Hannah’s Story

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About 2 years ago, we heard a word from the Holy Spirit through our oldest son, Noah, who was then 5 years old. Out of the blue, he said, “Mommy, you’re going to have a baby in Africa when Levi is one, and it will be a girl.” I doubt he remembers that day, but I do. Very vividly. After I relayed that information to Aaron, the Holy Spirit made it SO clear that if we were willing to trust God with missions then we should trust Him with the timing of our fourth child. You see, we both wanted more children, but we thought there would be a large gap between Levi and Baby #4, probably after our possible 2 year mission trip. To make Noah’s prophecy even more remarkable was that Aaron and I had not yet felt called to Africa. We were in the process of  applying to the Post Residency Program through World Medical Missions, but we never felt led to a specific people group.

It took us about 2 months to surrender our family planning to God. Like I said, Noah was only 5 years old. Jacob was 2 1/2 and Levi was 6 months old. I already had a baby, and my life was crazy enough. The Holy Spirit was persistent and faithful. We conceived when Levi was about 8 months old. From the beginning of the pregnancy, I knew it was a girl. Not so much because of Noah’s prophecy (he’d never been right before), but I just felt like God-in His infinite, tender love for me-would give me a girl as a little reward for my obedience in having this child. I couldn’t quite convince Aaron of her gender though….God took care of that!

We interviewed for the Post Residency Program that summer. I was 6 weeks pregnant, and we were wavering in our call. Aaron was offered jobs that were too good to not consider. We were very open and honest with the people from World Medical Missions, and we basically told them we were counting on the Holy Spirit to speak through them! Looking back, I guess those were little tests in our commitment. We never forsook the call to missions; we just had to consider all the options and be sure of God’s best plan for us.

A short couple of months later, we received a letter that we were accepted into the Post Residency Program. Yikes! We had almost convinced ourselves that God was calling us to short-term missions, so this really shocked us. Yet God was faithful and tender to me. I think we received that letter on a Friday, and that Sunday I was in church by myself. (Aaron was working.) During worship, we were singing the words, “Where you’ll go, I’ll go. Who you love, I’ll love…” I couldn’t sing those words because I knew God was calling us to move to a place we had never seen. Then, He spoke so sweetly to my soul: “Stephanie, you don’t have to go. I will still love you. I will still bless you. BUT, if you go, I will bless you beyond what you could ever imagine.” In that moment, I knew I had to go, and I could sing those words through the tears.

Then, in October, we attended the Prescription for Renewal Conference in Boone, NC. I was almost 20 weeks pregnant and greatly anticipating my ultrasound when we got back to PA. The Holy Spirit spoke through many people that weekend, and we committed to moving to Tenwek. And Aaron received word (through Will Graham’s sermon on Hannah in the Bible) that our baby will be named Hannah. (Just as a side note, I always wanted that name. I’m always so happy when my plan actually is God’s plan!) Tuesday, when we were at our 20-week appointment, the ultrasound confirmed that Baby #4 was a girl. We started calling her Hannah Mae immediately.

Fast forward a year and a half. We are in Africa and adjusting much better than I expected. The boys love it here, but Hannah isn’t quite herself. Everyone gets a virus. The boys recover as quickly as ever, but Hannah just can’t stop vomiting. Zofran helps and we get to see our sweet, happy little girl at least moments out of each day.

On Sunday, we see a listless little girl. We let her rest all afternoon, but by 11am Monday I am too worried to ignore it. I take her to the hospital. We run tests both Monday and Tuesday, but nothing is coming back abnormal. We’re able to treat her at home. Thank you, God, for bringing us here to experience this, because Aaron and I are so blessed by the last two nights we had with her at home.

I’m not going to re-document everything that Aaron posted on his blog. Frankly, I don’t have that energy right now. Let me just say, that I am confident that God brought us to Africa knowing this would happen. He is not surprised. Not by Hannah’s tumor, her death, or the outpouring of love and support we are receiving. Especially not by the glory He is receiving. And we are humbled and grateful to be a part of Hannah’s story.

