Sunday, December 31, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas greetings from Aunty

Greetings to all my siblings and cousins,

Our Christmas day has drawn to a close while yours is probably in full swing -- never mind, we're just taking this opportunity to wish you all a good day, and to send you all our love and greetings!

Aunty is doing well and sends her greetings to you all -- I told her I'd be writing. Bryan called last night, a little ahead of schedule, and we had a real nice talk. I was able to pass on to Aunty his Christmas greetings since he didn't think he'd be able to get through either. I'm not surprised, Joy, that you couldn't get through tonight. It is often very difficult.

Aunty is due to be transferred out of the rehabilitation hospital where she now is (Christchurch) soon. She was operated on in Poole but was transferred out to Christchurch within a couple of weeks.

The physiotherapist there has told her that she "doesn't belong there" any more since her mobility and independence are beyond the level of the average patient there.

She is now quite happy that she can move about on her own (without help -- but with a zimmer-on-wheels). The next place is just down the road somewhere between Christchurch and Southbourne (just near the Tuckton roundabout, to those of you who know the area).

She had a blood test yesterday (Sunday) and once the results are in she should be out of there -- probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

It is late for us here and I must now go. Please be aware of our love to you all and we pray you have a blessed Christmas time!



Sunday, December 17, 2006

Life is funny

Life is a funny thing: just when you think you've got it figured out, everything shifts and you're not so sure any more.

It seems to me that there are few things one can really be sure of in life. The most basic, for me, is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. This is not a matter of "faith" to me; it's just basic fact; something I don't ever question or feel I have to try to believe or hang on to.

However, all our little ways of expressing that life seem to shift every couple of years and in the end, the only thing you are sure of, is that you're not really sure of anything.

I think we're going to find that a lot of us got things completely wrong -- everybody that calls themselves a Christian can't be right, can they?  But we all think we are.

God help us to slow down and be a bit more tolerant of our differences.

Friday, December 15, 2006

To Bryan re David

I was just cleaning up my locker at noon of junk, mail, papers, books and stuff, and I ran across an old letter David wrote me back in October of 2005 -- a little over a year ago.

This probably seems like a nonsense thing to say, but I think he's the only one of all my nephews or nieces that has ever written to me or answered one of my letters. So he has a special place in my heart.

And how is David now? And is there any more news you can tell? You don't have to worry about exceeding your limits because, as I told the family yesterday, this was the longest letter I've ever gotten from you since you've been on email (first one I have from you is dated Oct 25, 1996, congratulating us on the birth of Claire -- ten years now!)

Anyway, I don't even know what to ask you. So many questions, so many unknowns. One thing you can tell me is, what is an MRI? What does it stand for? What does it do?

Something that struck me was the fact that his chest pain was unrelated to the tumour on his lung. At the risk of saying the obvious and sounding pedantic, let me encourage you to pursue that. Have him see a cardiologist because I hate the sound of "chest pain" and heart trouble is not exclusive to older people, apparently.

In the UK right now they have a campaign and I saw the poster last week, which said, "Chest pain is your body's way of saying, Dial 999" and the picture was of a guy whose chest was restricted by a strap-like thing. Not pleasant, but the message gets out.

I know nothing medical, but I would check that angle, just to be safe. Because as in everything IF there is any problem, the earlier they find out, the easier it is to treat.

Regarding what you said, of course, take the "Godly perspective" -- what is your choice? Shall we receive good at the hand of God and not evil? said Job, who was in a better position than us to complain. And, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him."

As Paul said, we have not yet resisted unto blood. God help us. I'm speaking to myself, just as much. I've only come into the medical world lately but it's sobered me up a lot and I realize I am only reaping what I sowed for so long.

(As an aside, I have continued to lose a lot of weight till I now wear almost the same size clothes as Raph or Jonathan and have lost another 15 pounds just over the course of this year alone.

Ever since my first medical intervention in 2000 I've been on a determined, but slow, process of elimination. I was my heaviest at that time and have lost ever since. Now I feel great and have sustained the loss for years, changing my life-style in the process, so I know it will last.)

Well, these are just my ramblings, heart to heart. I've never been much good at knowing what to say when it really mattered. But God be with you, brother.

Believe me, if I don't know, I can at least imagine what you and Sally are going through. And David is probably wondering which side is up, not to mention the others.

Our heart is with you all and if you can think of anything we could do to help, I know you won't hesitate to say so.

"Nothin's thicker than blood on blood."


PS - Just rereading your letter: Did not understand the reference to "dependency eligibility under my health plan" at all. How could your son not be eligible under your health plan?? Something I don't quite see here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Concern for my nephew

Oh Bryan, God is on the throne and I believe that everything that befalls us is according to His perfect will. The fact that often-times we can't figure out the beginning from the end is immaterial.

