Saturday, October 09, 2010

October Newsletter

Newsletter #7, October 7, 2010

(Note: Due to sensitive material, we had to leave out one of the articles this month. If you would like to read the newsletter in its entirety, please send us an email to receive an electronic copy, or sign up to receive our newsletters by snailmail on OMF's website. Actually, we still need about 10 more people to sign up before OMF starts sending them for us... so please feel free!)

We have been up and down the Pacific coast from Canadian Vancouver to Californian LA meeting with friends and making connections. When we say “coast,” we do, in fact, mean hundreds of miles on the vomit-inducing Pacific Coast Highway. During this last month, it was particularly encouraging to meet with a number of our fellow OMFers with whom we worked in Japan. At the end of October, we will be speaking at an OMF conference in Vancouver, B.C. on October 29-30--this will be two separate events: Youth Night and Heart for Asia--and at Vancouver First Christian Reformed Church on Sunday, October 31.

At the same time, we are becoming more involved with our church, Newport Covenant, through joining weekly groups, participating in the music side of worship, and attending the sermon prep prayer group. We believe that Newport Covenant is one of the reasons for which God has led us to Seattle; we want to support this church in its time of transition as they are implementing a new vision statement and searching for a new lead pastor. Another reason we are in Seattle is to support Celia’s mom while she cares for her aging parents.

Christ-like with a Servant Heart: Re-learning to Love My Grandparents

Living in Seattle, as we mentioned, comes with the blessing of being near my (Celia’s) family. I never thought I would move back in with my parents, but I think God has given us a lot of grace and patience as we’re learning again to live together.

Everyone together at home, preparing for the annual Chili Cookoff
We’re also back in the same place as my mom’s parents. In my childhood, I spent many happy days at Grandmother and Granddad’s house, on their boat, and vacationing together in Hawaii. They constantly found new ways to show affection to each of us grandkids.

Grandparents change when they get old, though. Both of them have dementia now, Grandmother more so than Granddad. In some ways they’re the same: they still love me, and they’re still stubborn and independent. Despite their increased needs, they would prefer to be left alone to live their lives in a sort of “freedom” which means “without help from others.”

Grandmother lives in a state of perpetual confusion. She is nervous in an unfamiliar place, including her own room in the assisted living facility, and she gets flustered when Granddad, the anchor for her memories, leaves the room. Her confusion sometimes leads to agitation. Recently, matters came to a head when she hit one of the staff at her assisted living facility, and was therefore taken to a psych hospital. Although it is hard for me to imagine my sweet Grandmother hitting people, this development was not entirely unwelcome, as Granddad had been interfering when anyone tried to care for her. She was thus allowed to get help for her condition.

Meanwhile, Granddad, who finds the meaning of his life in caring for Grandmother, has come to live with us. This is probably a temporary solution, but it has made for a huge change in our house. Mom works hard at keeping him active and involved by including him in the household chores. Although he was once a gifted Boeing engineer, because of his dementia, now he must relearn simple tasks like grinding coffee and cutting up vegetables.

In this situation, I feel helpless. Granddad is the same person who loved and cared for me as a child; over and over he tells the same story about playing “hide and seek” with me on a boating trip in the San Juan Islands. But now he can’t hear, and he often forgets instructions. How do I show love to him now? If I retreat to my room and try to get work done, I feel guilty for abandoning him, especially if no one else is home. I have a hard time inviting him to help me in the kitchen, since I can do the same tasks faster and better.

Celia on the boat with Granddad
Sometimes it’s even hard to know what to talk about. One evening, when my parents were out, we ate our dinner in silence. No one could think of anything to say—except the same old “hide and seek” story. Last night was a little better. We talked about the time when Grandmother and Granddad went to Japan. He remembered a floating shrine gate, a lake with boats, and a big mountain. (I think they went to Hakone.) He also remembered that the people there were very kind.

As much as I want to honour my family by supporting my grandparents, who are lonely, confused, and probably bored, and by supporting my Mom, who is their tireless—and largely unappreciated—advocate, I can’t help but think at times that this “honour” isn’t getting us any closer to Japan. How do I reconcile my calling as a daughter and a member of this family with my calling to serve and evangelize the Japanese people? I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer wrestling with this subject, and I think I’ve found that the balance point between these two callings is “Christ-like with a servant heart.” This is the motto of one of my mentors, which I have adopted for myself. However, I’m still trying to figure out what that motto means in this situation.

Grandmother was discharged from the hospital a couple of days ago; Granddad will also move into their new place soon. This is the third assisted living facility that they have tried. I’m praying that this one works out for them—and I’m praying that I will find new ways of serving, loving, and appreciating them in these final years.

Here's a couple more grandparent pictures:

Celia and Colin with Grandma and Grandpa (Dad's parents)

Visiting Keith's grandma in Aberdeen, South Dakota

Prayer Points
  • We have decided to attend Newport Covenant Church. Please pray for us as we look for ways to serve there and define our role—and also that we don’t over-extend ourselves. Please also pray for the church in its time of transition.
  • We are thankful for peace in our home; the living situation with Celia’s family is going well. Please pray that we will be a good support for our families, especially Celia’s mom, Joann.
  • Celia’s grandparents are moving into their third assisted living home. Please pray that they will adjust well and be content.
  • Please pray for new and renewed friendships, especially for Keith.
  • We are looking for partners to faithfully pray for us. Thus we are seeking opportunities to share about our work in Japan with churches, small groups, and individuals. Please pray that we would know who to ask and which opportunities to pursue.
  • We are preparing to speak at an OMF conference in Vancouver on October 29-30. Please pray that God will give us the right words to encourage the attendees.
  • We are thankful for our first pledges; we are up to 1.5% of our monthly support! Please pray for God’s continued financial provision for our life and ministry in Japan, and for our return there in God’s timing.

Money Jar: We have 1.5%!

We need 100% pledged monthly support for our first term (5 years) before returning to Japan. Please  keep praying with us that God will provide for our  financial needs!

We hope this letter finds each of you well. Blessings as you seek to follow God in your own lives.

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

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