Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm A Mess!

Hello, my sweet readers! Thank you for your patience these past four weeks since we returned home from our trip of a lifetime. I still plan to get posts written and pictures posted of that trip, but I just have to be honest with you.

The past month, and the past two weeks especially, have been emotionally exhausting for me.

I'll tell you just a bit about the past two weeks. On Thursday, November 6th, a friend and I set off for Spokane, WA, to attend the Inland Northwest Ladies' Gala. We had a great time there, seeing friends we may only see that one time a year and listening to my favourite conference speaker, Mrs. Francie Taylor. Although I'd just come home from a long trip - which meant lots of relaxation time - I still felt in my spirit that I needed revival. I got that during that ladies' conference, and I came home refreshed spiritually, but worn out emotionally, for personal reasons.

The day I returned home, November 8th, was my dad's 70th birthday. My family and I posted on Facebook, praising my dad and telling how much he means to us. In one posting my mother made, she mentioned that Daddy wasn't feeling well, after running a fever all week. I had talked to him earlier in the week, so I knew about the fever, and I was surprised it was still present. So that weighed on my mind. Mother said he would go to the doctor on Monday if the fever wasn't gone.

Then, my uncle (my birth mother's brother) commented to wish my dad a happy birthday, and mentioned that his brother, my Uncle Bob, was in the hospital and starting chemo the next day. Chemo?! What was that about???

So now I have two men I love who are sick - and I don't know what's wrong with either of them!

On Sunday afternoon, my mom texted that she was taking my dad to the emergency room. His fever had risen, and the nurse at the doctor's office said take him right away to the hospital. At first the doctors could find no infection, but in the course of running tests, they found a blood clot near his spleen. A blood clot? I had just lost a childhood friend the month before to a blood clot! You see how these things preyed on my mind? One thing after another.

Long story short about my dad, they put him on IV antibiotics and blood thinners, and on Friday of that week he was able to go home, feeling much better and well on his way to recovery. Praise the Lord! He is still fine, and scheduled to resume his normal activities next week.

Last Monday, I was thinking I needed to call my uncle to find out what was wrong with my Uncle Bob and see how he was doing. I made a note to call him that evening. Late that afternoon, though, my cousin (Uncle Bob's son) called me on my cell phone. I knew immediately that this was not good news, because Jeff never calls me. And I was right. This was not good news. My Uncle Bob had passed away just a few minutes before. For the first time, I learned that my uncle had been diagnosed with leukaemia just ten days earlier. Doctors had tried chemo, but it was not working at all, so they had sent him home to make him comfortable. He'd had several good days, but on Monday, he woke up very ill and became progressively worse during the day.

This was such a shock to me! I hadn't seen this coming, and I felt like I'd been slammed against a brick wall! Honestly, all week I've found tears just running down my face. I've seen my uncle's face a thousand times in memories, and I've remembered things that were forgotten years ago.

Today, Saturday, was Uncle Bob's funeral. My dad and mom went, and I'm so thankful they could do that. It made me feel that a part of me was there with my family. But my heart still hurts that he is gone. Already. Way too soon.

I'm just trying to be honest with you. I am zapped. I need to get over this hurdle. I will get back here and post those pictures, but I just haven't been able to put my heart into it. Thank you so much for your patience.

Please pray for me if the Lord brings me to your mind. Thank you!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime: South Africa

Over the next few days - or weeks - I will be posting pictures and reports about our trip to South Africa and Europe. It truly was the trip of a lifetime for us! I still can't believe that I've been to these countries! Hopefully my posts won't be too long or boring, because when I get started talking about them, I can't seem to stop, especially about South Africa. Our hearts were touched deeply by the people we met and saw, as well as by the work our missionaries are doing there. I hope you'll enjoy the pictures and get just a taste of what is happening there.

English countryside near London, from the plane
Our trip started with two days of travel across nine time zones. We left Vancouver, BC, at about 8:00 on Tuesday night and flew nine hours to London, overnight. This was our first time to ever leave North America, and our first overnight flight. When we arrived in London, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon locally, but to us, it was 4:00 in the morning! We had a six-hour layover, though, so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs, get something to eat, and catch a quick cat nap. Then we boarded the biggest plane out there for Johannesburg, South Africa!

