Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter driver's ed info from Cassandra

Thank you very much for sending this Cassandra:

I found some schools local to Edmonton:

City of Edmonton
Winter Driving Courses

Winter Driving Course
This course offers students and seasoned drivers highlights of driving in the winter months.

Each student will be given the opportunity to perform at least 8 maneuvers:

Hand positioning
Eye lead time
Seat positioning
Emergency braking
Skid recovery

For more information:

3rd Floor, Westwood Facility
12404 - 107 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2R7

Telephone 780-496-6464

I think I'll phone there on Monday and see if they have any flyers.
Funny, how one can live here for decades and not have heard of winter driving ed. while one hears of road deaths every day. People are so clued out still, they think they have things covered with "all seasons" tires.

Someone told me the other day there are over 400 traffic fatalities in Alberta every year. And how many people live here? Three million only. I'm sure the rate is much higher around here with the road to Ft. McMurray and all the truck traffic to the industry.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Just so terribly, awfully sorry

Today, I am just so sorry that Matt did not know to get off the brakes and steer into the ditch. In retrospect, it seems like such an incredibly simple thing that could have saved them both easily. What a crying, crying, crying shame.

I post today the other last pictures I have of Stefan. It shows how I had to chase him for a decent picture, as he was just making faces at me.

Also, there are Andrea and Thomas this January. They've been such a big help.

I should be in bed.

From Gigababy:

How much insurance you pay or the fact that you've never filed a claim does not mean you are a good driver. It just means you've been lucky. The only way to determine that you are a safe, cautious and skilled winter driver is to have yourself assessed by a licensed and accredited winter driving instructor.

What concerns me as a driving safety advocate is how many parents are sending their young drivers out onto the road not ensuring they have the skills and the maturity needed to handle adverse weather conditions, even if the car itself is equipped for the road by its design, tires or size. Ice is ice. Slush is slush and traction is not something that is guaranteed regardless of what you drive, how old you are, or how long you have been driving. Driving in winter does not compare to dry, summer conditions.

Many people feel 17 *is too young* to drive. I disagree. It is young enough to make bad decisions due to a lack of guidance and experience. But that can be corrected. I was 19 when I first got my licence but I didn't drive in my first real snowstorm until I was 22. But I was prepared, as the year before, I had taken winter driving lessons with Young Drivers of Canada. I was in a small Ford Zx2 sports car with no winter tires on my way back from Montreal in the great big snowstorm of 1999 (the one where the mayor of Toronto called in the army). It took me eight hours and I got home in one piece and so did my three passengers. That day, four people were killed in crashes on the 401 during the same time I was driving. Two of the victims were in SUVs.

Take some lessons. It doesn't cost as much as you think and you'll be surprised at what you learn. And at what you didn't know.

The following schools offer winter driving courses:

Accent Driving School
Bowmanville ON
p: 9056971148

Winter School $295 by CarControl
p: 905-473-9500

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tough Day

It seemed like a tough day at work, today. Too many more hugs, too many more glances, looks, condolences. Everyone is so touched. Too many more cards in the mail, on top of the death certificate, the medical examiner's report and certificate, the funeral bills, Stefan's last bills, and paperwork for the insurances... (Maybe if we got the mail more often, it would not all arrive at once.)

I'm not keeping up with my exercise, and I'd better do it. Martin's been good with the treadmill.

People talk to me about church and that's good, but I'm not sure where to send them. We're kind of split in the family about where to go. Someone told me, they've admired Martin and me about how we've handled things and they want to be sure that if one of their little boys dies (cutest little rascals, always in danger of serious accidents) he/they would go to heaven, too. I can fully empathize with that. That was good and we cried, but...

Bror wrote somewhere else: start a Bible study, call a pastor. We used to have great Bible study out here. Anyways, who knows.

Andrea is not home, yet, and it's past nine on a school night...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Condolences/ From Jan. 25th

A pastor friend's mother wrote us a card with this:

The Lord took my son home five years ago, at age 43: it has been a painful journey, but I am always comforted by the promise that he is in the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus for all eternity. That is always our sure hope. May you find strength and comfort in our Savior Jesus. Romans 8:31 "If God is for us who can be against us."

This is such a good saying.

