Friday, December 30, 2005

Attn: So Cal Friends

We will be in Pasadena from 1 January - 4 January when we take off in New Zealand.  We have arrangements on the calendar to see many of you but if you haven't made it on our calendar yet and you're free Tuesday afternoon/evening, 3 January email Emrys or I and we'll hook you up with the "open house" details so we can see you before we take off. 
Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sorting, Packing & Visiting!

With Christmas 2005 now just a great memory we are enjoying time with Sara's parents, brother Josh and Emrys' brother Christopher all in Phoneix this week. We will also get a chance to visit with Emrys' other brothers here in the area tonight as we all hang out before we take off to the ends of the globe (us to New Zealand and Emrys's brother/sis-in-law Geoff & Krissy to South Africa). We've done so much packing, sorting and repacking this year that by the time we land sometime next fall we'll be ready to settle! But first- we're off to see the world- which alas, requires packing!

Happy New Year to all!!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Walk in Wisconsin

20 December, 2005

We left the dry warmth of Phoenix yesterday for the moist cold of the upper Midwest. A perpetual cloud of flurries has been falling since we landed in Minneapolis and drove to the small farming community of Colfax, Wisconsin. As I left for my walk through the farmlands of western Wisconsin, my Mexican hoodie quickly collected an assortment of the delicate, six-pointed flakes, as if we adorn me with real winter.

The land is flat here. But the level surface of soil serves a deeper fecundity rather than a bland sterility. Though the smooth surface of the land now appears uniform and blank, whispers of life echo all around. Single farmhouses, bastions of warmth under the grey blanket of cold hold lives waiting within, waiting for the inevitable turn of green. Rows of corn skeletons stand in broken poses, their pale brown spines defying the seasonal rigor mortis with the pride of promise for another year’s life to come. Stands of conifers shudder in the breeze, their defiant green tassels serving as festal fringes on the world’s robe of white.

There is life here. It waits patiently for winter to have its season, for the cold to snap and the chill to settle in, knowing even as the days grow shorter that they must grow longer again. Spring will come once more, and life will arise out of the wintery void, creation again from nothing. Unlike the Antarctic barrenness, which lies frozen under an endless frigidity, this wilderness has an unassuming expectancy.

It is the perfect place to remember Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Phoenix, Arizona

We spend a week in the curious melange of the American Southwest. It is a place to which thousands of Americans flock anew every day, but to which they must also bring their own water. The seguaros have known this for years, of course--that's why it takes them a hundred years to grow five feet in height. But human developments of homes, golf courses, rec centres, and pools sprout up in this arid clime as if there were a fountain of youth under every desert stone. Some strange inversion of values has drawn God's people back into the wilderness, where terebinths and cedars wither as seedlings and where milk and honey need swift refrigeration. And they need hand cream--lots of it.

But there is redemption in the newly populated desert.

Yesterday we drove in traffic for the first time since leaving Los Angeles. There, sitting behind the steering wheel, I relived some ancient dream: relaxing in the comfort of a beige bucket seat, sipping air filtered through the carbuerators and mufflers of countless cars while the gorgeous golden globe of the sun set in a wide polluted sky. Certainly this is how Phoenix is meant to be experienced. The cowboys can have their sunsets over the brown sandy fields of cacti, putting their lips to tin coffee cups. I will celebrate the dusk on a pale grey sheet of asphalt, my lips caressing the steel tailpipe of a Honda Civic. That's the real Phoenix, now.

I wonder if I'll be able to get a fix like that in New Zealand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We have left the land of snow and cold. But we received the treat of a few inches of new fallen Rocky Mountain snow in Durango this morning before we left. As I watched the final flakes descend from the sky, I thought about the miracle I beheld.

Yahweh did a wonderful job with snow. If you’ve ever seen pictures of snowflakes taken with an electron microscope, then you know of the perfect six-pointed fractal designs that are unique to collections of molecules made with single oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. It dances through the air with chaotic choreography, gracing the cold hard stage with its glass slippers. It blankets the world in silence, as if to say, “Be quiet, and observe the beauty before you.” Its insular cold beckons nature to sleep and forget the worries of life. It brushes wisdom and grace upon the heads of mountain tops, transforming dull knobs into shimmering towers. It gleefully bears the weight of children’s sleds and lovingly catches them when they fall. It is strong enough to bend the boughs of trees but humble enough to yield its territory when spring comes with its claim. And when it yields, it offers each year’s youthful sprigs just what they need to grow. What a perfect work did Yahweh with snow! Next time you see it, or hold it in your mitten, or catch it on your tongue, thank God for this wondrous creation.

~ em

Monday, December 12, 2005

On the Road Again...

Like an upbeat country song, so our adventure continues. Today we moved out of the manse in Lake City and watched the peaceful town disappear in our rearview mirrors as we set out again. We are in Durango tonight and will drive on to Peoria, AZ tomorrow and spend a few days with Sara’s folks before we set out for WI next week.

We hope this Christmas season finds you filled with joy!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

When Snow Crunches

When I walked out the door this morning to go to the community men's fellowship, it was -20 degrees Fahrenheit.



And I could see every star in the sky.

~ emrys

Monday, December 05, 2005

You Know It's Cold When...

...when you're out walking and your perspiration turns to frost on your hat and mittens!! 5 miles at 5ºf. Definately looking forward to walking in warmer climates after this week!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

On the Loss of a Father

I sat in the front pew of the church at my dad’s memorial service. Before me, on my right, was the choir loft in which my dad had sung for many years. I remembered the vivacity with which he spoke about upcoming choir performances, difficult offertories to be sung in worship, and—when he had taken up the violin in earnest again—his part in instrumental numbers. As I looked on the choir loft, I noticed his absence. When I closed my eyes, I could hear the tremble of his bass voice from the back of the choir. I could hear that it was missing.

I wept when I thought about his missing voice. It would be missing from my life, missing from phone calls and conversations.

We stood up to sing “Amazing Grace.” (I should be accurate here: I stood up and the congregation followed my example. I understand why the congregation was not asked to stand for any hymns at the memorial service, but you can’t sing “Amazing Grace” sitting down. You just can’t.) As I mouthed the words with trembling lips and a tongue stilled by emotion, I noticed something. My dad was in the choir loft again. But now, rather than a single voice singing bass in accompaniment to the ten or twelve other folks in the loft, I heard my dad as part of host of angels. He had joined the heavenly choir that sings “Amazing Grace” into eternity and back. Of course, it’s the place where he belongs, having sung and played Christ’s praises in faith for most of his life.

Then there was a new mourning, and a new weeping that came over me. It was the mourning not of those who have no hope, but the mourning of hope. For to be exposed to the truth that Jesus brings the faithful children home upon death is to be exposed to the equally potent truth that I am not yet home. Pain came no longer from the realization that Dad was not with me; pain now came from the realization that I am not with him. He is experiencing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ, and I am not.

Academics refer to something similar in what is called the “already/not yet” problem. In the Scriptures we see Jesus announcing God’s kingdom as having arrived, and the disciples witness his resurrection. But evil still exists in the world, and we do not yet experience the New Jerusalem as it will be when Christ returns. At my dad’s memorial service I found myself caught between the life I have—which mourns the end of my dad’s life on earth—and the life I will have but do not yet have—of which he already partakes. The reverse of this phenomenon is what someone once called “realizing that you’re on deck”: that is, when your parents die, you realize that you’re next. There’s no more generational buffer between you and the inevitable stilling of heart beat and breath.

But my sense in the pew was not an anxiety borne of fear. It was an anxiety—an agitation—borne of expectation. I will be there, singing with him and the hosts and all the generations of the saints; but I am not there yet. And my absence for this world is terrible. Let me be there now, Lord, rather than here! Suddenly having patience—a trait that seems to have a genetic origin in Dad and me—with God is difficult. I am left on this side of the great divide, to wait.