I will never forget how lifeless she felt when I woke up to find her not breathing. I will never forget the weight of “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” when I was climbing the stairs to the ICU at Tenwek to take my first glimpse of my baby girl lying on the huge hospital bed with doctors all around her. I will never forget the hope I felt when I heard that Dr. Albright was at Kijabe and willing to operate. And I will never forget the unexplainable peace I felt through it all. As soon as she left my house with Aaron and Chuck, I somehow knew God was asking for her. How could I refuse Him?

I never felt more like Abraham, and I so wish that He would have provided a way to save Hannah from death. Well, I guess He did. The Way is Jesus. In my selfishness, I wanted a physical healing for my little girl. God wanted something better.

I never felt more like Job. I just pray that Satan won’t sift me quite as much! But if he does, I will continue to serve my holy and awesome God.

Hannah survived surgery, but she died the next morning. After we took her off life support, we coached her through the end. I remember saying, “Go, girl, go!” and then feeling her last breath. Then, Aaron and I crawled onto her bed with her body. Everyone gathered around to pray, and God-again in His tender love for me-gave me the most beautiful picture of Hannah meeting Jesus.

This is the closest image I have to what I saw in my vision of heaven.

This is the closest image I have to what I saw in my vision of heaven.

There are so many details I want to share. So many ways we have seen God’s hand working through our lives. I just can’t fit it all into one post. Please bare with me as I process this and mourn and ramble in this and the next couple of posts. My goal is to give all the glory to God, for He is worthy. Holy is His Name!

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75 responses »

  1. Your story has reached and touched hundreds across the world. I have been praying hard for you all. This was a beautiful testament of your experience!!!

  2. Steph,
    I just left a comment for both of you on Aaron’s blog, but after reading your beautiful, compelling story I have to comment here as well. Bless you , bless you , bless you. God is sharing our hugs and love with you from afar. I know you want God to have the Glory, and believe me, He does! It is crystal clear that HE is carrying you. We are in awe. Humanly, we know the response to such grief would be so very different.Thank you so much for sharing and blessing all of us. Wishing this could happen in some other way, as I often wished Jesus wouldn’t have had to make His sacrifice. I am thanking God for Hannah’s life and getting a clearer perspective on
    eternity, where I will meet her and we will understand fully why this happened as it did. Weeping with you, Michele<

  3. Beautiful post, God honoring heart…May the LORD continue to bless your heart with peace, Stephanie. Your family is now loved around the world. You are like the woman who anointed Jesus feet with the best thing she had to give and he promised that what she had done for Him would be a memorial wherever the gospel was preached. Hannah’s sweet smelling life and her homegoing will minister to people around the world. May God be glorified wherever it is told!

  4. There are no words that can take the pain from your heart. Know that many are praying for you and your family, that the peace of YHVH surround you and keep you. Hannah is a beautiful child and you WILL hold her in your arms again.

  5. Stephanie, I have never met you but I served with Aaron on a Medical Missions trip to Jamaica. My heart breaks for the pain and loss you have suffered. Yet our God is an awesome God. It is amazing the strength He gives us when we need it most. How can people get through these trials without knowing our Lord? The impact Hannah had in her short life her on earth has reached so many and you and Aaron will never know the effect of your testimony and expressions of faith will have in the lives of so many people you have never met. Praying you will feel God’s strength and presence each step of every day. Joan

  6. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story that has made us all cry, ache, and pray with you! May the Lord continue to comfort your hearts. Your story is especially dear to me as I also have three sons and a daughter.

    • Tears. worship. Stephanie, in the midst of deep grief and suffering, there is nothing more fragrant to the world and to those who are followers of Jesus, than a disciple of Christ who surrenders and clearly offers her grief as worship. Indeed, the grace that God is providing for you during this time, and your willingness to cling to Him is bringing Him glory! I pray in these coming months as you journey this road that lies ahead without your precious little girl, that God will continue to be your “ever-present help in this great time of need!” Our family from Lancaster is praying for you. . .and your family.

