20 March 2014
The crisis in Ukraine has signaled that our world is once again changing in big ways. While we in North America take our own national views on this, looking at the events from a spiritual point of view creates a whole new perspective.
The following report is from an article on Cru’s site.
“On the frontlines of ministry in Ukraine are Cru staff and volunteers.
Cru staff members and local Christians have together distributed over 100,000 Bibles and New Testaments to Ukrainians.
God is using the upheaval to open the hearts of the Ukrainian people. Our national staff report that they haven’t seen this level of spiritual hunger since the wall came down in the early 90’s.
Please take a moment to watch this video update.
“Seeing that people are very open, we realize that we have a very good opportunity for active evangelism. We also understand that this won’t last for a long time and so we want to seize this moment as a time of action.”
– Sasha Zibarov, Ukraine Operations Director
“There is great openness right now and the ministry and church need to be ready to move forward with God’s Word as many people are hurting and open right now.”
– John Musgrove, Campus Ministry Leader, Kiev
Please pray for this country as well as for our staff members’ safety and strength as they minister in the midst of the turmoil.”
Cardinals-Braves Spring Training Game! Perfect day for baseball — at Roger Dean Stadium.
CCCI Technology Leaders in Manila
Last week this group of technology pros met to coordinate our work together with CCCI. One part of the group focused on writing new software, another part of the group focused on developing plans to implement our ministry measurement tools, and a third group focused on developing leadership skills among these and other technologists who apply all this stuff to CCCI’s mission.
It was a good week. One highlight was a lunch discussion I and a couple others had with the Director of Operations for our North Africa and Middle East area. We helped her identify how one of the technology systems this area had already installed for managing donor relationships could also work as a sufficient Human Resources database for staff members. This solution is a little unconventional, but that is what made it so good! Nothing else needed to be done to solve her problem except to start using the tools available to her (until a regular HR database is available for CCCI use in these locations).
Fake Facebook Profile
The fraudulent William Milo is at the business of stealing my identity again, this time on Facebook. This morning I found four fake profiles, thanks to one of his previous victims who notified me. (THanks!).
For the record, here are the fake Facebook profiles I found. And there are about 50 associated friends with these!
Back in December we found ourselves waiting for a decision from Cathy’s oncologist regarding further chemo treatments. We never got a final decision until last week, even though we had already come to our own conclusion (no chemo).
But last week Cathy had a perfectly clear 3-month scan and an encouraging report from her oncologist. This was very good news, and it means we are officially on a 3 month schedule for getting scans and checkups.
And as far as we are concerned, done. Happy to have the last two and a half years receding into the distance of our rear view mirror.
Screen Shot of my “Wanted” post
This week two separate women have emailed me saying someone used my photo on a dating site to contact them and try to scam them out of money. These women did research using Google’s image search and discovered my image is the one being used in association with the names, William Milo, Charles Clemons, Michael Corlo, and Mark Klose Vilo. Worse yet, my image is posted on a “dating site scam” forum. D’oh!
This guy (or guys, or woman – who knows?) used several picture of MY life to pose for his life. And they used Audrey’s pics, too, and claimed her as their daughter. Where’s my shotgun?
It’s hard to describe how angry this makes me! Feels worse than having my things stolen or even my house invaded. At least it’s not my name. I always thought my credit cards would get stolen, not my face!
And if you are one of the women contacted by this poser, beware!
Annie turns 14 this year, and along with her age came a surprise as we traveled in the van to St. Louis for Christmas. About mid-day, after 7 hours of traveling Annie was fast asleep on Cathy’s lap in the passenger seat. Suddenly she had that warm, wet feeling running down her leg. I was driving and had a good laugh, as Annie had just peed on her in her doggie sleep. Not too much, but it meant she got to spend the rest of the day traveling in clothes with dog pee.
Later that night as Andrew was driving, I found myself in the front passenger seat with Annie sleeping on my lap. After a while I fell asleep, too, but woke up when Annie started stirring around. It was then I realized I now had that warm, wet feeling on my jeans. Cathy had more of a laugh on me than I had on her.
We were almost there, so I didn’t bother changing clothes, but as I walked in the door another surprise awaited me. I was laughing and showing my sister-in-law the spot where Annie had wet my jeans, but everyone else was pointing to my other leg and laughing at me even more. Annie had peed on me twice, once on each leg.
And then, of course, the jokes about, “Sure, blame that on Annie,” started.
