A Journey of Faith and Healing

Trinity Sunday, 2018: A Journey of Faith and Healing

Greetings and blessings from God, Son and Holy Spirit to each one who reads this update, and with love from Meryl and me.

Our last formal update was on December 7 last, although we have written some shorter updates since then to specific friends for particular reasons, for example, the Welcome Home Initiative© ministry team at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, Greenwich, NY 12834.

Last year was a great year but had its fair share of difficulties, mainly focusing on relationships, partnerships and cooperation between two ministries we know. But now we are in another year and focus on the future as we seek to follow Christ daily as His disciples, seeking to encourage others day by day.

January was cold and snowy in the North Country of New York State and we were busy making preparations for the first WHI©of the year in early April. It was specifically for traumatised female Veterans: the second in successive years and third overall. Preparation mainly involves gathering a ministry team, obtaining quilts and relevant books, preparing programs, an order of service, encouraging prayer and donors, securing several speakers, overall coordination including music; and making sure everyone is well briefed, well prayed for knowing and understanding the role s/he has. We are so blessed that all these things involve a most experienced and mature ministry and admin team. We have to be as the “devil prowls around seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8) and we, the team have experienced active spiritual warfare within the ministry and in individual lives in the first quarter of 2018. But fixing our focus on the aim of this inner healing ministry – helping Veterans findsoul healing – our wonderful team of 20 plus pulled together, resisted the evil and saw the Holy Spirit move most powerfully into the lives of the eight women who attended the very successful retreat. It is a beautiful experience to see broken and damaged souls begin to find God’s Peace and to hear them say it!

Although retreat preparations continued, February and March became very difficult and painful months for Noel, with care being so lovingly given, as always, by Meryl. Noel had highly successful cataract removal operations in the first half of February, but within 3 days of the first one, the mouth sores he experiences from chronic Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) returned with great vengeance. Additionally, the swallowing difficulties he had in 2016 came back too. Incredibly painful, and mentally and emotionally undermining. Thank God for the prayers and ministry of many who prayed for us especially those living locally who minister to us very personally. After 9 weeks of suffering, eating only blended food and liquid, losing 10 lbs in weight, Noel began to feel very slightly better – well enough to lead the team on the female Veterans team, mentioned already. The improvement continued through April and Noel restarted regular exercise after doing very little for nearly 4 months.

As April became May, we focused on preparing for our almost annual trip to England to see family and friends. We are here now, 20 days into a 30 day visit. It has been excellent, including the weather (mostly). Highlights have been to celebrate Noel’s sister’s 70th birthday with all siblings and most spouses getting together on THE day for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant of Joycelin’s choice; seeing many family members young and older, most in blooming health, some not so strong; focusing a little more on Meryl’ family than on some previous visits; two interesting Cathedral visits; and now, with our son, daughter-in-law, g/daughter and g/son in northeast England at the seaside enjoying a lovely sandy beach today in warm enough sunshine.It will be emotionally tough in some ways to leave everyone behind again in 10 days time. This vacation has been so enjoyable!

However, it has been one of the most challenging visits we have ever made to England. Why?

After the healing progress of recent weeks, soon after arriving in London the mouth sores and swallowing gradually got worse. We don’t understand or know why. Noel’s immune system seems to be strong and he feels healthy. By the 11th day Noel was eating soup and drinking liquids again. After a few more days his mouth was so sore he could speak only in mono-syllablesand mostly not at all. The pain was even greater than two months previously.

When we arrived in the north east we decided to seek medical treatment. And, unknowingly, we started on a God-led journey, although it didn’t feel like it until we were able to look back two days ago, on day 18. Our son, advised us to go to an Urgent Care Center at Hexham Hospital because there were likely to be fewer people than elsewhere and waiting time would be less. A very helpful and caring doctor felt my condition was beyond his experience and out of a choice of two specialised hospitals within about 20 miles, strongly advised us go to the Royal Victoria in Newcastle as they have a transplantation unit. But it’s in a different health group so it meant starting over again, this time at the Accident & Emergency department. After about a 1.5 hour wait, Noel was seen and the doctor was worried about hydration so admitted him overnight to the hospital’s Assessment Ward – an almost sleepless night of hydration asother patients came and went. As full assessments of their needs became clear, usually after test results became known and beds became available, they moved to more specialised wards. The next day, day 16, still brought no relief and Noel saw a fourth doctor since arriving at Hexham. This doctor, a specialist from Haematology decided Noel was OK to be discharged, prescribing him pain and mucositis topical medications, which helped a bit. He arranged an appointment the next day at a regular transplant clinic at another nearby hospital.

We found the Northern Cancer Care Centre, Newcastle early on Thursday, day 17. We had no idea of the full nature of the Centre, never having heard of it before, and we knew only that Noel would be seen by an unknown specialist. After about 1.5 hours wait we were called into an office and examined by a very pleasant, caring, personable Professor Matthew Collin, who we think is the top Haematology Specialist and personally knows and spoke most highly and glowingly about Dr. Robert Soiffer, Noel’s specialist in Boston. Noel was prescribed prednisoloneand three other medications and a follow-up appointment is arranged for the day before we return to the USA. He told us about a blood treatment involving “cleaning” certain white blood cells with UV light, of which we knew little even though it has been in use for about 2 years. This information heartened us hugely, potentially offering great healing from this chronic GVHD illness (we will find out more about this ECP treatment when we go to Boston on June 19).