  7. Stephanie you are a remarkable woman and mother I feel so blessed to hear your story and the belief you have in god . I have always questioned myself about god taking little children and now through your story I think I am feeling more at peace. I know the God will guide you and your family through the journey and heal you too. God bless and know I am praying for your family

  8. Stephanie, your words and faithfulness to His plan are so powerful! I pray that God continues to give you strength and healing in your heart. Although I can not even imagine what you are going through at this moment, I hope you take comfort that in Hannah’s short time here on earth, she has accomplished what others take an entire lifetime to achieve. You and your whole family are in my thoughts and prayers ❤

  9. My late wife & I were missionaries in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) from Jan 1947 to Jan 1954. Subsequent terms in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). We lost our 2nd daughter to cerebral malaria, at 7 months of age. The sharp pain of our loss is long long gone. The memory is still as sharp as ever. My present wife & my thoughts & prayers are with you in your travail. I read a lot of the Book of Job then & found it comforting, very comforting. May God bless you in your continuing journey with Him. God blessed us with two more children subsequently, a son & another daughter. Now: 2 daughters, 1 son.

    • Dear Stephanie, Never before has The Lord used the lives of total strangers to so deeply impact me. I too am a mother of three young boys and a baby girl. I have been praying for you and your family frequently as The Lord has brought you to mind. Not that I am such a prayer warrior, but because His love and concern for you right now has prompted me to uphold you in prayer. I look forward to see all that He will continue to do through your family. Thank you and Aaron so much for taking the time to share. The Lord is using it and I know it is only the beginning. To Him be the glory.

  10. Dear Stephanie,

    You and Aaron don’t know me, but I’ve been following Aaron’s recent blogs and praying for your family. My friends are also adding their prayers for your comfort, peace, strength, and provision during this very hard time. Your testimony and the strength of your, (and Aaron’s) faith is a blessing to all of us. Although we prayed for Hannah’s healing here, we thank God that she is now fully healed and enjoying the beauty and wonder of Heaven. Our prayers continue for you and Aaron, your family and friends. God bless you and keep you strong in Him!

    Love in Christ,
    Lynda Lee (Debbie Delp’s mom)
    Poughkeepsie, NY

  11. The two of you have blessed my heart and encouraged my faith to grow. What a blessing you are. Life is a tapestry. On one side it is a mess of tangled threads, as life is for us sometimes, but the other side is a beautiful masterpiece. You have shown us that we don’t have to look at the tangled mass of threads, but we can turn it around and see the beauty God has created for us. Our prayers and love are with all of you and the friends you have made too. Our daughter, Anna Murphy, is one of them and without them being in Africa, we would have never got to know your family as we have. What a blessing you are. May our Lord continue to give you peace, comfort and rest.

  12. Thank you for sharing your pain & hope & how God has been ever present. It feels inadequate to say that I am praying for your family…….. but it isn’t. It can’t be.
    With love & prayers from Atlanta, Georgia

  13. Kalleys,
    We have been praying for you. We are good friends with the Friejes and Paul Jarrett. What a miracle journey you have been on. We are praising Jesus that you know your littlle Hannah is with your Savior and King. Praying for continued peace that passes all understanding and rest in Jesus.

  14. Steph, you are an amazing woman, and an amazing ambassador to Christ, and most of all you are an amazing mother. You get that honest, I remember fondly growing up in your home with you and Tony and Tina while your Mom babysat us, I remember and have pictures of us camping and playing “dress up”. As we grew older and joined different circles so to speak I knew when you met Aaron that you met your forever and as I’ve watched your family grow (mostly through Facebook lol) and your faith grow so strong, I know God has amazing things planned for all of you. As Aaron said I know Hannah leaving this world so soon wasn’t in anyones plans but His, and we are all starting to see a glimpse of maybe what part of that plan was, her story and your Faith has touched SO many lives and I think brought many people to the Lord, and strengthened many peoples waivering faith. That being said, as a mom I know your hurting, I can’t begin to try and understand that pain, no one can unless they too have lost a child, but as your friend I hurt with you in a different way, I’ve truly never prayed so much or so hard in my life as I have this past week, and will continue to do. I pray for both of you and all your families during this time, and send my love. ❤

