Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The newsletter I meant to post weeks ago...

Dear Friends and Family,

…It is our honour and delight to introduce to you our precious son Joshua Matthew Sams.

…When Susie was 21 weeks pregnant, a routine scan showed that Joshua had a severe neural tube defect (a large occipital encephalocele – his brain had herniated through his skull into a sack). After many doctor’s appointments, tests, and ultrasounds we were told Joshua might be stillborn or else pass away soon after birth.

…He was born 7 January 2008 at 6:25pm, weighing 6 lbs., 8oz. and was 17 inches long. We brought him home that night to enjoy our time with him.

…Joshua went to be with the Lord after 67 days with us on 15 March 2008 around 3am. He died peacefully. We are so proud of him, of what he accomplished, and of how hard he fought to remain with us for over 9 weeks. His whole story is on our blog at http://mnssams.blogspot.com.

…Oceana loves him and enjoyed giving him kisses all the time. She will be two this April. She’s talking in choppy sentences and is into everything! She is such a joy to have, especially at a time like this.

… For the past 21 months we’ve been living in New Zealand and working with our church, Beach Christian Centre, as the youth pastors. Over the last nine months we’ve begun to feel God leading us away from youth ministry and into a ministry called Marine Reach.

…Marine Reach is the mobile mercy ministry of Youth With A Mission. Their original vision was to launch small ships into the Pacific Islands that would provide medical care where it is otherwise not available.

Marine Reach has been around for about 17 years, based from Tauranga (about an hour from us). They also have land based clinics and trucks that are equipped with small clinics in the back. Their mission is to provide practical help, as well as bring the Gospel to people. Volunteers join the ministry on (mostly) short term trips – doctors, nurses, ophthalmologists, optometrists, dentists, etc – as well as non-medical teams that help with construction, clean water projects, nutrition and hygiene education, and evangelism.

…Matt worked for Marine Reach last year as the Advance Work Coordinator, but we want to be much more involved this year. Susie has taken on the job of Events Coordinator and also will be writing and designing the quarterly “Making Waves” magazine. Matt will continue in his position, as well as begin working with Mission Reach Teams – the teams that come onboard ship.

…We love this ministry and only wish we could be working onboard the ship – the M/V Pacific Link. But with Oceana being nearly two and Joshua having been in such a precarious medical position, it’s not a good place for us. We believe strongly in the mission and vision of Marine Reach and that God is calling us to work here.

…Marine Reach’s offices are in Tauranga (an hour away from Waihi Beach) and we feel it’s time for us to move. We are just getting settled in our new place. We hope you can see Marine Reach Ministries for the fantastic opportunity it is. We are so privileged to be involved.

…Because we’ll be moving out on our own, our budget literally has to double. We’ve been so blessed to live with Susie’s family for nearly 2 years, which has kept our costs incredibly low. But we really need to establish our own home now. Our costs include health insurance (TBD as we are changing companies presently), rent ($1100/month), electric ($100/month), phone ($50/month), internet ($50/month), groceries ($280/month), our car costs (flexible), and incidentals.

…Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us on a monthly basis? We are 1/3 of the way to our goal of $2000 (NZD) per month. You can send your monthly support to Fountain of Life Church in the USA or to Marine Reach in New Zealand. Without your support, we will not be able to remain in ministry.

… It’s a bittersweet time for us because of Joshua’s passing, but we are excited about the next road. We know that God’s spoken to us, and that’s why we’ve chosen to remain in New Zealand, to remain in ministry, and to persevere through this time in our lives. It’s not easy, we won’t lie about that. It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever walked through. But we do know where God wants us right now.

….On a bright note, our visas have been passed through without any issues, allowing us to stay in New Zealand another 2 full years! This was such a blessing, as we did not put in our application until after Joshua was born.

…Please continue to pray for us – for our family, for our marriage, for our ministry, and for our relationships with the Lord. We can’t express how much we have felt your prayers. We know those prayers have and continue to carry us through each day. Thank you so much!

With Love,

Matt, Susie, and Oceana Sams

Support details:

(In the USA)
Fountain of Life Ministries

290 Newberry Road

Middletown, PA 17057 USA

…Designate funds by using a post-it or a separate letter. If our name is on the check it is no longer tax-deductible

Anywhere else:

Marine Reach

PO Box 1028, 7th Avenue

Judea, Tauranga

New Zealand

…Designate funds by using a post-it or a separate letter. If our name is on the check it is no longer tax-deductible for you.


  1. Dear Susie,

    I lost my baby on the 30th January this year to fluid on the brain a hole in the heart and kidney problems. Unlike you I terminated my pregancy. I have been suffering ever since. The doctors told me my baby had severe brain damage. They were not even sure if she had part of her brain as they could not see it. They told us that we could terminate her. I did not want to but I had pressure from my husband and other family members. But I had doubts on the day and even nurses said you are doing the right thing. So we did. I miss her every day. I pray every day for her to come back to me but I know that is not possible but I believe she is with God and the angles are looking after her. I have prayed for God to forgive me. I finally think I am starting to forgive myself as I have two beautiful girls that need me. They keep me going through all of this. I wish with all my heart that she had come into this world. We named her Brigitte maree jayne we gave her a funeral. She looked perfect after she was born except for her head at the back. At the time I prayed to hear Gods words. But never did. I know some day I will see Brigitte again. That gives me some peace of mind. Thanks

  2. Wow, he is beautiful!

  3. Im mandi and i lost a son also he had a neural tube defect they called anacephaly. If he were still with us he would have been 5 october 18th. I found out he had the birth defect when i was 20wks and i also chose not to terminate the pregnancy. I felt it was gods decision on when he left this earth and i didnt want to loose him. I had a daughter who was 17 months old when he was born. He was still born but he was beautiful, just like your baby. he was 10 wks early weighed 2 lbs 1oz and 13 inches long. I still held him and talked to him but i still feel like i didnt get to say good bye. I miss him so much and loosing him was the hardest thing i have experienced, but god blessed us with another daughter 14months after loosing Garrett Dean and 4 years after his passing we were blessed with another boy who will be 2 this month. I had a terrible loss but god gave me another healthy daughter and son after the loss so we have 2 girls and a boy. The pain of loosing him never leaves though and i wish he were here but i know im blessed and will see him again some day. How do you deal with your loss here is my email please write me. mandi_sallee@yahoo.com

  4. Thank You for sharing your story... I really have no words but to say a prayer for all of you and your family an the women out there. May God give you some peace. I will come back and visit your site again.. big hugs,