Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Visiting Santa Fe

We have been in New Mexico for 5 days and it has been good to be with family. 

In January of 2011, my dad, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) Disease.   For the past few years he had been feeling more and more ‘run down’ and found it necessary to sleep a bit more and schedule in a daily nap in order to make it thru the day, but otherwise he seemed in pretty good health.   He began working part time in 2003, and he visited his doctor more frequently during the past few years, always suspecting something wasn’t quite right, but his day to day life was not drastically altered really until last fall.  

Since we saw him a year ago, much has changed.  Last summer Bill flew to NY to pick up my sister Rachel and together they drove across the country to NM in a car with no A/C.  That was an adventure and a fun memory for them both.    Our whole family met up and spent time together in Alamogordo, New Mexico before my brother and his family moved out to England with the Air Force.   We went to White Sands, NM and had a picnic, took family photos, and went to the (Holoman) Air Force Base pool with Uncle Dave.  We went up to the mountains, had a camp-fire.  We had easy late night conversations and played games together.
We hung out at White Sands last summer

But as summer the summer of 2010 ended and fall came along, my dad’s health began to decline more significantly.  At times his speech would slur in conversation and that prompted more doctor visits.  Something was certainly wrong.   Tests were run and specialists were consulted.  In time, the numerous symptoms left no room for doubt in anyone's mind that my dad has ALS.  

This summer everything is drastically different.    Now his speech is slow and he is very difficult to understand.  It is a labor for him to communicate.  His fingers are curled and no longer useful.  His walk is slow and unsteady.  His neck muscles struggle to hold up his head. He has lost significant weight.  He can no longer button his shirts or zip his pants.  Though the disease has progressed much in the past 6 months, there is still a lot Bill is able to do.   We are grateful that his is still walking!  He is still able to feed himself with the use of a special grip on his utensils.  We praise the Lord that we can still communicate some.  Bill has a good sense of humor and has joked that his speech is a new “foreign language” for us to learn.  We love to see him smile and hear him laugh at our stories!  Just this morning we took the kids to nearby park today to launch rockets and Bill joined us.  He was able to walk there on his own and got to enjoy his grandkids run around.  We are grateful for each new memory we get to make, and keenly aware that each day we have is a gift.

Shaving is difficult, so when we showed up, Bill was sporting a nice white beard.  I helped him shave it off the other night.  We called it "manscaping".

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crossing Cultures in Wildwood

Have you ever seen that T.V.  show called Jersey Shore?  I guess it’s about these wild New York ‘Italian’ kids who go out to the coast to waste their lives partying and hooking up with people.  It has characters with names like “Snooki” and ‘the Situation’.  It’s sort of popular, but to be honest I’ve never seen it.  And call me an idiot for not paying attention to details, but I never even knew Jersey had so much shore!  But it does and down at the southern tip you’ll find Wildwood.  

Before going to serve in Wildwood, New Jersiey this summer Stephanie and I were told that there are “tons of international students” there.  But to be honest, I didn’t totally believe it!  Even though my sister Rachel had served on the project and told me about it and my best friends told me what a great place it was to meet people from other countries, I thought they were all basically exaggerating!  I sincerely thought “sure, there probably are a few more international students in Wildwood than there are in Daytona Beach or something, -but seriously,  how many could there really be?”   But let me say that I was totally failing to comprehend the reality!  It’s basically mind blowing how many international students there are in Wildwood over the summer.  I don’t understand it!

But what does make sense to me is having a summer project there!  At least part of the  reason so many students come from all over the world is because of Mory’s Piers.  Mory’s Piers is a beach side boardwalk string of amusement parks. They have a very proficient internship system that involves sending recruiters to universities in countries like Romania, Kazakhstan, Turkey and China to promote their job opportunities.   Students sign contracts and then get on planes and move out here for the summer to work at Mory’s wannabe Disneyland.  I met some guys from Bulgaria.  They told me that there are at least 100 students from Bulgaria working at the Piers! At another point I heard there are 500 in the area and they jokingly call Wildwood –New Bulgaria during the summer.   And some students love it so much they come back year after year. 
In the middle of the project we host a raging BBQ and invite co-workers, neighbors and anyone else who the students have met.  Our students are working beside students from countries where it’s actually difficult to send missionaries.  They are  gaining cross-cultural ministry experience and having opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to people who have never met a Christian before!  

On Thursday nights we host what's called "international Cafe."  We broadcasted a wireless internet signal for people to use and the students would hang out on the driveway.  It's a great way to hang out together 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some Wildwood Pictures

Here is the group picture of the Wildwood Summer Project 2011

This is the summer project house in Wildwood.  Around 40 of the students live in this house an another 6 are across the street.  We utilize the driveway and the back yard for events and hang out.