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Randall and Carol Stubbs in Tanzania
Lindsay Mack and Omar Turcios Mixco and family in Mexico
Young Adult Global Missionaries (location varies) currently in United Kingdom
Notes from Ron & Pat Henning
Carol Stubbs has passed post-transplant process day 30 and continues to strengthen for the next step in August, but the most recent "best possible" news is that one of her brothers is a match. Randy is back in Tanzania for 2 weeks for the end of the school year and the final stages and dedication of the new Cultural Arts and Music Department buildings at Makumira University.
We rejoice with our partner Kiutu Parish in Tanzania. While resources are few and costs are many, they hope to complete the parish pastor house this month. The parish pastor changes often, but Kiutu is excited to now have Elias Tluway Llao, whose wife, Sinyati Martin Laizer, is also a pastor. She is currently studying for her Master's Degree in Theology of Gender and Health at Makumira University. She was previously chaplain at the Maasai Girl's School after the departure of Pastor Neema Ndooki.
Journal entry by Randy Stubbs
Greetings from Randy, safe and sound in Wisconsin since 2 June. As Kristin stated in the last journal entry, no news is good news these days. Aside from a few appointments each week to test her blood and get blood products as needed, Carol has "only" to eat, walk, and rest for the next 2 months.
Yesterday we met with Dr. Hari to see where we are and where we are going. So far things are going as hoped as we move toward day 30 post-transplant on this Friday. What is nice for both of us right now is that Wisconsin is simply beautiful this time of year. Though Carol cannot dig in the dirt or mow the grass (big disappointments to her), she can appreciate the visual beauty of the many blooming flowers all around Anna's yard and the stunning birds (cardinals, blue birds, yellow finch, hummingbirds, to name a few) that come to Anna's many well-stocked bird feeders.
This is a time of refreshing, rejuvenating, and relaxing. Thankfully, medications are now greatly reduced and side-effects are now minimal. Food has begun to have pleasant tastes again. For these things and much more we have much to be grateful for to God.
Back in Tanzania it continues to be a busy time. The semester has one month remaining and I am very thankful that we have four, count them, four visiting American professors that have come to help the music department get caught up with courses this academic year. Huge thanks go to Gary Sperl (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), Daris Hale (Texas State University, Austin), Eugenia Costa-Giomi (University of Ohio, Columbus), and Jennifer Bernard (freelance, Austin). They have all come at their own expense and their help is greatly appreciated. If you see them please thank them again for us.
The Cultural Arts Centre (CAC) buildings will be officially handed over on 15 June and the official dedication will be 1 July. I will be in Tanzania for those two major events, but not a day before or after. These events represent a major step for not only CAC and the music department, but also for Makumira University and Tanzania. It has been a huge work with many, many people involved. As we near this completion of Phase I my sincere thanks goes to all of the individuals that have supported this work in various ways through giving of time, energy, and resources. More about this in a few weeks!
For those that want a peek ahead, Marissa will return to the States with me on 2 July. Megan will arrive from Finland a few days later, followed by Nathan from Texas. THIS time it is a planned family time, NOT due to drama or trauma. We look forward to that planned time together as a family at a secret location very much.
There is so much more to be thankful for, but for today maybe this is enough. "Give thanks in and through all things" is so true for us. In the midst of unimaginable challenges God has been present and working through people and circumstances. A big part of that is YOU lifting Carol and our family up in prayer regularly. We continue to say thank you for that incredible support. Bwana asifiwe!
Journal entry by Kristin Hillman —Update on Carol Stubbs
So remember I told you about her blood counts creeping up faster than normal? The staff was encouraged by 100 white blood cell count on Wednesday, 200 on Thursday and 300 on Friday. Well, guess what?! Saturday brought 600! Wow!
And today the count was 1600!!! Just amazing. So when the doctor came in today, he said things were going so well, that she can leave the hospital Tuesday or Wednesday! The planned discharge date was June 1st. Of course, it's best to not be in hospital because there are lots of nasty bugs there. So going home is the best!
So with the higher blood count the throat pain is indeed better. Nausea is the biggest problem now. This is the first time dealing with this - a blessing in itself. Something to pray about!
Otherwise Carol is in good spirits. Anna spent Sunday visiting. I joined them later in the afternoon. Carol is still frustrated when the meds make her sleepy. Then we remind her sleepy is good - rest goes right along with healing. So hard to keep this woman resting! Lol
Oh, Father! You really know how to answer the prayers of your people! We praise Your name! Thank you for the management of pain. Thank you for the smile on Carol's face. Thank you for the rapid increase of the WBC count. Thank you for the comfort You bring. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We ask you now for your continued blessings for Carol. Please take away the nausea. Please increase her appetite. Please help her REST. Please smooth her transition to Anna's and the scheduling that goes with it. Please comfort her and give her Your peace. In Jesus' name. Amen.
