Oncologist Report

Six trains two car rides, one taxi and a bus…and well worth it!

Thank you for praying for my visit to Dr. Riccio. He was impressed with my progress and doesn’t want to see me until April.

I wish I could say that we had deep theological conversations, but he did say that I am well on my way to recovery “If it pleases God”!  Pray for the salvation of Dr. Stefano and his family.

And thank you you for praying!

PS I didn’t miss any trains either!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this page

Jumping in Head First Without Losing Our Heads

Seven things in our life that ABSOLUTELY need your prayers this month.

Psalm 127:1-2
    [1] Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
[2] It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
(ESV)

Yesterday we went to a park with our children to take advantage of the last days of Summerfall (word I just invented to describe our warm October weather).
Noah and Eva have become much more courageous after this summer in America with slides and swings and climbing things.

Cousins at the park

Cousins at the park

Suddenly, I saw Noah, my normally cautious firstborn, do something I had never seen him do…slide head first at rapid descent down a steep plastic tube with somewhat of a drop at the end.  He was proud of himself for stopping before he fully ejected into the unknown below.  You should have seen the smirk on his face!

Mom and Dad were a little less impressed…he has a good brain and we hope to keep it inside his head.  And keeping his new jeans nice for school would be a plus.

Quite frankly, Melodee and I feel a bit the same way about jumping into this fall; maybe you feel the same way.  There are more opportunities than there is time, and we want to be wise about how we commit.  That’s why I’ve dropped everything to write you.  We need backup!

Can I ask you to pray for seven things?

Conference1. This weekend we have a Bible conference to encourage the church at large with the help our good friends of the Italian Theological Academy.

2. Our ministry has gotten really busy already this fall with Young Couples group, Choir preparations, Staff and Church leader training, Preaching, Discipleship, Melodee teaching English and Piano (she already got to share the Gospel in her first English lesson!!).

3. On a personal level we are trying not to over commit with family, but both Noah (6) and Eva (4) are taking a music class and we’re debating on signing Noah up for a sport to help the arches in his feet (at his pediatrician’s suggestion).

4. Thursday I head to Como to have my regular checkup with my oncologist…it’s an all-day trip there and back for a fifteen minute visit, but well worth it!  Pray that I don’t miss any trains and that the appointment will go well.

5. Pray for the salvation of the many people we are in contact with…We share the gospel so often, but there are so many people to reach and so little time!  Pray for Holy Spirit’s work!

6. Pray for us as we are praying about the completion of this church plant and about where God would move us, and that God would provide Italians to go plant the next church with us!  There are so many cities and towns in Umbria still unreached by the Gospel!

7. Pray for good stewardship of time, energy, money and all our other resources!

I know that your time is precious.  Thank you for taking time to read this and especially for praying.  There is nothing in the universe that God uses more than your prayers to do His will in this unreached heart of Italy.

Unreached Umbria

Love,
Jon, Melodee, Noah and Eva
P.S. Have you been on our website lately?  We have made some fun changes!
You also might want to check out Dann and Liz’s cool new website, with a few recipes to boot!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this page

Our first Video Update ever

Mr. and Mrs. WhitmanYou’re probably thinking: “What are you talking about??  You just sent one the other day!

Funny how that works out…
Wednesday I worked for two hours on this video report, then the earthquake happened.

So you received a second video update before the first one.

In this video we share what is going on in our family and ministry life, plans for the near future and important prayer requests.

We hope you enjoy it!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this page

Birthday presents: early, on time or belated?

 

Noah's birthday joyWe all love birthday presents. 
Personally, I don’t even care if they are early, on time or belated.  I just love a good surprise!
Most people like to celebrate their birthday, one way or another.
(I say most because I have discovered that there are a few out there that really don’t love birthdays…I can’t say I can relate!)

I have had many memorable birthdays, but there are two that are related to my adventures as a cancer patient. 
One was a belated present.  A second one was a day early.

I remember my birthday in 2010 like it was yesterday.
I was still healing from my first tongue surgery. It was a perfect day for grilling.  As I savored my steak with family I just had this feeling…there was something wrong in my tongue.
The next day I got the call we had not hoped for.  The lesion that they had taken out of my tongue was squamous cell carcinoma. Classic tongue cancer.
They scheduled me on the spot for another surgery because they were afraid it could have spread to other parts of my tongue, or worse, to my lymph nodes.
This time they took out more tongue and most of the lymph nodes on that side of my neck, leaving the rather conspicuous scar that I admire when I shave.
God allowed that call to come one day after my birthday. You could call it a belated birthday present.  I was able to enjoy my birthday without considering all the ramifications of life after cancer diagnosis.