Last night we read, too, from Luther:

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. We belong to none other than the Lord. This is our greatest comfort and joy: that we have as our Lord He to whom the Father has given all power in heaven and on earth and has place all things in His hands. Who, then, could possibly do us harm? The devil may very well attack us with his murderous rage, but he will never snatch us from the Lord's hand. For we who believe in Jesus Christ and live under His guardianship have also become lords ourselves over the devil, sin, death, etc. In order that such lordship might be ours, He was made man for our sake. He appealed to the Father on our behalf and so loves us in this way: He was condemned, offering Himself up for our sakes. With His precious blood He purchased us and washed us clean from sin. Still more He has placed in our hearts the Holy Spirit, the pledge of our inheritance and blessedness, making us kings and priests for God and joint heirs with Himself. This is most certainly true. O Lord, strengthen our faith that we would always remember these things and never doubt these promises.

This reminds me, too, of Miss Opitz, my religion teacher in Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, who had us memorize the entire "Ist Gott fuer mich so trete gleich alles wider mich"
and other hymns. This memorizing used to form a large part of the religion class curriculum (but we never took up the catechism, ever, anywhere.)

When everything seems to be going wrong and when we are totally depressed, it can be very, very hard to hang on to this. But, I always ask myself, why give it up now? When I have nothing else left, I should give this up, too? Throw out the treasure with the pot, the baby with the bathwater, the eternal with the temporary, Christ with this rotten world? Hardly. No. Never. So help us God.

Thankfully, nothing depends on how I feel. Happy or sad, or mega-depressed, it is the same.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"I crave something from the large catechism"

We're not much into entertainment these day, as can be imagined under the circumstances.

We've not got much stomach for the news; and the stock market can go where it will. Obama we pray for and our own goofy country. But what a road ahead.

We sit on the sofa and I just say: "I crave something from the large catechism." Martin says "read" and I read. Now, the Reader's Edition of the confessions has been a hit, here. I think we might get through it, some day. That and the T of DP. It's so easy to use. You open for today's date and you find something to read and there you go.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update 3

Grandma received a fourth stent in the heart and has gone home. She seems quite well. Thankfully, everything has been otherwise uneventful and handled appropriately, it appears.

The roads were good, too. Everything is bright and clear, and, of course, cold. But the cold is all right when it's bright and clear and still.

Prayer/Baptism/ Godchildren

Last night, I thought I'd reduce my reading pile in the living room and opened up the "Focus on the Family" magazine, which I at least tend to glance through. The articles are short, often inspiring and helpful.

On the first page was an "message" from Terence Rolston about having to trust your children to God, illustrated by Moses' parent's who placed him in the Nile (after tarring the basket, themselves). He writes: "I am sure we can think of times when we faced similar decisions with our own children. It likely wasn't whether to leave them in the Nile, but it could have been to let them walk to school, to see them leave for college or to wed the love of their life. We can do all we can to prepare them, but, eventually, we need to surrender them to God's care."

We were at this point with Stefan. We can second guess all we want about what we might have said and done, what we should have permitted or discouraged. But he insisted he was 18 and he was going out on the Nile and we had no choice but to let the little boat float. I prayed from him lots and earnestly. Surely, God was watching over him. Surely, God has a plan.

On the next page of the Focus on the Family magazine is something that makes my head shake. James Dobson describes his children's dedication services. His own minister father prayed this prayer:
"Now our heavenly Father... we want to remind Thee this morning of the christian heritage of this little child. Her mother and father love, Thee, and Thou dost know that her grandmother and grandfather, both paternal and maternal, have loved and serve thee... Let her know the God of her father and serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind."

The point he is trying to make is that we ought to pray continually and fervently for our children's spiritual welfare. Ok, that's good, but based on their parent's faithfulness? And when you could be proclaiming God's promises and faithfulness at Baptism? One could go on.

In our house, the children always sang: "I was baptized, happy day, all my sins were washed away. God looked down on me and smiled. I became his own dear child."

There are children and young people in my life, my nieces and nephews and god children that still need lots of prayer and reminders of God's faithfulness to them. I want to do my faithful duty for them and their families, and I should think about that more even than I did before. (Anastasia, Rachel, Alexandra, Anne, Thomas, Colin, Melissa, Sarah, Simon, Timmy, Alyssa, Miriam.)

For Stefan, what can we pray for Stefan? What can one pray for the dead? We're not Roman Catholic. We don't do Requiem mass hoping to get him out of purgatory sooner (thankfully).

I have an image, which is like a hope and a prayer. It comes from something pastor DeBlock once said in private.-- We were all hanging around in the pastor's office and Andrea was cuddling in my lap. Pastor just said: "Oh, to be so nestled in the shepherd's lap." It was a stretch for me at the time. I'd never thought of being so intimately, physically, sheltered in Christ's lap. But we could tell Pastor DeBlock had.-- For Stefan it is more of a hugging and holding of that tall, thin, wiry, strong frame and tusseling of the blond hair.