So I wait, with only one thing to do between Now and Then. Oddly—in an uncanny twist that would make the hosts of angels smile—that thing to do is precisely what Dad had a gift for doing. It is to serve.

Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us to serve in such a way that we may be prepared to sing with the choirs of angels some day!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Past Cancer!!

Sara received a clean bill of health from oncology on Wednesday and had her port removed this morning. She's feeling a little sore but that's to be expeced when you're cut open and stuff's taken out! We're greatful for all the wonderful docs we had here in Durango through this process and the nurses and staffs at Mercy Medical, Southwest Oncology & Durango Cancer Center. All were huge contributing factors in quick discovery of and success in treating Sara's cancer. So now we move on with life, letting this just be a page in the book that has taught us the value of relationships and the preciousness (not sure that's a real word- but hey- I just had surgery!) of life.

Enjoy your loved ones this holiday season!
Much love

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Yarn Dying

The weekend before Thanksgiving I was invited to join a local artist in experimenting with yarn dying. We had a great time. She let me pick the colors and we set to work measuring lengths of wool yarn, stuffing them in zip-lock bags and adding dye to color the measured segments. It was a fun craft to learn and a great time of visiting. After the yarn was dyed, it was “cooked”, rinsed and dried. The finished product is a beautiful, soft, variegated yarn of red, yellow, blue and gray. I’ve used some of it to knit a scarf that’s on its way to a friend and the rest I will be using for a scarf for myself! (in all my yarn works I haven’t kept anything yet!)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving and Chocolate

My mom came in for Thanksgiving and discovered that flying in and out of Rocky Mountain Colorado can be an adventure. After mechanical difficulties and lost pilots, the airline brought her in to us a day late. We had a good time touring Lake City and the next southern metropolis of Creede. We saw lots of deer and ate lots of food on Thanksgiving Day. (Sara says she won't cook for the last two weeks we're here--my orders are to get rid of the leftovers before we hit the road on the 12th of December.)

We hunted for several hours for elk, but they had not yet descended from the high country to be spotted from the road. But on one elk-seeking trip Mom and I discovered one of the few organized attractions in the Lake City-Creede area: the 16th Annual Chocolate Festival.

So on Black Friday, when the rest of the over-developed world is flooding into shopping malls and fighting off other price-gouged parents in the checkout lines, we were strolling down the three-block main street of Creede, tasting nuggets of chocolate delicacies meant to impress the most cultivated Western palate: brandy-soaked chocolate-covered cherries, white and dark chocolate fudges, pure Bavarian hot chocolate over homemade marshmallow, orange chocolate truffles, and nineteen other sweet morsels. Everyone in Creede (and some surrounding areas) came out for the event, flocking into the streets and making the town bustle in a season when most towns in the region seem like ghost towns. Who knew?

When we weren't off hunting elk or devouring chocolate, we played a lot of cards: casino, solitaire, and a little bit of bridge (Sara and I had never played before). Thanks to the inventor of playing cards for offering humanity a challenging and social way to pass the time!

This morning I dropped Mom off at the airport and waited for the requisite delay to discover if the plane would be able to land and pick up outbound passengers. Since she hasn't called again, we can only assume that Mom is somewhere between Denver and the Lehigh Valley, on a re-arranged flight schedule. Meanwhile, folks in the Lake City Community Presbyterian Church were decorating the sanctuary for Advent and Christmas. Our worship space is now especially festive, ready for the most extravagant time of the year. And Sara and I sit again in front of the wood stove, waiting for the "ten to twenty inches of snow" that Mr. Weatherman says is supposed to drop in our area of Southwest Colorado. We've got extra wood for the night, and nowhere to drive until Tuesday. Bring on the snow!

The pictures that follow are: one of the ubiquitous deer of Lake City; sign on the south end of Creede; a mural in downtown Creede, depicting the landscape of the Western Slope; and Sara enjoying a "fondue fountain" of dark chocolate. Enjoy!
~ emrys

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Tylers & Rose Girls

Emrys & Katie Beth
Sara & Emma Grace

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Trip West- and Hair!

We’ve had a hectic week. We went to Fresno to visit with friends from Fuller and join with them as they baptized their daughter. It was a wonderful time of visiting and getting to know their families and of course spending time with Katie (2) & Emma (5 mo.). We got a good dose of little kids again- not as many in Lake City as there were running around our block in Pasadena. I had the chance to walk with Sarah as she trained for the marathon in January and also got to play a little bit of racquetball which was fun for me and amusing for Rob. We decided that my racquetball meets ballet technique is rather amusing. Hey, I can laugh at myself too!

We were bumped off of our original flight back into Gunnison on Tuesday and got to spend the night in Denver, did some shopping and in return, United Airlines hooked us up with hotel, meals and roundtrip tickets for future travels. Gotta love it! Wednesday we were in Gunnison for my CT scan, blood work and a quick run through the grocery store. The scan went well- the easiest one yet- praise God! I’ll go back to Durango in 2 weeks and see all my docs, get my port out and hopefully be on my way to being completely done with this chapter!

Much love and we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Coast to Coast

Last week took us to Pennsylvania to help Emrys’ family get his dad’s house cleaned out and ready to sell and this weekend will take us to Fresno to celebrate Emma Rose’s baptism and stand with her family as they’ve asked us to be her sponsors/Godparents. We’re excited to go and spend some time with some dear friends from Fuller for a long weekend.

Thanks are going well here in Lake City. Emrys continues leadership of the church and Sara continues filling her time with the things she enjoys doing. Next Wednesday Sara will have her post-treatment CT scan and blood work done. Please keep this in your prayers as you remember the CT scan is not the most pleasant experience since they have to inject a contrast.

Hope everyone’s falls are going well and you’ve had a chance to take a moment to enjoy the beauty of the season!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Your Support for the ACS

The tally is in! I think it's about as final as it's going to get, so I shall present it as such. The American Cancer Society of Durango, Colorado has reported that you all have given a total of:


to ACS in honour of Sara. This is in addition to those of you who have supported Sarah Rose and her efforts. Thank you! We appreciate your willingness to produce something good in the face of something horrible like Sara's cancer. Thank you all.

If you have not yet donated to ACS and would like to do so, please go to and click on "Donate" on the topmost navigation bar or to help Sarah Rose with her goals and support her as she heads off to walk/run a marathon in January, click on the link to the right. The ACS and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are committed to continual efforts to cure, treat, or manage all the cancer that plague humanity.

Finally, we praise God once more for faithfulness in healing Sara and for inspiring so many folks to give in honour of Sara.

Monday, October 24, 2005

American Basin

I wore sunscreen and sunglasses this time--it was much more fun for that. However, we didn't count on all the snow!

(One of the many unnamed but gorgeous peaks around American Basin.)

Aaron (a friend from Sonlight Camp) and I hiked into American Basin, a watershed up in the mountains southwest of Lake City. We were attempting to summit Handies Peak, one of the five "14-ers" (mountains higher than 14,000 feet elevation, of which there are 54 in Colorado) in the Lake City area. Alas, we didn't make the summit. We should have started earlier: we were about 1,000 feet from the summit at our turn-around time. Sigh.

(The view back down American Basin from about 12,000 feet.)

Our upward progess was made slow by the abundance of snow--much more snow than on the trail to Uncompahgre last week. But the foamy white made the scenery quite beautiful, as you can see in these photos. In one of them, you can see the flat-topped Uncompahgre Peak peeking out with its reddish face from behind a closer mountain.

(See the wide top of Uncompahgre, hazy in the the distance?)

