Mission Trip to Odessa, Ukraine

I arrived in the Ukraine yesterday afternoon via Warsaw, Poland without incident.  Though the flights were long, and delayed, and long and delayed, I got to my destination intact, with all of my luggage…amen.  I was greeted at the small airport by Bro. Mark Priem and Bro. Jeff Christian.  They grabbed my bags and we headed back to the Priem’s house.  On the way, we stopped at an open air market where Mark was to order cakes for this upcoming Sunday’s anniversary services.  We also picked up some fresh fruits and vegetables, so they can keep me on track with my dietary needs.

After we dropped of my luggage at the house, and picked up Lydia (Mark’s wife), we left to run errands and do some more shopping.  We visited the church property and got a tour of the immediate area surrounding their home and church. Then, we returned back to the house for dinner and some fellowship.  I enjoyed catching up with Mark and Lydia, talking and laughing, it is a blessing to be here with them.  After a while, it was time to clean up and get some much needed rest to ward off the “jet lag” and be ready for the week.

We have had a wonderful time today and we are getting ready to travel to a village where I am preaching tonight.  Once we arrive, they village church has prepared dinner for and I am looking forward to meeting all of them.  The weather here is hot at present and a little humid, so it is taking a little getting used to…but, I get to preach tonight without a suit in tie!  Something I rarely do…but when in Rome…I mean Odessa…ok.

I will be posting updates periodically through the week, but I ask that you pray for all of the meetings.  Pray that souls would be saved and that I can be a blessing to the people, especially the missionaries.  Please pray for the Priem, Christian, and Spillman families…I will meet some more at the youth conference this weekend and I can’t wait…talk to you soon.

MIRACLE – Mary Johnston update

Just got off of the phone with Bro. Hal Baker and Bro. Bob Johnston.  They got Mary’s bone marrow test results back and the pathologist couldn’t find even a trace of Leukemia!!!!  Did you read that…no more Leukemia! The cancer is in remission…we serve a wonderful, miracle-working God!  They are overwhelmed with joy at the news and the doctors are amazed with the results.  God’s love and care for His servants…amazes me.  What absolutely good news and what an awesome answer to prayer…I am so happy for them.

Of course we need to continue to pray for them.  Mary will receive another three rounds of preventative chemo and will stay in the hospital until the 2nd week of May.  She is still vulnerable to infections, so they want her to remain in the sterile environment of Barnes Jewish.  The bone marrow transplant will be placed on hold, and they won’t proceed unless the cancer comes back (we will pray that it won’t).  After her release from the hospital, they will have 4-6 months of follow up visits as they continue to get their lives back to normal.

Would you please take some time today to thank the Lord for this answer to prayer?  God is so good and He is worthy of our praise…it is due Him.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  Now onto helping them overcome the financial hurdle that this will bring.  Will you still prayerfully consider helping?  I hope you do…thank you once again.

Mary Johnston Update

Spoke with Bro. Bob this morning and he said that Mary is having a good day today.  Last night she didn’t have a fever and the head-to-toe rash that she has is getting better.  She is still having to contend with the sores in her mouth, but they are treating that.  She is still needing to receive blood and platelets pretty regularly and the doctors are hoping to be able to test her bone marrow soon.   Originally, they were looking at testing on the 7th, but they have given them a window out until the 11th for that.  Prayers are that the chemo and other drugs they have been giving Mary will be working on the Leukemia, if not, they will give her another round almost immediately.  Their spirits seem to be up, and their daughter Stephanie is currently with them.

They are encouraging her to get up and move around, so I think she was going to take Bro. Bob out for a walk this afternoon 🙂  Some sun and fresh air will do them both some good.  They didn’t pack Bro. Bob’s leash with them, so hopefully there won’t be any run-in’s with security…Please continue to pray that the treatments are working and for grace to deal with side effects.  Also, please continue to consider helping with a love gift for the medical and living expenses.  Donations can be sent to Berean Baptist Church, c/o Mary Johnston Medical Fund, PO Box 73042, Puyallup WA 98373.

Mary Johnston Update

As of last night, Mary was still struggling as she is receiving her treatments.  With all of the swelling in her organs, her spleen seems to be giving her particular trouble.  The doctors aren’t sure why, but she has been receiving pain meds and other things to allow her to rest.  Another concern is that her fevers have spiked again.  This usually happens after the chemo treatments finish, but it has begun earlier for some reason.  Another new development is that she now has a rash from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet, most likely a reaction to the drugs.  Another possibility perhaps, is that with her immune system compromised, she is now manifesting an allergy to old pig farmers (Bro. Bob)…but I am no doctor.  This round of chemo will be finished up today and then a short waiting game to see how it has worked.  Please continue to lift them up in prayer…

Mary Johnston Update

Called to get an update on Mary today…when Bob answered the phone, his voice sounded a little funny but I figured it was just because he was tired.  I asked him how Mary was doing and he said she had a bad night last night.  I then asked if there were any changes and he said, “Three of her toes fell off”…it was then I realized that my pastor, Mark Wagenschutz had Bro. Bob’s phone!  I am glad that my pastor is able to go down and spend a few days with them…I hope Bro. Bob can keep him out of trouble…