I have a condolence card, that pictures this. I'm not usually into religious images. But I like this one. It can be viewed here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For Tante Ilse

Tante Ilse from Hannover sent me an e-mail about the blogging and how I should keep doing it. Thanks, Tante Ilse. You can leave a comment in German, too, if you feel like it.

The situation at our house has changed somewhat over the last few days. Where there were so many people to hug and talk to everyday, mostly quite briefly, we are still talking to people but in longer conversations with fewer individuals. This still takes a lot of time. In fact, I've spent the whole morning talking to one dear old friend, Stefan's birthmom and my sister.

Someone told me, just let things go to message, but really, these are important conversations. These conversations are not something one really blog about either.

Thanks for all the phone calls from Hannover. Love to all.

West Edmonton Mall's pictures

West Edmonton Mall sent me this high quality picture from Careers Alberta. I assume we have permission to use it as we please. It's uploaded with lots of kilobytes. So you can see it very well and download it as well. If it does not work, I can attach it to e-mail.

I think I'd like to talk to Careers Alberta some time about the difficulties in transitioning from school to actually decent employers and apprenticeships. It seems to me there are a lot of scheissters out there abusing the young people for cheap labor instead of teaching them. This is what I hear from the other young welders.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

John 3:16

To blog or not to blog

The last two weeks I've been conflicted about blogging. Is it frivolous to blog when you are burying your child?

Blogging allowed me to share with more people than I had time to communicate with otherwise. It allowed me to hang to more positive thoughts than I might have otherwise. It allowed me to post the sermon, where it is accessible. It allowed me to say things when I had the time and felt like it. It gave me some control to arrange thoughts and pictures, when there was not much control otherwise. It was a bit of a help and a crutch. I won't judge myself for it.

Yet, I feel I need to stop for a while or at least to try and curtail it. But if it's going to be blogging vs. Valium, I will go to the blogging.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Truth Project/ Alliance Church/ Lutheran Church

On Wednesday night, Mary and I attended the last local Truth Project session. The topic was community and how God cares deeply for the needy and the outcast. "You have never met a mere mortal" could summarize the session.

I experienced a lot of care at that table that night.

Some of what I've learned since Stefan's death about the community in general, I shared with the table and David did the praying. Bror wrote: pray, Brigitte. So we've prayed. (God has so many neat saints everywhere. David strikes me as one who ought to be a pastor.)

Alliance Church Pastor Meldon also talked some, since it was the last session. Two hundred people have been attending the series on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Table hosts have been praying for the people at their tables. One hundred new people have come through their doors on Sundays during the fall/winter months (I think he claimed they were "seekers" not from other congreations). That is phenomenal for this size of community. Something was going right.

Can we Lutherans learn anything from this?

Someone else tell me. I've got to quit blogging and phone some German relatives, before it is too late there.


WHAT! The computer says its 5 degrees above (Celsius). I am not having that. NO! I checked out the door. Yes, it is melting off the roof.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Went to work today--long day, but with long lunch. Walked the town on lunch. Weather much nicer with sunshine. For once the better weather makes me mad. NOW, the weather and the roads are better. NOW not THEN. I am like the witch of Narnia. Let, it be always winter.

Funny thing, Martin and I both started dreaming weird things about the same time, which was last night and his afternoon nap. I dreamed some more kids were injured and there were funerals, and Martin dreamed Stefan was alive and he was trying to tell everyone.

Went to truth project last night, last session. Very good. Deserves its own blogpost.

Martin is going to work tomorrow. We'll see how he'll do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Putting up the cross

The young people got us out to put up the cross. It was bloody cold, again. They came over for hot chocolate, oranges and cookies. We talked sensibly about their crafts/trades, the economy and about welding apprenticeships and laboring jobs.


I went to the gym, yesterday, and I went to work today. Lots more kindness from everyone and surprise to see me. I can't stay at home forever.

We had some treatment on a young man--same kind of hoodie, same kind of cap, same kind of belt, same kind of watch, same kind of 3 mm beard, same kind of hair growing a little long and curly, same light colored eyes, same kind of scent of having smoked something. He does drywall for building oil camps. Same kind of strained literacy. Took him forever to fill out his chart. This type of thing will be etched on my mind.

Andrea went back to university. She bought her textbooks and sold one and wrote a quiz and got 100%, and thankfully she got home safely. Conditions could not be more treacherous with the wide temperature fluctuations, snow and ice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Driving Trainer Simulator?