My tiny little diet Coke! I was watching a TV documentary about dogs.
This flight was eleven hours, slightly southeasterly as we flew almost the entire length of the continent of Africa. We were able to sleep on the plane some, which was almost unavoidable, being our second night flying. We left London at about 7:00 pm. The nice thing about these long international flights is that there is a TV in the back of every seat. You plug in your headphones and watch TV, a movie, listen to music, or watch your flight progress in real time complete with a map. I wouldn't suggest that last one be your only entertainment on an eleven-hour trip, but it was informative and fun to see where we were, how far we'd come, and (groan) how much farther we had to go. I watched some TV shows, tried to watch about four different movies, and kept track of our progress for a few hours, then slept a couple, then woke up and couldn't go back to sleep at about 2:30 am, in whatever time zone - I have no clue! I just knew we still had about five hours of the flight left and couldn't sleep!

We weren't sitting where we could get a picture of the sunrise, but this picture is very much how I remember it!
The sun was just rising as we landed in Johannesburg, and it was beautiful! Our first African sunrise! Our missionary host, Bro. Jeremy Johnson, was waiting for us at the airport at 7:30 on Thursday morning. We retrieved our luggage - all ten pieces of it - after only losing one piece, which was easily found at the airport luggage-handling counter. Someone had picked up one of our pieces by accident, and fortunately had realized it before they left the airport. We had lots of gifts from our church family for the Johnsons, especially because there's a new baby girl coming after three little boys!

Our Ford Explorer full of luggage as we were leaving home. There are 10 suitcases piled in back there!
The Johnsons live a little over an hour from Johannesburg, and I managed to stay awake all the way there. I was humbled by my first sight of a housing extension just outside Johannesburg. These extensions are where the native black people were forced to live during apartheid, and where a majority of them still live. The houses we saw were 10'x20', two rooms with outer walls of tin sheets, and a tin roof. Most of them had electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, but some didn't. There were thousands of houses in each extension.

When we arrived at the Johnsons' home, we were greeted by Rebekah and their three little boys. We arrived about 10:00, and by 10:30 we had both had showers and were taking a nap. Wes set the clock on his phone to wake us up in a couple of hours, but he forgot to turn on the alarm, so we slept for four hours instead! We woke up in mid-afternoon and forced ourselves to get up and get ready for supper. The church there has its mid-week service on Thursday, so we went to church and began meeting people our first evening there! We sang with them in English, and then tried to sing along in Zulu also! The pastor spoke English, but I must admit I had a very hard time keeping up - I was still exhausted. I've never had such a hard time staying awake in church! We were able to get into bed by about 9:00 that night, slept great all night, and felt almost like ourselves again Friday morning. We still had to go to bed early Friday night, but by Saturday we were able to keep going all day and begin to learn about Bro. Johnson's ministry in Clewer and Witbank, South Africa.

Let me add here that I was going to share a couple more pictures, thinking I had access to some of the pictures Wes took in South Africa. I didn't take any there because he was using our big camera (instead of a phone or iPad). We have enabled photo sharing between our computers, but I suppose he only shared pictures from Europe to this point. I'm really running behind on getting these posts ready, so I'm going to publish this one and try to get some South Africa pictures to share. Thanks for your patience this week. My computer has had issues all week on top of trying to learn this "sharing" thing!

Next: Pictures from the Johnsons' ministry!

Photo credit for picture of the African sunrise:  photo credit: rod amaru  via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mentoring the Next Generation

As most of you know, our son, Andrew, finished college last year and is still living and working in Lancaster, CA, where he went to school. During his last couple of years of college, he worked in the bus ministry at Lancaster Baptist Church, and there he met a young fellow named DayDay (that's a nickname; I'm not quite sure how to spell his real name!). Andrew got involved in DayDay's life, and as one thing lead to another, Andrew has become quite a "big brother" to DayDay.

Andrew's motivation runs deep: he wants to be different and make a difference in one child's life. So often, Christians complain about how inner-city kids are turning out. They turn to drugs and alcohol and immorality, and we shake our heads and do nothing. Andrew took action, and continues to be an integral part of DayDay's life, three years later.

Andrew doesn't want to just talk about doing something to help kids; he is doing something.

Something that has meant sacrifice for him.

Today I want to share with you Andrew's heart concerning DayDay, and invite you to help out if you can and want to.

Here's the story in Andrew's words:

"A few years ago I had the awesome opportunity of meeting DayDay and his family, and was able to begin tutoring him in some of his classes. The public education he was receiving seemed to be subpar. So last year I had the privilege of placing DayDay in a private, Christian school, and it went great!