The “rest of the story” is like a miracle: by the second 40mg/day prednisolone treatment, the mouth sores were in retreat and swallowing improved. During lunch on day 18 with Noel’s cousin and wife, whom we had not seen for 3 years, Noel realised he could speak a little more easily. Great praise! On day 19, yesterday, improvement continued as we drove a couple of hours to the seaside. Today, Noel has eaten normally, albeit still with a little pain and minor swallowing problems. We anticipate continued good progress. After a bit of gastric uncomfortableness there seems to be no side effects from the prednisolone.

As we look back on the last 10 days, we now see that beyond any knowledge we had, God led us from place to place, doctor to doctor very precisely. It was as if each were actors and scenes on the stage of life to get Noel to the right person in the right place at the right time. The inspiration that He gave human beings to invent and produce prednisolone and other medicines, coupled with the daily journey, painful and morale sapping though it has been, now seems like a marvellous work of God in our lives. We feel this is like a miracle and maybe you, the reader, might agree?

And so, we take each day as it comes, one day at a time, as we try to “walk the walk and talk the talk” as Jesus would do. Some days are better than others but we never give up trying. Read and be encouraged by Matthew 6:25-34, particularly verses 31-35. And this edition of our story – this update – we realise culminated on Trinity Sunday.Perfect timing! All praise to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as an inspiring hymn chorus goes!

December 2017 Update: Ministry, Health and Family

MINISTRY AS ACCTS STAFF MEMBERS IN 2017

Busy year of ministry for both of us
This year has been yet another busy year as far as ministry as an ACCTS staff member is concerned. Although this brief update focuses on Noel, we are a “husband and wife” pair as staff members. Meryl has been involved throughout the year coordinating very beautiful and sacred quilts from Quilts of Valor which we present to combat Veterans the first time they come to the Welcome Home Initiative© (WHI©). Her ministry includes praying over each quilt (which are publicly blessed at a prayer and worship service shortly before each retreat begins), praying for each Veteran coming to the retreat.

At the female combat Veterans retreat in April, we heard and prayed much about issues of sexual trauma, oppression and lack of equality and from the reactions of each one of these precious women, there was considerable healing. It seems that as someone receives the Peace of the LORD that the presence of Jesus in our lives brings contentment, patience, calmness, strength, hope, encouragement and much more in our lives. Those who receive it are hugely helped.

Veterans Healed at Retreat
We organized and led a second retreat in November, which was also extremely successful, according to the parting comment of those who attended. Twenty male Veterans, six spouses and two other ladies with extensive military backgrounds came to the SLC from November 13-15. Our team included former Army and Navy Chaplains. During the retreat we were blessed to honor one of our most stalwart team members who died during the summer, instituting the “Ken Bliss Welcome Home Initiative Scholarship Fund” through which donors can “pay it forward” enabling Veterans to come to the next retreat.

Chaplain Ministry with ACCTS and ACNA
As most of you know, I was commissioned as a Lay Chaplain four years ago and am endorsed by the Bishop of the Armed Forces of the Anglican Church in North America. This appointment is totally integrated with my ACCTS staff role, giving the Chaplains & Veterans ministry added credibility. In addition to helping to plan, organize and run a training academy in the summer for three new Lay Chaplains, I am also responsible for some of the pastoral care of the 12 chaplains currently commissioned at the moment. Most of these chaplains are involved in ministering to Veterans, several of them in full time employment. We are organized into an open spiritual order called the Order of St. Martin of Tours, of which I was appointed Prior in 2014.

In Between Retreats
In between WHI retreats I spend my time helping Meryl with the ‘after school’ care and their activities at the YMCA. (sometimes all day care) of our two beautiful granddaughters Charlotte (10) and Lucy (7) because Toby and JoAnn both have full-time jobs; organizing the next retreat including advertising and fund-raising (at least $10K per retreat); and maintaining contact with military Chaplains and Veterans in a variety of ways especially one-to-one social media outlets. We also attended the annual ACCTS staff meeting during which I was able to co-lead a worship service ministering the Communion from the Reserved Sacrament, which was extremely well received by the 60 staff present. To relax, I tend to watch our local ice hockey team play and also watch the English Premier League games of the TV.

Health update
Noel’s health has been as good as it ever was before the stem cell transplant 5 1/2 years ago, although at 71, age creeps on. Its been a very good year! This was confirmed by both doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Insitute and the Brigham and Women’s, although Noel continues to have effects of the Graft Verses Host Disease (GVHD) they are very pleased with his continued good health and his next check up appointments are scheduled in 6 months, June 2018. Meryl continues to manage her Diabetes and tries to pace herself and keep healthy as she too finds age creeping on.

FAMILY NEWS

The Dawes Family

AT ALNWICK CASTLE, NORTHUMBERLAND, JULY 2107 – Left to right: Sarah and Charles, Noel and Meryl, Lucy in Toby’s arms, JoAnn on right. To Meryl’s right are Eve, William and Charlotte on right.

Our family has been extremely busy in 2017
Charles, Sarah, Eve and William continue to live in north east England. The children are doing well at school. Eve has developed an interest in climbing and William is a keen soccer player. Toby, JoAnn, Charlotte and Lucy are about 3 miles away from us near Glens Falls, NY (in the beautiful North Country of New York State on the edge of the Adirondack (National) Park. Their children are also doing well at school. Charlotte has advanced to the next level in gymnastics and Lucy enjoys swimming.

Very happy visit to England
For Meryl and me the best and happiest event of the year was in July, to have our family together in one place for a week for the first time in 3 years. We took Charlotte and Lucy to England for a month in the summer, staying in the north east to whole time so the four cousins could really get to know each other. Toby and JoAnn joined us for the week. Meryl’s niece, Louise, brought her daughter, Maisie, up for two days and the five children enjoyed their time together.

Blessings of marriage and blessings of the season
We are blessed to be celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary just before Christmas.

