by Laurie-Ann Copple
We began our time in South Africa as a time of transition and building a new foundation of what we were to do here. We were doing pretty well, despite small health challenges that came our way. We were busy but happy. We felt fulfilled and were prolific in our radio interviews, devotional teachings and working with many kinds of children. My art blossomed in colouring sheet form in 2018 (I've yet to permanently colour in the 101 line drawings to date), and I was part of Worcester's first Christian arts festival (Doxa, in October 2018). We held soaking art workshops and had a good but challenging time with the teens who led children's Bible studies in Avian Park.
Then, something hit Tony health-wise and we worked with specialists to find a cause. He was put on iron for iron-deficiency anemia, anti-inflammatories and other meds. They even found a trace of prostate cancer, which we trust was eliminated through a natural way of targeting this condition. I was hit with hidradenitis superativa, or HS, a condition of boils/rashes, which is caused by many triggers. It's not curable, but it can be controlled in some people. My trigger is cow dairy. Unfortunately many things have cow dairy, so we limit these to butter and the very occasional treat. Otherwise, I became fond of sorbet and veggie cheese made of coconut oil. Goat milk and soy milk are now the dairy drinks of choice for shakes. Then, the inflammatory breast cancer. I've written about that journey elsewhere, so I won't get into the details. I can say that I have grown emotionally and spiritually through the journey that began in July 2019, with diagnosis in mid-August. Since then, I have been given perseverance. This is something that has been a lesson as well as a gift. I've also been gifted with joy in the moment. While the journey of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation have been difficult, I have had the love of Jesus bouy me up with peace and joy throughout.
So I was told the cancer journey would be a year long. Actually, now I'm finding it can be two years. Many cancer patients find that it takes a long time to recover from the blow of the treatments. I agree. I feel like the very strength I had was ripped from me, and I was not super strong before the journey, due to my arthritic knees. Lymphedema also is a condition I apparently already had in my legs (I inherited it but was unaware until being treated for it in my left arm), however, the cancer treatments, especially the surgery and radiation made it worse throughout my body. This lymphatic swelling is something that is life-long, but like the HS, it can be controlled. It comes to be a new normal - something similar to the effect of covid-19 on everyone.
So, again, this is a time of transition, or rebuilding of what will be the new normal. And yet, Tony and I are still in the middle of our 'glorious mission season.' Many of our experiences, strengths, gifts, talents, training, education and anointing has converged into a time when everything has been used - from physical things that we brought with us from Canada, to talents honed. We now need to develop songwriting for our journey, as well as more books (including the colouring book series Colouring with Jesus 1 and 2).
So in this time of transition, we are staying a little longer in South Africa than we expected, although we aren't sorry (apart from missing family). We will have a mini-season in our new lodgings - in central Worcester. No longer are we living in a gated community, but rather in the noisy, bustling centre of town. It's convenient, but it's no longer quiet. We would have difficulty doing recordings for CWCP in this environment. But the place offers something new - an opportunity to pray for the town while being unobserved, right in the centre of town. We see a lot already, other than the long queues for grants at the post office, and the racing cars and motorcycles at every junction, especially on High Street (it is a wider, easier to drive avenue). We trust that we are here longer for good reason.
We also continue to work with one kid's club, reach out to our teen girl leaders (in their own lives), and soon we will return to Legacy Relay in Worcester Primary School. Yet the biggest thing in our lives is allowing God to restore us, for me as a cancer patient (who may not have cancer anymore!) and Tony as a current tuberculosis patient. One thing I know, the Lord is faithful and he has carried me through the journey to this point. He won't stop now. We're short on funds right now, but we trust it won't remain that way. We are growing in strength.
During this time, I've become even more thankful - for not only the big things, but also the small. We are continually being showered in God's kindness in so many ways. So we are thankful. May we always remain that way even when our healing is fully worked out.
Thanks for journeying with us! If you are a praying person, please keep us in prayer for favour for medical visas, finances, health restoration and the right opportunities.
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Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
L-A's devotional blog
TONY'S DEVOTIONAL BLOG
Tony's south african journal
TONY'S POST MISSION JOURNAL