Alpine Echo Newsletter from January,1991

This reprint of our Alpine Echo newsletter, January 20, 1991 (without photos and graphics) gives an idea of how exciting missionary life can be!

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What a difference a two-letter word can make! Take that little word "IF" for example.

Locate the "letters "I" and "F" in the alphabet. Now, move from the "I" one position to the left and you have an "H". Next, move from the "F" one position to the left and you get "E".

There is little difference between "IF" and "HE", is there not?

"IF only that person was not so impossible!

            "HE delights in doing the impossible! (Luke 1:37)

"IF only the Dollar exchange would go up instead of down all the time!"

            "HE shall supply all our needs." (Phil 4:19)

"IF we could only… "

            "We can do all things through Christ; HE strengthens us!" (Phil. 4:13)

"IF we just had..."

            "HE owns the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10);  "All things are ours; we are Christ's; Christ is God's." (I Corinthians 3:21-23)

IF we had known back in 1964, what we would be facing as missionaries, would we have made the same decision? IF we had known of all the difficulties, heartaches, separations, trials and Problems?

What IF we had known about all the blessings, fruit, answered prayers, joyful experiences and victories that awaited us before we entered those times of difficulties and problems?

Our decision to follow the Lord's leading to Austria was not a step in the dark, but a walk in the light. It is not OUR light, but HIS. Many times it appears dark to us, but the Lord sees very well and tells us to walk in faith. Like the infrared light that helps cameras focus and changes TV channels, we don't need to see it to know it works. We knew and still know the LORD in whom all power , knowledge, grace and comfort subsists. IF we know HIM, that is sufficient!

Still, it bothers us sometimes that the Lord sheds his light so "sparingly" upon our path! IF only we could see what lies at the end of the road, or at least a few steps ahead! But there are times when only HE sees the path on which we trod. Because we are human and cannot see things through God's eyes, we are prone to doubt. Time and again, we catch that little word "IF" trying to sneak into our thinking and vocabulary. "IF" would gladly usurp the position of authority in our hearts that only "HE" should occupy. "IF" is a child of doubt; HE is author and finisher of faith! "IF" tries to seduce us into questioning God's love, his wisdom, his knowledge, his authority, his very existence! What a world -- no, what an eternity of difference there is between these two small words!

Often, after going through times of discouragement, stress, financial difficulty, poor health or spiritual adversity; we thanked the Lord that all these problems didn't hit us at once! Certainly, we could not take that!

During 1990, the Lord seemed to allow that to happen! Like the ruthless fury of the hurricane that hit Austria in late February, storms of life have been battering us all year. Verna was already in America helping Becky move when the hurricane came through. Electric was out a total of 13 hours. High winds ripped the siding off the back of the school building. After working feverishly to repair the damage, complete the Bible Institute bookkeeping, pack suitcases and put together two slide presentations, Ralph set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. and crawled into bed. When he set out for the airport at 3:30, all major roads from Ampflwang were blocked by fallen timber. One resident was killed when a tree fell on his car. Ralph managed to get to the airport, using back roads. Winds began to subside however, and the plane was cleared for takeoff.

Our short two-month furlough brought more turbulence, including expensive car repairs and the death of Verna's mother. All year, the exchange rate for the Dollar continued to fall. In June, Verna underwent a complete hysterectomy. We could go on and on, but don't want to bore you with "our" First Corinthians eleven!

Although we have received a few battle scars, we are amazed at how the Lord brought us through 1990! It was no more difficult than in other years with God's grace.

In Numbers 11, Moses complained that the entire burden of responsibility for Israel rested upon his shoulders. "IF I only had a few helpers…" he must have grumbled. So God told him to select 70 men. HE then took of the spirit that was upon Moses and distributed it among the seventy! (verse 25). The Bible is full of such illustrations of God's sufficiency under adverse circumstances.

We have often found ourselves frustrated that the owners of the leased Bible Institute property refused to consider our offers to buy. "IF" they would only agree to sell….

Suddenly, the owners have agreed to sell -- on our terms! At the same time, two other suited properties have been offered to us for reasonable prices. What IF we make a wrong decision? IF we sign a contract, can we raise the money? IF we opt to buy one of the other properties, what should we do with the complex we are presently leasing? IF we only knew! IF we just had the money…  Say, haven't we been here before?

As a teenager, I owned a noisy pink convertible that must have annoyed the neighbor's dog, because it would chase my car until all of its energy was expended. One day, I decided to see what the dog would do IF I allowed him to catch my car just once. I applied the brakes, bringing the car to an abrupt halt. The dog at first looked puzzled, but then tucked its tail between its legs and ran for home!

We have asked you to pray, and God has answered. Should we run away now? ...or ask you to stop praying? Absolutely not! Answered Prayer and attained goals are often the greatest tests of faith. A servant who is faithful in little, is entrusted with much. But it is the all sufficient grace of God which gives victory in any case. We call upon you again to pray for us. Even IF it means more work, more responsibility or more problems. It also means that HE gives us more of His grace!

You belong to those whom the Lord has chosen to help us in our work. He has endowed each of us with his Spirit according to our involvement in his work. Some of us are sent while others give and pray. Lets place all those IFs behind us and discover what great things HE can do with and through us in 1991!