In another, you can see Sloan Lake, a nearly-frozen pond at 12,000 feet, basking below a jagged ridge of unnamed peaks.

(Sloan Lake, almost as white as the snow around it.)

One of these photos looks back on our track down from the base of the peak. What is hard to discern in the photo is the slope. We decided it would be faster to slide down the northwest face of Handies rather than take the circuitous trail back into the basin. We tried to glissade (a first attempt at the skill for me), but the snow was too deep and powdery. So we ran down the 50-degree incline through the two-foot-deep snow. We watched little dislodged chunks of hardened snow go scurrying down the slope ahead of us, followed by a mist of sandy ice kicked up by our knees. It was much faster than taking the trail around!

(I had to crane my neck upwards to get this shot!)

Though we didn't make the summit, it was another beautiful morning in some of the most beautiful scenery in God's world.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

14,000 Feet

Did you know that you can sunburn your eyes? I didn't; at least not until last Monday, when a friend from Lake City and I scaled Uncompahgre Peak. The mountain is the sixth highest in Colorado, soaring 14,309 feet above the level of the sea. The snow was patchy--nothing really to contend with--but enough angel dust had fallen on the surrounding mountain ranges to make their crowns picturesque against the azure sky. However, at 14,309 feet above sea level, we were about 12,000 feet closer to the sun than where I grew up. And there's significantly less air (and no cloud) to buffer the rays of that burning orb at such an altitude.

It's October, and we're in the Rocky Mountains. I'm wearing three layers of clothing and heavy boots. Who thinks about sunscreen while sporting such apparel? I should have. When I came back from the hike, my face and neck were lobster-red, and I even had horizontal bands of red on my eyeballs the width of a tight squint. Sigh. Tomorrow, when another friend and I hike Handies Peak (a mere 14, 048 feet), I will slather my peeling face and neck with a sunscreen that would make NASA proud, and I'll wear a hat and sunglasses. More pictures and less pain to follow.

~ emrys

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Day to Day in Lake City

Well, it’s trying to snow again but true to the forecast the snow is only sticking at or around 9,000 feet. We’re at 8,700 and I can see snow sticking on the hills outside the windows. But here its just slush!

We are doing well and enjoying small town fall. Many of the trees are still holding their color in spite of the colder temperatures. We remain busy with church stuff, house stuff, visiting folks and just enjoying the day.

Life moves at a realistically slow pace here which is wonderful. While I will have a full day, full of crochet, reading, baking & cooking, walking and a little bit of work, none of it is rushed or hurried. It’s a great thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The View from the Kitchen

Set In Stone To Cross The Seas

Well, it's official. And in today's consumer society, making something official means paying money for it. Until money has changed hands, nothing's written in stone. After the money has changed hands, neither the heat of the underworld nor elevated levels of di-hydrogen monoxide will change it. And now, money has changed hands.

Let me say first that Sara is a genius. After much searching to discover the best way to get it done within our budget, she found a unique blessing in the system of a certain foreign airline corporation. That blessing is this: a journey of multiple legs can be purchased for the same amount of money as a single round-trip between two points. To instantiate: for the cost of air travel from Los Angeles, California to Dunedin, New Zealand and back, Air New Zealand has also kindly offered to take us from Los Angeles, California to Dunedin, New Zealand to Syndey, Australia to Wellington, New Zealand and back to Los Angeles.

And now money has changed hands (thanks to the donors of the Parish Pulpit Fellowship Award at Fuller Theological Seminary). So it's written in stone. The first few months of 2006, for Sara and I, look like this:

4 Jan: Fly to Dunedin, New Zealand (South Island). [Emrys will take 3 classes here at U. of Otago.]
27 Feb: Fly to Sydney, Australia.
4 Mar: Fly to Wellington, New Zealand (North Island).
17 Mar: Fly to Los Angeles, California.

As you can imagine, we're very excited! We've begun to look at backpackers (hostels) to accomodate us while we're in these sundry places down under. Those of you who have money and leisure, please feel free to plan your trips to visit us. For everyone else, ready your internet and digital photo software so that we can share pictures with you.

We'll let y'all know when plans for Prague get concretized.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Here in Lake City

We've finally settled in one place--for about two months. From now until December 11, we're residing in Lake City where I (Emrys) am serving as stop-gap pastor to the Lake City Community Presbyterian Church.
The name "Lake City" is half misnomer. There is a lake here, but there ain't no city. The town's population is about 2000 in the summer and about 320 in the autumn and winter. We'll be here in the latter part of the year. Our experience here has caused us to redefine Durango as "the big city." (It has a Wal-Mart, after all.)
The fall colours are almost gone, with the huge sombre willows along the main drag providing the greatest resistance to the turning tide of winter. They still burn with a golden yellow, though their fire is spreading more and more to the yards and rooftops of the town. Way above us, the mountains have already donned their white caps and settled in for their long winter nap. The air nipped with the sharp teeth of Jack Frost for the first time today. It was cold enough for boots and mitts.
So Sara and I sit together in the 125-year-old dining room, our feet propped up next to the wood stove, and settle. The world is quiet here, and we like it. We could be settlers on the Western Slope at the end of the 19th century, were it not for the click-clack of my laptop keys and the screen displaying images conveyed by satellite internet. In spite of the technology, our evening is homey, a fitting piece of the tiny society called Lake City, where everyone knows your name and notices when you're not there. It will be a good two months.
Sara has finished her radiation, and we thank God every day for it. Her head grows stiffer and fuzzier with new hair, the blessed arrival proving the end of the ordeal. We're done with cancer and its treatments for a long, long time--at least among us. Friends and church members still suffer its ravages; I for one hope that our experience, though terrible, will afford more grace to others who will lean on us for support.
Even as we discover the life of tiny town, Colorado, we make plans for the future. New Zealand has almost become a certainty for the new year: the money is in, my classes are booked, and we're on the cusp of having airline tickets in our hot little hands. Hobbiton, Milford Track, and sheep out the wazoo beckon us from the other side of the globe. The testimonies of friends who drool at the thought of that kiwi-land have whet our appetites for the trip. Almost too quickly, it will be here. Then to Prague and the allures of Europe. Then I shall have a call back in this country, and it will be finally time to settle down for a long time: no more stuff "in storage," no more wondering where we'll live next month.
The past has been rough, but the present is bright, and the future is warm. Hah! Life is good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

3 Days and Counting!

12 weeks of chemotherapy and 12 radiation treatments down- 3 radiation treatments to go! By noon on Friday I will have completed my cancer treatments! So as you are all over the country making your weekend plans – join us in celebrating! Lift a glass, eat an extra brownie or just dance around your living room! Then come back, post a comment so we can all share the experience!

Thank you again to everyone who was my support during this time with cards, e-mails, phone calls, letters and donations to various cancer research and support organizations. If you have planned on making donations or plan to at year end, and just haven’t gotten around to it, I’d ask that you visit my friend Sarah R.’s site (link to the right) and consider supporting her as she’s fundraising and walking with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society marathon on January 8.

As the chapter of treatment comes to a close, I am so blessed to count you all among my friends and family. May this fall find you time to truly enjoy those around you – friends and family – who you love. May you take the time from the busy-ness to enjoy the colors of the turning leaves, the first cool crisp day, the smile on a child’s face.
Love to you all.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Weather of the Week

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings brought thunderstorms. Thunder roaring, hail falling, rain crashing down and lightning interrupting the night sky. Thursday brought rain, rain and more rain.

