Surgery was a Success!

fullsizeoutput_2238IMG_9628IMG_9495

On July 16, 2019 DH went under anesthesia at St Vinvent’s Hospital in downtown Los Angeles and a team of surgeons removed a vestibular schwannoma from his left ear. We knew this would take away the remaining 50% of his hearing on that side because of how involved the tumor was with his vestibular nerve. The goal was to save his facial nerve. He was in surgery for about six hours. During the first three hours, Dr. Slattery, the neurotologist (shown on the left above), drilled through his mastoid bone and the bony canal of DH’s ear removing the long portion of the tumor. The second three hours of surgery were done by neurologist Dr Lekovic (shown above, holding a model of the brain), who removed the larger, round portion of the tumor – right next to DH’s brain stem. These surgeons are the best in the world at this surgery and, together with the other doctors at House, they do it over 500 times a year. We were very confident in their skill and ability. But when Emily kissed DH goodbye before surgery she cried tears of anticipation and grief. This felt like too much. Thankfully, Emily had the great help of her sister-in-law, BJ, and niece, Lael, there with them for the week of the surgery. BJ and Lael helped to bare the burden of caring for the kids and making things fun for them during a stressful time. They were able to remove the whole tumor and save DH’s facial nerve! God took such good care of our family and continues to do so.

DH’s smile gets bigger each day. Compare his face in this photo (5 weeks post-op) to the image above (1 week post-op). God is answering our prayers for the restoration of full facial function! Be in prayer for our dear friend Leander, who has been living with us and feels like a part of the family.
For some time now, DH has been praying about the creation of a Navajo Psalter (putting the Psalms in Navajo to music) this idea has only grown stronger in these last few weeks of recovery. We have learned that, in traditional Navajo religion, beliefs are primarily transmitted through song. Navajo medicine men receive new songs while in peyote ceremonies or demonic trances. They share these songs with one another and younger disciples to keep their religious practice alive.
With such an emphasis on music, the Psalms, which are essentially the hymn-book within the Bible, seem like such a beautiful bridge into Navajo culture — a most fitting and proper transmission of what we believe. As we strive toward reaching Diné in ways that are biblically sound and culturally sensitive, God has placed this desire on our hearts. DH’s undergrad in music and graduate degree in theology are the perfect combination for this project, but we need help from other musicians, linguists, and theologians to pull it off. Please join us in praying that the Lord would continue to reach the Diné through song, and that He would be pleased to use His Word to do it.

Praise the Lord with us and continue to hold us in prayer

We’re back on the field now and DH anticipates jumping back into ministry next week (August 26). Please, join us in asking the Lord:

  • to continue to heal DH and bring the whole family back to a place of security and peace after the stress of surgery (Ps. 40:2)
  • for His help creating and publishing a Psalter in the Navajo language (Ps. 45:10b; Col. 3:16)
  • to allow the young adults’ Bible study, called “Theology and Homies,” to start up again (2 Tim 1:13).
  • to protect us from the increased spiritual warfare during the Labor Day Fair. More than any other time, medicine men travel to our area to chant and channel spirits. Please pray for our family and our teammates to be protected by the blood of Christ. (2 Tim. 4:2)

Thank you for your friendship and for your prayers.

Sincerely,
DH & Emily Henry

 

Advertisements

Pre-Lab Tests, Coagulation, And Surgery Delay

The Conundrum with DH’s blood.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement over the last few weeks.

Today (May 30th) would have been the day for DH’s surgery. However, DH’s pre-operative blood work came back with one irregular result. His blood coagulation test (Prothrombin time – PT-INR) came back “prolonged”, which seems to mean it takes longer than normal for his blood to clot. This came as a complete surprise to us since DH has never experienced any symptoms of poor clotting: he is not taking blood thinners, his cuts always seem to clot normally, he does not suffer from nose bleeds or bruise easily. After the initial test, DH went back to the lab again and again hoping to get a different result but all the tests came back with similar results (normal PT-IRN range anywhere from 0.8 to 1.1, DH’s are coming back a little higher than 1.3). Doctor Michael Stefan, one of the surgeons at the House Institute, informed DH that, unless we could discover the underlying condition causing the prolonged blood testing, he would have no recourse than to put the kibosh on the surgery until it could be resolved.

