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.