Now it is Friday. The warm sun and the glowing aspens that have succumbed to fall kiss the cool snow caps on the peaks of the San Juan mountains. The sight is spectacular and the drive up to Lake City this afternoon was truly breathtaking… see for yourself->

We are blessed to be able to live- even if temporarily- in such a beautiful area!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lake City, CO

Visiting, sermon preparation, radiation treatments, walking in the beautiful fall colors, racquetball; these are just a few of the things filling up our calendars these days! Last weekend we took off in different directions- Emrys to Lake City and Sara to Phoenix to get stuff out of storage. It was a grueling weekend but good. Sara was able to visit with family during her short trip and Emrys did some more “settling in” to the manse.

Radiation is going well. Sara isn’t experiencing any of the side effects yet and we’re half way through! Praise God!! In addition, she’s taken on racquetball twice a week while she’s in Durango and walking on the off days. Her energy is back and better than when we started!
Last night we had rain and thunderstorms all night. It was the first time in a long time and so in spite of the cold air that came with the storms we slept with the windows open. It was great! And this morning we’re back to Colorado blue skies.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cruising Into Fall

With radiation treatments underway, Sara’s still off and running. Although we’ve been warned that her energy may fade near the end of the treatments… we’ll see! Emrys is in Hebrew texts up to his elbows as he prepares sermons for Lake City and thoroughly enjoyed his stay so far in the small town. Last Sunday he preached for a full house as the regular end of summer crowd was in attendance – about 90- and then a women’s retreat that was in the area from Kansas City showed up adding another 40 to the numbers. It was standing room only!!

This we’ll split in separate directions, Sara heading to Phoenix to empty out the storage unit into her parents new garage with lots of help and Emrys off to Presbytery Meetings in Allison, CO and then to Lake City.

The fall colors are beginning to paint the landscape in Durango with rust, orange and gold peaking through the summer greens. Fall is such a beautiful season that was truly missed during our time in California.

Emrys has received his official acceptance to the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand which cements our plans to head off in January. He has to be in Dunedin by January 15th so we will most likely begin our jet-setting soon after New Years. Now that things are cementing this adventure is becoming more real and we’re getting excited again!

Hope all is well with you- our family and friends!!
God Bless!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sharing SW Colorado

We’ve arrived back in Durango and are having fun showing Ginger & Sophie our little corner of paradise. Yesterday we drove north to Andrew’s Lake, Animas Forks- a ghost town, and Silverton. It was a beautiful day and fall was definitely in the air. It was only about 50°. (Link to photos ->). Our outing included Ginger rock climbing, hiding in abandoned mine shafts, gorgeous mountain views, amazing blue water at Baker’s Bridge, exploring houses that remained standing in Animas Forks and wandering through the gift shops in Silverton. It was a packed day and everyone slept well last night!

Today we will meet with the radiation oncologist to schedule out Sara’s treatments. We’re aiming to be done by October 7th so that Sara can move out to Lake City too and the driving back and forth will be finished-for the most part. Emrys will begin preaching at Community Presbyterian on Sunday- so the commuting begins. He’ll drive out, spend the weekend and then come back to Durango.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

On the Road Again

We spent the weekend with Emrys’ family as they gathered to remember his dad. It was a good time of visiting under the circumstances but also difficult as well. We left on Monday and made it safe and sound to Branson, MO and are enjoying some down time with Sara’s family.
For those who haven’t been to Branson, it can only be described as a tacky Las Vegas of the Midwest. But there are outlet malls which are pretty fun! On a mission shopping trip we were able to get some dinnerware. (Ours was hand-me-down stuff that we handed down to someone else when we moved from Pasadena.) We now have dishes to eat off of when we get to Lake City- which is a good thing.
We will hang out here through Friday or Saturday when we will start our trip back to Durango. We will get back into town late on Sunday. Sara’s Mom will be with us next week as well as our good friend Sophie. It will be a good time.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Roller Coaster Continues

Better safe than repeating this summer again in 5 years. That was our decision after meeting with Dr. Bush- the radiation oncologist. The good news is that the treatments will only be 3 weeks in duration and won’t start until the middle of September. This allows Sara 3 weeks of energy regaining time before the radiation starts and it seems that the radiation treatments will cause a fraction of the side effects that the chemotherapy did. So, for the next three weeks, we enjoy - no doctor’s appointments, prodding, poking, sticking etc. Sara’s looking forward to this!

Emrys spent last week battling a cold, and also getting some rest and relaxation, although a little less than originally planned. He preached at Community Presbyterian Church in Lake City, CO on Sunday. Lake City is a warm community and it looks as if he may be filling their pulpit through the middle of December. (Yup, that’s right- moving again!)

It’s with sadness that we share that we found out that Emrys’s dad, George Tyler, passed away on Saturday. So this week will bring some zig-zagging around the country to make it to PA for memorial services and back to the Midwest for the Wheat family reunion. Please keep Emrys’ family in your prayers as they mourn this sudden and unexpected loss and for us as we travel that our health will be sustained and protected. (Sara’s been given the OK by her doc to fly but we all know about airplanes and germs etc!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Marathon- Support Sarah R!

I found out this week that my dear friend Sarah R. is planning on walking a marathon in January on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society team to raise money for cures for these cancers. As my prognosis is good due to the research and development of these treatments, not all lymphomas and leukemias have reached this point in successful treatments. To the right is the link to Sarah's fundraising page. If you are so led I would encourage you to support her in her trek!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Halleluiah, NO MORE CHEMO!!

Chemo is over- Praise God! After my doctor consulted with the pediatric oncologists at University of New Mexico, we found out last night that the 3 cycles of chemotherapy I have completed will be sufficient and I will have to complete 3 weeks of radiation therapy as icing on the cake to make sure that any little cancer cells that may be hanging out get eradicated as well. But for now, I take great joy in knowing that when I am done with feeling yucky this time around, I get to continue getting better. Its my understanding that the radiation treatments are a little less jarring on the body than the chemotherapy was. Here's for hoping!

So this morning after my Neulasta shot all the nurses, staff and my Doctor were there to share in our rejoicing! It was a wonderful moment that I cherish in the small clinic that has truly cared about me/us and oujourneyny towards the cure. I also found out that another friend of mine is planning owalkingng a marathon in January with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Look for a link to her website coming soon.

So this means that the trip to Branson, MO for a family reunion for the Wheats will be a much better weekend. We will be moving into the apartment today and I'm so looking forward to the space again.

Thanks to all who have supported us in so many ways through this summer journey! All too numerous to thank personally but know that I there was a way I'd love to have the opportunity to personally thank everyone. For now I'll continue in getting as far as I can.
Love to you all! More info on our Lake City opportunity next time- still in the air on that but should have information next week.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Moving again!

Camp has finished out for the summer and most of the summer staff has headed off in the general direction of their homes. We are hanging out at Sonlight for a couple more nights. Tomorrow we will make a day trip out to Lake City, Colorado, a small town about 2 ½ hours north of Pagosa Springs. We’re scouting in a sense as we may have an opportunity to spend some time in this area this fall. More info as things develop.

Spending the summer at Sonlight has been a great experience for us. The staff was wonderfully supportive and the environment can’t be beat! It will be sad to leave but we are ready to move on. We will stay with friends in Durango this week as Sara takes on Chemo Round 6 and hopefully by next weekend the apartment we will be using will be ready for us. We will welcome our own space again as we’ve done the “community living” thing and stayed with wonderfully hospitable friends and family since we left Pasadena in May. Having some time and space to reconnect with each other will be great!

Monday, August 08, 2005

So Cute!!

Camp is full of 3rd and 4th graders this week and they are so cute! Check out the Sonlight site for pictures! The little ones are so much fun as they learn their way around camp; something we take for granted with our older groups. One little guy checked in on Sunday and promptly went to show his buddies the mud pit- up close and knee deep before we caught up with them! No signs, nobody said they couldn’t go out there, who knew!