The phone has stopped ringing and I think I will go to work tomorrow, get myself out of the house and relieve those who've been filling in for me. This afternoon still I will go to the gym; (I will, I will, I will!)

I just finished talking with Esther about the state of the world--with side topic: driver training. (This is also a topic the gigababy blog picks up on.) She said when she was in driver training in Germany, it was drilled into her that when the car is out of control, to get off the brakes. Which reminded me that when my kids took driver training I was looking around to get a video game type driving simulator for them to practice different scenarios. I never found one. Both children turned out to be good drivers. Both drove with Martin and myself for years before they went solo. Stefan, especially, was a natural. I like to think, he would have been able to prevent the tragedy, if he'd been driving.

But, you'd think with all the video games, simulations, graphics, different inputs, there would have been an easy choice for driver training practice? They spend hours and hours shooting people, crashing cars, planes, tanks... Why are they not practicing real skills?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Local Social Conditions

I have lead a sheltered life, even though we dealt with the public and their health every day for nearly 30 years.

Visiting with some people from around here, coming to my house, sitting across from me on my sofa, sharing all kinds of stories and experiences--all kinds of people being more honest and vulnerable than usual--has been a bit shocking.

It is easy to be shocked and easy to be uppidy. But this is something different.

I don't know where to begin.

From the drug use, to the alcohol use, to the living together, to the changing partners and allegiances, to the deception involved in drug testing in the trades and oil industry, to the ostracism of non-smokers in workplaces (because they don't go out with others on smoke breaks), to the sitting around watching TV and eating ice-cream and getting humongously fat, to the babysitting of little children that nearly choke to death because the self-same sitters/relatives are watching TV and eating ice cream, to the depression, schizophenia and medications required... Unsettling revelations of all kinds.

Gibbons/Bon Accord, I am told, is a slum. Sherwood Park and St. Albert are hardly better, only the drugs are more expensive and harder.

However, since Stefan's funeral the approach to stop signs is said to be executed with more care by many and the partying this weekend was subdued, apparently, I am told.

What is one supposed to do with this? We used to go to youthgroup, sing, do bible study, hike, play soccer, go camping with no sex, no alcohol, no drugs. That sort of thing is unimaginable at this point for many -- boring, staid, "unsociable".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jesus Priceless Treasure

Here is the Bach motet sung by a dutch choir. The score is there, and one can sing along. Here is the Buxtehude of the same hymn, also with score. It's oh so neat to have the score, instead of watching the choir and musicians.

Still looking for a decent English version of the hymn. Maybe on the Wittenberg Trail.--No, can't find one. Maybe Concordia College can do one and upload it.

8 days since Stefan's accident

We have hugged and cried and shared with hundreds of people it seems. Not a few have suffered tragedies. There were 600 signed into the book at the funeral. Many came to our house to comfort us and bring us food and flowers. It was most kind. I will cherish and store up in my mind the meaningful memories and comments about Stefan, our family, yours and our grief, and our Lord. If you had no words, that was good, too.

On the way home from the funeral in our car we said: "Everyone seems just a little more precious now than before." We have been changed and the people around us have been changed. Hostilities, misunderstandings, have been swept aside. Sadly, with human nature, as C.S. Lewis said, sometimes suffering is God's megaphone.

We are bereaved. We have lost our son, our brother, our grandchild, our cousin, our friend. As Gerald said, in faith we await the resurrection from the dead. Meanwhile we will miss Stefan most terribly. Yet, we are bonded together with those who have suffered the same hole in their hearts and those whose hope is in God.

It has been a week now since Stefan's and Matt's deaths, and I think this will be my last blog post about it. It must have been therapeutic for me to do some posting, that's why I did it. Or course, it does not even scratch the surface. You may post to the older posts. Please, phone or visit or e-mail, as you like or need to.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stefan's funeral sermon

Rev. Dr. Gerald Krispin kindly sent this along, to be freely used. It is also available at the tribute page under Stefan's funeral.

John 11
Jesus Comforts the Sisters
17On his arrival [at Bethany], Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
21Martha, the sister of Lazarus, said to Jesus, ""Lord, if you had been here, my brother Lazarus would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ,[b] the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and those who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.
35Jesus wept.
36 And they said, "See how he loved him!"
37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. . .
40Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41. . . Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out,
45Therefore many of [those] who had come to visit Mary [and Martha], and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.

