartment except a mattress we were going to move in that day and he could throw up all over the house all he wants. So we began to load all of our belongings into Pierre’s car when He said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Needless to say, it didn’t remain that way.

We unloaded our bags at our apartment that only housed a 100 cm mattress for Davey and went together to buy us a mattress downtown. We put Davey on my shoulders and were joking around when Davey asked for water. Having thrown up everything for the past two days we asked him to wait until we left the store and then 30 seconds later I was holding onto his legs as he fell limp down my back. We immediately picked him up but he was unresponsive. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to foam at the mouth. His arms tensed and shook and then went limp. I ran outside and sat on the ground with him in my arms yelling and shaking him with no response and no breathing. A worker at the mattress store screamed for me to come with him. I jumped in the car with him as he drove like a maniac through the streets of Beirut towards the nearest hospital. All he could tell me in English was, “give him breath.” I began to perform CPR on Davey whose lips had turned blue and was completely limp. After two minutes of screaming, praying, and compressions Davey woke up. The color returned to his lips and he began breathing again, but he was still unconscious as we pulled up to the hospital. They took him in and took his vitals which had begun to return to normal right before making us leave to go to a hospital with a pediatric unit. We drove continuing to pray until Davey began to cry. The sound which had been a source of stress so many times before became the sound of life that brought tears to our eyes. We brought him in to the emergency room where they performed a CAT scan and took blood work before hooking him up to an IV. Six hours later he was diagnosed as having experienced a seizure brought on by extreme dehydration compounded by every other stress experienced in the previous five days. He was released that day and we took him home and cried for the rest of the night as he slept quietly between us. He has made a full recovery.

We’re sharing this story with you for several reasons. One is that you are our family and our support system. By sending us you share in both our joys and our sufferings as we do with you. We want you to know the reality and the cost of sharing the gospel in the calling of God on our lives, but also because this is a story of God’s unending provision in times of unfathomable, crushing pain. We’ve prayed for years that God would prepare us to go and do what we have now embarked on. In so doing He has prepared stores of resilience within us that we did not know were there. As we left the first emergency room in a foreign country without any Arabic to explain what happened, without a diagnoses, carrying our unconscious child in our arms we sang this song: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” That came from our most profound depths to which we know that the lamb of God is worthy of all of the honor and all the glory and all the praise forever and ever. No matter the circumstances and trials of this life the majesty of the cross cannot be shaken from its foundation. His love endures forever and his mercy is everlasting. We are ineffably thankful today that the grace of God was made manifest in such a way that we still have Davey with us. We thank you for your continued support of Jesus’ ministry here in Beirut. It is your love through Christ that sustains us and holds us as the darkness of the valley gives way to an impenetrable light of healing and salvation.

February Prayer Letter

5% Raised

4.7% of our $40,000 total amount to go and 5.6% of our monthly $5000 goal has been reached!Total in account: $1,889
Total monthly pledges: $280

Back in the beginning of this prayer letter we asked for prayers that we would not over-commit here while fundraising. While all of the ministry we are doing here in Arizona may be what God is calling us to do, we need better time management skills in order to make appointments with people and begin asking people for money. We have gone from Chayah, to baby showers, to Chayah, to Via de Cristo, to Tirosh with each of those being the main focus. Fundraising has been on the back burner and needs to be a priority.

At the same time, we see God’s great blessing in providing people willing to give. What a blessing each donation has been. Thank you to all who have donated money, time, hugs, love, or any other form of Agape. We are truly blessed to be in the family of God.

DONATE / VOLUNTEER

You can be a part of our ministry. To find out more about Horizons International and what we are doing, CLICK HERE.To give some money to our account or become a monthly contributor, CLICK HERE.

Make sure to use our names, Annie & Louis Liss for any donations.

We also still need someone willing to mail out a print version of this newsletter each month. I will provide addresses and names and you will donate postage, printing, and envelopes. This is such an important piece that we want to make sure is taken care of by someone in the USA before we leave. CLICK HERE to add this option to your profile.

Middle East Update

Louis feels strongly that he should update our supporters about the Middle East. However, our communication is still in a young marriage stage. Due to still learning about each other’s communication styles and needs this February newsletter has come out a little late. Please forgive us and keep praying for us. Great things are happening and we want to let you know all about them.  Therefore, the Middle East Update by Louis Liss will be moving to its own newsletter. This way Louis can update you as events occur or questions are asked instead of being restricted to a monthly letter. We have changed the options, therefore, on our sign up list. We promised that we would not burden your inbox with many emails, so you will not be automatically opted in. If you would like to receive Louis’ Middle East Update, pleaseCLICK HERE to change your preferences.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Louis and I have been together 8 years from beginning to date December 14th, 2005 to now. The challenge I want to present is to pause and consider this verse again: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Often we pass over this verse faster than others in our readings because we know it by heart. Think on the sacrifice of Jesus to give you eternal life, an undeserved life better than your best day here on Earth. Yes, there is suffering, but God only requires momentary suffering of you; it will only last zero to a maximum of 120 years and then you will never suffer again. I have been reading an excellent book called The Well, by Mark Hill the lead singer of Casting Crowns. It reminded me this month that I am not entitled to anything just because Louis and I are still in America.