There were a few hectic days last week in which DH was on the phone all day trying to figure out how to schedule last minute appointments with our family doctor, hematologists and blood labs in order to keep our original surgery date. Ultimately, all of our stressful attempts to keep the scheduled surgery turned out to be hurry-up and wait. The team at House Clinic finally met together to discuss DH’s situation and agreed that the surgery needed to be rescheduled in order to allow time to see what’s going on with his blood. Lord willing, the surgery will take place July 16th. 

After all the calls, we managed one visit to our family doctor who ordered a handful of tests, we are still waiting to find out the results of most of them. DH met with a hematologist this past Tuesday who ordered even more blood work. Hopefully, all of the testing will reveal the underlying issue.

Please pray with us:
– That the blood tests will come back within a week, so we can move forward,
– That these tests will provide the information the doctors in LA need to proceed with the surgery.
– That God would prevent the tumor from growing while we wait, and that DH would not experience any further symptoms.
– To be able to have true joy in the midst of the stress of waiting and living with unknowns
– For the Lord to guard our hearts from anxiety.

In Christ,
DH & Emily

Brain Surgery

fullsizeoutput_1e99.jpeg

This summer seems to be one of transitions.

The first transition we expected — the birth of our fourth baby — the next has come upon us much sooner than we had hoped, which is DH’s neurosurgery.

This last Resurrection Sunday (April 21st) Emily gave birth to Felicity Hope Henry at exactly 8 o’clock AM. Our little girl was born seven pounds and eleven ounces, measuring 20 inches. Her due date was actually May 3rd, so Felicity came a little sooner than we expected. Nevertheless, we couldn’t have prayed for better timing. Emily and Zoe had been in Albuquerque four days, DH and the boys arrived only two days prior to when Emily went into labor — we had made plans to deliver the baby at a birth center two and a half hours from our mission field and were fully expecting to spend three or four weeks away from home. All told, we only spent two weeks away from the Navajo Nation before we were able to come back to the field with a healthy baby and mother. The Lord new best how the timing should work.

That’s why, though this second transition has taken us a bit by surprise and come years sooner than we had expected, we desire to walk forward trusting in His timing. Bottom line: DH has been scheduled to have neurosurgery May 30th at a highly specialized clinic in Los Angeles, the House Ear Clinic. Here are the circumstances that led DH to decide to schedule a surgery to remove the benign tumor that has been forming around the nerves of his left ear:

Two days after we got home with Felicity, DH woke up with a strange sensation in his left cheek. Emily saw him sit up with a start. He was alarmed by the feeling and suspected that it was related to the tumor. We had been playing phone tag with the neurosurgeons in LA for weeks to discuss DH’s most recent MRI results, but this new symptom caused us to take more decisive action. We have been in contact with Dr Slattery from House Clinic for many months now, so making the decision and getting on their schedule was relatively simple.

We praise God, that He connected us with Dr Slattery and the House Clinic. What Dr William Slattery mentions in this video about making personal connections with their patients is true. He has personally called DH on half-a-dozen Friday nights.
Thank you for your partnership with us.