Martin, Brigitte, Andrea, and all of us who sit here in our grief and sadness:
With Martha, we may well ask: So, where was Jesus last Friday as Stefan and Matt where heading to Oma Mueller’s house? He mustn’t have been there! Because according to Martha, had Jesus been there, they would not have died. We’ve all heard those who escape a close brush with disaster or death state with conviction: God . . . an angel . . . someone was watching over them! They survived, because some power protected them.

But not Stefan! Not Matt! Nor Lazarus! Jesus hadn’t been watching; he wasn’t there. And so they died.

It gets worse: Jesus purposely delayed. He let it happen!
He let Lazarus die, though he could have prevented it.
And he let Stefan die!

That is why Martha and the crowd gather around the tomb of Lazarus; that is why all of us are gathered here. Jesus had not come through. Jesus had failed to deliver in the way he had delivered before. Others were healed. Others were rescued. Others were saved. But with Lazarus, with Stefan, Jesus fell short. At least, he fell short according to our expectations and specifications.

But Jesus is not limited by our expectations and specifications. He could have prevented this disaster. But he didn’t. He could have come to heal; but he didn’t. Instead, he delayed. Because he came to do something much greater! Just how much greater would be shown at the tomb of Lazarus!

Because when Jesus let Lazarus die, he did it to reveal something about himself that no one would have come to hear or see otherwise. “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, yet he shall live. And anyone who believes in me will never die!”

“Never die,” says Jesus!
Now that’s contrary to fact if anything is:
Because Lazarus believed, and he died.
Stefan believed, and died.
Many of us here also believe, and yet we will all die.

So, is it just cryptic religious talk? Well religious talk it is, but far from cryptic.
Jesus wants those at the tomb of Lazarus then, and us who are gathered here this afternoon to see life and death with different eyes; eyes that have been enlightened by the faith that comes only from God.
Because those eyes see life and death differently. Those eyes see that life and death are not defined by biology. Those eyes see life and death as God sees them. And what God sees is this: because of sin, we who think we are alive, are in fact already dead; And God sees those who have died with their sins forgiven as alive. Where there is forgiveness, there is life in God, now and forever.

And for this reason Jesus delayed coming to Bethany. He sought to reveal to those gathered back then at Bethany, and to us gathered here today at Bethel that death will not have the final word for those who believe. Lazarus died so that Jesus could reveal his power over death and the tomb; and when Lazarus came forth, he revealed to everyone that he truly is the resurrection and the life.

But Jesus does so amid tears. Our tears and his tears!
For Martha wept; Mary wept; many in the crowd wept. Even as we weep! They and we weep because it hurts so much when someone we love dies. We weep because of what was, and because of the memories we cherish; and we weep because of what will never be: marriage, children, and all that which such a talented and gifted young man would have accomplished in his life. What can we do but weep?

And so even Jesus wept! He wept for the pain and sorrow that death has inflicted on Martha, Mary, and all those who loved Lazarus.
And Jesus weeps for the pain that Stefan’s death has inflicted upon us.
Jesus weeps for his friend; he wept for Lazarus, because he loved and will die for him.

And Jesus weeps for the child upon whom his name was placed at his baptism; he weeps for Stefan, because Jesus loves and has died for him.

Jesus wept, because that is what people do who truly love one another. God in human flesh cannot but weep with us in our sorrow.

As we gather to grieve a beloved son, brother, and friend, all of us are again met by the Jesus who weeps with us, but who also announces to you and to me amid our tears:”I am the resurrection and the life! Do you believe this?” And he asks this of Martha, Mary, you and me before he has done anything: Lazarus still lies dead in the tomb. Stefan lies there before us. Jesus himself has not yet risen. And yet Jesus asks: “Do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life! Do you believe that this is not all that there is, and that death has not spoken the final word?”
“Yes,” says Martha, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." Faith, sight unseen! Before the raising of Lazarus; before Jesus’ own resurrection! Martha believed!

Stefan believed this also. It was given him to believe in his baptism. This faith was confessed from his lips at his confirmation. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” Upon his confession, Pastor Kihn gave to him the verse from the book of Revelation that we heard earlier: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Faithful, to the point of death!

That faithfulness is the hope in which all those who confess Christ live, and in which all those who live in Christ die. There is no other hope. There is no other way to wipe away tears or grief or sorrow in the face of death. Memories let us look back and remember fondly what we have lost, but they cannot console. The unrealized dreams can only leave us to lament what might have been and what will never be, and that may even make us bitter and resentful.

