What a year! 2020 has been crazy for everyone, but our family has experienced an extra layer of crazy! We were expecting to move to Romania for missions this year to answer God’s call. Several things happened to delay this move and as 2020 comes to an end, we find ourselves still in Nampa. God is good though, and we know for sure that He has had His hand on our family!
At the beginning of the year, we were officially accepted as a missionary family by Friendship International. We were so excited about answering God’s call for our family to live and work in Romania. Our original date for moving to Romania was June 4 but this had to be rescheduled for July 16 due to the global pandemic. We had a full calendar of events planned from March through June including speaking at churches and visiting family and friends. All of that was changed due to Covid. In June, things were finally opened up enough that we were able to visit Gwen’s family and some friends in Western Oregon. We thought that this would be the last time we would visit Oregon before moving to Romania.
On June 29 on our way home from Western Oregon, we were in a terrible car accident in Hermiston, Oregon. David and Gwen were life flighted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. The children were safe, praise God, and only Daniel suffered any significant injury with a fracture in his left arm. We were T-boned by a pickup truck at about 55 mph. David’s face was smashed, and he received multiple facial fractures including his upper jaw being broken in several places. Three of his teeth were broken, and his nose and sinuses were smashed. He needed a breathing tube at first because they were concerned about him aspirating his own blood. David had to have reconstructive surgery of his face. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury. Gwen’s pelvis was fractured in 3 places, she suffered broken ribs, a laceration on her head, a pulmonary contusion, and a concussion. Gwen was 16 weeks pregnant at the time of the accident and miraculously, the baby was completely healthy and suffered nothing!!! Often when a pregnant woman gets a pelvic fracture, it causes a miscarriage. The Lord surely had his hand over the whole family but especially over Gwen and the baby.
Because of Covid restrictions and the difficulty of distance, the children could not see us while we were hospitalized. Just before we were going to be released from the hospital, Gwen got a debilitating headache. She suffered extreme pain for 5 days before the doctors were able to diagnose her problem. It was shingles! She was given antiviral medications immediately, and within 2 hours she felt relief! While we would never have chosen for any of this to happen, we were thankful for the opportunity to be a witness for Christ at the hospital and to our many friends and family on Facebook. It was a miracle that we survived the car crash! It was a miracle that we both still have our minds! Traumatic brain injuries can be completely life altering and some people who sustain them have to live in a care facility for the rest of their life. It was also certainly a miracle that our baby was unharmed! As it says in Romans 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” We definitely felt like God had raised us from death to life after the accident! And again in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Yes, we had suffered a lot, but our sufferings don’t even come close to the glory of the Lord, and that beautiful day that we all hope for when He will come and make all wrongs right!
After 23 days of hospitalization, we finally were able to leave the hospital, fly back to Boise, and see our children again! While everyone was eager to be reunited, we were too weak from the injuries to be able to care for our children. So the kids continued to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Stone, but they came for daily visits with mom and dad. Gradually, as we gained strength, we were able to have our children stay with us full time by the end of August. In September, we were able to graduate from the in-home therapies that we had been doing. Gwen was able to walk again without the aid of a walker or a cain. The family was finally settling into a good routine of homeschooling, when Gwen’s water broke at 29 weeks gestation.
After Gwen’s water broke too soon on October 1, she needed to be hospitalized once again. It was pretty discouraging for everyone to be separated again! It was discouraging to have our homeschooling and plans interrupted again! It was also scary not knowing how things were going to turn out for the baby! As we prayed on the first day that Gwen was an antepartum patient, the Lord reminded Gwen of Philipians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The Lord is faithful and He will complete the good work of the family’s call to missions! He will complete the good work of the children’s education! He will complete the good work of this baby’s life! On October 14 at 3:30am, Timothy Miracle Stone was born via Cesarean section at 30 weeks and 6 days gestation. He weighed 3 lbs and 3 oz. Our time in the hospital was not over then because Timothy would need to spend 47 days in the NICU. We were able to visit him almost everyday and watch him grow slowly, learn to breathe without any intervention, maintain his body temperature without any help from an incubator, and take all his food by mouth instead of a feeding tube. At 37 weeks adjusted gestational age and 6 lbs 3 oz, we were able to take him home, and he finally got to meet all of his siblings who had been waiting with great anticipation!
2020 has been a crazy year for everyone with Covid shut downs, wildfires, and numerous other natural disasters. If we add up all the days David, Gwen, and Timothy spent in the hospital this year, the total comes to 106 days of hospitalization. We were completely separated from our children for 41 days and the total number of days that they stayed with their grandparents for the majority of the day is around 118 days. We are so extremely grateful to Harold and Brenda for helping us and caring for our children during times of need this year! It was such a relief to know that our children were in a familiar place with people we love and trust who have similar values as us! Still the pain of separation was probably the most difficult part of 2020 for us. Through it all, we know that the Lord has been with us, carried us, protected us, and provided for us! Like it says in Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
In this year, we have seen the hand of God at work in our family! Trials are not what anyone asks for, but they do bring us closer to the Lord! We hope and pray that you too have grown closer to the Lord this past year! Some people have asked us if we are still planning on moving to Romania considering everything that we have been through. The answer is, yes of course! We know without a doubt that God has called us to Romania! Sometimes when you are on the right path, the enemy tries to throw everything at you that he can. Praise Jesus that it is the Lord who is in control! The Lord works everything for good to those who love him! If we had not been in the car accident, we would have been in Romania when Gwen’s water broke. Romania is a developing country and some medical interventions are not readily available. If we had been in Romania when Timothy was born too soon, we would not have had the family support that we have here! We rejoice that the Lord directs our steps daily! We have tentative plans to move sometime spring 2021, but if we have learned anything this year, it is to hold plans loosely!
God bless you and yours this Christmas as we celebrate God becoming a baby to save the world!
David, Gwendolyn, Daniel, Anne Marie, James, Henry and Timothy.