Strength in my Soul

“Some days are happy.  Some days are not happy.  But God is there.  And God will help you.”  Over the years, I read those words aloud countless times to my younger siblings, children I babysat, and, most recently, nephews and nieces.  Short phrases from that well-worn Bible storybook for children simplify profound truths which even us “big people” need to hear.

As you know from previous posts, some recent days were not happy, as I dealt with an unexpected situation which has now kept me away from the village for two long months.  But, to state it simply and truly, God was there.  And God helped me.  And that was not just “happy”.  It was amazing.

These weeks have been sprinkled by many moments (and hours) of discouragement, frustration, and tears.  I have never spent so much time in bed, due to exhaustion and physical weakness.  Yet my soul was steadfast.  My heart remained strong.  And that strength did not come from Paulette Cross.  Not even a little bit.  Every ounce of it was God’s strength, showing itself in every ounce of my weakness.  His grace showed itself to be enough.

I finally came across a Scripture passage which accurately describes recent events.

“In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Psalm 138:3, 7-8

That scenario sounds familiar.  I did cry, and not just on one day, but several.  And I prayed.  And you prayed.  And God did answer.  Every.  Single.  Time.  No, He did not strengthen my body as quickly as we hoped.  No, He did not heal the infection instantly or even with the first antibiotic.  No, He did not allow me to go back to the Neno village yet.  But God did strengthen my soul, from the first moments of pain and fear and frustration until now.  He revived me through friends who came alongside me in a time of trouble.  In God’s own perfect time, healing occurred.  And best of all, God never left me alone.

The eternal mercy of our God applies to the deepest sorrow, the driest desert, the darkest night.  Those are far worse than infection, or allergies, or delays, or ministry setbacks.  I have certainly faced harder struggles in the past, and you probably have too.  So if events of this day or this week or this life have brought tears and heartache, I encourage you to reach out to God, the God who knows and cares and loves you.  He answers everyone who cries out to Him.  May He strengthen you, my friend, with strength in your soul.  May Jesus be the song of your heart and the joy that keeps you going through the pain.

Speaking of songs, music was one of the tools that God used to encourage my heart during this time.  I listened to music through livestream of my favorite Christian radio station, a few CDs saved on the computer, and also spent lots of time just singing.  Along with the old, familiar hymn “Be Thou my Vision,” the other song I sang over and over was “Joy,” a new favorite from a group introduced to me last summer by my sister.

The song is sung to Jesus, calling Him our Joy, and the song of our heart.  All this time, I’ve actually been singing, “You’re the strength of my heart,” and just realized yesterday that the correct words are “You’re the song of my heart.”  But both are true, and the songwriters don’t read this blog, so it should be okay.  The following lyrics which were especially meaningful.

“The pain will not define us.  Joy will reignite us.”

“The dark is just a canvas for Your grace and brightness.”

“You’re the joy, the song in my heart [or strength in my heart] the hope of my soul.”

“Though I’m broken, I am running into Your arms of love.”

“In the shadows,
In the sorrows,
In the desert,
When the pain hits.
You are constant,
You’re the song of my heart.”     [or strength of my heart]

If you would like to read and hear the entire song, here it is:

Joy, by Rend Collective

A Better Update

Another chapter of this adventure is over, thankfully.  That was not one of my favorites, to say the least.  Nevertheless, it has been evident that God is good, all the time, and He really does watch over His children.  I am truly thankful for all the prayers and e-mails and cards from those of you who are far away.  What an encouragement you are!  Thank you for being there for me.  I am also thankful for loving, caring coworkers who were here for me – they took me to doctors, bandaged my fingers, provided meals, washed dishes, cleaned the bathroom, and helped in so many practical ways.

Three days after my last post, lab tests identified the bacteria causing the infections as Staphyloccus aureus, and showed its drug resistance and sensitivities.  With that information, a doctor prescribed an antibiotic which has successfully eliminated the infection.  It is wonderful to have the use of my fingers back again.  I am actually typing this post with all ten of them.  What a great ability this is!  Here are photos of my hands today, so you can see their recovery.  Head and legs are looking fantastic as well.


In addition to the antibiotic, I have also been very diligent to rest and eat a healthy diet, taking vitamins to boost the immune system, and getting regular exercise again.  It seems both the infection itself and the antibiotics tired me out greatly, but thankfully, this week energy levels are returning.

An allergist in the capital city (Porto Velho, capital of this state, not of the country) wanted to do some more tests.  When those results are back, the second week of August, I plan to see her for a follow-up appointment.

After that, I will hopefully be well enough to return to the village and get on with the real adventures.  The rest of the Neno team went back a few days ago.  It was so hard to watch them leave.  I truly wanted to hop in the car with them, now that the infection is gone, but knew that it would be wiser to wait a few more weeks to completely recover and get the last test results.

In an attempt to make the best use of time here in the city, I am finally regrouping and organizing my To-Do List, which is very long due to several weeks of accomplishing almost nothing.  First major project is my prayer letter, which is almost ready to send.  It will be full of pictures, so you can see bits of daily life in the village, and the new friends and experiences there.  If you read this blog but are not on my e-mail list, here is the link where you can sign up.

Paulette’s E-mail Updates

A fun activity this week was making gingerbread cookies with the children here in my apartment on Monday night.  That had been an idea of Lorena’s back in the village (she was looking through a Christmas magazine and asked if I knew how to make the cookies pictured there).  The only problem was that we didn’t have ginger, molasses, decorations, or cookie cutters.  So here in the city, I tracked down all of those items and we made “Christmas” cookies in July!  Why not, right?  The children (ages 7, 5, and two 3-year-olds) loved making them and everyone enjoyed eating them.

Quick Update

please pray. for a miracle. fingers infected badly again. and pray for me to somehow bless others in the midst of suffering and causing extra work to those around me. and pray i can get back to the village asap when well enough. missing those new friends like crazy. sorry for lack of capitals. i shouldn’t be trying to type.
on the bright side – God is still sovereign. legs are better. sores on head are healing well. no danger of amputation or death from this, haha. good doctor and amazing answers to prayer here in bigger city. anti-inflammatory meds already diminishing pain a lot. waiting more test results for dr to prescribe correct antibiotic to kill this resistant bacteria for good. juliana and other wonderful missionaries caring for me like family. between them and Jesus, i am truly in good hands. and still, despite the accompanying challenges and frustrations, loving this adventure with Jesus and excited to be here.