Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
We want to begin this newsletter with the words of the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 1:2-3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I (we) thank my (our) God upon every remembrance of you.” We think of all of you as we read this verse and the ones following. What a blessing all of you are to us as you’ve stuck there with us through the past year and a half. We certainly could not have made it without your prayers and financial help. So thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.
I know at this point in time Stuart is chomping at the bit to be out there preaching again. That is certainly the goal towards which he is working very hard. Now Stuart has undertaken his own speech therapy as he wasn’t getting much help from the therapist. He speaks every other week at the chapel service at “On With Life”, the rehab center he was at. Preparing his 15 minute sermonette takes many hours to get ready. For now he is using prepared material since he is still not able to process his own thoughts for a sermon. He does add his own practical applications. Once he has laboriously typed it out he then reads it to me two or three times in case he needs to make some corrections. He is still at the point where he has to read it word for word making sure to pronounce words correctly. I suppose if some congregation was willing to work with him he could do something like this. This practice at “On With Life” has been a great confidence builder. One of his friends from “On With Life” who also had a stroke goes with Stuart to this chapel service every week. His name is Walter. He and his wife Kathryn have become our friends. Pray that we can influence them for the Lord.
I now have the privilege of teaching a woman’s Bible class on Sunday mornings. What a joy and pleasure it is to be teaching again. We are studying the subject of God’s amazing Grace.
We still have the 3 children with us who were with us in Nikopol. The two boys Adrian and Zachary are working. Zachary hopes to start college in the Fall. Kaylona is still trying to finish up high school. Both Kaylona and Zachary are in the youth choir which they have enjoyed. The two of them are also in a band with Adrian and 4 more of their friends from church. They bless us with their playing now and then.
We just have a bit of news to share from here in case you haven’t heard. Our dear sister Nina suffered a stroke April on the same side as Stuart though not as severe. Nina is the mother of Vera the doctor who was our first convert from Nikopol. She is quite a lady who would do anything for anyone. The doctors still struggle to get her blood pressure under control. Nina loves to worry about everything which doesn’t help. She is the main reason we are planning to take a trip to Nikopol in September or October. We want to encourage her as well as the other saints there. Of course, we will also plan to visit the church in Minsk at that time. Please keep Nina in your prayers and pray that she will take her worries to the Lord.
We actually have quite a bit of new to share with you from Minsk as we had a nice long chat with Sasha. As you know the church in Minsk has been meeting in homes since they lost their meeting place 3 years ago. For some reason the government has not wanted to register them anywhere though they have tried to secure two or three places during this past 3 years. They were meeting in another church building that was quite a distance from many of the members. Now with the help of Uri, doctor Vera’s husband, they have secured permission to meet in a house for now. It is owned by another church. This is where the youth have met in the past. However, once cold weather sets in this will not work as there is no indoor plumbing or a heating system. Sasha has asked all the people in the church to help look for a place to meet. Uri will continue to help them get registered. Uri has an ex-boss who works in City Hall.
Ideally, they would still like to purchase a place which would have to be done in an individual’s name. There is still a building fund that is not large.
To help encourage one another the congregation in Minsk works with the other Church of Christ in Minsk . The youth in these two groups have met together for quite some time. Now the preachers switch between the two. They are also working in a summer Bible camp together. It has been a great encouragement to many to have the added fellowship.
Some other exciting news is the return of a brother to the congregation. Many of you might remember years ago when Oleg and his family left the church to start a church in their home. Well Andre Maletz went with him as he was close friends with Oleg. Andre said that it was immaturity on his part that caused him to leave. Now Andre has a wife Natasha and two young sons and is again helping out in the church. Andre always kept in touch with us through the years. He is now having weekly Bible studies with the two new christians we mentioned in the last newsletter. They are Uri, doctor Vera’s husband, and Sasha, Anton’s wife. Anton is Dr. Vera’s younger son.
The men in the church also meet for Bible study and prayer once a week which was initiated by Igor the other young man leading in Minsk. We are thankful to hear they are doing this as it is sure to encourage growth in the men as they labor together in the kingdom.
As we mentioned we are planning to make a trip to Minsk and Nikopol in the Fall. Kaylona will be making the trip with us. Adrian is also planning a trip around that time making his own schedule. We are really looking forward to this time so we can encourage the saints and get some teaching in. I know that I plan to share with the ladies. This will be a big undertaking for Stuart so pray for him. We miss all our brothers and sisters over there so much and long to be with them again. God willing this trip can come to pass.
Stuart and Valerie
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Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
From May 19, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
I just thought that I would check in here since it has been a long, long time since I have done so. I see that I wrote about what they thought was a seizure. Actually, Stuart had another one while we were at the YMCA a couple of months later. Since the doctor said it wasn’t necessary to go to the hospital we waited this one out, and it quickly resolved itself. He was speaking and walking within 20 minutes or so. Our family doctor thinks these were mini stroke activity or TIA’s which often occur after a major stroke. Stuart is now on a medication that will hopefully prevent these. It is now almost June and he hasn’t had another one. We praise God for that.