Please pray with us:

  • that in this time of transition and trouble, the Lord would be our stronghold and not stand far away (Ps. 9:9; 10:1)
  • to be able to determine why one of DH’s pre-operative blood tests came back irregular so he can keep the surgery scheduled for May 30th
  • that, as DH’s symptoms have become more severe, we would continue to seek the Lord to be his healer and not merely the surgeons (even excellent ones — 2 Chr. 16:12)
  • that the surgery would be a monumental success, surprising even these doctors at how quickly DH recovers and how none of the post-operative complications seem to apply (Eph. 3:20)
  • that we would be fruitful ministers at the House Ear Institute, that our hope in the grace of Christ would be evident to those we meet in LA (Phil. 1:12)
  • that our three older kids would thrive in the time we are apart from them – Emily will be gone for one week and we hope DH will be gone for only two (Deut. 30:9)

Two Navajo Men: Two Changing Lives

One of our dear friends, a young Diné man, Leander Nozie, has moved back into the Henry home and we are hoping he will stay in our guest room for a while. He lived with us for a short time a couple years ago. You remember the epic tail of how he and DH traveled to California together after Leander tried to go AWOL? Well, after the Marines conducted a psychological evaluation, and investigated the situation, they found that Leander had been depressed even while he was applying to join. Long story short, our friend was separated from the Marines without a dishonorable discharge and is back home on the Navajo Nation. Leander felt more at home with our family than any of his family-of-origin so when we expressed to him that we wanted him to stay with us for at least a year, he teared up and accepted our offer. He has expressed how glad he is to stay with us and see how a Christian (and nuclear) family functions.

Because of all the past experience we’ve had with him, Leander hasn’t had any problem merging back into our home. After his experience of drill-sergeants yelling at him in boot-camp, he feels refreshed by DH’s easy-going, gentle spirit. He also has enjoyed having Emily’s expert ear. Leander shares many meals with us and laughs with the kids. He landed a job working maintenance at the Quality Inn right down the street. The job has him working crazy hours — at times it’s felt like he has a swing shift, working midnight to 8 AM one day and 5 PM to midnight the next day. That’s one area we feel concern for him. Nevertheless, he seems to be in good spirits and doing well.
We have tried our best to offer Leander a good place to transition, a place that provides structure, accountability, training, and family. Some of those things include fellowship together (the way he did with a few of his fellow recruits), working out regularly each week, taking vocational assessment tests to pursue long-term career directions for him, counseling, etc. Leander and DH just began working together in a textbook called Learning English with the Bible.

It’s a book that starts in the basics of Grammar and eventually gets into diagramming sentences but does so using Scripture throughout each lesson. The hope is to prepare DH for when he has to teach our kids about diagraming sentences and further Leander’s English skills, all the while furthering their studies in the Bible. So far, the book has been something everyone has enjoyed.


A couple years ago, on a summer afternoon, DH had gone to the Window Rock flea market to engage people in conversation about the Gospel, and he met a man named Randy (not his real name). DH was playing the guitar and singing hymns and worship songs, so Randy struck up a conversation with him, sharing that he too was a Christian. Their meeting was brief, but obviously memorable because a few months later at the Labor Day Parade and Fair, DH was walking home from the fairgrounds and someone called out to him. It was Randy! There aren’t many 6 ft 6 white guys with blonde hair and a full beard here, so it was likely easy for Randy to spot DH and remember him. He was now living out of his truck. It might be hard to imagine, but during the Fair the highway that runs through Window Rock is lined with people camping out in their cars and tents for the week’s festivities. But Randy wasn’t just camping out. That day he shared a bit more of his story – how his marriage was on the rocks and other areas for which he needed prayer and a listening ear. Then DH started bumping into him regularly at the Window Rock Wellness Center. Their friendship grew little by little as they would chat at the gym. But until this past February, DH hadn’t often seen him there.

This past Valentines Day, we got a call from the WIM office and bookstore that someone was looking for DH. When he went over there to find out who it was, he was happy to discover it was Randy. This man, who is normally pretty cheerful and optimistic, was behaving more anxiously, even somewhat paranoid. He needed a believer he could trust, and DH was glad to be that person. They have remained in closer touch over the last couple months, but we have a deep concern for Randy’s spiritual and emotional health. He often texts or calls DH when he’s in some kind of trouble, but we suspect that either alcohol or mental illness could be part of the picture. Would you please pray with us for Randy?