We thank you for all you prayers, support and love. And we wish you a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy and peace filled 2018.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Noel’s 5th Birthday

Happy 5th Birthday

June 11th will soon be here… It’s Noel’s 5th re- Birthday!!! Five years ago on this day he received the gift of new life. Stem Cells donated by an unrelated donor, who we now know was a young man named Ryan, to whom we will be forever grateful, a true hero, his unselfish gift saved Noel’s life after being diagnosed just over 6 years ago with a rare form of bone marrow cancer, for which there was no medical cure.

There are many others far too numerous to mention all by name, who were there for us and still are. The Medical teams at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute both in Boston and the CR Wood Cancer Center in Glens Falls. Our family and friends who have always been there for us in so many ways. And we are eternally grateful to God for all our answered prayers. His faithfulness and his mercy are new every morning and His Peace that passes all understanding.

Those who have followed Noel’s story posted here in the journal updates know it has been quite a ride at times. With many ups and downs but here we are celebrating a 5th birthday and it’s 6 months since Noel saw his doctors in Boston, life is good. The GVHD (Graft versus Host disease) that Noel has had since the transplant still from time to time rears it’s head. Making life uncomfortable for Noel with mouth sores. But he takes all his medications and these periods come and go. Life is pretty normal whatever, of course, normal is?

We will be back in Boston this coming week. Noel has appointments with both his doctors, we hope that they will be satisfied that all is well and that Noel won’t have to see them again until December.

We will be home from Boston just in time to be at the Greenwich Relay for Life on Saturday 10th June. This is always a special event for our family. I’m a cancer survivor, Noel is a cancer survivor, and our eldest granddaughter Charlotte, now almost 10 years old, is also a cancer survivor… Every year we try to pay it forward to help others… As they go through the trials and tribulations of fighting cancer. Raising funds for the American Cancer Society who do so much, we know because they have helped us personally so much. Providing ‘free’ to us accommodation in Boston at their amazing Hope Lodge. Saving us thousands of $$$ in hotel bills for the many, many times we have been to appointments at the DFCI and B&W’s over the past 6 years.

Our fund raising is channeled through Charlotte’s Relay for Life page…
http://main.acsevents.org/goto/Charlottegymnast

If you can help us to pay it forward please make a donation here.

And check this site for updates of our visit to Boston this week and photos of us celebrating life and standing with those who fight and remembering those who fought but lost their fight at The Relay for Life…

Thank you! Meryl, Noel, and Charlotte.

Relay for Life 2017

Relay for Life - Celebrate HopeLess than 30 days to go until this year’s Relay for Life on Saturday, June 10th, and we once again are as a family are trying to “Pay It Forward” so others can benefit from the American Cancer Society as we have done. I will be a 9 year Cancer Survivor this year, and no longer need checks. Noel will celebrate the same weekend as we take part in the Relay, 5 years of being cancer free after his Stem Cell Transplant, back in 2012. Noel is now on 6 month review appointments. Charlotte this year celebrates being cancer free for 8 years, she is on annual review appointments.

Fighting cancer may be the toughest job you ever have to do. The disease can hit you on multiple fronts – the cancer itself, the treatments used to fight it, and the side effects of those treatments. Stress also comes on many levels. The American Cancer Society is there to help you cope on many levels.

A huge thank you for supporting Charlotte in her previous efforts to raise funds for the work of the The American Cancer Society, who are a nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Our family has received a huge amount of support from their services. The American Cancer Society is also fully committed to their obligation to spend donor dollars wisely. And I believe they do.

This year, Charlotte wrote this:

My name is Charlotte Emma. I’m 9 years old, turning 10 in July. I’m a gymnast and a CANCER SURVIVOR!

Please help me to help others to be CANCER SURVIVORS.

I’m raising money for Relay for Life. This year will be my 7th Relay for Life.

If you would like to help Charlotte in her effort this year please visit her page at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/Charlottegymnast

The Relay for Life event that Charlotte and her team HEARTS of HOPE participate in takes place the first week of June 2017 in Greenwich, NY. If possible we would like all donations in by the 1st of June.

2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

Noel, Meryl, and Charlotte
2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

If you would rather send a check directly to us, please make out to The ACS Relay for Life and on the memo line write Charlotte Dawes, Greenwich, NY. Please message us for our address where to mail your donation.

Many thanks,

Charlotte, Granny Meryl and Poppa Noel, The Relay Trio

Christmas Update 2016

We meant to add this update from December 9, 2016 to this page ages ago, but somehow that got lost in the mists of time! Here it is now! Enjoy – if you take the time to read it.

We are thankful and blessed by this great news… Journal entry by Meryl Dawes — 12/9/2016

“Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy Faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies we see.”

It’s over 5 and a half years since we were told Noel had a rare bone marrow cancer and would need a Stem Cell Transplant to have any chance of survival and now 4 and a half years since Ryan, seen here with Noel, an unrelated donor made the life saving gift of his stem cells. Since then we have seen some ups and downs in the journey to put it mildly. With many, many trips to Boston to see the doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who have been so brilliant, we moved from weekly visits, biweekly, triweekly, monthly through to 3 months. On this week’s visit both Noel’s doctors independently were so pleased with his health that they don’t want or expect to see him for 6 Months!!!

So we won’t be back here in Boston until June 2017. Noel will stay on his present medications and we hope and pray he will have no relapses to bring us back earlier. It will continue to be a journey for the rest of Noel’s life, a very, very long journey we hope as the doctors have said they will always need to have him check in with them.

But we give thanks and rejoice at this latest progress as we move forward. Every day grateful to God, the doctors in Glens Falls and Boston and of course Ryan.