We've surely lived long enough now to know who is in control of things.

I pray that our Father will show us, and will give you and Sally and David peace. Give peace, Lord Jesus to all the children, peace and strength and joy ... that, after years of preparation their faith is about to be tried and tested and proved to be made of real elements.

Sarah and I will continue to pray that this issue resolves itself happily and I will of course pass on the information to Aunty Ruth when I call her tonight.



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

To siblings and cousins

I hope everyone realized that "No news is good news" and that, really, very little is happening that I need to report: but I'll try to see what I can remember for you all.

First of all, Aunty knows very well how difficult it is for you to call and she's never once expressed any kind of expectations on that front; in fact, when I mention it, she even says how hard it is to get the time zones right.

She is still in the rehabilitation unit at Christchurch and I have to say, she is well -- as well as can be expected. She is certainly getting all the physical care she possibly could want, 24 hours a day.

Last week she went back to Poole Hospital for the day, to have her doctor check her condition. Christchurch is really rehabilitation and rest, nothing very medical goes on there.

She likes it there better than Poole because there's such a turn-over of patients that there's always something going on and people coming and going that it relieves the boredom of Poole. She still gets quite a lot of visitors from her church, which is real nice for her, though they often don't know when to leave and so it tires her out a bit.

Last weekend I went over for the day to see her and be a little encouragement and I think she liked that. I bought a few odds and ends of things for her, as well as some French chocolate biscuits that she is very partial to. :-)

Every evening I call her and we chat for ten or fifteen minutes. She recounts the (uneventful) events of the day; you know how she is, remembering all the dates and times of everything that happens. I think it's important to her for me just to be there, to chat, and to listen, and so on.

On the Sunday we went to the chapel in the hospital with her and she liked that. Good thing we did, too, since we were almost the only ones there! She's usually the only one from her ward that goes.

It's been a month, day for day, since she fell and there's still no word about when she'll get to go home. They say they want her to be autonomous first, which is understandable. She gets around all right with help and she is doing her exercises but I am starting to wonder if she'll ever get back home into her former routine.

Between her neighbor Frank, and her home help girl, Lynn, her place is being kept up and clean and her mail and things taken care of. But she is starting to look around for some kind of a nursing home to migrate to -- she has always been very realistic.

So you can all be reassured that I am doing what I can from here and it turns out that she doesn't even need very much, really. She is just getting to the point where she wants to go home and get back to her routine again. But I don't know how soon that will be.

This morning she was due to go into Bournemouth to have her pacemaker checked on. It's been two years since she had it put in and it needs rebooting, I reckon. :-)

Last week, when she went in to see her own cardiologist she was much relieved to be able to see someone she knew and who knew her. He changed her medicine slightly and so she's now getting used to the new one.

I'll try to write at least once a week from now on, but really, lack of news was simply lack of anything to say. It's business as usual at the hospital, and she's just going to have to let her body heal itself. Poor Aunty -- patience is probably not her greatest strength!

Please pray for her, that her moral keeps up, and that the medicine relieves her and makes her comfortable.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

News from Aunty

Just a quick note this Sunday night to give you all an update on Aunty.

Actually, there is not much to tell: she is well and comfortable though she has her ups and downs -- and Sunday is never an interesting day to spend in any hospital! Tomorrow she'll see her doctor and physiotherapist and so will know more about how things stand with her.

She is taking her noon meal in the dining hall with the others, the nurses wheeling her there in a wheelchair -- so this is always the 'high point' of the day since it's a break with monotony and enables her to get out of her ward a little bit.

I think she will be where she is now until the end of the month; I can't foresee her getting discharged before then, though anything is possible. Basically she has to get back to being autonomous again (shopping, driving, cooking, cleaning, etc) before they will discharge her.

I got in touch with Rosemary the other night who has now called her and, in turn, has passed on the info to her side of the family, so everyone is in the know of what little there is to tell.

Love to all of you,

Susie's entry ticket

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the death of a father in law

You are all in our thoughts, Joy, at this time.

Death is a part of life so that the circle will be complete. But it's never welcome when it comes since it breaks into our cycle of friendships and creates holes that are hard to fill.

It sounds like he has been fortunate to have had a full life with little health problems. We can only pray that he will go to sleep peacefully and that the Lord will fill the hole he leaves in your heart with his love.

Love from us all,


Monday, October 30, 2006

News on Aunty

Just a quick update to Aunty's situation. I've just gotten off the phone to her and she is as well as can be expected but sounding very much like her old self; strong and full of direction.

She saw one of her doctors today who went off to look at the x-ray they had done on her hip yesterday but she said he never returned.

She's expecting him to look in tomorrow, as well as the doctor that performed the operation on her hip. So far she has no real news to tell us except that we reckon she'll be there for at least a week more.