Please pray…
  • Baby Girl is due in 5 weeks (May 3). Please be in prayer for her kidneys – everything seems to be ok, but Emily has had a few ultrasounds to monitor Baby’s kidneys because they have had some water surrounding them. We have been told this is an issue that usually resolves itself. Please join us in asking the Lord to bring both kidneys back into the normal range. (Ps. 103:3)
  • We’ve started a Sunday evening worship service with the desire of exposing Navajos to expository preaching and gathering what could become a core group for a church plant. Pray that the Lord would build His church through our efforts. (2 Tim 4:2; Matt 16:18)
  • Emily’s friend Brianna just started a new job this week – pray that God would bless her in all the work of her hands and to guard her from the evil one. (Deut. 14:29, Matt. 6:13)

A Trophy, A Toast and an Announcement

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement regarding the float Emily and a group of around 35 women designed and decorated for the Navajo Nation Parade. The group gathered at 6 am on Saturday, Sept 8 and joined into the parade line-up at 8 am. We walked three miles down Highway 264 while hundreds of thousands of onlookers saw our smiling, cheerful team of ladies in pink shirts walking with a flower clad float. We joyfully handed out close to 1000 invitations to this weekend’s Living Proof Live event. Some have said that the Navajo Nation Fair draws 100,000 people. We took the opportunity to not only have a float in the parade, but set up a booth at the fairgrounds for three days. During that time, over 240 women registered for the Beth Moore event, our volunteers were able to engage in 200 conversations with women about the Lord and we gave away Bibles, Navajo gospel tracts, devotionals, and even fun makeup!

A week or so after the fair was over, we got a call for the Fort Defiance chapter house saying that we had won a 2nd place prize for our float! We couldn’t believe it. What a joy and a delight to engage with the community by spreading the word about a chance for women to gather together to hear of the Good News of Jesus Christ!

There are two women’s events happening in tandem this Friday and Saturday. Please join us in praying for them both:

  • Equip-to-Arise is a women’s leadership event happening Friday, Oct 5. Lifeway staff from Nashville are co-teaching workshops with Navajo women on various topics relevant to the locals’ need. Pray that the older women could be empowered to teach what is beautiful and lead younger women towards love (Titus 2:3-4)
  • This Saturday, October 6, Beth Moore and the Living Proof Live team will come back to Chinle, AZ for the second time. They came in 2016, and around 3,000 Native women attended. This year we are anticipating the Wild Cat Den in Chinle to be packed out with 7,000 Native women. Over the last year, 13 teams of Native women have been meeting to pray and prepare for this event. Tribes we anticipate being there include: Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, Tohono O’odham, Pima, Tewa, and Oklahoma Natives. We are trusting God for generations of Native families to know Christ because of proclaiming of the gospel at this event Saturday.

37150980-5fdd-4651-b79a-7fd88102f8e8.jpg

Sending off Leander

Last month we said “good-bye” to a friend who’s leaving the Navajo Nation to join the Marines. Leander got to know us through various Bible studies, moved in with us for a time, and stayed around our mission as a volunteer. He lived with us for a while before Zoe was born, he has spent many other nights in our guest room after having a difficult night with family or roommates. We’ve stayed up talking about his story, his struggles, his dreams and broken heart. DH has discipled him in the Scriptures as well as coaching him through ideas of Biblical masculinity. At times he could be found in the kitchen, too, with Emily who would counsel him while she did the dishes. Through all the time we spent together with him, he has grown very dear to us.
During a small fare-well party, a few of the missionaries here at WIM were toasting to Leander with sparkling grape juice and the whole Henry family attended. Our middle son, Josiah, though he tends to be more reserved, raised his cup and said, at the verge of tears, “I like you so much that I want a bye-bye hug.” The next day, DH drove with Leander to drop him off in Gallup on his way to Bootcamp. Please pray that God connect Leander to a community of believers to walk with him during the upcoming months.