Camp is over the end of this week we will be moving back to Durango. If you need to send anything our way via Snail Mail, please do not use the Pagosa Springs address; e-mail us and we’ll pass along our current mailing address.

While modern medicine has many good things, it seems you can’t always have them all at once. Sara’s faring much better this go of chemo than the last, but at the price of quality sleep. It’s a sacrifice chosen over 10 days of upset stomach. We hope and pray that her sleep will be back in sync in the next couple of nights.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, cards, calls and support during this summer. The chemo journey is just over half way done and we’re praising God for the success of the treatments thus far. We are forever grateful that this is not something that we had to face on our own.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Awesome News... and not so awesome details...

The CT scan went well on Tuesday and I have had a couple good days before returning for chemo today. Before the chemo came the results of the CT scan: CLEAR! No evidence of any enlarged lymph nodes at all- anywhere! So the good news is that the chemo is doing its job.

The bad news is that I still have to finish out the 3 remaining treatments and my doctor is still talking about radiation. I’d prefer to skip the radiation portion of this show and move on to the “cancer-free” status waiting for me but I’d also like to have my doctor’s endorsement on that. So please pray that the radiation is not necessary and I can move on to regaining my health at the end of September.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers during this time. I appreciate your continued prayers as I continue through the remainder of the chemo. It’s especially frustrating knowing that I’m going through the chemo but all the enlarged lymph nodes, scar tissue and all, are gone. The recovery time after the treatments seems to have gotten longer with this last treatment and it is becoming wearing on me overall. Thanks so much and love to you all!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

It’s so hard to believe that it’s August tomorrow! This summer has gone by fast in some respects and seems to have dragged forever in others. We have 5th and 6th graders arriving this week for camp. It should be fun!

This round of chemo has been the first that Sara has felt the cumulative effects of the drugs. Fatigue is a little bit more wearing and stomach is a bit more sensitive. Sara will be in Durango more than she will be at camp this week so please keep her in your prayers as she goes for the CT Scan on Tuesday and for chemo on Thursday. She is particularly dreading the CT Scan as the first CT scan was a dreadful experience.

Emrys continues to keep busy around camp and enjoy preparing devotions and worship services for camp staff. We’re both looking forward to returning to Durango when camp ends and some time with Sara’s family over Labor Day.

Friday, July 22, 2005

4 Down- 4 To go

Four treatments down, four to go. I will consider it halfway done when my energy comes back and the CT scan is done (August 2). Praise God, the Nuelasta (bone marrow stimulating drug to boost my white blood count) worked great! Last time my white count was 3.6 on a scale of 4.1 (low)-10.9(high) and today it was up to 10.6! I was able to get the Emend (aka WonderDrug) and so hopefully I’ll just be ready to go this time around! I’m encouraged and at peace.

Thanks to all of you who have sent pictures and cards. It’s been a joy to hear from you all! I only wish I had the energy and discipline to write back to you all! But know that your thoughts, prayers, cards, letters and pictures are appreciated.

Much love!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

July Updates

The last few weeks have been filled with working, dodge-ball, Napoleon Dynamite nights and some nap times as camp has continued. Lots of pictures in the July Pictures link! Sara decided that dealing with the mess of losing her hair was more difficult than the “jump off the cliff” of a buzz cut. So Emrys went to pace with her and on Sunday night we both cut our hair. There are pictures of Emrys’ haircut and the last curl to go. Sara’s haircut was a little more emotional so we didn’t do pictures of that.

Emrys preached at First Pres in Durango on Sunday and that went well and it was good to see our First Pres "family". It was also nice to spend a "non-chemo" weekend in Durango and have Sara have some energy to hang out and visit and do some shopping.

We’re doing well and have 3 ½ weeks of camp left. After August 15th we’re headed out back to Durango to hang out through the rest of Sara’s chemo treatments- much to the delight of our First Pres family in Durango. We have also been given permission to delay our Parish Pulpit travels to January so stay tuned for travel details!

Friday, July 15, 2005


It’s Friday! And a non-chemo Friday which makes the sun shine a bit brighter and the sky a bit bluer and the grass a bit greener. Sara’s feeling better and regaining her energy. Emrys is working his usual camp stuff and a sermon for First Pres- Durango on Sunday. His “research” has included having to view the original three Star Wars movies this week. We’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out how they relate to the book of Joshua.

Sara’s been resting a lot this week and is blowing through books. Since this week was a rental week at camp we’ve had lots of hands which make for light work. Staff also threw a “Hat Shower” for Sara. Check out pictures on the “What’s New” link on the Sonlight webpage.

We’re doing well and will be working on posting more pictures. Love you all!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Doing Well

Well, even without Wonder-Drug I am doing well today. I’ve actually “un-medicated” myself in only taking one of the anti-nausea drugs and leaving the other one alone until I need it and so far so good. This morning I had to get an injected med to kick my bone marrow into gear. Two weeks ago when they ran the tests my white count was a 4.7 (normal range 5.0-10.0 or 4.0-11.0 depending on which lab the work comes from), this time it was a 3.6 so we’re hoping that the injection works and give my white count the boost it needs to continue treatment.

So now we just pray that I stay healthy, that I lose the rest of my hair with grace and that I have patience with myself as the fatigue sets in again.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Medical Supply & Demand

Cycle two of chemo is underway. My white blood count is still low so tomorrow I’m having to get a shot of some fun drug that will prompt my bone marrow to get to work and generate more white blood cells. So please pray that that will go well and there will be minimal discomfort (apparently when the bone marrow gets to work, soreness in the larger bones-thighs & pelvis- are very common).

The Wonder-Drug (Emend) that I got last time that made the post chemo so bearable, is not stocked in any of the pharmacies or hospitals in Durango, Pagosa Springs, Farmington or Albuquerque. It is a very new drug and demand hasn’t gotten it in regular stock yet. It was kind of a fluke that I got the sample from my doctor last time. So we’re trying something else for this time. Please pray that that works as well. Next time we can get the Wonder-Drug in advance

Please also pray that I will be good and rest more and allow my body to deal with the fatigue as it needs. Thank you all who have e-mailed and sent cards and pictures. You’re keeping me smiling! Love to you all.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

"Normal" Days & Bears

It’s Sunday again and it’s going to be a good week. Sara’s back on her feet and ready to go, and Emrys is the energizer bunny that just keeps going, and going and going. Sara’s hair has started falling out and at the rate its going, will be gone in the next week or so. It’s amazing how many hairs are on our heads!! So far it’s just thinning but as soon as it gets clumpy, Emrys gets to buzz cut it!

This weekend we went for a picnic in town with friends we work with and then wandered the small town carnival. It was great to get out and have a “normal” evening. Sara dug out her scrapbooking this morning and spent a couple hours being crafty. It was a great therapy!

At about 4AM this morning we woke up to the bears. That’s right, the big brown furry kind. They were trying to get into the recycle bins outside of our cabin. Sara tried to get pictures but the screen on the window got on the way. We’ll keep trying.

We are well and are getting ready for High School camp this week. Sara will head back to Durango on Friday for the beginning of the second cycle of chemo and we just pray that the treatments continue to be fine tuned and more bearable. Thanks for the prayers. They continue to sustain us daily.
Much love to you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

An Easier Road

My second chemo treatment has been a lot easier going than the first one. The post treatment meds have been much nicer to me and today I’m off the meds completely and just sleeping. With help from the weather- it’s easier to sleep on cloudy days! One of the other chemo side effects that kicked in is an “acid-reflux” type of burning that isn’t a lot of fun but better than the nausea if I had to pick one. I’m doing well and have learned to listen to my body when it says “rest”. Emrys is off perfecting the hand-washing station for the campers. He’s doing great at keeping up with me. I am blessed!