And so there is only Jesus. The Jesus who extracts the sting of death; the Jesus who makes the victory of the grave but temporary! “Do you believe this?” Jesus asks.
Martha believed this. And Stefan believed this. For this reason, he even now celebrates Christ’s victory over death, and bears the crown of eternal life, even as he bears the name “Stefan,” which is Greek for “Victory Crown.”

You see, at his most Holy Baptism, when he was given his name, Stefan, the crown of victory over death, the crown of life, of eternal life was placed upon him. And so we may say the words of Jesus like this: “Stefan, who believed in me, even though he has died, yet he lives. And because Stefan has believed in me, he shall never die.”
“Do you believe this?” asks Jesus of Martha, of the crowd, of us. She says “yes.” Stefan said “yes.” Only the faith that can say this yes can fathom what Jesus does next.

He sighs. He sighs deeply! He looks to the Father and calls forth Lazarus from the grave. He calls with the authority that only the Son of God can exercise. With that call he proves to those who were there who he truly is: the resurrection and the life. Lazarus is raised! Martha was right to put her faith in Jesus, because he has the power over death and the grave.

Now, many of those who came to Bethany believed because of what they had seen. But Martha had believed, though she had not seen. Stefan had believed, even though HE had not seen. And we believe, even though we have not seen.

But we have heard it! These words are true, they are certain: Jesus truly is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Jesus, even though he dies, yet he lives!

And he lives not just a few decades in this world, but eternally: with Jesus, with Lazarus, with the saints, with Stefan, and with all the company of heaven. AMEN

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We're home.

The funeral is over. We're home again. A lasagna is in the oven. I think it's Liz K's (thanks Liz). Martin is lying down til it's ready.

It was a beautiful funeral. The crowd was huge and attentive. The service and the sermon were Christ and resurrection centered. Everyone said it made a big impact and helped them. I'll try and make it available, here. Text: John 11, the death and raising of Lazarus.

The special music was superbly performed. Stefan's cello teacher Grazyna played one of his favorite pieces: Bach's prelude to cello suite #1. Hear it here. Kristin played "My Shepherd will supply my need."

It was a terribly cold day. There was fresh blowing snow. The roads were icy. I was just praying nobody would get hurt just because they were on the way to the funeral. One person ended up in the ditch, waiting for 4 hours to get out and never made it to the funeral; but I've heard of no injuries. There were sun dogs in the sky. The pall bearers froze.

I won't write anything else today. There are so many thoughts and feelings and lots of exhaustion.

God bless all. Thanks for everything everyone has done.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tomorrow is Stefan's funeral

Today was Matt's funeral. We did not stay that long but invited some friends over. We still need to find time to get together with Matt's family. We talked some over the phone and shared our gratitude for the time we had with the boys.

Stefan's pall bearer friends were here all afternoon, hanging out, eating some of the food that has been brought for days now. We transferred all Stefan music videos to audio files, so people can put it on their i-pods, which is what I guess they want to do. I did not pay enough attention, how they did it, now I still can't do it by myself.

Stefan's funeral is at 1:00 PM at Bethel Lutheran Church, Sherwood Park. Pastor David Kihn officiating, Rev. Dr. Gerald Krispin preaching. There will be so many people there.

The picture of the welding poster boy, above, will be distributed.

It will be cold and windy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Befiehl du deine Wege

I just found this song on the Wittenberg trail and sang along.
It was one of my Dad's favoritye hymns. He quoted it in the
dedication of my hymnbook he gave me for my confirmation (many years ago).

Thanks to all dear brothers and sisters in Christ for your prayers and concerns. Some day we will be all be there together and sing his praise.

Stefan's friends making a cross for the road

blog analyzes Stefan's accident


so many ironies

Stefan's friends have been here a few times since the fatality. They shared stories and hug us a lot. I am so glad they came and I hope they keep coming. He did not bring most them around the house before, though I encouraged him to.

They were always out and about, texting, phoning, moving, driving, doing who knows what. It may not have been bad, but a parent worries.

In the end the accident happened on his way to his grandma's to help her with home improvements. Matt was helping, too.

I don't think the kids will come to this blog. But, thank you to them.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ihr Lieben Deuschen

Vielen Dank fuer die Telefonate. Wir konnten gestern nicht alle annehmen. Es war hier wie im Taubenschlag. Den ganzen Tage kamen liebe Leute mit Blumen, Essen und blieben lange bei uns. Dabei waren wir laufend am Telefon.

Wir danken Euch fuer Euere Anteilname, und bitten weiterhin um Euere Gebete fuer uns und auch Stefans leibliche Familie.