She said she got up today and that soon she has an appointment to get into some physiotherapy, so all in all, I think she is well taken care of.

And I think that is all for tonight. She told me tonight again that she doesn't want anybody to "come over" and help her and that everything is alright. In fact, she has a maid ("home help") come in every Tuesday and tidy up a bit. She picks up her mail and brings it around to the hospital Wednesday afternoon. Then Frank, her neighbor, comes in every day just to tidy up the mail and what-not. She's very particular about how she organizes things and seems to have everything under control.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

News for my siblings and cousins

Hello everybody,

There is nothing to get alarmed about but I wanted to write you with some news about our Aunt R.

Last Wednesday, she fell in her home and broke her shoulder and her hip, both at the same time. She was taken to the hospital where they performed surgery the next day to set her hip. Since then she's been resting and is well.

Now the details. Early Wednesday morning she got up to go to the bathroom at about 5 am, felt giddy and fell heavily on her left side breaking both her shoulder and hip.

Unfortunately, she wasn't wearing the "panic button" that I bought her years ago (for just such an emergency) and she had quite a struggle getting to the phone by her bed.

Eventually, after nearing two hours of inching her way forward she got to her bedside table, floored everything to get the phone, called 999 and got help. She was taken directly to the hospital who called to let us know what had happened.

They said she was as comfortable as could be expected having received a spinal anesthetic and they were going to try to get her into surgery in the morning. I said to tell her I'd called and that I'd call after surgery the next day.

So on Thursday I called and found out that surgery had gone well and that she was resting. Later on that evening I talked to her and she asked me not to mention it to anyone yet because (you know how she is about these things) she didn't want anyone to worry.

In any case she said there was nothing anyone of you could do. She told me not to come for the same reason: she was in good care and there was little else I could do for her.

Yesterday, Friday, she was resting all day and was on a blood transfusion to get her color back. She spoke well and said that they had decided during the operation that nothing much could be done about her shoulder but put it in a sling. She has said several times how glad she is that it was on her left side since she does everything with her right hand.

Today she said I could tell you folks, but still doesn't want anyone else to know -- especially, she mentioned, not Tony & Peggy nor people that are close to her there. I guess she really doesn't want people fussing over her right now when there's really nothing they can do for her: she just has to rest now and get her strength back.

We don't know how long she'll be there because, since it's now the weekend, she will need to wait till Monday to see the specialists first. She was glad to see her GP come in to see her and thought that was good.

Of course I told her I'd be glad to come over at a moment's notice since I'm not far, but she said if there was anything she needed she let us know. For the moment she talks much like her old self and seems to be getting very well taken care of.

She said she's in a four-bed ward with others who have also had similar accidents and that she has a nice view overlooking the grounds.

I can't think of anything else I have to tell you. Rest assured, she is in good hands and I'll notify you regularly with progress reports over the next few days -- sooner, of course, if there is anything of importance to tell you.

Much love from all of us here,

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy birthday, Claire

Wednesday, fast day, and Claire's birthday. Almost forgot until a minute ago when checking the date. Ten years old; hard to believe.

Yesterday I printed out Alasdair's web site and bound it. He is really something. There are so few kids like that, who really want to do something for God, no matter what. I wonder if the rise of radical Islam is having an effect on young people today. They can't help thinking about their own culture and their parents' faith and every once in awhile -- maybe one person in a million -- somebody's fuse is lit by the radical, Anabaptist, uncompromising doctrine.

It's much how I lived as a young person; so misunderstood I despaired of ever finding a soul-mate who shared my vision of life. God grant many more who will pick up their cross and follow him truly. And God help me to follow as well, because it's not something you do once for all but is always in need of that dying daily, so hard to bear.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

How can some people be so mean?

I'm rather distressed these days just thinking about several Internet relations I've had over the past years with Christian people. Every once in awhile I find myself going back to their sites and just looking at their stuff and reading and wondering why they never liked me enough to communicate.

There were disappointments, like the way Tot turned out. But he was easier to get over because we saw the divorce coming.

But Timothy Williams hurt me so bad I still can't understand or even think of him dispassionately. I can't listen to his sermons any more -- it just hurts too much. I kept his last email in my front pocket for over a year until it was all worn.

I'd take it out and read it over and try to understand how what he said was not mean.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back again...

Well, I am back again after an extended absence -- it's been months!

Hearing that Wendy just got herself a blog made me wonder what ever happened to mine. Reading my silly comments of years ago reminds of why I stopped doing it. However, if I can find the time I think I have a great deal more to say nowadays.

We'll see how it goes...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Spiritual principles

  • Like the original disciples of old, we will live together, sharing everything, our physical, temporal possessions, as well as our time and our very lives, for and with each other. We will give all we have from the past, in the present, and that we might have in the future: we hold nothing that we will call our own, willingly forsaking all to the Lord and to his family for the use of the Kingdom (Luke 14:33; Acts 2:44-45; 4:34).