Six years later here I was, waiting for more news.
How ironic… another birthday diagnosis! This time it was the day before my birthday.
Dr. Riccio is a hard man to read.  He knows how to joke around, but when it’s time for the important stuff, you couldn’t find a more serious person.
He felt around my mouth and neck silently, then re-read the ultrasound report, went over six years of charts. Now we awaited the conclusion.

He finally spoke up after a few seconds of eternity. Here goes… *Gulp*
“Six years have passed since your first diagnosis. Only the first tumor was invasive.  The other three tumors were “in situ” tumors , therefore non-invasive by definition.
Since it’s been over five years since your first and only case of invasive cancer, you are considered statistically and clinically in remission!
Your lymph nodes were a concern, but both the ultrasound and the checkup confirm that they are just reacting to a less than perfectly functioning system.  After all, we can try to fix you up, but your tongue, salivary glands and lymph nodes work poorly. Only God creates things to work the right way!”

I am not sure what excited me more: hearing that the odds of a recurrence are slimmer every day, or that he acknowledged our Creator as the only one that truly can do things the right way!

So what now?
We will continue regular checkups.  But now only twice a year.  My job is to always be on the lookout for what is going on in my tongue and neck for any suspicious changes.

One last blessing from the day.  Probably the most important one.
I thank God for good health news.  It seems that for the time being, death is less imminent. Unfortunately, sooner or later, unless Jesus returns, death will take us.  As the common saying goes: “it’s like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic”.
But oh, that God would use us to bring souls into eternity with Christ!
There is more celebration in heaven for one sinner who repents than for ninety-nine good health reports!

Please…don’t stop praying for us! We pray that we can make the most of every opportunity.


For more personalized news, directly in your inbox, check out our mailing list signup box on the top right of this page!

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this page

When the grand finale is only the beginning…

One of the things I always enjoyed doing growing up was preparing and performing in band concerts. 

One of the hardest days was the day after the concert.  All of the preparation and emotion and celebration…and then it is over.  You’ve probably been there, either in music, or in sports, or in preaching, or in school, or in just about anything big you have prepared for.
Fortunately, unless you are hanging it up, there is more to be experienced.

Our VBS grand finale certainly was exciting, but God does not take time off, so we are also excited to see what He has in store for us now.

Before I share more about summer opportunities, let me share how God blessed us on VBS Sunday (a.k.a. the Grand Finale).

VBS 2015 Sunday Crowd

VBS 2015 Sunday Crowd

VBS Sunday
I took this picture with my back to the door…literally.  I don’t know the exact count of guests, but I am not sure we could have fit more people!

Daniel preached a great evangelistic message, and the children continued to be excited about the things they had learned and shared with their parents.  Even this past Sunday some of the children came back with their parents!  Thank you for praying!!

Most of the children were unchurched.  Almost all of them were invited by someone, despite our efforts with fliers and publicity.

Now what?
You may be curious to know what the rest of the summer looks like (including the long overdue health update).

Jon and MelodeeBible studies and visits
We have connected with several unbelievers who have asked for Bible studies.  One of Noah’s classmates’ dads has asked to bring their son to Sunday School with Noah!  Another unsaved friend has asked to spend time reading the Bible together.

Music Outreach
Trying to keep my horn playing up and getting out in the community as well, I have started getting calls to go play in symphonic bands, some at a very amateur level, but others on a more semi-professional level.
I have only had one concert so far, but have already been able to share with a musician friend of mine.
The pressure is on, both musically and evangelistically!  PLEASE PRAY!

Whitmans in S. FortunatoDeacon Training Preparation
We have found an excellent Christian translator for our Deacon Training manual.  Now we just need to get it ready to be used and go for it!!

Health Needs
I thank the Lord that it’s been over a year since my last cancer surgery in Milan.   Sundays are the most painful day for me.  I can tell that I do a lot more speaking.  But I thank God that a little discomfort is all I have been experiencing!  Please continue to pray for me as I need to go back to Milan for my checkup!

Thank you for praying!  I hope you have enjoyed reading more about all God is doing here.


Our Top Seven Prayer Requests

1. For the salvation of the children from VBS and their families as well as good follow-up.

2. That I can start reading the Bible with my unsaved friend.

3. That Noah’s classmate and his family will start coming to church.

4. For boldness in evangelizing the musicians I come into contact with and good playing so that I can keep evangelizing them!

5. For leadership training in our church and that we can be ready and able to train our deacons in the fall.

Roman and Vincenzo

Roman and Vincenzo

6. For good health and wisdom with dealing with what comes our way, especially with my cancer.

7. For Christians in Greece. We were supposed to send Roman and Vincenzo this summer to help in a camp, but because of the situation they had to cancel the camp.

Share!Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this page