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Oct 05

Chris and Larena Johnston-Missionaries to Galway, Ireland

Greetings from Galway loved ones!

THE BATTLES WE FACE

What a nerve-racking month this has been for us. Shortly after publicly announcing our plans to step out in faith and pursue a church plant in Galway City, we got hit with the worst attack possible. Anora came down with a disease called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), caused by a harmful strand of the E. coli bacteria.

What happens with HUS is that the toxins from E. coli begin to destroy blood platelets (cells involved in clotting), reduces the red blood cell count (anemia), and leads to kidney failure due to damage to the very small blood vessels of the kidneys.

When she first began to have diarrhea and vomiting, we didn’t realize it was as serious as it actually was,. We thought maybe she had food poisoning at first. Then, we thought maybe it was a bug that came and went because she got better for a few days. But, on the evening of the 10th (Larena’s Birthday), Anora started to become lethargic. Now, at first we thought maybe she was weak due to not being able to keep much food and liquid down the day before, but when the next morning came around and there was no improvement, something told me this was serious.

We ended up taking her into the Emergency Room on the 11th. Due to Covid regulations, only one of us could stay with Anora, so Larena stayed in the ER with her for hours. It was the worst wait ever. I got an update text here and there, but when they said they were admitting her to the hospital, I was able to come in with things they would need overnight.

It was late, they let me in after some negotiation, and let me tell you – the sinking feeling I got when I approached and saw poor little Anora lying there with tubes attached – and I heard the words “kidney failure…” I had a moment of complete shock and disbelief. Could this be it? Is this all the time we’re given with her? You can imagine the emotional turmoil. That night I went home alone, grabbed the shepherds staff I had used to search for Eowyn when she was gone for 5 days, put on some worship music, and got on my knees to cry out to God.

I had a song in mind, Michael W. Smith’s version of “Surrounded.” I decided to put on the Kari Jobe version instead, and I began to pour my heart out, weeping uncontrollably, and worshipping God through it all. A surprising significance about the Kari Jobe version was that it transitioned into a bridge: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide, let me hide, let me hide myself in thee, this is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you. This is how I fight my battles.” That first line there – Rock of Ages, cleft for me… It took me back to the last battle we faced, when Eowyn went missing.

God had used that near tragedy to speak a few things to our hearts regarding our identity, our mission, and His heart for Galway. Eowyn was found in what was similar to a cleft in a giant rock, so it kept impressing on my heart to read Exodus 33. This verse talks about the cleft of the rock, being in God’s presence, and God sending Moses to the promised land with a promise to be with him through it.

I took it as a promise to us in this season we find ourselves in. God wants us to see the parallel. Moses asks God “who will go with me?” God’s reply to him is the same as His reply to me, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Nothing else matters, except that God’s presence is with us in this step of faith we’re taking to plant a church in Galway.

Season of Battles, not Barbecues

It was prophesied years ago that a tidal wave was coming and we would enter a season of “battles not barbecues.” We are in this season now. I thank God that His presence is with us through these battles, because I have no idea how anyone could face seeing their 3 year old daughter suffer without knowing the comfort of our loving God. Anora received a blood transfusion after that first night. Thankfully it went well, and she began to respond. Little by little she began to recover. Each day that went by was an improvement. The blood in her urine was decreasing each day. Her hemoglobin numbers began to stabilize at a good level. Her kidney functions began to normalize.

Thank God she was beginning to get her energy back and return to her normal self. Finally, after 6 days of alternating nights in the Hospital, Larena and I were able to bring Anora home!

They instructed us to watch her, test her urine, bring her in once a week for blood tests, etc. I’m happy to report that just yesterday we got results on her most recent bloodwork. She’s back to normal! Praise God!

We’re praying that there’s no side effects from this. Thankfully we caught it early enough, Anora is generally healthy, and also Larena (having been led by the Holy Spirit) originally asked the doctors if it could be a parasite or something like that. They told her later that had she not said that, they would’ve been testing Anora for a while and might not have figured out what was wrong for some time.

Well, God is good. He gave us a peace. He saw us through a difficult time. Now we’re looking forward to the birth of our son.

FAREWELL SERVICE

We had our farewell service at GCF. We’re moving forward on church plant planning. I’m so excited to have been asked to help with some of the production for Lighthouse Church’s Sunday service broadcast.

Can I just say a deep heartfelt thank you, to all of you who prayed, sent messages, packages, financial support etc. We are so grateful for you all.

God bless! Your love and support help us feel connected like you’ll never know. ~ Chris (L & A)

Prayer Requests

We would be honored if you would pray with us concerning:

Please pray for Anora to continue to improve and that there is no long term damage due to this horrific disease.

Please pray for the next steps in the church planning project. We will need to raise funds for the shadowing process, and it is substantial.

Please pray God will work on the hearts of others to help us as we step into this venture.

Please pray as we near the end of Larena’s pregnancy, for her delivery to go smoothly and a quick recovery.

Also praying COVID restrictions will be lifted a bit, so I can visit my son once he is born and still in hospital. Please pray this might be possible.

Support Information

If you would like to team up & contribute to this important mission, please make checks out to:

Hope Ireland Missions

229 W. Exchange St.

Crete, IL 60417

(Chris & Larena Johnston on the memo line)

For ONLINE giving:

Simply go to:www.hopeirelandmissions.com & click on “partner.”