From Randall Stubs - beginning of April, 2017
Journal entry by Randy Stubbs
What a beautiful Spring day it was today in rural West Bend, Wisconsin. Carol did a lot of walking today, several hundred yards for sure. Glenn (Carol's brother) and his wife Laurie drove up from Milwaukee and we enjoyed lunch and then cleaning up sticks in the yard. Anna's yard has several acres of grass, so we kept busy for a while. We unpacked suitcases for the approximately 3 week stay.
As promised yesterday, here is a brief update on progress at Makumira. The Cultural Arts Centre dancers have been busy practicing, creating, learning, and performing. They are working together well as a team and I am thankful for their good attitudes and willingness to help out. Construction of the facilities has progressed considerably. See almost current pictures below. Next month is to be the official hand-over (provisional acceptance) of the CAC buildings.
What's left to do? Windows, hanging doors, plumbing and electrical fixtures (all pipes and wires are already in place), final paint, site leveling, and clean-up. Personnel on-site has increased to 60+ per day, so I think it's going to happen. The majority of the money has been raised to finish construction of all the facilities, so that helps keep things moving also. Also, the first of our traditional bomas (houses) is under construction by members of the Waarusha ethnic group, a sect of Maasai. Can I say it's very exciting? It's very exciting.
We still have furnishings and some other features to do ourselves, but I think a June dedication is now realistic. I love all these details, so it's a bit challenging for me to be far away during all the finishing. I am attaching a few pictures that I took just a couple of days ago. (Having trouble getting them all to upload. I'll try more of them tomorrow.) It's already changed since Friday. Wonderful!
Now, some of you are thinking this as gone on long enough. The bone marrow biopsy results are supposed to be out today. Stop procrastinating. OK. First let me say that Carol did not want to ask about the results when she had to call the nurses for another issue. That is understandable, given that one result has a better path for remission than the other. Fortunately, the nurse called back while I had the phone, so I asked for the results.
The last biopsy the cancer was 30%. Remember the important dividing line was 5%. That number or lower is good and means the chemo cocktails have been effective in reducing the cancer. It was 30% when we arrived at Froedtert Hospital on 20 February. After 2 rounds of special and intensive chemo the number is 0%. Does this mean she is in remission? Close, but doubtful. This was one small sample in one bone marrow region (the pelvis).
I asked the nurse to repeat the number. That's when she said, "I've actually never seen this before." Of course that is a fantastic number! This means that the autologous stem cell transplant is a go. Preparatory tests and harvesting Carol's own stem cells will be 20-27 April, full days, but all as out patient.
Once again we can only thank you, our army of prayer warriors for your important part in this battle. Once again we thank Dr. Hari and his great team of doctors and nurses that are caring for Carol. Once again we thank family and friends for encouragement and support in various ways. Once again the biggest credit goes to the master physician, God, who made these miraculous bodies that we use for some years on earth.
The Miracle Girl continues climbing to the next hut!
From Lindsay Mack April 8, 2017:
Dear Sponsoring Congregations,
Greetings from Mexico City! Our ministry as the YAGM Mexico coordinators continues to be inspiring and uplifting. Our family is well. Our twins, Isabella and Aiden recently turned one year old and are babbling, crawling and exploring constantly.
Now that we have two little ones, the pull of family is stronger than ever. Our biggest news is that we have decided to return to the US this summer. We will complete our fourth year as YAGM coordinators and return to the US this July. We are excited that global mission has recently hired Meghan Brown Saavandera to serve as the next YAGM Mexico Coordinator. Currently, we in the process of training Meghan as she prepares to choose her first year of YAGM volunteers. We hope that you might consider supporting Meghan and her family as she continues this important ministry here in Mexico.
We have just returned from a trip around Central Mexico visiting our volunteers and connecting with their sites. Much of our work is centered around supporting our volunteers and sites through visits and retreats. Our volunteers and the inspiring sites where they serve never cease to impress us.
One of our volunteers, Tim, currently works at a shelter for Central American migrants called Tochan Nuestra Casa in Mexico City. Tochan is a shelter for predominantly Central American men who are fleeing violence and economic hardship in their home countries. Many of these men (and a very few women) have experienced some sort of human rights violation or have been the victims of violence as they journey northward. Perhaps they have been injured by the train they ride on top of, or maybe they have been the victims of gang violence or their traveling companion has been killed. Many of these migrants carry deeply sad stories and wounds with them as they travel into Mexico. For some, their final destination has been Mexico and they look for humanitarian amnesty or refugee status here in Mexico. Because Omar is Honduran and because I lived in Honduras for several years, this site is particularly special for us.
