Thank you for your faithful prayers for us as we continue on our furlough.  It has been some time since our last update and a lot has happened.  Your prayers mean so much to us.  Thank you for lifting us up before our Lord every day.

In December Jill and I were able to travel to Texas where Jill’s mother, brother, and extended family lives.  We have not seen them for over 10 years and it was a blessing to be able to meet our niece’s and nephew’s new spouses as well as new little babies.  We had a great time with our family.

On the flight down to Texas Jill sat near a woman who was obviously ill and coughing (and not covering) and sadly within a week Jill had a sore throat, cough and fevers.  The illness affected Jill greatly and only in the last week or so has she finally started to feel better.  Ironically, on a different flight up from Florida last week Jill saw the exact same woman on the plane with us again.  

A Florida sunrise in December.

The Lord blessed us greatly and in mid December we were able to go down to Florida and spend the holidays with our girls.  We enjoyed ourselves so much.  We love our children and miss them greatly.  Sadly, Judah was unable to join us, but we were able to FaceTime him on Christmas.  This trip down to Florida was made possible by the Christmas offerings we received from our supporting churches and individuals.  We are humbled to have such great supporting churches!  

While in Florida with the girls we were able to see the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. I have always wanted to see a NASA launch and it was so awesome of the Lord to make this possible! In a casual conversation a stranger asked if we were going to watch the launch and we were like “what launch?” and an hour later we were able to witness it from an excellent vantage point. The Lord is good.

In November we sent out a special prayer request through our FaceBook Ministry page – Schultz Ministry, asking you to pray with us about a problem our furlough car was having.  While we were in Florida we left the car in the shop and it turns out the problem was NOT the transmission!  Praise the Lord.  I am not a mechanic but as I understand it, something was hindering the oil pump from functioning correctly and the fluttering we heard (that we thought was the transmission) was actually the oil pump.  The fix was simple (for the mechanics) and the entire repair was just under $500.  What a blessing that was.  Our furlough car was returned to us and has been running just fine since.  Thank you so much for your prayers.

Furlough is when we take time to make sure we are physically where we need to be to return to the mission field.  It is a time of doctor and dentist visits.  Both Jill and I have spent a lot of time at the dentist’s office since our return to the US.  The procedures have gone well.  I needed a root canal, which went smoothly.  The dentist then presented me (well my tooth) with a crown!  Finally someone recognized my true potential!  Just kidding.  I did have to get a crown though.

I am sad to report that while in Florida with the girls I lifted an extra heavy suitcase the wrong way and  hurt my back.  It is now almost 2 weeks later and the pain is still significant.  I am taking it easy and our family doctor has prescribed physical therapy since it was so helpful during our last furlough when I had a herniated disk.  Please pray that my back will heal quickly and that I will be able to get back into my normal routine soon.

An X-ray of my back taken this week. The tension in my back muscles is pulling my spine 15* out of normal alignment. It is very painful.

Through the blessing of modern communications we are able to keep up to date with our church members in Zambia.  We miss them greatly and it is a blessing to receive texts, emails and WhatsApp messages from them.  Please pray for our Zambian family.  When we left Zambia in September the currency lost 20% of its value and this has had a significant impact on the Zambian economy and on the lives of our Zambian Christians.

The Paines snapped this photo of a large monitor lizard (over 3 feet!) in our yard. This was a first for us, and Jill is very sad that she was not there to interact with it.

Please pray for one of our dogs in Zambia – Chuck.  We have raised Chuck from a puppy and he is important to the security of our home.  He is a gentle giant and is well loved by our whole family.  A month ago he got an infection in his ear.  We thought that maybe he was bitten by a monitor lizard, but the vet said it was ear mites.  We think that the infection has migrated into his head.  The Paines are doing all they can to take care of him, but we are at the point now where he may have to be put down.  This is very distressing to our whole family.  Security dogs are a necessity in Zambia but they become a part of our family, and it hurts us greatly when they are unwell.  The Word of God teaches that Jesus is concerned with the things that concern us, so we would ask you to pray for His intercession and His Will in this issue.  Thank you.

Our faithful dog – Chuck. Please pray for his recovery.

Please pray for our good friends and fellow missionaries in Zambia, John and Marcia Riggs.  John’s mother passed away on December 29th.  We praise the Lord that they were able to be here in the states with her in the days before her passing.  Please pray for them as they soon return to Zambia.

In the last couple of months we have heard of some of our faithful ministry partners here in the US having serious health issues.  Please pray with us for Al and Cathy, both of whom have serious cancer.  I know that they and their families would appreciate your prayers.

Please remember to pray for me and Jill as we travel in the coming weeks.  Here in the midwest there is a lot of snow and icy weather.  Pray for the Lord to go before us and make our path clear and our way straight.  

Again, thank you for your faithful prayers, even when many weeks pass between my updates.  Your prayers mean the world to us.  Thank you for being our partners in ministry.

Two girls at a recent meeting produced these artistic colorings of our furlough rhino. They did a great job!