One answered prayer from 6/24 in that the chemo has been much easier this time around. Please continue to pray that my white count will bounce back and I will remain safe from any infections while it is low.
Much Love!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cycle 1- Treatment 2

After a week of being back on my feet (but taking it easy all the same) I went in today for the second (and last) treatment of my first cycle of chemo (three to go). Emrys stayed behind at camp this time around to help pack out the Wilderness Week campers. Friends dropped me off, came to visit and drove me home after the treatment and are taking care of me tonight- God bless them! Walking in to the clinic I could feel that all the prayers and thoughts of my friends were behind me because I was totally at peace, even though I was walking in alone (armed with a good book and a crochet project) and last time I had gone through it I was sick for a week. I was peaceful and very upbeat and positive. It was great!
After chatting about the anti-nausea meds, my doctor decided to try some new stuff this time around so hopefully I will have a quicker rebound period this time. So we’re one step closer to being done with this and being cured!
Thanks to all of those praying, I believe that prayer does work and appreciate all of you lifting us up. Please pray that I will have a quick recovery from this treatment and please pray that my white blood cell count will rebound (the “magic number” has to be 1.5 for them to proceed with the full chemo treatment and today it was at 1.5). While it didn't effect today's treatment, it would be a good thing to have white blood cells around doing what they're supposed to do!
Love & Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Quiet Sunday Morning

The hum of the refrigerator and the chirping of the birds outside are the only sounds keeping interrupting the silence this morning. Soon camp will be filled with the energy of staff and campers again, but for now the quiet is nice! Sara is back on her feet. The nausea, vertigo and other crummy side effects waned into the night on Thursday night and she’s been back among the working since then. There’s a little fatigue left but that’s very manageable after the other side effects earlier in the week. Emrys is off setting up yet another “White Rabbit Trail” for the staff: a series of bunnies that take staff on a walk around camp and out of their daily tasks when breaks are needed. We’re hoping for a “normal” week this week before we head back to Durango on Friday to finish out Sara’s first cycle of chemo. Thanks to all of you who are keeping us lifted up in thought and prayer. It’s comforting to know that we’re not facing this alone!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sonlight Camp

At Sonlight Camp, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado:
At seven thousand, eight hundred feet above sea level, the aspens stand tall and regal in white bunches among the thick ponderosa pines. The mornings are crisp with the thin air of the Rocky Mountains, but the June days are hot with the sun of the American Southwest. The atmosphere smells of green, and patches of larkspur and dandelion paint pointillistic galaxies in the meadows. Jagged peaks wink down from their lofty heights, poking through the branches with their mountainous grandeur. Birds chirp a waking symphony as the sun fingers its way across the landscape at dawn. A heavy coolness settles over the world in the evening.
We’re at camp. For the kids who come here during the summer weeks, it’s a retreat from the world. For the staff and counselors, it’s a time of rigorous planning, heavy labour, and great meals. There is always maintenance to be done, always another event to prepare for the kids. It’s work. But it’s work in a gorgeous place, with days punctuated by the smells of the campfire and the taste of fresh coffee. Life is rustic and basic, but the liturgy of daily tasks leaves little room for frills or extravagance. Instead, we find excitement in the little things, like consistently good food, each other’s company, and a good night’s sleep.
For all of us, camper and staffer alike, it’s a place to find God at work. Not that God evacuates the cities and towns for the sake of a dozen cabins in the wilderness, but the silence of one hundred forty acres of undeveloped land and the loving service of a young and vibrant staff seem to amplify the divine voice. Sonlight is a place where the word of God is preached daily in deed, thought, and word. It’s a place where kids can get a break from the world and, at the same time, discover what the world is really all about. We’re in the right place.
The camp pulses with the energetic natural history of a dream. The owners of the camp, a wonderful couple whose last twenty-six years have fueled Sonlight, followed the vision that God gave them for a place where kids can come to know the fullness of the life Jesus Christ has for them. It started with two backpackers in the wilderness. Then came a modest lodge built with volunteer labour. Then a meadow cleared of boulders. Then a cabin . . . and another, and another. The five buildings that make up the nucleus of Sonlight sit calmly but proudly on the edge of the meadow, a living testimony to the Lord at work in the lives of this founding couple, not to mention the thousands of youth who have come to play and learn at the camp. The pine logs, soaked with twenty-six years of oil, are dark with the summer sun of as many years, aging quietly under the shade of the majestic ponderosas.
The camp, designed to meet the needs of campers looking for adventure and fun, requires maintenance every day. It makes for a wonderful routine: cutting firewood, mowing grass, fixing machinery, repairing teams’ course obstacles, and inventing ways to make the place better. There is no end to the tasks, but these tasks demand only commitment, not urgency. They allow for a steady rhythm rather than a frenzied acceleration. So I (while Sara finds her own rhythm in the kitchen) pace the track from lodge to workshop to climbing wall to workshop to mealtime to lodge and back to the workshop again. The days are full of accomplishment. Occasionally there is a masterpiece, like cutting a set of coasters, ornate with the natural grain of the wood, from a piece of hedgeapple that was doomed for the campfire. Most tasks are mundane, but fulfilling all the same. Sonlight is a good place to be.
All the while we work with assurance that we have joined the dance of the camp’s founders, a dance choreographed to display the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. We do not plod through meaningless toil; rather, we lay the pieces of a puzzle that God designed, the puzzle that will one day image the faith of countless youth and those they lead. We are part of a voice that cries out in the wilderness, a wind that blows through the trees and speaks in still, small tones to the young hearts of tomorrow’s Christian leaders. Yes, it is a good place to be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chemo Sucks!

Fatigue & Nausea from the chemo have set in and I’ve been kicking back the nausea drugs, which also knock me out. Last night I got past the denial point of realizing that yes, I am sick and I have to get sicker before I can be better and that involves rest and not pushing myself. Two things I’m not very good at. It made looking forward to the coming treatments even more discouraging knowing that I feel like crap now and have to do it all over again- 7 more times.

Our accommodations at camp have been “upgraded” from our little cabin to a camper with a bathroom. Emrys did a re-model today to change the two twin beds into a “princess loft” for us. Worked great for a nap this afternoon!

Please pray that the nausea would clear up and that the portacath would settle in- it’s still uncomfortable. Please also pray that I will be able to remain positive and upbeat as this time goes on and for Emrys and others as they play the emotional support I need at this time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Many Praises!

PRAISE GOD!! The portacath (permanent IV line under the skin of Sara’s chest) was placed via surgery this morning with no complications. This was followed by the first round of chemo, also with no complications! Best of all- the test results were in and showed that there was no cancer in the bone marrow or anywhere else in Sara’s body that we didn’t already know about (near left collarbone, and around the thymus gland in her chest).

Camp started this week and the campers were everywhere! Sara and Emrys both worked long days with cooking and maintenance respectively. It’s good to be active again! Emrys and Karla (another staffer at camp) cut Sara’s hair this week to ease the entry into baldness. It looks great! We’ll try to get pictures up soon.

Prayers at this point can be directed towards Sara’s energy levels & the nausea. Also, that the chemo would work quickly on the cancer and that the healthy cells would remain safe from the effects of the chemo. Please also continue to the lift up the Sonlight staff and Emrys as they surround and support Sara during this time.
We love you all! Keep praying-it works!!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tests Are Done...Now We Wait.

In a whirlwind couple of days all the tests are completed and Sara is scheduled to start chemotherapy on Friday June 10th. A surgical procedure will be done to insert a "permanent" IV port (port-cath) into a blood vein so that the pincushion syndrome will be minimal in the coming months. Then we will go over all the test results with Dr. Cathcart and see what the long term time line will be for the treatments.

