Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Dear Brethren,
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.

Family News
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.

Nikopol News
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.

Minsk News
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.

Future Plans
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.

In Him,

Stuart and Valerie

The financial report is included in the newsletter sent out as usual.  If you do not receive the newsletter and wish to receive it please post a comment with your information and address.


Hello Again

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,

Welcome Good News

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!!

In Him,

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,

Urgent! Please pray!

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

Keep praying…

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
Well, the time is here for Stuart’s procedure the day after tomorrow(Teusday the 25th).  He only had to get on a blood thinner 5 days prior to the procedure, and he will stay on this for 6 months after.   Again it is just done on an out patient basis with Stuart staying overnight and going home the next day.  Stuart’s sister Linda will come down on Tuesday to be with us.  We anticipate that everything will go smoothly.  Keep us in your prayers.

We finally got out on our bikes for the past couple of days which was nice.  God blessed Zachary with a bike for free.  A local radio station put you name in a drawing if you put their logo on your car window.  Zachary did that on Friday and a couple of hours later they called him saying he won the bike.  We’d debated getting him a bike for his birthday but speakers for his drum set won out.  Now he will have both.  God is good.

It’s hard to believe kids are already back in school.  The summer went by so quickly.  We pray God blessed all of you with a great summer.
Love from us all,
Stuart, Valerie, Adrian, Zachary and Kaylona

Time flies…

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
It is hard to believe that two more weeks have gone by.  I was sitting checking our e-mail (which contained all junk :(!) when I realized I hadn’t put an update on in a while.

Since I last wrote Stuart and I have made a trip to Vermont and back.  We decided to ride back with George and Sharon (Stuart’s dad and his wife) to Vermont where we planned to purchase a car from his dad. So off we went the day after we got back from Ottumwa.  We ended up being there longer than planned, but that gave us more time to visit with family.  It was a pleasure to stay with our son Travis.  Then on the way back we visited friends in Elmira, NY and then in Grabill, Indiana.  Stuart drove half of the way to Vermont and all the way home from there.

Just this week we do have news of his coming procedure to close the hole in his heart.  The nurse set a date today for the 25th of August.  That is the soonest she could get the two doctors together to do this.  He will have a checkup and lab work done the week before.   It is good it got put off until August as we were very busy in July.

We finally got started at the YMCA which is a good thing for all of us.  Now Stuart gets regular exercise which he seems to like.  We try to drag him there every day.  Actually, he goes willingly.  Kaylona about did me in today on the treadmill when I tried to keep up with her.  She jogged for 10 minutes, and I kept up panting and sweating.  Then I found out she had hers at level 5 and I had mine at 6.  Oh well, I made it and it was not bad for me.

We had a visit from Stuart’s brother Glenn today which was nice as we hadn’t seen him in years.  He was on a quick trip on his way to Florida to help their sister Judy.

Thanks so much for your continued support that supplements our income and helps us repay a loan and chip away at the Ireland bill.   Without all of you it would be much more difficult.  We appreciate your many prayers on our behalf and praise God for you.

God bless you!
Love from us all,
Stuart, Valerie, Adrian, Zachary and Kaylona