  15. I’ve been following your story through your blogs. I’m praying for you in Lansing, Michigan. (I’m a disaster response nurse with Samaritan’s Purse and first saw your story on their Facebook page.) You are glorifying God so much- I’m praying so much that God will fill every empty place in your hearts with only good things. Praying for your strength and peace.
    Blessings to your family-
    Kelly

  16. We have never met you but after seeing your blog posted on Facebook we just want you to know that “we care” very much about what you are experiencing. We do understand just a bit since back in 1968, 3 weeks after arriving as missionaries in Austria our 4 1/2 old son was hit by a car and died. We too experienced God’s amazing Grace in our lives, His ability to make beauty out of ashes and our lives and ministry so enriched because of it. Our hearts ache with yours and we are asking the God of ALL COMFORT to be there for you and your precious children who are also grieving.

    Gerald & Mavis

  17. Love from McAlisterville, JC, PA. Praise the Father for giving His only Son and for raising Him from the dead! May Jesus continue to wrap His wing around you and your family.

  18. Stephanie, as I sit here reading, this while holding my 4 month old baby girl, I am amazed and moved by your faith. I have been following Aaron’s blogs and had the same amazement in his faith. It has made me stop and rethink my life and faith. I realized that I need to reconnect with God and make sure my daughter has God in her life as well. For that, I thank you, your family and angel Hannah. Sending you all love and prayers!

  19. Oh, girl….my heart is right there with yours. Sixteen years ago, I experienced something so similar when my fifth child, Mitchell, ran into Jesus’ arms. I pray that he was part of sweet Hannah’s welcoming party 🙂 You have just joined a sorority of mama’s who have experienced something that goes so contrary to how things “should” be. Outliving our babies. Just know, with everything in you, God has begun a work that will continue for years to come and will use precious Hannah’s story, her short life, to bring people life that lasts forever. Isn’t the vision of heaven amazing? Isn’t it breathtaking to release your child from your arms to Jesus’ arms? To get to be a part of ushering them into eternity…nothing more painful or more beautiful. I’m here if you ever need to hear from a mama who’s walked this unfamiliar path. Praying, praying, praying…

  20. Dear Stephanie,
    I am so touched and encouraged by the way God has helped and is holding you all up through this whole ordeal. May his name continue to be glorified through it all. May your testimonies continue to be that: through it I’ve learnt to trust in Jesus!!!! May God Almighty bring beauty out of this ashes, may he continue to cloth you all with garments of praise as the spirit of heaviness lifts off your hearts. May he comfort you all with the comfort that only he can give. May your lives continue to be a testimony of his faithfulness in Kenya and throughout the world. Be blessed dear one, you are loved!!!!!!

  21. Dear Steph, As I read this post with tears streaming down my face I wanted to let you know that many years ago God cemented into my heart that my children were a gift from him and it did not matter how much I loved them but that they were God’s before they were mine and that when and if the day came that He chose to take them home than there was no other place in the world where I would want them to be but in His loving arms. As I read Dr. Weigner’s email to the ER staff at LVH and heard about your precious Hannah I immediately prayed for her to be healed and for your family to be comforted at this time and when I spoke with Dr. Greenberg at a meeting first thing in the morning and asked if we had heard from the Kelley’s she told me that Hannah had died that morning. When we talk about helplessness and wishing there was something more we could have done, once again the answer for me is prayer the most powerful tool we have. As I first prayed for Hannah my prayer was for healing, sometimes that healing is to go home to our heavenly Father. Please know that my prayers are for you and Aaron and the boys. God’s promises live on and Hannah lives eternally with our Saviour. May the peace of God that passeth all understanding come upon your hearts and minds at this time. Your sister in Christ.