For a couple weeks we have postponed writing anything because we wanted to be able to let you know if Cathy was going to have any more chemo. But we are still waiting to hear. The group of doctors who will review her case have not yet reviewed it. It seems that each time it is in queue something derails it. In the meantime, Cathy has been feeling good, gaining energy and quite happy she hasn’t heard anything yet!
Indigitous using Ekko
Last month I participated in a Cru conference called, “Indigitous” in Canada. Shortly following this one, another Indigitous conference happened in Panama City, Panama. It was at this second conference that our new mobile learning platform, Ekko Mobile, proved to be a useful tool for many of the digital outreach missionaries there. The simplicity of creating a discipleship course was exciting to them, as they need a way to lead students through some structured materials while they work with them toward spiritual growth.
One of the workshops led participants through the process of creating courses and developing plans to use them in either an evangelistic setting or in one of the Bible studies they lead. They were excited to use the system and created the start of a series of short courses in just a couple hours. We plan to continue developing this system and should have the Ekko app in the Google Play store and Apple App Store soon.
We met with Cathy’s oncologist today who confirmed Cathy is still cancer-free. We had hoped to find out if Cathy would have further chemo treatments, but the doctor needs to take some new information back to the tumor board (group of consulting doctors) before getting a final recommendation. It seems the decision is almost a toss-up between the likely physical cost on Cathy and the uncertain benefit for her.
So the tumor board is scheduled to review her case again next Wednesday, and we expect to hear something next Friday.
In the mean time we are making holiday plans……
Cathy, a few days after surgery
Last week we met with Cathy’s oncologist who decided not to prescribe any more chemo treatments until the benefits were more certain. Since Cathy is free from any known cancer, the benefits of any further chemo treatments would be to kill off any malignant cells or small growths that are too small to detect. By definition, there is no way to measure the benefit of this treatment, but we already know the cost: Cathy has a really difficult time with this type of chemo.
So the plan now is to do one more CT scan November 4 and then send all that data to a team of doctors and find out what they recommend. We should probably know something mid-November whether further chemo will be prescribed or not.
In the mean time, Cathy is feeling good and enjoying the break!
Less than 48 hours after surgery, Cathy came home Saturday night! This was a completely new experience for us, being home so quickly after surgery. She felt great on Saturday, the day after, and had plenty of energy and not too much pain. She was up walking around the hospital floor at normal speeds within 24 hours, so they let us go home. It was easy, compared to the other surgeries she has had.
She is still significantly sore, and she wanted to point out, “It’s not a cake walk.” But the bottom line is that God blessed her with a very smooth experience and a quick recovery. Thanks for praying for Cathy!
Today Cathy’s VATS (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery) went well to remove the malignant spot on her lung. The surgeon finished in under and hour and said she may go home tomorrow. This is really good news! We are so grateful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers!
This means Cathy is once again cancer-free. Or at least free from any known or detectable cancer.
The next step after this is chemo for four months, starting later this month.
Yes, I made this myself. No, I’m not posting on Pinterest. Our church had a pledge drive dessert, and the leadership team made pies.
This had the unfortunate result of backfiring on me. Cathy’s first response: “Oh, that looks good! You can make the pie for Thanksgiving now.” D’oh.
On top of Hogpen Gap, 60 miles done.
Six Gap was a 104 mile ride through the mountains of north Georgia. 30 of us from the Eastside Cycling Club drove up and rode it. This was my first attempt, and I totally enjoyed it! The ride had 11,200 feet of climbing and crossed six mountain gaps. But the descents were, by far, the best part. Florida has nothing to compare to this, so I had an unexpected thrill on each of the five big downhill runs.
Can’t wait for next year!
After she got home from the hospital and had gone a few weeks without chemo treatments, Cathy’s life became easier! She has been enjoying increasing energy every day and a return to a more normal life.
There has been a change in the anticipated treatment now, too. Instead of focused radiation to eliminate the malignant spot on her lung, she will have VATS (Video-assisted_thoracoscopic_surgery) to remove it. The focused radiation option wouldn’t work well with the spot’s location near her heart. While the radiation option would have had virtually no recovery or side effects, this surgery will probably be the easiest one she has had yet, one or two days’ recovery in the hospital. October 11 is the scheduled surgery date.
Following surgery, we expect four more rounds of chemo therapy that will probably last through December. And then she will be done, for the most part. She is already looking forward to December, but she is enjoying every day now!
Got Audrey settled in to Tallahassee today! She will complete her second year there at Tallahassee Community College then plans to transfer to Florida State University for the remaining two years of an undergraduate degree in Psychology.
It’s always good to be home again when you’ve been away, but it’s even better when you’ve been away at the hospital. We set a new record on this trip; 15 days at the hospital.