Our volunteer, Tim works at the shelter. He helps with practical logistical tasks such as registering migrants and purchasing food for the kitchen. He also accompanies migrants by simply sitting and conversing with them, hearing their stories, and playing cards and talking about soccer when it’s too hard to talk about more serious things. Tim is the fourth volunteer we’ve had at Tochan and we’re happy we’ve been able to support them in their important ministry.
On March 26th, I, Lindsay, had the privilege of participating in a big ecumenical worship to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation and commemorate the El Salvadorian bishop, Monsignor Oscar Romero who was martyred in 1980. Of the many pastors and priests present, I was invited to preach which was a great honor.
Living in a different country like Mexico, most days I run into some sort of cultural difference that makes us reflect on life. We have an acquaintance at our church, Rafael, who lives here in Mexico City. One day in conversation, he mentioned to me that he is a janitor at a hospital. “Nice,” I thought and didn’t think much more about it. Several months later, Rafa and I were talking again with a friend, Carolina, who had a toothache. “I could take a look at your tooth for you,” Rafa told Caro. When I looked at him inquisitively, Rafa explained: “I’m a dentist.” “I thought you cleaned at a hospital,” I replied. “I do during the week,” he explained, but on the weekends I have my dental practice. I couldn’t find work as a full time dentist.” How curious, I later thought. In my culture, in the US, we would probably first explain our job as a dentist. We are used to finding our self-worth in our work. But here in Mexico, Rafa first mentioned the job where he felt the greatest sense of community.
This spring, I plan to give a workshop together with the Ecological School where we currently have a volunteers. The workshop will be with parents of students and community members about our need to care for the earth.
Our life and work as missionaries continues to go well. We thank God for you and cherish your prayers. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Lindsay, Omar, Isabella and Aiden
I wasn't planning to write an update today, but there were some things that happened to cause me to change my mind. Carol is not yet up to sitting through a church service, even the short 1 hour ones here in the States, but I decided I would go by myself. Having never been in Jackson, Wisconsin on a Sunday morning I used the internet and found an ELCA (Lutheran) church a few miles away.
After cooking breakfast for Carol I easily made it to the 10:45 AM service, arriving about 10 minutes early. Now, I don't know how, but when I walked in somehow they knew I was a visitor. The pastor made a bee-line to me and welcomed me. I mentioned that I am an ELCA missionary serving in Tanzania. His eyes got wide and he mentioned that their church (St. John Lutheran) supports Dr. Steve and Bethany Friberg.
Some of you reading this blog also followed our Stubbs' family website blog for many years and you may recognize those names because we have been out to Ketumbeine, about 150 km from Makumira, many times. I won't bore all of you with how many connections there are with Makumira, Ketumbeine, Pastor Sululu, First Lutheran Church in DeKalb, and much more.
Then the pastor shares about the newly installed Bishop of the Meru Diocese (the headquarters are 2 km from Makumira). The new Bishop served here at St. John's Lutheran for a year about 10 years ago. And then... and then...it was time for the service to begin.
Somehow as we get a bit older things like liturgy provide some comfort and stability. It was a beautiful sanctuary and a nice service. The organ was not used (I was tempted to start playing, and in Tanzania I would, but that would be too scary here in America without asking permission first). At the end of the service Pastor Paul invited me up and he presented a beautiful prayer shawl for Carol and then the entire congregation gathered around, laid hands on me and prayed for Carol.
I have to say that it was a wonderful morning. I'm leaving out many other positive details and connections. It was very affirming and comforting. Thank you God for that!
After lunch we drove up to West Bend to attend the West Bend Women's Choir Concert. It was just under an hour long and Carol made it through sitting in her wheelchair. Her mom invited us to the concert and wanted to sit next to Carol. That is Carol's first concert since September. Thank you God for that!
Our daughter Megan sent a picture today and I am reposting it below. She is currently teaching and performing in Nepal. Carol wrote on the Facebook post by Megan how amazing it is that an American young lady that grew up in Tanzania is teaching a Finish Polska in Nepal. How awesome! Thank you God for that!
This evening I cooked a special meal for Carol. I'm not anywhere near as good a chef as Pat, but I do enjoy cooking and eating good food. Carol said my Thai chicken with peanut sauce was very tasty. Thank you God for that!
So you see, there was just too much good stuff that happened today for me not to write an entry. Thank you God for that!
From Randy's post "Soaking it all in"