Thursday, July 18, 2019

Second camp and third Keytruda

The second Agape day camp started yesterday in the children's shelter in a village right outside Kherson. We know from before that working with these kids is really hard emotionally. Many of them are right in the middle of really heartbreaking situations, and their emotional wounds are often very obvious. Please pray for health and strength for the team and for another great camp with these kids.

Also, I have to be really vague, but now there's something going on with a friend of Jaan's, a struggling family, this shelter, and our church. Please pray for everyone involved, especially for wisdom and compassion for the church leaders.

Again, there are photos available on Facebook. Here are a few to start with.

And then there was our Kyiv trip:

Raia and I got back late Tuesday night, and she jumped right into the beginning of camp Wednesday morning. I stayed in bed. Our trip did go really well. We went first class on the way there (above) and "sitting" (last class?) on the way back, daytime both ways, which was beautiful, but also made the trip seem really long. It also meant that we enjoyed two nights at a very international, fun hostel. Raia took photos of lots of the signs there. Here are just two:

Our time at the clinic went really well, too. My blood work was fine all around. I told Raia that after anaemia one time and liver trouble the next, I was almost expecting something else to pop up. But, no, it was all good. My doctor confirmed something that I was thinking: the tumours we can feel seem a little smaller to her too. We won't get a conclusive answer until they do scans, but it does seem like the Keytruda may be working. I did get the super sleepy anti-allergy medicine again, so I have had both general fatigue and intense sleepiness to deal with, but they're already going away, and I certainly can't complain!

Next time should be August 5, but I was just looking at the tickets Will had gotten for me, and they're for the 6th. I don't know if it will be better to change the tickets or my appointment. Either way, that should be another routine treatment. They clarified something I hadn't been sure of: does diagnostics "after the fourth time" mean on the fourth or fifth trip? It means the fifth. So, next time won't be anything different, and the time after that--August 26--will be the moment of truth.

Raia's one request was to find a bookstore, so after the clinic I slept for an hour, and then we went out. We had checked online to be sure that it would have a place for me to sit, so I just had to walk there, sit while she looked, and then walk back. Still, that felt like a lot to do on clinic day. But we were both very happy.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

More about camp and travel plans

This camp flew by, at least to me, sitting here at home. There have been quite a few photos and videos on Facebook, many of them available without any restrictions, and more if you're friends with our friends on the camp team. Here are some from day 1, day 2, day 3.... Look around for more. And these are the very few pictures that Will took with our camera on the first day:

Tomorrow is the last day at Tsyurupinsk. The camp team will go to church, like on a regular Sunday, and then to the orphanage do a closing picnic for the kids.

Also tomorrow, Raia and I will be traveling to Kyiv. I had planned to go by myself this time and have my friend there accompany me to the clinic. However, that friend is in Moldava, and Raia really wanted to go, so that's what we're doing. We'll travel all day Sunday, spend the night in a hostel, Monday at the clinic, another night at the hostel, and then travel home on Tuesday.

I am still really enjoying feeling well and not being in pain. We don't really know what is going on inside of me, though. Please keep praying that my hemoglobin will be up, liver toxicity down, and that the Keytruda will work.

Next week this same wonderful team will do camp at the children's shelter in Stepanovka. Oh, one of them sent me a fun video from Tsyurupinsk camp this morning:

Really, my favourite was from the talent show yesterday. You can only see it if you're friends with me on Facebook, though: Uncle Joe and Bogdan performing with live accompaniment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tsyurupinsk camp

Day camp in the orphanage starts today! Back when we first started planning, I was going to be the camp director. Now I'm staying home, but most of the rest of my family is involved. There's going to be a play that goes on from day to day, and our three oldest have been practicing for that; Jaan, our actor, has the lead role. Bogdan has to stay home with me, at least for now, because he got a bad cough at the river. Other than sounding bad, he feels fine, and he's very disappointed not to be going to help at camp, though.

I actually feel so well right now that it probably would be possible for me to go, but I need to conserve energy and stay healthy. Camp in Tsyurupinsk and Stepanovka goes July 10-20, and my next treatment is July 15, right in the middle of that. I need to get ready to travel, and I'll probably be tired when I get back. Also, we couldn't even imagine that I would be feeling so good, so we didn't plan for me to be at camp.

Since I don't have any camp photos yet, here is one from Monday. Most of the guys we see at this institution grew up in Tsyurupinsk and would do just about anything to get back to their "home" there. Any time we can visit them, they love it. They wanted to take a selfie with me:

P.S. I had to come back and add that the first camp photos are already appearing!

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Feeling good

Last Sunday I went to church for the first time since April. It felt so good to be back and see everyone! And I have felt well and without pain all week. On Thursday we all went to our friends' house for the Fourth of July; Bogdan and I even walked there. Again, I hadn't done anything like that for quite a while.

Then we spent the weekend at the river, to celebrate Will's birthday a little early and to get some family time in before local Agape camps start. It was wonderful! After being at home and not feeling great for what seems like such a long time, this is all almost unbelievable to me. I am so thankful!

On the way over in the boat
Our early birthday present for Will was that the kids shopped for and prepared a delicious dinner the first evening there.

Last time we took a photo like this, too.
Asya hardly came out of the water the whole time.
On the way back, we missed the slow boat, so they called two speedboats to zip us back across the river:

Tomorrow Jaan and Raia have a camp planning meeting, and I'm going on a day trip to visit some of the former Tsyurupinsk orphanage kids at the institutions where they live now.