An Announcement:

  • Emily is expecting our 4th child – a big surprise for our family (Due on May 3). She has been suffering from almost constant morning sickness, which impacts a lot of her duties with homeschooling the kids, managing the home, and her various ministry roles. Pray that the Lord would bear her gently through this season (Is. 40:11)
  • Pray for Leander Nozie, who left for boot camp a week ago. He is a young believer – please join us in praying that he finds Christian friendship, that his faith doesn’t waiver under the pressures and hardships that come in boot camp.
  • Please continue to pray for DH’s left ear — that the nerves effected by the acoustic neuroma would be healed, according to the great mercy of our God.

In Christ,
DH and Emily Henry

Crime And (No) Punishment

b61394ed-6a23-4ced-b102-a1b46a0755a0.jpg

Early one morning DH went to the local grocery store to get some eggs when he met a man who was selling a bag full of new merchandise. He thought it was interesting that the man was selling a bunch of items that could be found at a Christian book store – particularly eye catching was the brand new hat with I JOHN 1:9 written across the front. When DH went to the Mission’s office for morning prayer he heard the unfortunate news that the Christian bookstore on our campus had been robbed and all the hats were missing! DH went to the gas station and found the man who was selling the stolen hat and took a selfie with him (Notice the wad of cash in the man’s hand). In situations like these, justice is elusive and the police sheriff didn’t seem to think that they would find the guilty party even though DH had a photo of a suspect and the license plate of his car. Please pray for justice to be served.

Update on DH’s Acoustic Neuroma

47ee54f1-6f6c-4aa0-91cc-ed56efa840f7.jpg.png

According to the most recent MRI scans, the benign tumor is still hanging out on DH’s cochlear nerve. Ever since he had his second MRI, there has been more pressure to decide which treatment option to take, in more ways than one. When DH’s Ear-Nose-and-Throat doctor (ENT) examined them, he said that though the tumor looks like it has grown (1mm in width and 1mm in length), its growth appears minimal and falls within the margin of error; a millimeter plus or minus could simply be a discrepancy caused by a difference in head position. The ENT continues to suggest that the best plan of action is to monitoring the tumor’s growth every 6 months (a fairly costly option, since each February, when DH goes in for the MRI, we would be responsible to pay close to four thousand dollars out of pocket). However, the Neurotologist, whose job it is to remove acoustic neuromas, and with whom DH has had multiple phone conversations, without hesitation said that it looks like the tumor has grown and will only continue to do so. He has told us that if DH were his younger brother, he would tell him there’s no point in holding off on the surgery to remove the tumor, it will have to be done eventually and the complications and risks that come with the tumor and its removal grow in number as the tumor grows in size. So therein lies the pressure, some of his health providers have tried to impress on DH the need to wait, other providers have expressed the benefits of acting right away. Even within the surgical option, there’s a question as to what type of surgical approach to take: the one that has a 5% chance of keeping the hearing on his left side but could threaten his facial nerve or the one that will certainly wipe out his stereo hearing but will protect his facial nerve. All the while, DH has begun to experience a mild but continuous headache whenever he’s on his feet. One of the doctors has posited that the tumor might already be negatively effecting DH’s balance nerve on the left side and his brain is having to work extra hard to try to keep up with it. Choosing among these medical options seems so difficult since each option comes with its own set of risks. Please continue to pray for wisdom and plead with the Lord to preserve DH’s hearing.

Counseling & Discipleship

One of the most satisfying things Emily gets to experience is working with women who are hungry for the Lord and eager to grow. Right now, Emily is meeting with two different women for counseling. She delights to walk with them through their individual journeys and struggles. Recently, one of these ladies told Emily that she has been meeting other women who are dealing with the same struggle she has and that she has been able to pass on the things she’s been learning in their sessions. Emily’s counseling sessions often take on a discipleship feel, as her client has started talking more about her faith. She believes in God and understands the message of the Gospel, but she still has many questions and lacks a solid theological foundation. Just a few weeks ago she began attending our Sunday night Bible study! Please pray for her continued healing in counseling and continued growth in discipleship with Christ.
The other young woman who Emily is meeting with has also started coming to the Bible study and is applying God’s Word to her life in ways she never has before.
Please be praying for our Sunday night Bible study. We are going through Gospel Transformation and it is fostering such an authentic environment among those attending. We’d love to see it grow and see people come who don’t know Christ or are new Christians.