Mary did indeed have another rough night.  The Leukemia has or is causing a lot of swelling in her spleen, kidneys, liver, and intestines.  The doctors are giving her some medicine to help with kidney function, however, she has been in a lot of pain due to the swelling.  Once this round of treatment is done, they have told them that they will try to get some bone marrow to see if the treatments are helping.  They will also be doing a different 3 day, experimental treatment after that.  If everything goes to plan, she will be there until April 21st before they try to phase her out of the hospital and continue with with follow-up treatments.  Please continue to pray that the drugs will work and that God will answer all of our prayers for Mary’s recovery…

P.S. – Mary still has all of her toes…hehe

Mary Johnston Update

Mary has been on the chemo now since Friday afternoon and it is making her extremely sick.  She had to receive more blood and platelets on top of that yesterday.  The chemo is causing a great deal of pain and she pretty much all of the other side effects that chemo treatment brings.  Bro. Bob stated that they have her sedated, but the pain is too much.  She just lays there in a fetal position and they try to get the nausea under control.  There was a moment of levity on the phone when he was explaining that he doesn’t do well with vomit and that he has to keep a bucket going for him too.  Dawn is on her way back to the hospital to help and that will be good for him so he can get some rest.  They 24 hour a day chemo will continue through Friday at noon, and we are praying that this works.  Have you any days of fasting and prayer?  Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; supporting tottering knees…Storm the throne of grace and persevere till Friday, and pray that grace and mercy will come down…

Mary Johnston Update

After a difficult night of fighting fevers and then being treated for some kind of infection, the doctors told Mary on Thursday afternoon that she has a type of Leukemia that responds well to chemo.  Of course with hers being so far along, that poses some issues.  Her chemo treatments have been put off as she waited for these test results and because of the fevers, and need for blood transfusions.  This news from the doctor is good news and has lifted Bob and Mary’s spirits.  They decided on attempting to start the chemo on Friday.

Thursday night was another hard night for her, with temperatures reaching 104 degrees and receiving more blood.  She is exhausted, but they are starting the chemo today.  At around 12 pm, CST they were getting Mary hooked up as I spoke on the phone with Bob.  They were deeply moved when I communicated that christians were going to be fasting for Mary while she struggles through this treatment.  I hope those that know and love the Johnstons, and even those that don’t, but love missionaries would fervently pray for them.  I am praying that it is God’s will for her to win this battle…the people of Haiti and the Dominican need her…Bob needs her…we all do.

Bob & Mary Johnston Update

As many of you know, Bob & Mary Johnston have come off of the field temporarily due to Mary having Leukemia.  She has been sick for some time now and following some testing and a diagnosis in the Dominican Republic, they decided to come back.  She was too weak to travel so she received several transfusions and once she was able to they got off the plane and headed straight to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Newest Health Update

I had been waiting for the results from a bunch of blood tests where the doctors were checking to see if anything else was attacking my kidneys, and they all came back negative or normal.  The plan they have for me now is to preserve my kidney function for as long as possible and to monitor the protein leak and kidney function with blood and urine tests.

I will not be going on any medications until the protein level changes or I become symptomatic.  I have to find some new pain killers other than NSAIDS, and find some “granola” ways of keeping inflammation under control.  My diet will remain a low salt, low fat, low protein, low fun one with keeping the protein under 100 grams per day.  I have to keep my blood pressure under control, but told them I don’t want to take any pills to “maintain” a low level until I have to.  I get to have all of the Starbucks and Diet Coke I want (and be sure I will), until or if I begin retain any fluids.

So…unless I have increased blood pressure or leg and hand swelling, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or dizziness, I get to check in with my regular doctor periodically.  Once my levels change, I will have the biopsy…until then, if anyone has any advice or alternative ways to keep my blood pressure lower and help kidney function…I would like to hear it.  Thanks again to all of you who have been praying for and encouraging me.  Also, thank you to those who have started dieting, etc…because you want to give me one of your kidneys some day…that is a blessing.  One thing though, you might want to make sure you are a blood match before you put in all of that work and push away any cheesecake…lol.

Love you all…

Bro. Reno

Health Update

Well I went today to see a Nephrologist in Seattle.  I had some more blood tests among some other things, and got to spend quite a bit of time with him.  Based on my medical history and the tests thus far, here are today’s conclusions:

I have been diagnosed with two things.  One is what is called “thin basement membrane disease”.  This disease allows blood to leak into my kidneys, and is mostly benign with a small percentage of people having progressing problems from there.  My other “possible” problem is “iGa Nephrothapy ” –  this is a kidney disorder that occurs when IgA—a protein that helps the body fight infections—settles in the kidneys. After many years, the IgA deposits may cause the kidneys to leak blood and sometimes protein in the urine. While 25% of adults with iGa develop end-stage renal failure, if this is what I have, I increase the percentage due to the fact the TBMD is leaking blood and protein into the kidneys too.  If you wonder what these things are, or want more information, you can google it (been talking about it all day…kinda don’t want to anymore).

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