“Do you understand what you signed up for when you asked God to forgive your sins and save your soul? Do you understand who God is in your life? Do you understand you don’t get saved so life will be easier? Do you understand Christ purchased you with a price and you belong to him? You are not your own, and when you are not your own, you don’t have rights. On this earth, we are entitled to nothing but the hope of glory…Jesus didn’t endure everything he endured so we wouldn’t lose our jobs or not get cancer. We don’t need to be saved so we’ll be happy. We need to be saved because we’re dead in our trespasses and bound for hell. Believers still have some pretty cruddy days. But the anchor of the soul is the truth that Jesus walks them with us.” (pages 140, 141)This lesson has been extremely necessary to me this past month. I have not been that fun to be around because I have a list of things to do that keeps getting longer, my life isn’t entirely comfortable all the time, my plans fall apart. It’s tough in the middle of my circumstances to keep my eyes fixed on the goal for which Christ calls me heavenward. When I focus on the stresses of life it is easy to lose focus on what the big picture is: That God sent His only son for me and the battle is already won. Pray for us that we may remember that the Gospel is not only for us to share with others but an essential piece of our everyday practical relationships with each other, -Annie

First Babysitter: A 5-year-old?

The beautiful Liliana was David’s caretaker for an evening of missionary discussions. In truth we were with her the entire time, and it was amazing how much the two of them enjoyed each other. She told him stories and he smiled and laughed. She was overjoyed to change his diaper, and did quite a good job of it, too. I was quite amused and entertained by her joy and passion for caring for David.

However, more recently I had to leave my baby for the Tirosh weekend. It is all well and good to say that I have committed my baby to God and leave my fears at His feet until I had to leave my baby for approximately 60 hours. I was an anxious wreck leading up to Tirosh. Even when there was a plan, I didn’t feel better. Even when I had pumped enough bottles for him, I didn’t feel better. I kept telling people, including Louis, that I had given it to God, but I did not. In reading John again I realized once again the importance of not just “playing religion”. When the woman at the well tries to impress Jesus with Samaritan religious practices, and when the 5,000 come across to Capernaum and do the same, Jesus’ response is to draw them to Himself. I need to draw near to Jesus. As I realized this, I felt greater peace flood over me. I told David, “I want you to know that ministry is worth it. I want you to know that you are loved. These youth might not know that. I have years and years with you to tell you, show you, and even send you to Tirosh so that you know you are loved. These kids are only going to be in my ministry radius for a few days. You can show them Agape by staying with your Cadee while I show them Agape by being on the weekend.”

“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Luke 4:35b-38
The youth who just attended Tirosh still need your prayers. When Louis went through Tirosh 13 years ago he received Jesus as his personal Savior a few months after the Tirosh retreat weekend. That could be the story for any of these kids. The time after a mountain top experience is often harder than other times, so please lift up these youth in your prayers. -Annie

November, Babies, Ministry, Prayer, Oh My!

Louis Preaching

October was a month of Sundays for Louis preaching! Louis was asked to fill in as a supply pastor for October and November at Concordia Lutheran Church in Phoenix. This has been an excellent time for Louis to be able to do what he loves to do: share the message of good news in Jesus Christ. It has also allowed us to take weekly trips to Phoenix to visit Annie’s parents and to continue to be involved in Chayah. October 27th, Annie and Louis gave the marriage talk for Chayah #58 Boys’ Weekend. This will be the third time they have given this talk this year in the juvenile detention center, the first two being to Girls’ Chayah weekends #55 and #57. Even with all of these commitments, Louis was able to serve on the Community Team for the Men’s Via de Cristo #31. His father attended the weekend and had a great time! Finally, Louis is the Lay Director for the upcoming Tirosh weekend in January and meetings begin this month. All of these are opportunities to stay involved in God’s calling while we raise support and also to continue to build those supremely important relationships that we want to continue in even when we go to Lebanon.

Still Pregnant

This picture is from October 2nd when Annie was 8 months pregnant. The baby is due November 6, so by now she is basically 9 months pregnant and he could be here any day. From September 29 to October 28 we have had four different baby showers of all kinds. A very girly, a co-ed, a man party, and another girl filled which have provided many reminders of the support we have. To those of you who haven’t received thank you cards yet, I have adored the advice, gifts, and the overall showering of love provided by all of you throughout this pregnancy. I really do believe that you are a necessary part of our lives. Of course your prayers are welcomed for the little one and as soon as we return home from the hospital and I get a moment to upload pictures of the little guy, I will send everyone on this prayer support list an announcement all about baby!

November Prayer Requests

November 1-3: Pray for this month of preaching by Louis at Concordia Lutheran
November 4 – 10: Pray for Via de Cristo women’s weekend November 8-11. Pray that after this weekend both men and women would be forever blessed by new friendships and strengthened relationships with Christ.
November 11 – 17: Pray for our baby who will be here by the end of this week for sure. The due date is November 6th, and to keep the baby from getting too big we are inducing some time this week if the baby has not come prior.
November 18 – 24: Pray for Louis and Annie to be able to continue to have a great relationship together with the little addition!
November 25 – December 1: Pray for Louis’ sermon at Desert Hope Lutheran in Tucson followed by a Sunday School period all about Jesus’ Hope for the Middle East.