Sometimes visiting with supporters can be very interesting. One of the pastors at my home church, who makes special effort to make sure missionaries are supported on the field and did our marriage counseling, discovered he and Allen had a mutual hobby in metal detecting. Together they decided they needed to go sometime. Yesterday, a chilly autumn day (Allen’s from far enough south he called it winter), it finally happened. My dad, who also has a passing interest in metal detecting suggested his old school yard might be a good place to find old coins. Today it’s just a patch of grass with a few trees planted around it but he had some fun memories to share with us of where everything had been and what they had all done there. Pastor Anthony was super excited to find an old silver quarter and a silver dime and Allen came home with a penny worth 1 in 22 million. In 1954, for some reason, only 22 million Canadian pennies were minted as opposed to the usual 70 million minted yearly in that time period. My dad has been collecting pennies ever since I can remember and he needed that one to complete his set. It was an exciting day.
Yesterday, we flew from Detroit to Winnipeg. The airports were all fairly empty and getting through security never took more than 3 minutes. The only delay we had was leaving Minneapolis, as Vice President Pence and his retinue were flying out on Air Force Two at the time we were scheduled to leave. As we waited, 20 cars with flashing lights drove up to their jet, they boarded and off they went.
There were only 20 people on our flight, so we had lots of room. When we arrived, the immigrations official was pretty strict with us, as we were coming from America. I had to show them our Peruvian marriage license with all of its official stamps and translations and we had to give them our plan for quaratining for the next 14 days. Mary Beth's parents brought us a Honda Odyssey that Adrian and Zarah Fast loaned us for our time in Canada. Without hugs, we drove to the Penners' house that they are remodeling in Blumenort to start our quarantine. Linda stocked the kitchen with food and others have brought over books and instruments and scrapbooking materials to keep us occupied.
You wouldn't think that being put under strict quarantine would be seen as a blessing, but it is! I still have maybe an hour a day of mission emails to tend to, but otherwise there are no interruptions! I figured out that it takes 8 laps around the perimeter of the property to reach a km, so I'll start my running program tomorrow, looking forward to getting a bit more scenery after October 9th.
It seems strange to go from being single to being an empty-nester in 3 years. Never could have predicted that! So it’s with some nostalgia we arrive in Michigan to visit Allen’s sister Sandra and her husband Mike who run a vet clinic in Hillsdale County. This marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one as we leave Paul to live with them as he works toward the required hours he'll need to apply to vet school some day. We are thankful he has such a great opportunity and that we can leave him in such good hands. Allen and I, on the other hand, are looking forward to spending a second honey-moon (otherwise known as 14-day quarantine) in Blumenort next week!
Paul holding a recovering Sharp-Shinned Hawk that rammed into the window on Saturday.
We made it to Chicago to visit Sarah and Zach! They live about a mile from their medical school campus in the Pilsen neighborhood, not that they can actually go to campus for classes due to COVID. Their neighborhood is mostly Mexican and everyone is bilingual. No one bats an eye if we speak English or Spanish.
Mary Beth has kept on her walking regimen, walking 5 km in the mornings and 2 more in the evenings. We found this amusing display on our walk this afternoon.
Tomorrow, we head to Michigan, where Paul will work at his Aunt Sandi and Uncle Mike's vet clinic.
Thursday, Paul and I went early to the Saline County courthouse and found 12 people in line ahead of us but after only an hour's wait he passed his test and we walked out with his learner's permit! Yay!
Friday and Saturday was our garage sale and we sold 75-80% of our things, so that made us happy. Over 50% of the shoppers were Latinos, so we had lots of opportunities to speak Spanish over the two days. Ben came over from Lincoln and Alice (Allen's sister) and Keith came from Omaha to help out, so it was a fun, mini family reunion.
Mary Beth went for a walk yesterday morning and decided to try jogging a little bit. She decided to run from electrical pole to electrical pole, but after getting to the first one she felt so good she decided to run to the next one and then one more! Her heart felt freer than ever before!
Since 1999, Neal and Carolyn Pavlish (Allen's sister) have been storing our household belongings for us while we've been in Peru. Every five years when we returned to Nebraska, we would take our things out of storage and put the kids in school and live in America. Now that the kids are out of school, and we need to share the time between Canada and the USA, we will probably never rent a home and furnish it with our things again, so we are selling nearly everything we've been storing. It is both a liberating and grieving time. Hopefully, our things can be a blessing to some immigrant families or college students furnishing their first homes or apartments.
So here’s a news update on our lives. Paul’s been doing school-work, getting up at 6:00 a.m. some days for classes. I think he’ll be happy once we begin moving east into a different time zone. Mia has been working on making her drug cards for nursing school. She jokes that she’s doing drugs so watch out. Yesterday, we joined Sarah and Zach via zoom for some of their orientation for UIC med-school. It was good to see how excited they are to begin this new life stage. Ben’s moved into a new house with some friends and is ready for his last school year to start. Allen’s been working on organizing our lives and keeping the house-work in check. He’s cut out most of his Peru work in order to take care of me, but still has a bit of project and missionary-related work. Since surgery, I’ve finally been able to do two courses that SIM requires which I was unable to do before because of my health. I’ve also been going on daily walks, stretching, and practicing my breathing. Today I walked a mile for the first time, which makes me feel quite satisfied.
Tomorrow marks two weeks since surgery. Mary Beth is getting faster on her walks and can do more things for herself. Today she went shopping with us, using the electric cart at Walmart. To help with post-op pain, the surgeon did cryoablation of her intercostal nerves in her chest. That's fancy talk for the doctor froze her nerves so it wouldn't hurt so much after the surgery. Some of those nerves are starting to wake up now and when they do, Mary Beth feels like they announce their presence with shooting stars of pain. In some patients, the nerves never wake up leaving large numb areas, so Mary Beth feels this is a good thing long-term.
We are so glad we were able to get out of Peru when we did, as this week's flight was postponed indefinitely. We have several missionary friends that were planning on leaving on this flight.
Today we went to another Mayo Clinic campus to get some autonomic tests done (like a tilt table test where they take one's blood pressure lying flat and standing up by moving the bed while the patient is motionless) and I was reminded again of how beautiful Arizona is. There are amazing rocky ‘desert’ gardens all over the city, artistically and creatively bringing out the very best this landscape has to offer. Cheerful red and yellow flowers, prickly cactuses of many shapes as well as unique emerald- and fall-coloured trees with the most interesting leaves I’ve ever seen. Tall stately palms add contrast as well, and the roads are lined with walls engraved with interesting designs that catch and hold the eye. It’s a little easier to be cheerful today, because the miniscule improvements of the last week are adding up into substantial improvements, including walking in to my check-up today and sitting upright in the waiting room which felt like a huge achievement. I also took a 15-minute walk around our neighbourhood! At our appointment yesterday with Dr. J., she said she was quite pleased with my progress which also improved my spirits.
Mary Beth wouldn't say she's feeling good yet. She's still in a lot of discomfort, but today was a better day and I think she's getting close to having a 'good day'. We had to go get another COVID swab at the hospital for her followup appointments tomorrow. This one didn't seem nearly as uncomfortable as the first. She really enjoyed sitting up in the car and looking around at Phoenix for the first time since we've been here and is getting faster on her walks around the neighborhood.
Please pray that she would be more comfortable.