Navajo Nation Fair & Parade

6b827076-a911-4861-b66c-aa0cdf11cfaa.png

This week thousands of people from all over the Navajo Nation and beyond will come to Window Rock for the Navajo Nation Fair and Parade. Since we’ve lived here, we have only ever been spectators, but this Saturday Emily and around 30 other women will dawn matching pink t-shirts and ride on a float promoting the up-coming Living Proof Live (LPL) event. On October 6, 2018, Beth Moore and her team will come to Chinle, AZ for the second time to lead a one-day evangelistic event. Emily has had a big role over the last year gathering Native women to both prepare for the event and establish more opportunities for women’s ministry. Teams of women across the Nation have been meeting on a monthly basis for prayer and sometimes weekly Bible studies. We will also have a booth set up on the Fair Grounds on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week to promote the LPL event and get women registered. Please pray that generations of Native women and their families will know Jesus because of these events.

Positive Feedback

I (Emily) am counseling two women right now. Just this week in both sessions, they shared with me how they have encountered other women who are going through similar struggles to their own. They both said how grateful they were to be in Christian counseling because they have been able to pass on the things they’ve learned. It’s not very often in ministry, or many lines of work, that we get to see the fruit of our labor or get to hear of the benefits that others are receiving because of our hard work. As a mom of young children, missionary and homeschooling parent, I don’t count on a lot of accolades. I trust that God sees what we do in secret. Anyway, I have been so blessed by the feedback I’ve received from these ladies. It’s nice to know that what I’m doing is helping.
It means the world to us to have churches and individuals supporting us so that I can not only minister to a couple of ladies during afternoon counseling sessions while my kids nap, but so that the work I am doing can be multiplied in their lives to other women on the reservation who are hurting and in need of healing.

Turkey and Cheese Sandwiches

A young man who comes from a broken family regularly spends time at our house. He helps out with various house projects from time to time, occasionally he volunteers to mow the lawn (which is mostly weeds), but he can almost always be found in the living room playing the guitar and engaging with our children. Our youngest child likes to show him her new “tricks” like running or jumping, and the older two enjoy telling him stories about lizards they have found, books they read or movies they’ve watched recently. Emily feeds him breakfast, lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day he’s here at our house. He has an open invitation to stay in our guest room anytime he needs to, or even wants to. We laugh hysterically together over silly YouTube videos. We sing worship songs together. We study the Bible together. We’ve spoken hard truths to him in love. It’s nothing glamorous, but healing happens through the ordinary work of hospitality.
You see, he didn’t grow up in a home that had a mom and dad who were committed to each other or to Jesus Christ. He never saw kingdom values being played out in the home and like so many in today’s society never experienced family devotions, but he gets to see it here. In our imperfect home he gets to see us struggle to figure out proper discipline for our kids, he shares family meals around the table, he helps do the dishes, and gets to sit in on family devotions. He gets to see us in our most natural environment which means he sees us sin and sees us “with our sweat pants on” – stressed and struggling, busy with the messiness of life. This is also healing. So often in vocational ministry there is pressure to keep up appearances, or the idea that the best ministry is big and flashy with lots of numbers. But today when Emily made a turkey and cheese sandwich and served up a meal for our friend right alongside our own children, beautiful Gospel work was happening. This young man loves the Lord, in spite of many hurts and hangups and we delight in the opportunity to walk through life with him and disciple him in the Lord.
Because of the prayers and financial support we receive, we get to walk closely with this young man through the ups and downs of life. We have watched him grow tremendously in the time that we have known him.