Stuart is not going to speech or physical therapy anymore. He does his own speech therapy by going to On With Life and helping out with the weekly chapel service there. He prepares a small talk for this service every other week. It is still difficult for him and a slow process. His is improving in this area little by little. He reads it aloud to me two or three times, and we make the necessary corrections.
Stuart is now being treated for sleep apnea which should make his thinking processes clearer. The doctor overseeing him says he may even experience an improvement in his speech which would be a blessing.
Well, I need to run. God be with you!
Stuart, Valerie and family
From May 26, 2010
After not writing for so long here I am again. Right after I put the last update Stuart had an appointment with his eye doctor. Stuart had lost his glasses with the prisms so needed to go in. It was actually time for his yearly checkup. He said that he thought his eyesight had gotten better. Anyway, the doctor gave him a thorough exam only to find out that he no longer needs the prisms as he has gained back most of his vision he lost from the stroke.
The Lord just keeps blessing and blessing! Now he can get a form from the DMV for the doctor to sign, and he will no longer have to use his glasses while driving.
So, I just wanted to share this with all of you who might still check here. God bless and have a great day.
Love from us all,
Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
Dad is now back home and doing well. It turns out they think that he might have had a small seizure. Initially it was thought that they wouldn’t let him drive. Given that it was such a small seizure they are going to allow him to continue driving but he will be taking anti-seizure medication. Praise the Lord it was nothing too serious. The doctors say that it is not unusual to have seizures with the kind of stroke that he had and is actually a sign of healing in the brain.
Thanks so much for your continued support, prayers, and caring. It really means a lot to all of us and we pray that one day soon Dad will be able to speak the Word as he loves to. May God bless all of you for your Christian love. Have a wonderful New Year!!
The Stuart Merrill family
Saturday, December 26th, 2009
Apparently Dad did not have a stroke but possibly had a seizure. Jer, just called and gave a quick update. Please continue to pray as he will be kept in the hospital over the weekend and then will have an MRI on Monday. He is talking and moving. I am assuming at this time it is probably OK if you have their number to call.
I have been meaning to put an update up to have people not just pray but to call and encourage Dad as he has been depressed lately. Dad loves hearing from everyone.
God Bless, we will keep you updated,
Saturday, December 26th, 2009
It is the day after Christmas and apparently this morning Dad had another stroke. I don’t know the details at this time but will keep this page updated. Please pray hard and keep the phones clear for family. I will put more information up as soon as I have it. Please pray!!
In Christ, Travis
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
We have already been home now for about a week and a half from our trip out East. We had a wonderful time with our family and friends and got to enjoy the peak of the foliage season. The trip back went almost without a hitch. We did have a minor breakdown when our fan belt went on us. Pulling off for that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The mechanic checked our transmission fluid only to find that it was very low. A hose was leaking it seems. Had we not realized that we could have lost our transmission. God was with us as we pulled off not far from a garage, and we were back on the road in 1 1/2 hours. Thanks to a gift from a dear lady in Harlan, Indiana 2/3 of the repair bill was covered. God had us covered all the way.
Stuart was able to read a short speech I helped him prepare for our so Kaleb’s marriage vow renewal. That went well for his first time speaking like that in public. Many of our family members noticed an improvement in his speech. However, maybe it was the coming back to normal everyday life that left Stuart a bit discouraged. The other day he said he was depressed which came as a surprise to me. He said he needs to get back to work. We will have to find some tasks for him to do so he can feel more useful. There are certainly plenty of things for him to do. So, please continue to lift him up in your prayers.
Thank you again for your calls, letters and cards that still come in on occasion. We appreciate your continued help.
May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving surrounded by your families and friends. It will be nice to be here in Des Moines with 6 of our nine children and their families for this season. We have so much to be thankful for.
Merrill's at Kaleb and Renee's renewal
Love in Christ,
Stuart, Valerie and family
Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
It’s hard to believe that almost a month has gone by since my last update. I thought that I had better get one posted as soon we will be getting ready for a trip out East. We will be going to Vermont for the month of October. Our son Kaleb and his wife Renee will be renewing their marriage vows at the end of the month. We will be seeing all our family who live on the East coast which we are really looking forward to. Our visit will start with the October Retreat at the beginning of the month where we hope to see many of you our friends.
It is also difficult to believe that almost a year has gone by since Stuart’s stroke. We are so thankful to God for bringing us through this time. We also want to thank all of you for your prayers and generous financial support to help us through this. We pray that God has been glorified as we saw the miracle of his healing and care for us.
We know that Stuart has come a long way which is so great to see. He seems to be working a bit hard on his cognitive skills these days. It’s that kind of work that will help him regain what he has lost. This process is very slow so sometimes it can be discouraging to Stuart. Hopefully, he can get involved in helping will church work soon working towards preaching again. There is much work to be done here in the states, also.
Continue to pray for the church family we have been attending with at Rising Sun. Since they got rid of the preacher many families have left. We would like to see what direction they are going before we would decide to go elsewhere. The elders are going to meet with the congregation this Thursday evening to answer questions. We pray that this will be done decently and in order.
I also want to post our phone number which I should have done long ago. It is 515-276-4416. Feel free to call us at any time.
Because of Christ,
Stuart, Valerie and family