All the tests went smoothly, for the most part. Short of Sara passing out in the Nuclear Medicine department when they were prepping for the heart scan (for reasons we still can't pinpoint) the rest of the time was uneventful. Although after 3 barium "milkshakes" before the PET/CT scan, Sara's thinking bananas won't be a favorite for a while!

This afternoon we will head back to Sonlight and campers will arrive on Sunday. We're looking forward to a few more days of distracting work before we come back to Durango for the last of the "big" procedures.

Please continue to pray that all the tests come back with favorable results. As chemo starts, we'd ask that you pray specifically for the following:
1. That the healthy cells would be protected from the effects of the chemo.
2. That the nausea and fatigue would be minimal and that Sara will know when she needs to stop and take a break.
3. That Emrys will know when he needs to stop and support Sara through the rough spots.

Thank you all! The prayers are felt very strongly with a resounding peace through the stressful times.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

On the Road Again...

Just to keep everyone in the loop, we have the scheduling done for the tests and will be in Durango for a number of appointments on Thursday and then driving to Albuquerque on Thursday night and an appointment for the PET/CT scan on Friday. Then we will head back to Durango and hang out until Saturday night when we jump back into the thick of it as the first campers will arrive on Sunday.

Sara is also scheduled to have a port-cath (semi-permanent IV port) inserted via surgery very early on Friday, June 10 to be followed by the first chemo treatment. From there chemo will be every two weeks. Once all of the test results are in, we will know how long the chemo treatments need to go. We love you all and appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Settling In

We are now settled at camp where the skies are sapphire blue; the grass is emerald green and the sunshine warms you to the bone and the friendliness of the people warms your soul. We are very happy to be here and even happier to move into a “schedule” and be working again! After almost four weeks of “unemployment” it was time to get back to having things to do.

Emrys is happily fixing things around camp and playing on the climbing wall and Sara has started in the kitchen helping with staff meals. Having things to keep us busy has been very therapeutic and we rejoice in the moments and days when it feels like everything is normal- which thankfully outnumber those when we are overcome with the reality of our situation.

Sara is recovering well from the bone marrow biopsy - just the discomfort one would associate with a bone-type bruise. As one of the camp owners (who’s also an RN) put it “You can’t pull out bone marrow with a garden hose and not have it hurt a little!” Now we just pray that the bone marrow is clear of any cancer.

Tuesday we will get the schedule for the remaining battery of tests which will hopefully take place on Thursday and Friday. Until then, we will be going through Staff Orientation with everyone and enjoying our surroundings.

Thank you all for the e-mails we have received! It is great to know how far our support net actually reaches. We love you all!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Gotta Love Modern Drugs!!

Well under the care of medical professionals, I had the bone marrow biopsy this morning. They pumped me full of some fun drugs and while I have no recollection of the procedure, apparently I talked all the way through it! The nurses would tell me to close my eyes and go to sleep and I'd close my eyes for about 10 seconds and then they'd pop wide open and I'd start talking again. And the best part of it is that I can hear the story and LAUGH! I'm finding that next to prayer and faith, laughter truly is the best medicine (although the amnesic stuff is fun too!). In response to a number of e-mails asking what you can do to help, prayers always top the list but next to that, anything that will bring a smile to my face (and Emrys') in the coming months will be most welcome! Be that by e-mail, snail mail (see link to the right for Sonlight and the mailing address is in the Contact Us tab and will be good until Aug. 1), voicemail (since the phone doesn't work so well at camp) or whatever.
I love you all and please know that I'm truly doing well!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sara's Health

Dear Friends,
Today Sara was diagnosed with Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This form of cancer of the lymph node system is the most treatable which is very encouraging. The treatment will be chemotherapy for a period of 4 to 6 months (one treatment every 2 weeks). The course of the treatment will be determined by the what phase the cancer is in. Next week Sara will have a number of tests done to determine exactly how far the cancer has progressed. Below please find some very specific prayer requests:

1. Praise God that this is treatable!!
2. Praise God that we made it from the original consultation with our family practitioner to the diagnoses in 10 days!! This is remarkable considering that the diagnoses included blood work, x-ray, ultrasound, CT Scan, and surgical biopsy of the node that I had originally felt in my neck.
3. Pray that all the tests will that the cancer is exactly where they think it is and hasn’t spread any further: Specifically that the bone marrow is clear, that the cancer has not spread into the lower portion of my body, that my heart and lungs are fit for chemo.
4. Pray for safe travels between Durango, Pagosa Springs and Albuquerque as we drive back and forth for tests and treatments.
5. Pray that the chemo does what its supposed to do and the cancer is eradicated from my body.
6. Pray for Emrys as he supports me through the coming months.

Thank you all for your prayers thus far, the peace has been remarkable and we appreciate all of your spiritual and emotional support.
Love to you all.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Preaching & Train Trip

This past Sunday we worshipped with our home church in Durango, Colorado (First Presbyterian Church). It was so good to be back in the midst of the church family that supported us when we got married, began Emrys’ journey of formal ministry, and during our three years at Fuller. It was Pentecost Sunday, and Emrys was given the opportunity to preach, which he enjoyed very much.
The pastor of that church is retiring next week, which is hard for all of us, but also marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the life of that community. It is good to see all the signs of how much the church loves their pastor—we hope that someday Emrys may have such a relationship with a church.
On Wednesday we rode the train from Durango to Silverton, Colorado. The train ride is perhaps the greatest distinguishing feature of Durango’s tourist trade. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad used to transport silver and workers from the small mining town of Silverton (some 40 miles north of Durango) down to Durango, from which a host of train lines ran to the other cities in the southwest. Now the mines have been exhausted, and Silverton is a tourist destination for train buffs (D&SNGRR is the last of its kind in the U.S., but has been operating continually since the 1870s), skiers, hikers, and river-rafters.
The train trip is a three-and-a-half hour ride—each way—through the beautiful Animas River Valley. Snow-capped mountain summits peaked at us from between alpine- and conifer-covered slopes. The flow of the Animas cascades between walls of grey rock, sometimes far below the train as it chugs along the narrow edge of a cliff overlooking the river. The smell of fresh, uncivilized mountain air gives way periodically to the clouds of cindery soot puffing out of the engine’s smokestack (part of the train’s allure is that it still runs on coal-heated steam, rather than electricity or diesel fuel). Passengers (ourselves included) lean over the side of the open-air gondola car to snap pictures of the train engine against the stunning scenery. We had never ridden the train during our three-year stay in Durango before we moved to Los Angeles, so we did it during this pass-through. It was fun (check out our pictures in the photo album to the right).
To finish out our ‘date-day,’ we went to Ken & Sue’s Place, our favourite restaurant on Main Street in Durango. The cuisine is always exquisite, and they still serve the ‘molten chocolate cake’ for dessert. It was the perfect end to a beautiful day of soaking up the San Juan Mountains.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Roadtrip East

Now that we have the car unloaded and have a moment to share some images from the last week, we thought we should tell some of the stories that go with them!

Lexi’s Hack Job (Hair Cut): When we arrived at Geoff & Krissy’s place in Prescott Valley, AZ we met their cats. Lexi, who is pictured in the photo album, was of particular interest to us when we noticed that she had undergone a pretty bad haircut. Geoff explained that he knew Lexi needed a “summer haircut” and thought to himself “How hard could that be?” After all, who wants to pay a professional when you can do it yourself? Half way through trying to give the cat a buzz cut, he realized why there are certifications for pet groomers. Now poor Lexi is waiting for an appointment with the professionals. Geoff has been banned from any and all pet-grooming activities.