  22. This is such a beautiful testimony! You don’t know us, but we were alerted to be in prayer for you all several days ago by WMM. We are former post-residents (to Peru) and also have 4 small children, so you have been constantly on my heart and mind this week. There just aren’t words adequate to express the sorrow. We will be praying for you and your family. Hold fast to Jesus, sister. Your perspective is beautiful and brings much glory to God. My devotions this morning were in Psalm 46 and it will be my prayer for you, that you will feel God’s presence — “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea….The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Ps 46: 1-2, 7
    Laura

  23. I have a daughter named Stephanie and I have a granddaughter the age of your little girl, Hannah. I got the prayer request through Shelley Wirrick Boulliane on Wed. and began praying right away and continued and watched for updates. When I read the post of her going home to be with Jesus, the words that your husband wrote were so trusting of what his Heavenly Father has allowed to happen in your lives. My husband has had a difficult time understanding why God allows things like this to happen and so I called him as he was on the road to Va. and read your husbands blog. He began to cry and had to hang up. Later he called me in tears and said that he wants to believe like the two of you do. He wants to be able to accept things like this and be able to just trust that God knows what He is doing and accept it. I believe that your story is a part of the journey to helping him grow in his faith and trust God more. We will continue to pray for your family and all that God has in store for your future. We may never meet on this side but I would like to give you a big hug and thank you for your faithfulness to our Heavenly Father who makes all things good.

  24. As a mother of three–4, 22 months, and 5 months I can’t begin to fathom what you are going through. My heart aches for you as a mother and for your entire family. Thank you for your beautiful post. What a true example you are of a gorgeous woman who loves her Saviour far above anything else. You are such an encouragement to so many. Praying for your sweet family!

  25. Would that my faith may one day be as strong and sure as yours. All glory to the one who was, the one who is and the one who is to come.

  26. I have been praying for all of you ever since I saw a FB post by Samaritan’s Purse asking for prayers. I will continue to pray as you walk this road in faith.

  27. As a mom, my heart breaks for you. I have prayed for you throughout the week and will continue to do so. You and your husband have been amazing examples to the world. Your faith has touched so many people.

  28. Thanks for sharing. As I look at my 7 month old, daughter, I cannot imagine ever losing her. I pray God will continue to give you peace beyond your understanding, that He will use you, your life, your trials to bring Him glory and many, many people to Him. Love from Austria

  29. Stephanie, I am so proud to call you my sister. The faith in God that you and Aaron have is amazing to me. I will forever miss our Princess Hannah but her short little life has touched so many. I love you all so much.

  30. wow what a heart tugging story. I am so sorry for your loss of your beautiful baby girl….God has something amazing in store for your family. Prayers always for you and your family. Hug those sweet baby boys tightly!

  31. Stephanie,

    Hi. You might remember me, Jane Myers, and my husband, Bryan. We met you and Aaron at PFR in October. I read Paul’s (Jarrett) email tonight, then Aaron’s blog, now yours. Please know our prayers are joining the countless others! From the words of a friend whose four month old is in the ICU at Vanderbilt (no clue on d/c date), “God is Present. Now.” There are no words to say. We are so sorry for your loss. Hannah was just beautiful and that sparkle in her eyes! We will also, of course, remember your boys in prayer, too!

    How I read and drank in your and Aaron’s words in these past posts. You are a wonderful example for all of us.

    I have also thanked some “Tenwek Family” on Facebook, for helping you all. Aren’t they the best?

    We are praying the safest journey for your family this coming week and the days to follow.

    “May the Lord bless you and keep you…and give you peace.”

