Well....how do we even start.
First, I think a Huge, GIANT THANK YOU is an understatement! During one of the hardest things we've ever been through, the outpouring of love shown by you has made not only us humble beyond words, but it has shaken to the core of some very "unshakable" people. They have seen God using you and have done things that are against protocol and completely unexpected. For example, the commander of the entire Naval base out here has been so moved by all of our efforts and love that he had put off Joe's status changing until ten days rather than the typical four. God has moved the hearts of many through people like you!
Those of you who went and searched, I pray your feet and body are recovering and thank you for your time, energy, efforts, sweat, blood, tears, etc, etc, etc. It was not in vain at ALL! We needed those eyes, those feet, and those hands to cover ground for a peace that it had been completed. Those of you who donated money and supplies, what can I say but WOW! Our searchers were fed daily, our planning team didn't have to cook or do dishes so we could spend our time planning instead and did I mention how good the food has been? We were so thankful for the plethora of water! It wasn't a great joy to carry it in our backpacks up and down hills and dunes, but goodness it was fantastic when the load was lightened and our bodies hydrated. Your money....can you believe we've had almost $4, 000 donated to our search? PRAISE GOD!!!! We will be sending out a detailed list of exactly where the money went and how much. Just a rough list would include fixed wing airplane fuel, helicopter rental, gas for our fearless leaders' way home, boat gas, four wheeler gas (the gas companies I'm sure loved us), and we'll be making a donation to Texas Equusearch and other various areas. Then, our networkers and prayer warriors. We couldn't and wouldn't have had the endurance, hope, manpower, peace, and community closeness without you. I beg of you not to stop the prayers or the getting the word out.
The body of Christ has many parts and it was awe-inspiring to be witness to the body working as one. I will NEVER doubt the power of our almighty and how He has His body move. I feel so humbled that I was on this end seeing it all coming together. It was a taste of heaven and my eagerness to be there just multiplied tremendously!
As for where we are now. We have searched all that we were allowed (included the entire coastline of St. Joe's island (in 100 yards of the dunes), the south end of Matagorda island, the entire coast of Port Aransas down through Mustang island and the marshy areas on the bay side). Basically, there was very little land not searched thoroughly in the entire coastal area. As you may know, we have not found Joe. However, now we know that at least we've looked! We're not done either! We are praying about the Lord's direction for our next steps and have taken a sabbath to rest today. We plan on sending a plane out when this storm passes to all of the coastlines again. We are going to take a four by four (or two) all the way down south through the National Seashore with binoculars to search. Who knows, maybe a marshy area will unveiled by the tides going down.
This has been the hardest day of all! We are faced with the very real thought of not getting to see Joe and it is a pretty horrible feeling. We're hating that his family has no more answers than they did a week ago. We're so sad that instead of his fiance planning her wedding, she is probably going to be attending a Navy memorial service instead. His son, ...can't even go there right now.
I feel like the Lord keeps laying 2 Corinthians 4:6-9 on my heart: For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
This is a reminder to me of God's promise that Joe is in His hands. God's ways, though we may not understand them, are not ours. The lives that have been changed during this would only make Joe proud! Joe walked that verse and it would be futile for us not to acknowledge that!
We have not lost hope of not only finding Joe, but finding Joe alive. The Navy has changed his status to deceased as of yesterday and will hold a memorial service. There is nothing we can do about this. Joe's mom and Joe's fiance said it best, who leaves the courtroom before the trial is over? No one. There is no evidence either way of Joe. God gave us a spirit of expectation to witness something miraculous and we will wait to see that revealed. No mother, father, brother, beloved, child, family member, or friend should be left on such a plateau and we pray that God frees us of that!
A beautiful family has been born out of this and will grow stronger as the days and months pass.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! What all you've done is not in vain. Someone of you may be saying, "I didn't do anything", but the fact that I could write to you means that you have done something in my or my family's life that lets me know you have been near.
Here is the blog that we've created, please keep checking it as it will be updated often. http://findjoehouston.blogspot.com/
Here are a few websites that portrayed your efforts:
The sun always comes up in the morning and we rest in that promise!
Tawny and Nick
Nathan and Jade
Matt and Nicole
Dave and Amy
and many others