  • We recognize that stewardship is an important element of discipleship and so we will be careful with those things that are entrusted to us for our daily use.

  • We know that we are destined to work while we are alive and so we will constantly work with our hands the thing that is good to further the overall work and life of the community.

  • We will counsel together as much as possible and always on decisions that affect other brothers and sisters knowing that godly counsel is the surest way to know God's will (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).

  • We will respect all those who are elder than us and let ourselves be guided by their wishes. It is our desire, in fact, to submit to each other in all things that the body of Christ may be edified (Acts 14:23; 15:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Ephesians 5:21).

  • We will submit to every law of the land in which we live excepting where this law would cause us to contravene the higher commandments of God (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 5:29).

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Community sins

A quote worthy of note. We printed it out and posted it in the living room.

One of the greatest sins of a community is perhaps a sort of sadness and moroseness. It is easy to spend our time with a few friends, criticizing others, saying that we are fed up and that nothing is like it was in the good old days. This state of spirit, which you read on people's faces, is a real cancer which can spread right through the body. Sadness, like love or joy, comes in waves which immediately spread. We are all responsible for the atmosphere of the community. We can nourish people with trust and love or we can poison them with sadness and all sorts of criticism – Jean Vanier

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

From Russia with love

When we got up this morning, this is what we found written on the whiteboard for us -- Renat's goodbye greeting.

I is quite touching. Here is what he said,

"Thank you all family Neve for all.
You give me many good information, emotional
(culture, religion, many new place)
Here I am more start believe in God and good peoples. Thank you.
I think you my second family. You have very good father,
I never have not so father.
Save you God, not all people like you.
I think I love you.
Thank you for all what you do for me.
Renat, from Russia

Friday, August 11, 2006

Aunty's visit

To Derrick and Peggy and all the family
Just a line to thank you all again for making me so welcome and giving me such a happy time during my stay with you. I really enjoyed seeing you all and being with you all again, so very many thanks.

With lots of love,
Auntie Ruth

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Elisabeth's story

You all remember the story of the poor little duckling that was so ridiculed and despised because he was so different from all his brother and sister ducklings?

We've seen this as a remarkably accurate description of our experience within the evangelical churches, and how we came to realize who we were, and why we were different.

One day we suddenly realized that we had always been this way and that we were not a deformed form of evangelicalism but actually Anabaptist Christians and had been all along without even knowing there was such a thing outside of our home.

This is not as surprising as it sounds because Menno Simons branched out of the budding protestant reform of his time in the same way as surely thousands of others did throughout the centuries.

Like the ugly duckling, we were raised in a nest (church) totally different from us.

Though we were raised by the evangelicals and assumed we were one of them for so many years we were always the “ugly duckling” among them because we couldn’t fit, no matter how hard we tried (for we believed them to be right -- weren’t they the self-proclaimed Bible-believing Christians of all times?)  But we just couldn’t seem to reconcile their way of living from Scripture.

Just like the ugly duckling, this caused us a lot of pain.  We would sigh and say, “Why must we be such an ugly duckling!”  We just couldn’t dress like them, give up head-covering (which we had come to understand by scripture), sing their songs, push for higher studies like they did… and a hundred other things.

In short, we couldn’t fit into the worldly mould as they did.  But what frustration lay behind the trying!

Only a few short months ago we were, as far as we knew, entirely alone on these issues in the big wide world.  So we would often question our own personal sanity.  The more they rejected us, the more we pulled away, and the more we pulled away, the more we turned to the Bible and the stranger we became to them.

Finally one day as we were walking sadly alone we heard someone cry: “Look, an Anabaptist!”  Only at this point did we realise that we weren’t a failing evangelical!

If we had been "evangelicals" we were definitely a failure because we are too radically different from what they aspire to be.  But we weren’t failing evangelicals because we weren’t evangelicals at all!  We were Anabaptists: beautiful, faithful Anabaptists!

This was a bigger breakthrough for us than you can probably imagine because if it is hard to wear head-covering as an Anabaptist, it is much worse while claiming to be an Evangelical.

Plus…. God CAN’T be doing something in us he is doing nowhere else, so the confirmation of finding fellowship with others is a great comfort to us.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Our first conference

This year we decided not to go up to Paris to share with LSM as has become our custom but to do it ourselves! After a fair bit of planning and arranging we picked the weekend and invited Andrew Strom, a revivalist preacher from New Zealand. I've been on his mailing list for years and have read a lot of his stuff. He also shared a very good sermon he'd recently given on his visit to America.

In the end it was quite a low-key affair with only one other person being able to attend (she was from Tours and knew Andrew!) but with all of us we made an instant crowd. Here's a shot from one of the sessions:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thursday, January 05, 2006