  32. My name is Mena Noll and I also am a fellow Juniata County native. Graduated from EJ in 95. I saw this blog on FB and after reading through it all I felt God’s urge to write to you. You see five years ago my husband and I had our world turned upside down. What started as a flicker in our 2 year old son’s eye turned out to be a brain tumor. I copied the link that goes through allot of the story of the who how what, (http://toxicfreekidsblog.org/about-tfk/about-blogger/). The bigger reason I wanted to write to you is I can relate to your sense of sending your daughter home to her Lord. From the moment Trenton was diagnosed I said He is God’s child and it is his choice for Trenton. For the last five years I have seen my child suffer and endure more pain than any mother should. Chemo non stop, a stroke that caused irreversible damage, so many tears so much hurt. Through it all Trenton’s testament to our Lord giving him glory always has been my light. It has been a hard and difficult path that to this day still continues as he is still on treatment. Partially blind Trenton makes us see our world differently. He touches many lives in ways unimaginable. I realize that God’s Plan is bigger than all of us, and although difficult not knowing Trenton’s future I must wait and see where God leads us. We also felt God moving us and last year made our way to the Outer Banks NC. Most thought we were crazy leaving family and friends behind with a sick child, but God made our way for us, as if it were not our choice that Trenton had more lives to touch. Ironically with in a few weeks we were told from a teacher that she prayed for a child Trenton to touch her and show her that she was still needed. I just wanted to take the time so that you knew you were not alone, and to tell you that although loosing your daughter is a difficult time right now knowing that she is Home and at peace not suffering is a blessing. There were times I begged God to take Trenton home because the pain was too hard for me. It was not God’s Plan and I had to understand that. This time on earth is just a small blink in time compared to our eternal life. I know someday you will see your sweet Hannah again, until then take comfort in knowing she will have no pain and only glory and warmth in God’s arms. Mena Noll nollski@embarqmail.com

  33. I have been praying for you and your family since I first heard about Hannah. You have no idea how you story has touched so many people. I was at the ER at the Lehigh Valley Hospital Yesterday with a friend, and one of the people there told me your story and pointed to the pink balloons that were up in honor of Hannah. I just thank God for you and your testimony. I know the Lord will walk you through this journey, and it is a beautiful picture of Hannah being received into Jesus’ arms.

  34. I am so glad to see you sharing about Hannah! I have been praying for you and Aaron, but for some reason I’ve felt a special tug to pray for you specifically. I can’t imagine the strength and courage it must take to be half a world away from what is familiar during this tragedy. I feel that God has truly prepared you both for this journey because so many of us would pack up right then and there to run home! But through God’s grace and provision, you are living your life with transparency and openness in order to fulfill HIS plans. I pray that you, Aaron, and family are sustained as you continue to process your grief, and that God sends you guardian angels to guide you. I pray that God uses these experiences to grant you access to the many Kenyans who experience the death of a child. I pray that God’s guardian angels use you to lift up the many missionary families at Tenwek, and selfishly I am so encouraged to see the hearts of those who will be serving with my brother and his family! (The Davis’s will be there in August- Mike, Katie, Josiah, and Anne). May God continue to bless you through this and throughout your ministry in Kenya!

  35. You and your family have continually been on my heart. I feel so much love for you all and my heart is aching right along with you. I have cried for you every day and I am constantly praying. I have added your family to our church’s prayer list. God is indeed great. I can see His power through you and Aaron. Love from Michigan.

  36. We’re a post-resident family (2008-2010) that is praying for you all. We have shared your tears and pray the Lord will continue to comfort you. Thanks for shining your light for all to see.

  37. Thanks for sharing what’s on your heart. Your faith is so inspiring. Hannah’s life and story has reached so many. What an amazing legacy is being left through her short but full life. My prayers are with your entire family.