Es ist hier bitter kalt und die Strassen sind sehr glatt. Das Auto in dem Stefan fuhr rutschte in eine Kreuzung gerade als ein Lastwagen den Berg herunter kam. Es ist sehr tragisch, aber alle sorgen sich liebevoll um uns.

Nochmals vielen Dank und alles Gute und Gott befohlen.
Brigitte, Martin und Andrea.

Stefan's last picture

This picture is from last Sunday. We went to church and communion in Sherwood Park and then I bought him this coat for going up North. He loved it and wore it all week in this cold weather.

See his memorial page at facebook:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stefan died

My son died yesterday in an automobile accident.
He was a passenger.
Born: June 28, 1990, Edmonton
Died: January 2, 2009, secondary highway 643
Baptized: July 29, 1990, Christ Lutheran, Fort Saskatchewan

I won't be blogging.

We are doing ok, considering the circumstances.
Pray also for his birthfamily. Thank you.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

RNA world

How plausible is the RNA world???

copied from:

The implausibility of prevital nucleic acid

If it is hard to imagine polypeptides or polysaccharides in primordial waters it is harder still to imagine polynucleotides. But so powerful has been the effect of Miller’s experiment on the scientific imagination that to read some of the literature on the origin of life (including many elementary texts) you might think that it had been well demonstrated that nucleotides were probable constituents of a primordial soup and hence that prevital nucleic acid replication was a plausible speculation based on the results of experiments.

There have indeed been many interesting and detailed experiments in this area. But the importance of this work lies, to my mind, not in demonstrating how nucleotides could have formed on the primitive Earth, but in precisely the opposite: these experiments allow us to see, in much greater detail than would otherwise have been possible, just why prevital nucleic acids are highly implausible.

Let us consider some of the difficulties:

1. First, as we have seen, it is not even clear that the primitive Earth would have generated and maintained organic molecules. All that we can say is that there might have been prevital organic chemistry going on, at least in special locations.

2. Second, high-energy precursors of purines and pyrimidines had to be produced in a sufficiently concentrated form (for example at least 0.01 M HCN).

3. Third, the conditions must now have been right for reactions to give perceptible yields of at least two bases that could pair with each other.

4. Fourth, these bases must then have been separated from the confusing jumble of similar molecules that would also have been made, and the solutions must have been sufficiently concentrated.

5. Fifth, in some other location a formaldehyde concentration of above 0.01 M must have built up.

6. Sixth, this accumulated formaldehyde had to oligomerise to sugars.

7. Seventh, somehow the sugars must have been separated and resolved, so as to give a moderately good concentration of, for example, D-ribose.

8. Eighth, bases and sugars must now have come together.

9. Ninth, they must have been induced to react to make nucleosides. (There are no known ways of bringing about this thermodynamically uphill reaction in aqueous solution: purine nucleosides have been made by dry-phase synthesis, but not even this method has been successful for condensing pyrimidine bases and ribose to give nucleosides (Orgel & Lohrmann, 1974).)

10. Tenth, whatever the mode of joining base and sugar it had to be between the correct nitrogen atom of the base and the correct carbon atom of the sugar. This junction will fix the pentose sugar as either the alpha or beta-anomer of either the furanose or pyranose forms (see page 29). For nucleic acids it has to be the beta-furanose. (In the dry-phase purine nucleoside syntheses referred to above, all four of these isomers were present with never more than 8 % of the correct structure.)

11. Eleventh, phosphate must have been, or must now come to have been, present at reasonable concentrations. (The concentrations in the oceans would have been very low, so we must think about special situations—evaporating lagoons and such things (Ponnamperuma, 1978).)

12. Twelfth, the phosphate must be activated in some way—for example as a linear or cyclic polyphosphate—so that (energetically uphill) phosphorylation of the nucleoside is possible.

13. Thirteenth, to make standard nucleotides only the 5′hydroxyl of the ribose should be phosphorylated. (In solid-state reactions with urea and inorganic phosphates as a phosphorylating agent, this was the dominant species to begin with (Lohrmann & Orgel, 1971). Longer heating gave the nucleoside cyclic 2′,3′-phosphate as the major product although various dinucleotide derivatives and nucleoside polyphosphates are also formed (Osterberg, Orgel & Lohrmann. 1973).)

14. Fourteenth, if not already activated—for example as the cyclic 2′,3′-phosphate—the nucleotides must now be activated (for example with polyphosphate; Lohrmann, 1976) and a reasonably pure solution of these species created of reasonable concentration. Alternatively, a suitable coupling agent must now have been fed into the system.