The Drive: We left on Thursday morning to make the seven-hour drive from Prescott Valley to Durango. Its easy to forget how long and empty the roads are once you get outside of Los Angeles County—and California for that matter! As we drove along I-40 from Flagstaff, Arizona to Gallup, New Mexico we saw one freight train after another (and thought of our little friend Joey in Pasadena whose best friend these days is Thomas the Train). Then we turned off the interstate and onto a two-lane state road where we only saw a handful of cars and the speed limit was, well, not relevant! It makes for great driving! We drove into Colorado and across Florida Mesa, where the La Plata peaks wink at you through the trees, their rugged crowns still blanketed with snow. It is so good to be back!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

May 12, 2005 - We're Ho-ome!!

Or at least thats what it seemed like as we drove across the border from New Mexico into Colorado on 550 this afternoon. With snow capped peaks waving at us, we were truly glad to be back! And this was before we even saw the faces of our friends here! So now we are off to visit, reunite and frequent our old haunts of Durango. Emrys will preach at First Pres on Sunday and we will spend next week doing the Durango thing... just hanging out!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

May 7, 2005 - Moving out of LA

It’s 11:19 pm, and we’ve just settled into Prescott Valley, Arizona for the next five days. Emrys’ brother (Geoff) and his wife (Krissy) have been kind enough to bring all of our belongings out in their massive truck and trailer. We are now officially residents of 225 cubit feet of space in Phoenix, at a U-Haul storage facility. Everything else we own fits into our car, and will be traveling with us to Durango, Colorado on Thursday.
Last night we loaded the truck and trailer in a blitz, starting at 9 pm and finishing the bulk of the loading by 9:30 and the apartment was empty and clean by 10:30. We had many hands to help out. We had some tearful good-byes, as some of our closest Pasadena friends had come to assist in the loading. It was strange to close the door for the last time on Apartment #1 at 296 North Oakland Avenue; it seems like just a few days ago we opened that door to an empty apartment, ready to fill it with our life and belongings. Our belongings remain with us, but we leave behind some life, two and a half years of good life-time lived with folks with whom we have become good friends and siblings in Christ. Whoever said ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ had it right.
Emrys managed to drive Geoff’s truck and trailer, sore laden with car and stuff, from Los Angeles to Prescott Valley without jack-knifing them or hitting any other vehicles. One small step for Emrys—one sigh of relief for Geoff. It was wonderful to visit with them on the seven-hour drive from LA to Phoenix (since our car was in the trailer, we could all ride together in the truck).
It is refreshing to be out of the big city, in a place where the night is dark, stars are bright, the air smells fresh but doesn’t have a taste, and the nearest six-lane freeway is a hundred miles away. But we miss with poignant emotion the close relationships we have now made distant. We are shell-shocked and exhausted from all this business of moving—the depth of our relocation will likely sink in over time, but there is comfort in knowing that most of our friends in Pasadena are only an e-mail away regardless of where in the world we are.

Monday, May 02, 2005

May 2, 2005 - Making Connections

As our plans have narrowed down to NEGST in Nairobi and IBTS in Prague, the number of contacts in these two areas keeps expanding. We have crossed paths with a number of folks on campus at Fuller who are from Nairobi and have been pointed in the direction of a number of others who either study, work or live in Nairobi and Prague. It is such a blessing to converse with those who have lived in these areas!
On Saturday we had a good conversation with a couple from Africa, who are now here at Fuller. They had spent some time in Nairobi, and now offered us some perspective on what we will experience in Kenya. They told us, for instance, that we should look forward to drinking a great deal of chai tea—they said that Kenyans drink more chai than water. We gained some insights about how to get fair prices at the shops in Nairobi: take an African with us, lest we get charged mazungu (white person) prices!
Our time together was good, not just because of the information we received, but because we could hear folks from Africa talking about their homeland. It boosts the morale to hear people talk about their homeland and tell you that, even as a foreigner in a strange land, ‘You will love it there.’ The more folks we talk to who have been to or lived in Africa, the less anxious we are about traveling there for the first time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April 27, 2005- The Challenges Explored

27 April 2005
Two days ago we visited with another couple with whom we are close and whom we trust. We laid out before them our present plans to go to Kenya and the Czech Republic next year, the reasons we chose to do so and some of our anxieties about going. We received from them no small measure of excitement and encouragement for these ideas. What’s equally important, though, is that they offered us two more perspectives about our upcoming trip. They were able to show us things that we hadn’t considered before—virtues and challenges—so that we could have an even clearer vision of what we’re getting into. This couple is similar enough to us that they can sympathize with our deepest desires and needs, yet are distinct persons able to look with fresh eyes. It is a blessing to have such persons in our life to help us work through what can be an agonizing and anxious decision-making process. We thank God for them.
We shall each have to be aware of what the other needs during this extended trip overseas. Especially, since we are both introverts by nature, we will have to make sure that we get sufficient recharging time. With so much discovery of people and places—both of which require a great deal of energy from us—our quiet, non-interactive time will be quite precious. Part of that time will have to be interaction with each other: checking in frequently with each other and being sensitive to what is expressed in our personal conversation. After all, we’ll be our only support system while we’re traveling. We look forward to meeting new people and forming relationships, but in four months we won’t be able to get genuine, deep support from others. The upside of all this is that next year could prove to be a time of annealing, strengthening our marriage by the fact that we will have to depend on each other so much more.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

April 23, 2005

Sara and I have been scrambling to get together a budget for our travels next year, because the Dean’s office at Fuller needs a tentative itinerary and budget by 6 May. We’ve found that the internet is a useful resource for making such plans. Every seminary we’ve considered has its own web page where it posts academic calendars and tuition fees. So a prospective budget is not hard to put together—especially since Sara has a knack for numbers and proficiency with the Excel spreadsheets. What makes this a crunch is really the fact that we have to decide where to go. Two weeks from the announcement of the award to prospective itinerary is not much time!
So we wrangle with the question of where God wants us to go. It seems like a fair question to ask, until you then assert the follow-up question: How will God inform us of the divine will for our next year? Is it enough to know that I want to go somewhere radically different, and Sara wants to go to Europe? Is that hint enough? Or should we be waiting for someone whom we trust to call us and say, ‘You need to go Here’? Or is God’s will best revealed in the fine mechanics of budgeting and acceptance to seminaries—that is, wherever it’s possible to go, go there? Or is it in the inner peace that prevails among the chaos our lives right now?
I take it as a sign that Sara and I had already been planning a trip to Europe in the autumn of this year, and that she has Prague on her wish-list. That’s enough for me to devote half our time to Prague. Then there’s Kenya. Hmm. How did we arrive at Nairobi as a solid option? Is it just the radical difference of African culture? Nah—we could have had that in Singapore or the Philippines, too. Is it the prevailing sub-cultural winds in the U.S. that say the future of Africa is the future of the church, and of the world? Perhaps. Is it the fact that Paul Hewson, one of my favourite poets and songwriters, has Africa on his heart and in his poetry? Most likely a mixture of all three; oh, and the fact that I have met a few Africans here at Fuller who have piqued my interest in their homeland.
So today we scramble to assemble a budget, fire off emails all over God’s green earth to people in the know about Prague and Nairobi, and put together a seminary application that’s already overdue. What a wonderful time! By the way, our current itinerary is Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) in Kenya from 12 September to 16 December, and International Baptist Theological School in Prague, Czech Republic from 6 January to 12 April 2006. We shall see if we’re on the right track.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

April 14, 2005

Today we found out that Emrys was awarded the Parish Pulpit Award- Sara screamed! Now we will be spending 2 semesters abroad... somewhere in the world, on somone else's dime. Dreams of world travel are on their way to coming true.