  38. What an amazing testimony. Your strength is beyond words. I am so blessed to see how our Gods heart is through trials. He is so loving. I’m so sorry for your loss of Hannah, but it is not really a loss, she is waiting for you in heaven, and through this trial you have gained so much more, like Jesus said, beyond what you can imagine. Your faith is an example to us all. I pray for more strength and revelation for Gods love and the preciousness of life. May you continue to win Many souls to Christ for His glory. Love and Blessings. ~Amy

  39. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story, And I, like many, thank my cousin for sharing so that I can share of part of my life with yours. We too, lost our daughter in August of last year, along with a newphew, a brother-in-law and both of my parents. I know how you feel by losing a daughter, and words cannot explain the grief, pain and joy all at the same time. Our pastor shared at at our daughter’s funeral that you have two choices, you can live and laugh or you can cry and die, and he asked us what would Megan want us to do. With God’s grace and infinite widom in our lives, we have chosen to live and laugh, and through your testimony, not even knowing you, I know you have chosen the same thing and to carry God’s word through your faith. To God be the Glory. Thank you and may you continue to find peace and comfort in your own lives as well as the lives you are touching across the country.

  40. What a moving testimony of your faith in God and God’s faithfulness to you. You are such an example to even ‘mature’ Christians of complete trust in and reliance on God’s grace and providence. Thank you for being able to share your tender story. We saw Aaron’s blog because of our connection to Aaron Jones and Sonja and have been in prayer for Hannah and your family for the past week.

  41. Stephanie, I joined Samaritan’s Purse last October, and was in Boone again for meetings in January. During our time of devotion, I was given you and your sweet family to pray over as you embarked on your journey to Tenwek. I remember asking God to use you all in a mighty way and knowing that with that prayer, He was going to bring that to fruition in His way. Thank you for showing us how to serve our awesome and holy God while in the valley. Thank you for sharing Hannah’s story with us and for inviting us to pray with you. I will continually seek God in all circumstances and will continue to utter words of thanksgiving for His grace.

  42. Hey, Just want you to know that I have been lifting you up and thinking of you all. I pr’y you continue to know the peace that goes beyond our understanding! My mum passed away on the field with a brain tumor she to came through surgery but dies 2 days later I know “I was carried in the arms of a stronger man” to quote a song from a christian Artist in Australia. Your strength and trust is so evident! May your time with family and friends be so special as you grieve together!

  43. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story. Our church’s prayer list led me to read Aaron’s blog – what a strong testimony you both give of God’s nearness through it all. Praying for you now, that you will continue to know His peace in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. I cried and cried to read your precious words: “How could I refuse Him?”

  44. I found out about your story through social media, and have been praying and thinking about you guys ever since. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart — I cannot even imagine the pain that you are feeling, but I know that God is doing a mighty work in your lives and in the lives of others for this awful tragedy. I will continue to pray for you guys as you travel back to the US.

  45. Stephanie, I don’t know you but I am crying as I have read your post here. I read about your family and sweet Hannah’s passing on our friends’, the Hough’s, blog today and then found your and Aaron’s blogs. Our lives have some similarities: My husband and I moved to Tanzania last fall and he is working as a physician at a hospital here; we have a 13 month old son. I feel so much more vulnerable here than I probably would in the US, but that is mostly an illusion. Thank you for reminding me that God is in control, no matter where we are. Thank you for glorifying God through some of the most difficult circumstances. I will be praying for you as you grieve and miss your sweet little girl.

  46. As a mom, I’ve felt especially burdened for you throughout all of this past couple of weeks, but your post both relieved and amazed me. I know you’re hurting and devastated, but I also know that God is bringing you through. You and Aaron are displaying such a strong faith and witness. It’s amazing to see. Thank you so much for taking the time to share in the midst of it all. I will continue to pray for you all.