15. Fifteenth, the activated nucleotides (or the nucleotides with coupling agent) must now have polymerised. Initially this must have happened without a pre-existing polynucleotide template (this has proved very difficult to simulate (Orgel & Lohrmann. 1974)); but more important, it must have come to take place on pre-existing polynucleotides if the key function of transmitting information to daughter molecules was to be achieved by abiotic means. This has proved difficult too. Orgel & Lohrmann give three main classes of problem:
* While it has been shown that adenosine derivatives form stable helical structures with poly(U)—they are in fact triple helixes—and while this enhances the condensation of adenylic acid with either adenosine or another adenylic acid—mainly to di(A) stable helical structures were not formed when either poly (A) or poly(G) were used as templates.
* It was difficult to find a suitable means of making the internucleotide bonds. Specially designed water-soluble carbodiimides were used in the experiments described above, but the obvious pre-activated nucleotides—ATP or cyclic 2′,3′-phosphates—were unsatisfactory. Nucleoside 5′-phosphorimidazolides, for example were more successful, but these now involve further steps and a supply of imidazole, for their synthesis (Lohrmann & Orgel, 1978).
* Internucleotide bonds formed on a template are usually a mixture of 2′-5′ and the normal 3′-5′ types. Often the 2′-5′ bonds predominate although it has been found that Zn2+, as well as acting as an efficient catalyst for the template-directed oligomerisation of guanosine 5′-phosphorimidazolide also leads to a preference for the 3′-5′ bonds (Lohrmann, Bridson & Orgel, 1980).

16. Sixteenth, the physical and chemical environment must at all times have been suitable—for example the pH, the temperature, the M2+ concentrations.

17. Seventeenth, all reactions must have taken place well out of the ultraviolet sunlight; that is, not only away from its direct, highly destructive effects on nucleic acid-like molecules, but away too from the radicals produced by the sunlight, and from the various longer lived reactive species produced by these radicals.

18. Eighteenth, unlike polypeptides, where you can easily imagine functions for imprecisely made products (for capsules, ionexchange materials, etc.), a genetic material must work rather well to be any use at all—otherwise it will quickly let slip any information that it has managed to accumulate.

19. Nineteenth, what is required here is not some wild one-off freak of an event: it is not true to say ‘it only had to happen once’. A whole set-up had to be maintained for perhaps millions of years: a reliable means of production of activated nucleotides at the least.

Now you may say that there are alternative ways of building up nucleotides, and perhaps there was some geochemical way on the early Earth. But what we know of the experimental difficulties in nucleotide synthesis speaks strongly against any such supposition. However it is to be put together, a nucleotide is too complex and metastable a molecule for there to be any reason to expect an easy synthesis.

You might want to argue about the nineteen problems that I chose: and I agree that there is a certain arbitrariness in the sequence of operations chosen. But if in the compounding of improbabilities nineteen is wrong as a number that would be mainly because it is much too small a number. If you were to consider in more detail a process such as the purification of an intermediate you would find many subsidiary operations—washings, pH changes and so on. (Remember Merrifield's machine: for one overall reaction, making one peptide bond, there were about 90 distinct operations required.)


Cairns-Smith, A.G., Genetic Takeover: And the Mineral Origins of Life, Cambridge University Press, 1982 (list formatting added).

Anno Domini 2009

We have landed in the new year and it is again the Lord's year.

When I was a youth, I was usually on retreat over New Year and we would, in good pietistic fashion, pick a Bible verse out of the hat to help us guide through the year.

I don't believe in this kind of randomness, but this morning I'm looking for a Bible verse. I think I'll pick it from the new Treasury of Prayer. See what the readings are for today.

Isaiah 61: 10-11

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest
with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness
and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.

I like C.F. Walther's writing that is printed out for the day, also.
"...Now then, all of you who believe in God's Word, let your watchword for entering the new year be this: "I am baptized!". Although the world may laugh at this comfort, the enthusiasts vex its confidence... nevertheless, abandon any other dearly held pledges and speak only throughout the entire year to come, in all terrors of conscience and necessity through sin and death: " I am baptized! I am baptized! Hallelujah!" And you shall prevail! In every time of need, you will find comfort in your Baptism; on account of it Satan will flee from your faith and confession; and in death you will see heaven opened and will finally come into the joy of your Lord to celebrate a great year of jubilee, a year of praise, with all the angels forever and ever. Amen!"

This may be hard to understand for some. But standing on your baptism means you take your ground in God's work, thus you avoid both pride and despair, but find the right confidence. Just as the Lord, himself, will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up.