Dear Mr. and Mrs. Larson,
It has been on my heart for some time to sit down and write you both. Even now, I backspace and rewrite not knowing exactly what to say but knowing there is much to be said. It is impossible for me to make right the events of last year, but I hope that the journey that Mandy and I, with our children, have set out on with Christ offers some comfort in seeing His plan beginning to unfold.
In the days, weeks and months following the accident I was baffled at the love that your family extended to mine. From hospital visits to the phone call you made that day to me, Juanita, I just wouldn’t let myself believe that people could really possess the ability to love like you did and do. I thank you both for being an unwavering example of Christ’s love. Your actions affected my life in indescribable ways and I will forever speak of how I experienced Christ first hand through you.
After some time, I decided to sit down and begin to read the book of Nehemiah. This decision was made entirely based on the fact that Nathan’s middle name was Nehemiah and that he, himself, was reading this before the Lord took him home. Begrudgingly I began to read without expectation and clear intent. By the end of the book I had renewed hope in learning that God uses the man that prays. Nehemiah wasn’t extraordinary except for that he prayed diligently, daily and without ceasing. My new hope came from knowing that if nothing else, I could pray.
After finishing Nehemiah I began to read the book of Daniel because that is my middle name. All the while praying fervently for answers as to why. Daniel taught me that God chooses when to refine our faith, how He will do it and why. This knowledge led me to begin praying very differently. I didn’t need to know the why anymore but rather what next. I will forever regret that it took an act as catastrophic as your son’s life being lost for the Lord to get my attention, but it is important that you know that when Nathan’s faith was perfected, mine was refined and it was not in vain. After God led me to this knowledge and faith, in His purpose, I began a journey seeking what was next in His will. I was afraid to do anything but read my bible and pray for fear of missing anything that would lead me off the path that God had put me on. I had no idea what was next but I was searching.
Days after the accident, a friend began asking me what would turn into multiple times if I would go with him on a mission trip to Korea and Malaysia. The clear answer was NO. I was in no shape emotionally, physically or spiritually to accompany him and his Mother and Father-in-law to the grocery store much less the other side of the world. The last time he asked me was 4 weeks before it was time to leave. This time it was different. This time I considered it and wondered if this was the next step to healing and more importantly finding purpose in God’s will. I came home that day ready to propose what seemed like a ridiculous adventure, to my wife. To my great surprise she was on board, 100%, without a second thought. In less than 4 weeks God raised $2500. This small task for Jesus made it possible for me to experience the Lord in such a foreign, real and amazing way. The experiences afforded to me on this 1-week trip are a letter in itself, but I am able to look back now knowing that God’s will was done and I was right where I should have been. God proved to me, yet again, that I can not lean on my own understanding, yet rather stand firm in Him trusting Him to provide for all my needs whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual.
Having returned back to “normal” life after an amazing experience over nine months ago, I am just as sure today, as I was then, that we have a future in missions. This spring will be my last semester before finishing my degree in Secondary Art Education at the University of Idaho. We have applied to student teach in Katy, Texas before searching for an international position teaching. My wife as well as I look forward to seeing what God will do with my new education and our new hearts turned passionately towards His will.
While nothing compares to the heartache you have experienced over the last year, I want you to know that not a single day has passed that my wife and I haven’t thought of your son, your family and the catastrophe that God allowed in an effort, we believe, to get our attention. I teeter between sorrow for my stubbornness, in reference to the Lord in years passed, and gratefulness that God saw fit to allow me the opportunity to correct the error of my way. Because of God’s son I have the opportunity to see heaven and because of your son, I will forever be daily closer to the man that God intended me to be.
Your family will forever be in our daily thoughts and prayers; we will forever speak of your great love as we share what has become our testimony; and we pray that you will find comfort that only the Lord can provide until you are reunited with Nathan.
In Christ’s love,
Joel, Mandy, Maggi, Léni & Jackson Holmes