  47. Thank you so much for sharing this. Thank you for letting the Lord use you to speak to so many people. I have been crying and praying with you. You are a beautiful, beautiful woman of faith. God Bless you.. He IS blessing you, He will continue to…He will continue to provide ALL that you need. (I am friends with the McCropders in France and a mother of 3). With love in the Lord,

  48. Dear Stephanie,

    You do not know me but I have been reading your family blogs and remembering you in prayer….I cannot imagine all that you have gone through but I know with confidence the ONE who is carrying you. I had just finished reading your blog and sat down to read my devotional and it seemed so appropriate that I thought I would share it with you…..from Tried as By Fire

    I will be still, my bruised heart faintly murmured
    As o’er me rolled a crushing load of woe.
    Then cry, the call, even low moan was stifled
    I pressed the lips, I barred the tear drop’s flow

    I will be still, although I cannot see it
    The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire
    That takes away the last sweet drop of solace
    Breaks the lone harp string, hides Thy precious lyre

    But God is love, so I will bide me, bide me-
    We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be still
    We’ll wait till after while, when He shall lift us-
    Yes, after while, when it shall be His will

    And I did listen to my heart’s brave promises,
    And I did quiver, struggling to be still
    And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven
    Repeating ever, “Yea, Christ, have Thy Will”.

    But soon my heart upspake from ‘neath our burden
    Reproved my taught-drawn lips, my visage sad-
    “We can do more than still, O Soul,” it whispered
    “We can be more than still, we can be glad”

    And now my heart and I are sweetly singing-
    Singing without the sound of tuneful strings
    Drinking abundant waters in the desert,
    Crushed, and yet souring as on Eagle’s wings.

    You have already witnessed that your love for God has found reason to trust, that even in your darkest hours a song of Joy is being sung. May we all be stretched to trust our Father who Loves us with an everlasting Love. May the comfort of knowing that Hannah is cradled in His arms give you peace for
    now and forever.
    Lovingly, one of your sisters in Canada.
    ~mary

  49. Thank you for sharing your experience here. There are so many hurting parents out there that you are ministering to. I can only imagine the heartache you both have, and my wife and I are committed to praying for you this week and beyond.

  50. You have no idea who I am, but I saw a link to your blog from a friends facebook. My eyes flood with tears as I hear your story and of the life of Hannah. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for giving so many an example of what it looks like to lean fully on Christ during hardship. I cannot imagine the pain within you, but I pray that God will continue to walk you through this journey, one step at a time. Praying that your time in the U.S. is a healing time with family. -Jenna

  51. I’m in tears reading your blog. I”ve read several posts. You are a strong woman ( and man). Your faith is strong in the middle of the worst trial of a parent’s life….and the very thing we pray will never happen to our children, yet it does. My prayers go out to you and I’m moved reading your story. I love your story on your first post about meeting your husband, children being born, being led to Africa and your son’s dream. Amazing and God is so faithful. Blessings to you.

  52. I can’t imagine your loss. Instead I pray for the Father to speak his comfort to your heart as he writes your story in ways you never anticipated. I pray for new strength, new mercies and new joys everyday, even in the face of your grief and sorrow. I pray your family is knit together tighter and stronger. I release the peace of Heaven over your soul and spirit as you move forward with a new understand of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

  53. I can’t imagine what you are enduring. To be in a foreign country, to have the perfect daughter you always dreamed of, and to lose her so early in life. She was, and still is, a blessing to you. That is obvious. She is beautiful. I have no other words, but I pray for peace for you and your family. That you are able to work through this together and come out stronger later. I pray God gives you the strength and courage to follow what He knows is best. My love, prayers, hugs, and thoughts are with you.

  54. Your story and your incredible faith have brought me to tears! God Bless you – you are so correct, He is not surprised by any of this, and your sweet Hannah is home with him. Praying for you all – for moments of incredible joy among the grief.

  55. I salute your faith in the lord and embrace your grief, for your incredible story has brought tears to my eyes knowing what you have endured. From now on, there is only happiness to look forward to because your baby girl, Hannah, who is watching from above, would make sure of that.

  56. Truly a captivating scenario of servants of the living God. Trust in Him always since, “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might he increases strength” Isaiah 40:29. May He strengthened you more as you witness to the perishing in African continent.

  57. I found this by accident when looking for something else on Google. I am so sorry for your loss. I had a dream the other night that my little boy asked for a little brother or sister and I told him he had to ask his Dad of all things lol. The idea of him coming to me with a prophesy like that would be so exciting and scary all at the same time!

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