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…