Cathy is doing better but still needs a lot of rest. Eating remains a challenge. Previously it was nausea, now it is a “scratchy mouth.” Her lips, cheeks and throat all have that sensitive, painful feeling you get when you have a sore throat. No one knows the cause, but it will probably go away when she is done with the strong antibiotics.
When we checked in two weeks ago we never imagined it would be a two week stay! This is beginning to feel like the Hotel California; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
The three main issues are all resolved now. White blood cell count is out of the danger zone, abscess is cleared, and leaking fluid hole is healed.
The prayers and encouragement from everyone have been amazing. We are so grateful for the friends God has given us who care for us and pray for us! As Cathy has said before, “Finding out how much people care for me is almost worth getting cancer for.”
So why are we still here?
Last Friday we thought we might leave on Saturday, but then we learned that a final scan was scheduled for Monday. We patiently waited through Sunday, but during this time Cathy developed problems eating. Her mouth hurts when she eats, so she has not been getting enough calories and her blood sugar is low. This might become an issue today that keeps us here longer.
Yesterday the scan happened, but it was too late in the day for final analysis. Apparently we may have to wait until this afternoon to meet with the doctor to get a report on it. It is our expectation to go home today, but that is not a forgone conclusion.
One week ago I was urging Cathy to try her best to drink another 4 oz of liquids so she wouldn’t get dangerously dehydrated. The chemo had given her nausea again, and she didn’t want to eat or drink. Two days ago I was urging Cathy to try her best to NOT drink another 4 oz of liquids so she could follow doctor’s orders and keep her system clear to allow it to heal. Funny how a week changes things.
Cathy’s healing has continued now to the point where she began a clear liquid diet yesterday, and that made her very happy. She started by downing a big cup of water, one of the best she’s ever had, she said. Now her thirst is satisfied.
Along with her clear liquid diet, she has another regimen of clear liquid nutrition she gets by IV along with her regular IV fluids. She was already quite hydrated when this began yesterday, so adding up the water she drinks, the regular saline fluids, and now the “IV food” equals a LOT of hydration.
Things have really changed for the better in just a few days!
When will she come home? We don’t know yet, but it looks like early next week.
Cathy’s white blood cell count entered “normal” territory today, so that is really good news! That is the first problem that is now solved. It also helps solve the other two problems. One is the infected fluids in her abdomen that are slowly being removed by drain, antibiotics, and the now-increased white blood cells. The other problem is finding the hole that allowed the fluids to leak into her abdomen in the first place. At this point her doctor thinks that by Thursday things might be at a point where they can do a scan of the area and see what things look like. In the meantime, it’s life at the hospital.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center is not a bad hospital to be stuck at, but it is still a hospital. The nursing staff is generally very good, and the room is private and has a Murphy bed that I have been sleeping on each night. Andrew and Audrey are home taking care of the pets and things, and I have been able to get home once a day to do one thing or another. We are doing OK. As much as we would rather be at home, we don’t want to be there until Cathy can eat and drink regularly.
The last two days have seen steady progress in the right direction for Cathy. After getting moved to an “Intermediate Critical Care” floor for a day she did well enough to return to the normal floor last night. Her white blood cell count has risen, and the fluid infection seems to be slowly clearing off. The cause of the leaking fluids in her abdomen (that got infected) is still unknown, but the only option now is to keep her system as free of food and liquid as possible and hope the hole heals over on its own. Surgery is not an option with so few white blood cells as she has, so we keep praying.
The day started out well with Cathy getting a procedure to fix the infection in her abdomen. This was the main reason she went to the hospital yesterday. She was in recovery and doing well, and we were looking forward to possibly getting home tomorrow.
But an early evening visit from her surgeon brought some different news. Her white blood cell count is dangerously low, and the situation is compounded by this infection. But the infection is showing some unusual signs that may indicate other problems. At this point we just don’t know. But we know that God knows.
(Again, this is not directly cancer related and doesn’t involve the lungs).
We are praying that her white blood cell counts rise and that this issue in her abdomen gets resolved quickly! Thanks for joining us in prayer.
Cathy just had a procedure to remove the infected fluid from her abdomen. She is doing fine. 2-3 day recovery. Hopefully out of here soon.
Cathy has had some recent abdominal pain, and after some tests today it looks like she has an internal infection that requires a hospital stay. So plans changed today, and we are heading to the hospital. Hopefully this will get cleared up in a day or two with some good antibiotics. And hopefully her chemo-suppressed immune system won’t leave her too exposed to other hospital bacteria and viruses. I’ll do my best to post some updates as she improves.