 

Thank you all for all your prayers, love and support over the years. Please rejoice with us and give thanks. Please continue to pray for Noel’s health to continue to be good, for no regression and for the GVHD that Noel has from the transplant to disappear all together or at very least stay as manageable as it is now.

Noel and I celebrate our 46th Wedding Anniversary on December 20th. We aren’t ones for big celebrations but we are so grateful that we have been blessed with so much. Like all partnerships we have had our ups and downs and some stormy seas. But we give thanks for our lasting love for each other, our friendship, our family and our friends.

Christmas as is coming and we wish you much JOY. He is the real reason for the season and the greatest gift we will ever receive. And best of all it’s free. ❤ Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and all those you love and pray for. Watch this his space for more updates of our family and ministry and please do keep in touch with us.

Then added the latest photo of Noel and myself. Taken this past summer. We need a better one as Noel being off steroids since the end of August has lost that chubby face and looks more like himself again.

Merry Christmas, from a snowy Glens Falls, Meryl and Noel

As the Colours Change and the Nights are Shorter…

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” – Psalm 145: 13b (NIV)

Long over due update… but no news has been good news. All is well!

Eating Kipper Sandwiches in England

Eating Kipper Sandwiches in England

But why does the summer always go so fast? Because it’s so much fun… yes, our summer was great fun. The highlight being our month long trip to England to see family and friends for the first time in 18 months. We give the Lord great praise that we had great travel, wonderful weather, stayed healthy, and saw 22 family members, 8 friends and Noel attended the 50th anniversary of his time at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. We spent wonderful quality time with our grandchildren Eve and William, both close to home and at the seaside. The cottages we rented and the B&B we stayed at were all lovely. We ate lots of the English food we miss from kippers to tea cakes.

Meryl on crutches

Meryl on crutches

Towards the end of our visit I, Meryl, had an unwanted highlight with a trip to the local medical center and then the hospital. I damaged the meniscus of my right knee getting out of a boat. I came home on crutches and was rushed to the front of all the lines at the airports in a wheel chair. We got upgraded seats and everyone was very kind… but I don’t recommend the injury! Although it is now much better, it’s been no fun and quite frustrating.

Back home we have been catching up with Charlotte and Lucy. It’s back to school last week, 1st and 4th grade – time goes very quickly. We will be back doing after school care 3 days a week. This will include homework, gymnastics, dance, and swim lessons for 2 very busy girls. Only wish we had half their energy!! As life is always busy.

We have been blessed to be able to carry out much ministry this year, even though funds are just over $1,000 behind on the extra support needed for 2016’s larger budget that we started praying for last Fall/Autumn… please pray for the ministry needs to be met.

In March, Noel helped lead a Lay Chaplains training and in April ministered one-to-one with several active duty Chaplains at the annual Anglican Armed Forces Jurisdiction (diocese) convocation. In June, Noel helped Rev. Nigel Mumford (as his “right hand man”, as Nigel says) with a very successful Welcome Home Initiative (WHI) war zone Veterans retreat in Florida. The next weekend we gave two presentations about WHI at the Albany Diocese annual convention and, as part of the healing prayer team, prayed with numerous needy people. The following weekend after that, we organized and led a training workshop for 18 people who wanted to learn more about how to pray effectively for the inner healing of war zone Veterans and First Responders. After all that we felt we needed the break in England that Meryl talked about above!

The UK break behind us, this past weekend Noel was back into ministry with a trip to Alabama. He has written separately about this second Academy for 2016 on CaringBridge, www.supportnoel.org/news-and-updates/, his Personal Facebook page, and the Support Noel Page. A few of our friends have asked and receive this and other reports directly by email.

We have a busy Fall ahead of us so watch for out updates…

We have a visit to Boston later this month, visits are now every 3 months and we pray that the appointments continue to be well spaced. Noel is very heathy but he is still fighting the GVHD with the horrible mouth sores and occasional digestive tract issues. They are better than last year but please pray they will go away. He does not complain but it’s often miserable for him.

We thank you for continuing to walk with us on our journey and for your encouragement, support, prayers and love.

Please stay in touch with us by email, phone or Facebook. We love hearing from you and knowing how we can pray for you.

Commissioned Lay Chaplains Academy 2016

I was delighted to spend the last few days away doing ‘my bit’ to make the second Academy of 2016 successful. It’s been nearly 3 years since I and several others were commissioned as Lay Chaplains in November 2013. Seven of us were commissioned then. Two of that group have moved on to other ministries and we have commissioned 6 more Chaplains since then, with, apparently, about another 7 or 8 in process of discerning their call and going through the application process.

For me, being commissioned has brought even more credibility and acceptance to my ministry as an ACCTS staff member helping war zone Veterans including Chaplains find God’s peace in their souls from war trauma, burnout, compassion fatigue and similar dis-eases.

I’m blessed to have been chosen to be Prior of the Order of St. Martin of Tours, under which order we are commissioned as lay chaplains. Some consider St. Martin to be the patron saint of military chaplains and of soldiers. It is of huge significance to me that the Order and our commissioning is under the oversight of the Anglican Bishop of the Armed Forces & Chaplaincy, who is also a good friend. Interestingly, St. Martin’s Day is commemorated on November 11, also Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.

It is also significant to me that the other 10 lay chaplains and the Abbot of the Order each have meaningful ministry with Veterans in the Veterans homes, hospitals, hospices, and correctional institutions in which they work.

I feel very fulfilled that concurrently being an ACCTS staff member of 22 years standing coupled with 3 years of lay chaplaincy complementing that, plus nearly 30 years of active duty in the infantry, really validates the call Meryl and I felt from God in February 1989 to put our Christian faith into action by ministering to the military community wherever He sent us.

Read the CLC Academy 2016 article on the Anglican Chaplains website.

May 2016 UPDATE and just a month until the 2016 RELAY FOR LIFE

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Everyday we give thanks to the Lord as Noel is now 5 years past his first diagnosis of the rare bone marrow cancer and almost 4 years post his Stem Cell transplant,which gave him new life..and he is cancer free . For those of you following the story, you know it has been a journey in which we have had to trust the Lord every step of the way and He has been faithful and shown us great mercy… the journey for Noel was often not been easy..and he still has daily issues with the effects of the GVHD..graft verses host disease, mainly with the nasty mouth sores., At the last visit to the oral doctor he was given steroid injections into his mouth and he is still on a low oral dose of steroids and the 4 times a day mouth wash. But he is back to his ‘old self’ and doing lots of ministry again,,,and my role as his caregiver has returned to just that of a wife.

Daily we are thankful that not only is Noel cancer free but i’m 8 years cancer free and Charlotte is 7 years cancer free….. we will again this year be Celebrating this by taking part in the RELAY FOR LIFE at Greenwich NY on June 3rd and 4th, we hope for good weather unlike the rain of last year ( well actually Noel will miss it as he will be ministering to Veterans on a Welcome Home Initiative Retreat ) But Charlotte and I, along with other members of our team HEARTS OF HOPE will be there. we hope to RELAY, ie walk laps around the track through the night..it’s a 6 pm to 6 am event.

In the 4 years since Noel’s transplant we have had more medical appointments at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston than we can count, but we do know that we have spent in the region of over 200 nights away form home …the American Cancer Society has amazing accommodation available in many areas known as the The HOPE LODGE .and if rooms are available .this saves cancer patients and their caregiver the expense of a hotel, which in a major city it is hard to find for under $150 a night ….so if we had been asked to find in the region of $30,000 for hotel accommodation in the past 4 years..along with all the medical costs ..I have no idea where that money would have come from…but because of the generosity of people who support the American Cancer Society there has been no charge for us to stay at the HOPE LODGE in Boston…

The RELAY FOR LIFE every year is not just a celebration of life.or a time to remember those who’s fight was lost or to support those in the battle but it is a major fund raising event.. we along with many others are raising funds again to help others as we have been helped…

Please if you are able to help us in this, visit Charlotte’s Relay for Life page . http://main.acsevents.org/goto/charlotte-emma where you can make a donation on line or by mail..or you can send a check or money order directly to me and I will do all the paper work for you… our address is 22 Davis St, Glens Falls, NY 12801.. every Dollar makes a difference so no donation is too small and no too big… thank you.

Survivor Trio 2010Here we are at Charlotte’s first RELAY FOR LIFE in 2010 she was the youngest there wearing purple survivor shirt. Me and Charlotte in 2014 ……..the Survivor Trio in 2011 ( actually that was before Noel had his transplant so at that stage he still had cancer but the ACS say you are a Survivor and can wear the purple shirt from the day you hear those awful words “you have cancer’ ……Charlotte in 2014 and our crazy team in 2013 ……
We will update this page again after the Relay with family news and Ministry News…

Thank you and God Bless you for continuing to pray for us and support us..

Time to catch up… First update of 2016

‘This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24.

They say ‘the older we get the faster time goes…’ I think that is true…

Adirondack Thunder

Meeting Adirondack Thunder players #15 James Henry and #32 Joe Faust at the C.R. Wood Cancer Center in Glens Falls, NY

This is our first update of the new year. I hope it’s not to late to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016. Thank you all for your many cards and letters during the Christmas Season.

Last year ended on a good note. We had a very happy and blessed Christmas time… along with the mildest, snow free weather in our region for many years. Noel was feeling so much better, but like so many of us, fighting off lingering colds and coughs and a general feeling of fatigue.

Our first visit this year, to Boston to see both Noel’s doctors at the Dana-Farber and the Brigham and Women’s hospitals, a couple of weeks ago was encouraging with a lowering of the steroid again. But the result has been disappointing… with the return of more mouth sores caused by the GVHD that Noel has. This is not only painful but makes eating difficult. So with the Doctor’s agreement he has gone back up on the Steroid dose. And things have settled down again. He sees his Doctor again at Dana-Farber on 24th February, continuing the schedule of visits every 6 weeks.

On our last visit we were able to stay again at Hope Lodge (HL). We had made this booking last year. After almost 4 years the Lodge has become very a familiar place to us. We have stayed over 200 nights there, although we haven’t counted the actual number. Through the generous supporters of the American Cancer Society (ACS), Hope Lodge does not charge for visits although donations are welcomed. This means that cancer patients and their caregivers can stay there regardless of income. This has saved us thousands of dollars in hotel bills. But on January 1st the eligibility rules changed, sadly because people abused the ‘old’ system. ACS now requires a patient to have a doctor’s referral for a minimum of 3 appointments and to stay for a minimum of 3 nights. As Noel usually has only 2 appointments (blood tests and doctor) on his visits we will not be able to stay at HL for those visits. But we will, thankfully, get a medical reduction at a Boston hotel through a special discount arranged by Dana-Farber for their patients. Please pray we will be able to rebalance our tight budget to cope with the increase in expenditure over the year. Thankfully, when Noel sees both his doctors (the next time is April 1st), we will be able to stay at Hope Lodge. We feel so very blessed for this and give thanks to God for his provision. We are so blessed by and thankful for all your prayers and support in so many different ways. Please pray us through this new situation.

Family-wise all is well. Our son, Charles, was recently in Las Vegas from England for the big CES Show. We spoke to him whilst he was on US soil but, sadly, were not able to see him. He’s back home in England now, where Sarah and Eve and William are all doing great… School keeps everyone busy.

Charlotte Gold and Silver

Charlotte Gold on Balance Beam and Silver on Vault

Likewise here in New York’s North Country, Toby and JoAnn are well and working hard. Charlotte and Lucy keep busy with school and their activities at the YMCA. Charlotte recently performed in 3 gymnastics competitions, one of which was held about 150 miles away at Glastonbury, Connecticut. Noel and I were delighted to be able to surprise her and be at the gym there to see her on our way home from Boston. In her age and ability level group (9 girls), she received silver for her Vault routine and gold for the Beam. She was so surprised and pleased she cried tears of joy! Gymnastics is very competitive and Charlotte works hard. She has practice sessions twice a week lasting 2 1/2 hours each time, with the option of doing a third session. She also has a surprising amount of school homework to do so the two sessions are enough, I think. Both girls enjoy their swimming lessons and, for Lucy, swimming is her favorite. Lucy gets extra swimming most Friday’s when she and Poppa Noel swim together whilst Charlotte is in her second gymnastics practice.

Japanese Cherry Blossom

Japanese Cherry Blossom painted at the YMCA

In early January, on a whim, I signed up for an art class at our local YMCA. In a different life before Noel and I were married, I did art and design – but that was over 45 years ago since then I have done nothing in that area. To do so always seemed to be in a different life… in a different world. If I had the time I think I could indulge myself again in this pastime. But life seems too busy most days… But I know I’m going to enjoy the classes!

Noel will now update you on the ministry news… looks like it’s going to be a busy year.

Since the Welcome Home Initiatives finished in November, ministry has been quieter, mostly focusing on planning and early preparations for future events. However, the personal one-to-one ministry with numerous combat Veterans and Chaplains continues face to face and through social media.

I led a review/plan ahead WHI meeting last week, confirming we will carry out our next Retreat at Greenwich from October 31 to November 2. Please mark your calendars now! As a WHI team, we need to raise between $10000-$15000 to give a free retreat to the Veterans who come. This how we thank them for their war service. I’m seeking four or five individuals, churches, businesses or similar who have a heart to help war damaged Veterans, blessing them with a $400 scholarship. Know anyone?

I and a couple of others from NY will drive to Virginia Beach to help Fr. Nigel Mumford’s WHI from November 3 to 5th.

I, probably with Meryl, will help lead another WHI Retreat at The Villages, Florida from June 2-4.

Myself and another Veteran friend plan to help a similar retreat near Fort Campbell, KY in mid-May.

Currently, I, as Prior, am helping my Abbot prepare and carry out a Lay Chaplains’ training Academy in Pelham, near Birmingham, Alabama in early March. This is a major event for the Anglican Armed Forces and Chaplaincy Jurisdiction. The other major ACNA Jurisdiction event is the annual Chaplains’ Convocation in late April. I plan to be there at Mount Pleasant, SC, just across the river from Charleston.

In May, I plan to travel to Virginia Beach for the Annual Board meeting of Olive Branch International who are doing outstanding work in Ukraine. We train non-governmental military chaplains and educate soldiers, chaplains, psychiatric and other medical staff, military wives and others how to deal with traumatic combat stress. These are
urgent, vastly under resourced and huge tasks and it is a privilege to be involved in helping mobilize this indigenous ministry.

Finally, I’d love you to pray for and be involved in three new outreaches which are part of WHI.

First, a new small group of combat Veterans started meeting weekly in Virginia Beach two weeks ago. Inspired and energized by my close friend, Rev. Nigel Mumford, this Combat Stress Recovery (CSR) group has got off to a good start. It is being modeled similarly to an AA group, augmented with inner healing prayer.

Meanwhile, here in the North Country, I’m supporting a combat Veteran friend to get a similar group going. We’ve been working towards this for several months but haven’t yet found the “right” place. Please pray we will find it soon so we can get our White Star group going.

Then, just last week, I had an excellent, in-depth phone call with a WHI alum living about 250 miles away at Rochester, NY. He feels led to be a bridge to the healing of other combat Veterans and is praying about forming a CSR group based on his church. He said to me,

“Just yesterday day I was reading about Moses in Exodus 18. He wasn’t sure how he could cope with the huge task of leading the Israelites. Then his father-in-law, Jethro, came along and gave him some good advice how to make his life more bearable. I feel strongly led to help Veterans but I felt I needed a Jethro to advise me. Then you phoned! This is an answer to my prayers!”

This new situation encourages me that the Holy Spirit is at work and I’m expectantly anticipating what might come about for combat Veterans in Rochester! Pray this CSR group into active existence with me!

The increased activity schedule for this year led me to submit a larger budget to ACCTS for this fiscal year (Oct-Sep) than several previous. I estimated an additional $15,000 was needed for the calendar year. It’s a huge amount and I have no idea where it’s coming from or how the LORD is going to provide it – or if He will. I’m stepping out in faith knowing that if all the plans the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart are even half achieved, God clearly will have provided for them and no-one else!

I estimate we need $10,000 of the $15K to the end of September. I’m putting 10% of this from our own resources. As always, we will adjust ministry activity levels and how we do the ministry according to available resources. And we will have faith that we can cope with the extra we need for medical hotel bills, mentioned by Meryl earlier. Please pray in the extra resources needed to minister in the ways the Lord calls us, in particular, $1500 in each of February, March, $2000 in April and $3000 in May. Meeting these targets gives me the cash flow to buy “capital cost” air tickets far enough ahead to get them at lower prices.

In closing I wanted to share with you the words of a Christmas card received from a combat Veteran a few weeks ago:

“I appreciate all that you have done for us Veterans at the Welcome Home Initiative. I enjoyed the fellowship and friendship and the whole experience. Thank you for the quilt as well – it is very nice and well put together. I hope the thanks can reach the person for making it. Thank you for everything and hope you have a blessed holiday season and hope to see you all again next year.”

(Meryl obtains, selects and allocates the quilts for the Greenwich retreats, the last ones were all made locally.. the request for Quilts was so well received that we have enough already made for the Veteran’s attending our next retreat. )

As always we love hearing for you and catching up on your news…. and thank you for all your prayers, love and support…

Ministry, Health, and Family Update, November 2015

Noel and Meryl in Orlando, FL

Noel and Meryl at Epcot Center in Orlando, FL

This update is long but we hope you will take time to read it – probably a few paragraphs at a time. The last update was towards the end of August. We will try to update you more often, even though it is difficult to make time to do so during really busy times.


“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10: 5; New International Version (NIV)

The verse above is one of the foundational verses of the Welcome Home Initiative (WHI). It encourages combat Veterans to see themselves from God’s perspective in a new, hopeful and resilience inspiring way.


More ministry increases budget for FY15/16

Ministry has been busy since we last updated on August 20th. As mine and Meryl’s health has improved this year, opportunities multiplied and we submitted an increased budget to ACCTS for the fiscal year from Oct 1, 2015 to Sep 30, 2016. We are now praying in the extra resources so as not to be limited in the ministry we believe God leads us to do.

Praying and Speaking at Chaplains’ Conference (August)

At the end of August, three days before it started, I was encouraged to receive about 60% of my budget for a Chaplain’s conference at Orlando examining the use of inner healing prayer in combat trauma wounds. These are the often unseen wounds to the soul caused by a Soldier doing something in a situation which offends their personal moral values. Every one of us is susceptible to this sort of wound, as we are to post-trauma injuries which cause us to react in a variety of ways to an unnatural event of life. Soldiers experience PTS in combat-like situations and its effects are more visible than soul/moral wounds.

The training itself was nearly cancelled due to lack of numbers and funds, but several of us encouraged the military bishop of the denomination organising the conference to go ahead as we believed this was the LORD’s will.

I was able to lead the other 9 participants in discussions about moral injury, post-traumatic stress and inner healing prayer techniques.

It was a joy to help an active duty Navy Chaplain find peace in his soul from a traumatic armed robbery he had been the victim of some years ago. When I saw him again last week he said, “I’ve still got peace although I haven’t forgotten about the robbery. I’m able to think about it now without re-experiencing the fear, anger and shame I’ve had for so many years.”

Welcome Home Initiative at Greenwich, NY (September – November)

For much of September and October I beavered away preparing for the Welcome Home Initiative retreat I was to lead in November at the Greenwich, NY Christ the King Spiritual Life Center.

It was an enormous blessing to have the expert help of two ladies, B and M, who administer the busy Healing Center there. They talk in depth to the Veterans seeking to attend the WHI, ensuring the medical, psychological and spiritual needs of those coming are accurately known about. I talk personally to any Veteran that B or M are not certain about.

For this WHI the beautiful, patriotic quilts were lovingly made by local quilters. The prayers shawls given to the spouses were once again made by H, a dedicated local knitter. Both were a huge, sacred blessing to all!

Much of my time was spent preparing the host team; and encouraging them, myself and others interested in WHI to help raise the necessary funds to provide $300 scholarships for every combat Veteran and spouse (if attending) who comes to a WHI retreat. We bless them with free food, accommodation and helpful materials as our way of saying “thank you for serving and welcome home”.

This year many individual, generous donors and at least three churches gave just over $11,000.

We don’t know the final cost of this year’s retreat but are hoping there will be a small amount left over as ‘seed’ money for next year’s retreat.

By the way, the WHI retreats run by Rev. Nigel Mumford and BHW ministry are completely and separately funded to any WHI taking place in NY under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, which uses the WHI materials under licence from BHW.

Attended ACCTS Staff Meeting (October)

For a week in mid-October! Meryl and I were very blessed, refreshed and encouraged to attend the annual ACCTS staff meeting at an Officers’ Christian Fellowship retreat Center in south central Pennsylvania, called White Sulphur Springs.

This year’s meeting was the best for several years. There were good daily Bible studies, prayer times and detailed ministry reports from 8 or 9 areas of the world, including some experiencing significant political and social problems.

The long friendships and some new relationships shared by the 55 of us there was very special, especially several of more than 20 year’s duration.

Welcome Home Initiative Retreats in NY and VA (November)

Now it’s November and Thanksgiving is a week away!

Before coming to Boston this week for routine medical checks, all of which went well, we were heavily involved in two back to back WHI retreats. The first was at Greenwich, as already mentioned. The second, under the banner of BHW, took place based on Galilee Church in Virginia Beach, VA. l led the first and Rev. Nigel Mumford the second.

Meryl played a vital role at Greenwich, helping with the spouses ministry as well as overseeing the decoration of the chapel for the closing service. She also organised a beautiful and much prayed over quilt for every first time retreatant. She was on Granny duty at home during the second retreat.

To enable Noel and two other team members being at both retreats meant a 600 mile drive in 10 hours, sharing a car. We started driving an hour after the Greenwich retreat ended. We made it to Va Bch in time to get an adequate night’s sleep before the second retreat started.

Both retreats were extremely blessed and successful.

The Va Bch retreat was the largest yet of the 21 carried out since starting in March 2008. A total of 39 combat Veterans and 10 spouses were ministered to at both retreats.

There was a lot of visible healing and blessing, most often seen by the change in retreatants facial expressions and body posture by the closing service compared to the first lunch.

More often the healing seems to be hidden, or ‘undercover’. Memories are healed, especially through prayer, including inner healing. Veterans telling their story, whichever one the Holy Spirit brings to their mind, are healing moments. Anointing with sacred oil, including of ‘trigger’ fingers, and the pronouncement of forgiveness and absolution brings huge closure from past suffering, breaking the chains of trauma that have been internalised, often silently, for many years.

It is tempting to outline some of the specific areas of trauma experienced by the Veterans at each retreat and to tell some stories, but to do so would break the strict confidentiality we promise those attending. Any Veterans’ comments included in this update have been authorised by them. It is wonderful that Jesus really does heal all those who come to him in faith, even if it is only a little ‘mustard seed’ of faith. One Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran, as he talked about his healing, simply said, “Thank you for this week.” That was and is a sufficient enough comment!

Endorsement as Lay Chaplain Enhances ACCTS Ministry

November 17th, was the second anniversary of me being commissioned by the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy (JAFC). The JAFC is the military ‘diocese’ of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

It is beyond doubt that this endorsement has strengthened my credibility and the building of trust with Chaplains and Veterans as Meryl and I care for them in our busy ministry as ACCTS staff.

We would love to offer our ears, shoulders and hearts to these folk and their families every month, if it were ever possible to organise retreats in that way. Our ministry principles of listen, love and pray are so much appreciated by those we interact with.

Ministry with Anglican Armed Forces Jurisdiction

As we plan prayerfully for 2016, my role as Prior of the non-monastic ‘out in the world’ Order of St. Martin of Tours (OSMT) will take a higher profile as I pastor the other 9 Lay Chaplains located the length and breadth of the USA. I accomplish this mainly through phone calls and electronic media but in early March I will be helping lead a training academy for existing and new Lay Chaplains near Birmingham, Alabama.

Several other Lay Chaplains minister in Veterans Administration or State Veterans hospitals and other facilities and this is an outstanding blessing to us all.

It is also an honor to remain a member of the Executive Council of the JFAC, responsible for praying and overseeing for the rapidly growing Jurisdiction which has over a hundred Armed Forces and Veterans Administration Chaplains.


Health and Family Update from Meryl

Noel’s health has continued to improve this year after the nasty setback that occurred after our long overseas trip last December and January… and at his last check up this past week in Boston all his blood and other tests were normal.. Praise the Lord… Sadly he still has to be on medication for the GVHD but it seems to be keeping those awful mouth sores at bay and hopefully he will finally be off the steroids by the end of January… we so hope so… His next appointment is January 8th.

I, Meryl, have felt increasingly fitter this year although prone to tiredness. I think that’s just old age more than health related! We have both tried to renew our fitness regime, mostly walking, and try to follow a healthy diet. Both my cardiologist and my PC Doctor are happy with my ‘numbers’, so I guess I’m on the right track..looking after my heart and diabetes.

Family-wise, both son’s and their families are continuing to do well… the grandchildren are of course growing fast and branching out into more after-school activities.. to keep themselves and us busy !!

We are having a delayed Thanksgiving this year. Toby and JoAnn and the girls are attending a cousin’s wedding on Thanksgiving Day so we will celebrate together as a family on Sunday 29th. We have much to be thankful for – the list is endless! For example, this December 20th Noel and I will celebrate 45 years of marriage.!!!

Christmas then approaches fast… and we plan this year to have our day with the family at our house on Boxing Day (26th as it’s a Saturday and no one has to rush back to work). We like to let the children stay home to enjoy Christmas Day and open their Santa presents in their own environment whilst we have a quite day.

We wish you all a Blessed Thanksgiving and a Christmas full of the joy of the Lord …. Also, a Very Happy and Healthy New Year in 2016 to you and all those you love.


Please pray…

We’ll give more detail of planned activities in 2016 in our next update. Meanwhile:

  • Praise for my and Meryl’s improved health during this year.

  • Praise for all that has been accomplished in the ACCTS Chaplains’ and Veterans’ Care Ministry this year in spite of ill health for the first six months.

  • Praise for the growing credibility being a Lay Chaplain endorsed by the JAFC of ACNA.

  • Praise for the pastoral leadership blessings brought to me by being Prior of the Order of St. Martin of Tours (OSMT). Pray for a successful training academy in March 2016, and Jurisdiction annual convocation in April.

  • Pray for wisdom for Noel as a member of the JAFC Executive Council and as he sits on the boards of By His Wounds, Olive Branch International and the Council of SASRA (a Christian formation and growth organisation working with British Army and Royal Air Force Chaplains and service men and women).

  • Pray for the Alpha Course and its derivatives to once again thrive in the military environment. Noel remains a volunteer advisor to Chaplains and lay leaders aspiring to run courses.

  • Pray for Noel and Meryl’s relationships with each of the partnering organisations mentioned above and many others they cooperate with.

  • Pray for advanced plans to start a regularly meeting combat Veterans support group locally in the Glens Falls area. A combat Veteran friend will lead it with my help. We have a place to hold the group. Now we need Veterans, and a schedule.

  • Pray for plans for WHIs in 2016. Pray the two with firm dates (late October at Greenwich; early November at Virginia Beach) will be blessed by abundant registrations and finances.

  • Pray for our aspirations to come to fruition to hold a female combat Veterans retreat; and two or three shorter WHI type of retreats at the Greenwich, NY Spiritual Life Center, or locally elsewhere if they cannot be scheduled there.

  • Pray for things mentioned by Meryl in the rest of this update.


 

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your prayers, practical help and financial support. We depend on each of you as we minister with ACCTS in accordance with their ministry model that each staff member raises their own support for their ministry.

Here endeth the update!