Exceeding expectations, DayDay went from lackluster grades in his public school to impressive academic improvements in his first year of a private school environment. There have been bumps in the road along the way, but DayDay is continuing to grow socially, spiritually, and academically.

This year DayDay is back in his second year of private school, and the overall costs for a year of this education come in between $4,000-$5,000. These costs exclude clothing, after school care, and the occasional cheeseburger...

With only a single income, friends and family have encouraged me to start a fund-raising page for anyone who would like to be involved in helping offset the costs of this year's tuition. This is an opportunity to be involved in helping a kid receive a high quality education. Please consider being a part!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We're Home!

A sweet view of the Eiffel Tower. This is not the best picture - I'm saving that one for the account of our anniversary!

What a month we had on our once-in-a-lifetime trip! We spent a fantastic two weeks in South Africa with our missionary friends, Jeremy and Rebekah Johnson. Wes spent hours and hours teaching in the Bible Institute Bro. Jeremy operates, and he preached in two services with a Zula interpretor. He also got to preach in the opening session of the local college, and students were required to attend - can you imagine that happening in North America?! We also visited a wildlife preserve and saw lots of animals we only see in zoos over here, and we learned a lot about South Africa and its people. I'll have a couple of posts, at least, about our time in South Africa.

Some excitement in the streets of London

We left Africa on October 3rd and headed to London. We were there for 7 nights, and enjoyed seeing many of the popular sights there. We also went to a place that had wonderful spiritual significance to us, and I can't wait to tell you about that! On the 9th, we took the Eurostar train under the English Channel to Paris and spent a beautiful 5 days there. We enjoyed a relaxed day on our 30th anniversary. The pace in Paris was a little slower than in London, simply because there wasn't as much that we were interested in seeing. The city of Paris is beautiful, with all its old buildings and iron balconies - I loved just taking a bus and riding through the streets just to see all the beautiful buildings.

The English like their coffee strong! I had 4 packets of sweetener and most of that little pot of rich, heavy cream in my cup, and it still had a bitter edge to it!

We took lots of pictures of the entire trip, but we have yet to get them all sorted out and ready to post. I will take the next couple of weeks to tell you all about our trip and show you lots of pictures. Wes is planning to make a video to present to our church family, and hopefully I'll be able to share that with you too.

The view from our hotel room on the outskirts of Paris. This was the most beautiful room and view, perfect for our anniversary week!
Finally, it is SO GOOD to be HOME! I've been scrambling around the house getting things back in order from our two trips and the time in between them - believe me, it's still quite a mess. One of the first things I did (after conquering the laundry) was to rearrange my kitchen. When we moved into this house in April, I just threw things in the cabinets and kept on trucking. That wasn't working at all! So now I've got my cabinets arranged much better and I feel like I can sanely work in there again. I'm really looking forward to nesting this fall and getting ready for Christmas!

That's all for now! Stories and more pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heading Out!

We're headed to South Africa! We'll be flying all night tonight with a layover in London, then flying another night. Thank you for praying for us as we travel!

I have another couple of requests to ask of you. A few months ago, I mentioned that a friend of ours, Katherine Aulin, was near death. Later that week, she rallied and was able to go home. We saw her at family camp just a few weeks ago. Her health had continued to fail, but she was cheerful and praising the Lord anyway. This past Sunday, we received word that Katherine had passed away during the night. We're sad to lose a friend here, but we rejoice in the promise of Heaven. She had lost both legs and had very limited sight, suffered from kidney failure with dialysis treatments, and had just recently been diagnosed with MS. All of that is over now, praise the Lord! She is walking and rejoicing with the Lord today! Please do pray for her family, though. They are saved, and have the same blessed hope, but the coming days will be hard for them. Her funeral is Thursday.

Another request: A friend of mine has a 5-year-old great-niece named Taylor. Last week, doctors found cancer in her right kidney. Yesterday, she had a CT scan which revealed cancer in several other places in her body. She was admitted to the hospital immediately to begin treatments to manage the cancer in her kidney and will go from there. The doctor said she needs a miracle. Please pray for that miracle for Taylor! She and her mother live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, and she is in hospital in Calgary, Alberta. There's a Facebook page for Taylor here, if you'd like to join and follow her progress. It's a closed group, so you might mention that you're a blog reader of mine as you request to join the page.

I'll update our trip as often as possible. See you in a month!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin