Monday, June 29, 2009

made it to Germania

It has been a full day, walking all over Aschaffenburg, followed up with a bikeride through Babenhausen to see the new free church my hosts attend and helped build, and bit of red wine. Now I'm finished. The keyboard is different, too. I can't blog today. Tomorrow, on to Bensheim.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Howdie Patners: made it as far as Calgary. Stayed at the camper in Red Deer over night. Had breakfast in the great outdoors. Was cold. Calgary is warm. Everywhere it is dry.

Went to see Aunt in hospice. She seemed more tired than last time. She is on antibiotics for her lungs. She had visitors all day. First the chaplain, then the neighbors, then all of us.

I was curious about the chaplain. She said he is a native Indian who also sings to her. Now I was wondering if he was Christian chaplain or practitioner of native spirituality. I am still not quite sure from what she told me. He does not read to her from the Bible, we got that far. But he puts it into his prayers. Whatever that exactly means. She just kept saying that he was a "chaplain." He makes her feel good by telling her how much he enjoys his friendship with her. That is a nice and gracious thing to say. But I hope he has more substance than that. He visits two or three times a week, she says and sings "very good" songs.

Going to the airport now for a midnight flight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last chance at BOC's/ Evolution

OK, let me prove my complete nuttiness. We are right out of Books of Concord. Yesterday, Martin gave one to Rev. Tawa A., who is doing his PHD in the States on Apologetics at a Baptist University. (Tawa, correct me where wrong info. Tell what you are doing! (Do write!))

So this is a reminder. They are on sale this month. :) I just bought several more. (I conveniently forget how many).

I also blew some time on a video at Uncommon Descent. "Signature in the Cell". It seemed really good. I will have to watch it again and pay more attention; I was kind of doing my dishes. Anyone with an opinion on the man's work? And what did anyone think of "Expelled". We watched it at church convention for evening entertainment in the movie theatre. I liked it a lot, especially the irony at the end with Richard Dawkins. Smart move.

Now, I really have to think about my trip. Leaving on the 27th.

Monday, June 22, 2009


From our little local newspaper.

What will the Alliance Church come up with next. Do they have all the good ideas? They have done so much in this community, it's unbelievable. Just in the last while they have brought Bibles to every house in town, they ran a huge Truth Project, they have sent out attractive and handy invitations to every home. They have busy little churches in every little town here, now.

They had a man with my dying son and they had a man help me with my son's truck. They have prayed for me and with me, but they don't have the gospel straight. I have to find out more what they believe, exactly. I know it will be decision theology and rebaptism to join, etc.(not that I'm joining. nonono). I know "grandma Julie" and many of them.

The Sturgeon Alliance Church is starting an evening Youth program during the summer, and hopes to expand its Coffee&Chaos program when it resumes in the fall.

"We're having Youth Drop In on Friday, June 26, and are hoping to have it throughout the summer and into the fall," said executive pastor Jason Roffey. Youth night will give young people a safe place to hang out and play games such as pool, air hockey or fooze ball or to sit and watch TV.

Coffee&Chaos (C&C) began in March, and its first few months were so successful organizers are looking to expand it. "We're looking forward to getting it going in the fall," Roffey said.

C&C grew out of the pre-school programs run for three and four year old children. Their parents, usually with other children in the family, would sit and visit while the one child attended the program.

"It's a chance for them (parents) to get out of their home and connect with others," said Roffey.

One of the participants is a senior fondly known as 'grandma Julie' who comes in to read to children.

Having a Grandma is great for some kids who don't have nearby grandparents," Roffey said.

With that in mind, he has applied for a $15,000 New Horizons federal grant to expand C&C. The grant application was formally supported by the Town of Gibbons council. The grant is geared to community and leadership with a focus on Seniors.

"We looked at that grant and this program and thought, yeah, that fits," said Roffey. "There's a pretty significant Seniors population in town. We're looking to engage some folks that way."

The grant will enable the program to expand to include a greater multi-generational component. With the fund C&C can increase leadership opportunities, the chance to build relationships with others in the community and inter-active play. Grant funds will cover the purchase of a high quality coffee machine, removable walls, interactive play toys and promotion of the program.

C&C is primarily run by Kelly Kozak and her ministry team. They welcome everyone to just show up for a cup of coffee and the chance to spend time in the chaotic atmosphere of playing children. C&C ran from 9:30 to 11:30 am in the spring, and is expected to have the same time slot in the fall.

Both the Youth program and C&C are held in the bright, wide open expansion of the Sturgeon Alliance Church facility.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Father

This Father's Day is difficult for me also, similarly to Mother's Day, thinking of nothing but my grief over Stefan. But Martin says special day's don't change things for him. It's always the same. So we are different. I got Martin some beautiful no-iron shirts. Win, win for me--a good looking man and no ironing required!

The picture above is of my own father, Werner, born to farmers in Silesia. At the end of the war he was 11, his mother died and he became a refugee. When Stefan turned 11, my dad told him what the day was like on his own 11th birthday, sitting on a tree on a hill, looking down into the valley, with the Russians having rounded up all the cattle, which were screaming loudly with not getting milked, to be hauled off.

He married a beautiful local girl in Hesse, daughter of civil administrator and permanent church elder, well-known pillar of the community. My Dad was talented in a well-rounded way and enjoyed life. My mother sometimes joked about the ironies of having married a poor refugee, but my dad was so great, my grandpa thought he was very intelligent in discussing politics and other subjects. Indeed, we children spent a lot of time listening to adult discussions.

He built three houses in his lifetime, using his own labor to a large extent. Our first house had an unexploded bomb on the lot that needed dealing with. He had bought the lot cheap in a low lying area close to a little airstrip. He became a heavy equipment salesman and sometimes we owned backhoes and equipment that he used. As children we learned to distinguish between different machinery and makes of cranes, types of scaffolding... The post-war building boom made a good career possible.

He always sang in church choir but never took a church position. My mother always said he put his light under the bowl by not being more active on council. He cooked and vacuumed, said nighttime prayers, took us on holidays, taught us to swim clear across little lakes and gravel pits. He took us bike-riding. We had adventures sailing boats including on navigated German rivers. He loved get-togethers and was gregarious. We went camping and made friends with the neighboring campers. He was sensible and gentle. He deeply cared for us in a non-mushy way. He stood in line early in the morning to get me into Catholic girl grammar school. He loved our mother. Our mother was the most beautiful woman in the land. He lost her too early.

I adored him. I once wrote him a letter about it, when I was already married. (Who can say such a thing face to face? We did not even hug in our family. Can you believe it: we shook hands.) I never heard him acknowledge my letter. My step-mother once told md that it had meant a lot to him. It had meant so much, he could not talk about it. People, eh?

(I was going to say: Men!!! But then I thought better of it, since I did not tell him face to face, either.)

He died early this decade of a rare cancer having been afflicted with Parkinson's for a while.

On his right hand is my little sister. On his left hand is my brother. On the far is me, the oldest. I have much to be grateful for.

I am wondering what the implications are for those of you, whom I do know who did not have a good father, or now live in divorced situations. Even though my father was a good man, he was, like almost all decent fathers, very busy with work while the children were growing up, so the time he spent was really often also a "quality" time versus "quantity" time. His gentility, his love of life, his intelligence, his hard work, his treasuring of holidays, his telling of stories, poems, proverbs, prayers, singing of all kinds of songs, his faithfulness in church attendance, even if he was not going to be very involved (he did teach Sunday School once; it was so special, I still remember it was about Nebuchadnezzar), his supportive way of dealing with our mother: all of it still made us secure and happy enough.

My thoughts are with all who are somewhat sad today, including ourselves. All of life is such a mixed-up, messy bag. All of it makes me appreciate Christ more and more, who is gentle and strong and full of life, intelligence, stories, prayers and deep care for everyone. It really does.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Christopher Hitchens compliments Ezra Levant

Christopher Hitchens compliments Ezra Levant.

Ergonomics for dental staff

Dr. S. kindly sent me the link to this website. She attended a lecture that was very helpful to her. Back issues are common everywhere, but especially among dental personnel. (Perhaps, Dr. S. can leave a comment or write a post that elaborates on the lecture?)

In the past, I have found a book "The Back Doctor", by Dr. Hamilton Hall, excellent, which I used to issue as reading to all new staff. The link above, is to a newer version of the book, which I have not read, but you can see that Chapter's "medical experts" have included it in the "trusted advisor health program". With his emphasis on exercise, he really can't be wrong.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can use more rain

Martin says it did not rain that much. He will still need to haul water to water his trees and the forecast is for a dry summer. How would they know?


We have rain to give thanks for. It rained most of last night and also one of the previous nights. Martin calls it the million dollar rain, but it really is the billions of dollar rain.

It was the first rain we had all year. Some farmers were already selling their cattle anticipating sky-high feed costs and scrawny cattle later on.

Saskatchewan had not had this little rain by this time in 120 years or something, told me someone at the office. Hopefully, they're getting some, too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book of Concord

Somebody's book of Concord. Guess whose. (Those of you who know don't tell. Not mine, anyways.) There are markers also on the north end of the book,too. How do you remember what you've marked?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On Break

My intelligent daughter pointed out to me that it's not been six months, but that it's the sixth month. That is true. Thank you. We did, however, agree that the time has seemed eternal. Too much sadness, too much everything exhausting.

But now it's spring. I got my garden in, even though it might freeze before anything matures (60-80 days for carrots; we'll have to see.) The neighbors lost their planted annuals when we had frost two days ago. A farmer in Bruderheim church lost 220 acres of canola that had come up and froze. We desperately need rain along with warmth.

I am going to try really hard not to blog til I go to Germany, and clean and walk instead and then try posting from Germany. See if it works. If anyone wants to visit us, we're home often, at night almost for sure. Just come and visit. We can even walk in the forest til 10:30 now and visit the beaver at the river, if you're not scared of the coyotes howling and yelping nearby.

Going to Germany

My cousin Joachim is getting married again, in Germany, and I am going! YEA! (in 18 days for 14 days)

Joachim is a blast. He took me riding on his motorbike and flying in the Cessna. What? We did foolish things like that? I had forgotten!

This is a picture of my cousin Joachim and my brother, many moons ago. I have over 30 cousins. It's really quite amazing. (The one in the Lederhosen is my brother. Our mother thought Lederhosen was a very sensible way to dress a boy. He had some that went just below the knee, too.)

Truck is gone/vertical Law and Gospel

This week, Marcel and his wife, the local autowreckers dragged off Stefan's truck and his hoist and other metal items. It was sad but there were a lot of small mercies to be grateful for.

One, Martin was not here when they came, so he did not have to see it. Marcel and his wife are active Christians from another town's Alliance church. She talked to me the whole time about gardening and their life and my perennial beds. There was a double mercy in that, in that she kept me busy and also they cleaned up my soul after a late night of arguing with atheists on the internet. Reading that stuff made me get up in a foul mood and clung to me. But it was a treat to be with Marcel and his wife, salt of the earth people.

When they were gone, I went inside and I thought I'd cry some about it, but I couldn't. My eyes fell on the stuff hanging next to my oven (see picture above). You know how you don't always see what you've hung up, because it always hangs there. But there it was. Law and Gospel in the vertical.

I notice the ten commandments, a VBS "craft", are not looking very good and the 9th and 10th are missing off the bottom. Not that it would not be easy to replace with buying one piece of fun foam. Maybe I'll do it, now.

So, now, I think we are all relieved (including the neighbors) that the truck is gone. We've looked at the truck every day for six months. It was enough for everyone. Marcel says the metal will go to China.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kapasseni Project

LCC pastor in Mozambique at one of the small churches. In connection to the post below.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Institute of Lutheran Theology

Steve on Old Adam blog has a post this weekend about Dr. James Nestigen discussing the need for an "Institute of Lutheran Theology". I can't say that I'm totally up on the issues involved with the ELCA, so don't ask me. I have heard Dr. Nestigen talk at the Edmonton Seminary for a whole weekend on Law and Gospel, however.

I find the idea of the Institute fascinating though, from the perspective of the use of the internet, different delivery models, and making it easier, and presumably cheaper, to become a pastor and the internet site is very much worth a visit.

There are sample lectures on this site with lecture notes. Wow. One on Galatians. One one the Confessions.

There is also a blog which contains a variety of reading material, including sermons, however, with not much discussion happening.

What surprised me was that our Edmonton Seminary has agreed to provide coursework for the Institute. Below a quote from the Institute site.

We have exciting news! This fall we will be starting our first academic year! We have a significant number of people that are considering becoming students in pastoral preparation programs. We have seven students studying Greek this spring. We have an agreement with Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, to supply accredited coursework for our students in addition to the courses taught by our own faculty. This assures the steady supply and variety of classes necessary to support a robust curriculum. We have what we need to start training pastors. We are ready to do the work for which the ILT came into being: to prepare effective pastoral leaders who will serve congregations where God is honored according to His Word in Scripture and according to the tradition of the Lutheran Confessions.

All very interesting. The distance delivery of faithful material combined with personal supervision, seems a promising approach in some ways, especially for far-flung and under-severed areas. What do you think?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Alberta government on young driver safety

The Alberta government came up with a website to promote young driver safety called No Fun Being Dead. Read about it and find the link here.

It is supposed to appeal to young tech savvy people. I found it totally boring. Am I missing something? Or was government money misspent again?

Apparently, I am not finished writing about it.

Apparently, I am not finished writing about it. But it seems I am wrapping up. Another post has to be about thanking all who have helped.

This is how it happened, just the facts beyond the public news channels, before I get it mixed up and for those who still wanted to know, but did not want to ask, or we did not want to tell it again:

January 2, 2009, was an extremely cold day, the like we rarely experience, close to -40 degrees Celsius. Stefan had slept late, having come home late. It had become hard to keep track of him, especially since he did not always pick up my cell phone calls and he did not always respond to my text messages. He did not want to be interfered with at this time of his life.

He got up sometime after noon. I was in the kitchen. He started going in and out, presumable packing some things up. At the end of that he yelled up from the basement exit that he was going to grandmother’s house to work. He did not come to get any food to eat in the kitchen, probably because grandma spends all her time trying to feed the guys. He never came into the kitchen to kiss me good-bye. I thought to call after him, to say good-bye, but I thought I wasn’t going to nag for the same thing again. I left it up to him since he was practically out the door already. That good-bye kiss might have been just enough delay to not meet that truck that day. But that is just one of the hundred would have’s and should have’s. So, that’s how I never even saw him that day, only heard him from downstairs.

After that, I phoned my cousin Marion in Mainz, Germany, for a New Year’s call. It must have been during this call that Stefan and Matt died only one mile from where I was sitting. They slid downhill going south on the Rural Road onto the intersection with 643 unable to stop. The 643 is a secondary road with very heavy truck and bus traffic from the fertilizer plant and oil industry. A loaded water truck ran right into the driver’s side of Matt’s little car. Both roads meet going downhill and it was extremely slippery. None was able to avoid the other. It was a huge side impact. There was not an ounce of sand on the approach to the intersection. The entire weekend after the fatal accident there was not an ounce of sand in that intersection. We always knew it was a dangerous place even without being icy. In addition, both roads could have been constructed differently to make the intersection much less dangerous.

Martin was at work, for a short day. Andrea was driving home from Kimberly, BC with her friend Thomas.

Martin, then, came home around 3:00 that day and passed right by the accident scene, with all the emergency vehicles there. He could not recognize the crushed vehicle, only noticed that there must have been fatalities, not suspecting anything else. He came home, he changed, and he went to grandma’s house to help with the work the boys had started, there. This time he had to be detoured. I did not hear from him that the boy’s whereabouts were unknown, once he had gone to his mother’s. They had not been reliable about their coming and going and communicating about it, as has been mentioned.

At 5:00 pm I wanted to go to Gibbons to do some banking and go to Curves. At the intersection with the 643 I could see down the hill that there were many emergency vehicles, etc. and that there must have been a horrible accident. I was prevented from going down that hill and had to make a long detour going the opposite way. When I got to Gibbons, I went to the bank and said: “There must have been some horrible accident on the 643.” When I went to Curves I said: “There must have been some horrible accident on the 643.” I did not expect any bad news, thinking everyone was at grandma’s house. It is amazing how you don’t think that these things could happen to you. They always happen to someone else. In fact the RCMP was at the door of my house with bad news, right at the time I was in Gibbons.

Shortly after 6:00 I got back home, and Andrea started phoning from her cell phone, now approaching Fort Saskatchewan. Stefan’s friends had been phoning her on her cell phone saying that Matt had had a severe accident and someone was with him but nobody knew for sure who it was. Stefan’s cell phone was going unanswered.

This was my clue that that we might have a tragedy on our hands. I phoned Martin at his mother’s and found out that the boys had not been there all afternoon. That was extremely bad news. So far, it might have been that Stefan was at grandma’s while Matt is driving around with someone else.

I phoned Matt’s family’s house and spoke to Matt’s father. He said to me incredulously: “You don’t know?” So he told me that Matt was dead and that the other passenger was also dead, and that the other passenger was carrying Stefan’s ID. I had missed the RCMP when I had gone to Gibbons.

I phoned Andrea back on her cell phone and told her and she fell apart. She was now 20 min. from home. I phoned Martin and he left his mother’s house to come home right away. Before they both pulled in our driveway, some of Stefan’s friends came to the door to tell me the news, also.

To me, somehow, this right away became a situation that needed to be managed, like dental emergency, like a kid screaming his head off in the operatory. And for a long time, it is all surreal. I phoned Stefan’s other mom, Nadine, just in time before her husband went out to play hockey. So they were both home together. She could not believe it. Just a month earlier she and Stefan had attended the funeral of his birth-cousin, 17, lost to suicide. She had been so proud of Stefan, attending with her, looking great, mixing and mingling. He had been like an angel, she said.

For another 30 min. we could not get any other confirmation. Finally, the RCMP arrived around 7:30. It must have been a crisis team, consisting of three women. The RCMP officer had tears in her eyes. We said that we’re ok. Thank you, we have our own pastor. They can go. We did not phone our pastor that night, we did not feel we wanted to ruin his evening; it also was not the right time. It would have been late by the time he got here. Mary was there and the Alliance Church prayer chain was already in action. Word travels fast. Thomas was here.

We sat up late, and had a suitable prayer from a book. (This was the prayer, I looked it up this morning; the ribbon was still there, and I still remember where I could barely get the words out: “Almighty and everlasting God, You give and You take away according to Your wisdom and grace. We give thanks for all the mercies granted to Stefan during his short life on earth and for taking him to Yourself. Enable us to accept Your holy will that we may be comforted with the assurance that through the power of Holy Baptism our beloved was delivered from sin and has been received among the saints in glory. Keep all of us in Your grace that when our last hour comes we may depart in peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord and Savior.”, from Visitation using LW Little Agenda.)

The next day was incredibly hectic. The pastor came out during our breakfast. We had devotions and picked hymns. The neighbors, our former pastor and his family, and others came to sit with us most of the day. There was a constant stream of people at the door with food and flowers. The phone rang all day. Nadine and her husband came over. The whole day we cried and laughed and looked a pictures and could not really believe what had happened. It was the strangest day of my life. To my best friends and church people I just said: “Don’t come. Just pray.” It was overwhelming.

The other perspective is of the man at the scene, Gerhard. I spoke with him several months after. He became known to us via an employee. For a long time, I did not have the courage to speak with him. It would be good to some day also speak with the truck driver.

Gerhard was travelling east on the 643. He heard the incredibly loud sound of the impact. He looked up and saw Matt’s car being pushed about 20 m down the hill and into the ditch. The wheels of the truck where over the driver’s side. Gerhard stopped as he reached the scene to provide aid. He gave up on Matt, who must have been pinned under and was not giving sign of life. Stefan was on the other side and Gerhard found vital signs. He attempted to give something approximating CPR with Stefan in the car.
The truck driver was losing it, running in circles in the snow, not able to deal with the 911 call. Gerhard settled him in his truck with blankets. As it was so cold Gerhard also froze his fingers. EMS seemed to take forever.

Stefan died right there with Gerhard beside him.

Gerhard is a devout Christian man and he said he was praying lots. He was just hoping that the boy was saved. He was happy to hear we are a Christian family and hopefully doing alright. I am glad to hear, too, that there was a Christian man with Stefan at the time, though I don’t try much to imagine the scene. I felt bad that I was so close by but knew nothing for so long. But Gerhard said it was much better that I was not there.

EMS took Stefan into the ambulance to provide shock. Gerhard was hoping that he might come back. However, it was in vain. Their necks were broken, as we learned later and would have imagined anyhow. It was harder to get out Matt. Martin and I identified the bodies at the Medical Examiner’s office.

This is how your life can change in a second. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

But also: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11). Yes, we believe it. It is also a fact, a fact to come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pastor took a quick call to hospital ministry

Bruderheim is going to be vacant in two weeks. I wonder what's going to happen to VBS, always held first thing in July.

We're getting decent weather. Time to cut back on inside stuff, including sitting at the computer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Six months

What can I say? Lots of people don't know what to say. I think the most sensible thing anyone has said to me during this time is: "the Lord be with you." (Dominus tecum). So easy. But you have to have faith. Leave me with him; it's good enough. If there were something to do, but there is not.

Keep reading your Bible, you won't get done with it. If you don't know what to believe about your world anymore, you can still believe the creed. Listen to it. If you don't know what to pray anymore, you can always pray the Lord's prayer. And again, you can pray it once more. If you don't know of God loves you anymore, go eat his goodness.

If you feel so strongly you feel ill and you could double over and vomit, it passes. Some protective mechanism in the brain kicks in eventually, though vomiting seems the right response.

Don't lie in bed. At least get up and read something, listen to something, sing something, phone someone, blog someone. Someone told my I'll be wallowing in it for at least two years, and I should permit myself to do this. Well, thank you, but "no". I will pass on that. I don't think anyone around me would appreciate it either.

If people bother you, give them space. They don't know what they are doing, just like you.

The best part is spiting the devil in the good Luther-an way. The chained dog with the big mouth. Ha, to him. "Satan, I defy thee; Death, I now decry thee; fear, I bed thee cease. World, though shalt not harm me nor they threats alarm me while I sing of peace. God's great power guards every hour; earth and all its depths adore him, silent bow before him." (Trotz dem alten Drachen, trotz dem Todesrachen, trotz der Furcht dazu! Tobe, Welt und springe; ich steh hier und singe in gar sichrer Ruh. Gottes Macht haelt mich in acht, Erd und Abgrund muss verstummen, ob sie noch so brummen.)

Nobody told me any of this. In any case, I had to learn it for myself. I think I'm done writing about it.