There is another small post about this on my blog: anaspinkroses and, below, is a testimony written about her by the grandparents.
Nathan and Diane were accepted by Baptist Mid-Missions in 1992 and arrived on the field in 1995. While Diane was in language school they received the happy news that she was pregnant with their first child. However, the first ultrasound showed that our Lydia Joy had serious physical problems as a result of a condition called spina bifida. Diane's doctor showed her ultrasound results to 10 doctors and they all agreed that she would not live.
Since Diane's parents lived near a children's hospital specializing in at-risk pregnancies, they decided to go to the USA for Lydia's birth. We were on furlough so got to be there with them and were amazed at their peace and trust in the midst of this situation. Lydia Joy was born December 13, and, contrary to predictions, lived. On the 14th she had very long and complicated surgery, closing the hole in her back and installing a shunt to drain the liquid from her head. Because of spina bifida, she was paralyzed from the waist down, and had other complications including kyphosis (bending forward her spinal column), club feet, a lowered brain stem, and a "compacted" torso. But very soon she demonstrated that she had a sharp brain! By two she spoke both English and Portuguese and could interpret for Diane's parents when they visited Brazil. But best of all, everyone soon knew that she was well named as she constantly demonstrated joy and contentment. Rarely did we hear a complaint!!!
Nathan and Diane were involved in their first church plant and the people loved Lydia Joy and she loved the people. They would vie to see who could hold her and she would be surrounded by loving friends. In her two's she would pass out tracts with her Daddy--who could refuse a smiling child in a wheelchair? Her testimony was a constant "sermon" for the whole church, which is still healthy and thriving under Brazilians leadership. Nathan, Diane & Lydia started two other churches and she continued to be an important part of their team, joined by her sister, Priscila, in 2008. Before they left for furlough in June of 2009, she was doing very well as a teacher in children's church and continued to be a joy to all her knew her or had any contact with her. One man in our church told us Wednesday at her gravesite that from Lydia he received the strongest sermon he'd ever had--and without a word. He came to his seminary classes one day upset with God. As he walked down the hall he saw Lydia and from her wheelchair, with her deformed body, she give him her big, happy smile. He will never forget the impact it had on him. Another young woman wrote yesterday in an email that as a teenager "I carried Lydia physically, but she carried me spiritually". Truly everyone who had contact with Lydia came away blessed.
When the family returned from furlough the end of July this year, Lydia Joy started having breathing problems. She was treated for pneumonia, with no improvement, and was finally taken to the hospital and put in the ICU as her breathing worsened. They diagnosed a pulmonary embolism. On oxygen she did better and she was moved from ICU to a regular room and seemed to be improving for two days, but then had a crisis where she couldn't get her breath. Friday she was moved back to the ICU and put into an induced coma-like situation so the more rigorous treatment would not be painful. Her last words to her mom were "Everything's fine". However, because of the embolism and complications from her other physical problems, she did not recover and never regained consciousness. Tuesday evening at 9:30 she met her Savior and is now spreading her joy in heaven as she runs with new legs.
In Brazil, bodies must be in the ground in 24 hours. Thus her memorial service had to be planned for noon so that they could be at the gravesite by 3:00. We were amazed at the wonderful service that was planned for her in that short time by her church friends. A large banner with pictures of her hung in the front of the church. A power point presentation was prepared. The Brazilian pastors of the three churches all gave powerful short messages exhorting us all to live life as Lydia lived it--dedicated to God and others. Dave Huffman (a fellow missionary who worked with them) and I both spoke, as did Diane and then, lastly, Nathan and Diane. God enabled them to thank everyone who had contributed to her wonderful life.
We who are left behind miss her so very much. But we have peace. Thousands were praying for her and we know God's will was accomplished. The amazing fact is that she had never had any serious health problems before!! People who know about her types of physical defects say there are always multiple health complications, but she had none. She lived an active, busy, fruitful life where everyone was her friend. Her mom made sure she participated in everything that was going on. Truly God knew Nathan and Diane would be the very best parents for her. She had a wonderful furlough year, seeing all her relatives, visiting the churches, and studying at their church's Christian school. She participated in their orchestra, which won second place at the BJU high school contest. The students picked her to go forward and receive the trophy, which she did with one of her huge smiles. Her mom and aunt took her to the American Girl store in NY shortly before returning to Brazil and they had an absolutely marvelous time. She was able to participate in our 50th wedding anniversary. God allowed her to have more wonderful experiences, both social and spiritual, than most people have in a long lifetime. He was totally good to Lydia Joy.
We will miss her greatly as we begin Nathan's fourth church plant together with him. She was always an important part of the team and was excited about helping with this fourth church. Therefore, Nathan and Diane have established the Lydia Joy Fray Memorial Church Fund at Baptist Mid-Missions. From now on, please send gifts to help with this new church through this memorial fund. Baptist Mid-Missions must be the name on the check, but on a separate paper write that your gift is for Lydia Joy's Church Fund.
Our truly heartfelt thanks to all who pray for us and to all those who knew to pray specifically for our family in this situation that caught us all by surprise. Your prayers gave us peace. Your emails encouraged us greatly. Just knowing that you care has given us joy. We will not be able to answer each email individually, but know that we have read and appreciated each one. Continue to pray for all of us as we adjust to life without our beloved Lydia Joy.