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Journey with Us to the Holy Land November 30 – December 9, 2022

Good Report

It took awhile for my doctor’s words — “You are a textbook case of a perfect response to treatment”—to sink into my brain, and then my hematologist/oncologist started spewing out the numbers: “in normal range,” he repeated three times, and “dropped from .7 to .1” for my problematic M protein. Praise be to God!

All this after only two three-week cycles of treatment! Pretty much unheard of, folks—truly amazing. I know I have literally thousands of people praying for me, and I am grateful for that miraculous power and for God’s abiding presence. 

There are no promises; however, it is possible I could go into remission after two more cycles of treatment. Today, remissions last from 2-10 years. My doctor reminded me that my drug protocol is new and there is no data yet. However, for me it is working wondrously. He is optimistic. 

Now what? Continue my treatments and keep those labs current. In eight weeks I will have some big decisions to make about long term maintenance and life style adjustments needed. It is simply, “wow, oh, wow!”

Kathy said she knew I was doing better. She could see it. However, neither of us were expecting this blessed news. Thank you for your love and support.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”         1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18  (Amen to this truth.)

Praise Report: The decreasing numbers 

Prayer Requests: Treatment continues to drive numbers down. That I exercise the fruit of the Spirit in patience as I await whatever future God has in store for me.

A Pattern Emerges

Sunday evening, May 14, 2023

Kathy proudly informed me that since she has been driving, the average miles per gallon has gone up over three miles. I was too weak after therapy to respond—talk about hitting a man while he is down! She is such a fine woman—successful in any and every endeavor! I did indeed marry up!

A pattern has emerged now that I have had one full round of treatments (of four) and am now in Round 2. I go in early on Monday mornings to the Cancer Center at Conroe HCA. They clean up my implanted port and immediately start intravenous drugs. I receive oral drugs soon after. Something in one of the drugs causes me to get sleepy—like immediately—and I will sleep at least 3 hours. A nice couple, the husband of which is one week behind me in multiple myeloma treatments, entered the clinic this past Monday. I remember waving and thinking I would inquire as to how he was doing; however, I did not get that far. When I awoke, they were gone. 

Early in the week I am hyper. I take many oral drugs at home and they get me going—super energetic. I have great trouble sleeping, unfortunately. That is a new experience for me as I have always slept easily and well. About midweek, the high is gone and I am exhausted. For at least two days I can hardly get out of bed. Then I have about two days of normal. Then, during the weekend, fatigue sets in again. I always have labs on Friday, and this last Friday my blood decided to clot in the tubes and we had to do it all over again. I do try to walk and do some activity when fatigued—sometimes forced! Monday starts the pattern all over again. 

Who knew that prunes tasted so good—not kidding, I really like them stewed with cream. I drink hot prune juice at night. The immunomonoclonal targeted therapy I am taking causes rather severe constipation, thus prunes are my new best friends. 

Well, there you have it—my typical week in a nutshell. Kathy has informed me that we must leave 20 minutes earlier tomorrow for the Cancer Center, since she will be driving even slower in an attempt to raise the mpg. Oh, joy! The following Bible verse speaks to me in my current situation: 

“But if we have food and clothing with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:8”

Praise Reports: My body continues to accept the harsh drugs I am receiving. Prunes taste good to me. Side effects of treatments are still minimal in my estimation. 

Prayer Requests: A peaceful week of drugs, drugs and more drugs. To be content with our Lord’s provision. 

Not Curable

My doctor wanted me to affirm that I understood the outcome of Multiple Myeloma. While not curable, its progress can be slowed. I will have big decisions to make regarding treatment in July, and he did not want me making them based on inaccurate understanding. I appreciate that. 

We all have big decisions to make in life, and we all face adversities of every kind. I am not isolated from that. I find both strength and peace because my faith is grounded and sure on the Rock of Ages— built on a solid foundation with Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. The following verses from Hebrews 4:14-16 have kept my attention over the years: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” To that, I give a hearty “Amen!”

This past week has been usual in that I had treatments and labs. It was unusual in that I visited the Transplant Center at Methodist down in the Medical Center-Houston. All was well. I was impressed with the time the specialist spent with me. I am well armed to make future decisions.

I was fatigued more than usual this past week and had several days when I was touch sensitive. I could be touched, but it set off inner vibrations that were odd feeling, to say the least. I felt every jolt and move, even the dividers on the highway as we drove to and from the Conroe Cancer Center.

Tomorrow, Monday, starts Round 2 of my immunomonoclonal targeted therapy. It is one day at a time.

Praise Report: Affirmation from the specialist (second opinion doctor) that my treatment is spot on. Finished Round 1 without major complications. I have at least three more to go.

Prayer Request: Steadfastness as treatments, doctors, etc. gobble up my days—I am not good at sitting still or waiting. Withdrawal from people is torturous for me. It is my current reality.

What’s for Dinner? This Could Be my Last Meal…Think Hard About It!

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Vote now—Did I get: A. Nutritional gruel—(spoken in my best terrified little Davy Copperfield voice, “Please, Kathy, may I have some more?”) B. Lobster (my intended goal) C. Nothing (“You’ll eat what is put in front of you and if that isn’t good enough, you’ll go to bed hungry!”)

I am not really responsible for what I write this evening, since I have been running a temperature since this morning. It is right on the line. My notes say if I run a temperature higher I need to call the cancer center duty nurse who is 24/7. I’ve been drinking ice water to keep it below the line. Had I had lobster, I’m sure the temperature would have gone away. You know I’m right.

Most of this week it seemed as if my head was not connected to my body. The doctor team added immune suppressing drugs to my regimen. I have been washed out. I’m still feeling good considering all the drugs that are being pumped into my body.

So there is good news to share! I have been having labs during my treatment and in my visit with my primary oncologist/hematologist Friday, I was informed that although too early to assess the full effects of the treatments (that takes about six weeks and I begin week three Monday) my numbers all went in the right direction, indicating that my treatments are taking hold. Furthermore, my insurance company called and I now have an online/telephone nurse who will guide me. This is amazing. She went over all my benefits, will help with scheduling, will take care of all financial records, reimbursements, etc. I also have received pre-approval for a bone marrow transplant should my doctor team and I decide this is in my best interest. The head of the downtown Methodist Medical Center Transplant Center is my specialist and we meet this next week. My insurance-provided out of state nurse gushed over the fact that I have this doctor and can have a transplant in this Center. “At the top of all our national lists,” she asserted. So I wondered, “How did I get this doctor?” My oncologist/hematologist answered that when he told me he had been mentored by this specialist. He said, “If I were having this procedure done, this is the doctor I would have. I wouldn’t want less for you.” Heart- rending.

I have been highly blessed!—Immediate treatment, grand doctors and nurses, no glitches on insurance, my body able to take the massive drugs I am receiving, numbers heading in the right direction and a wife who is more than loving and helpful. Who can complain—even if I didn’t get the lobster—at least I am not going to bed hungry.

Praise Report: Labs indicating that the treatments are working. Pre-approval for a bone marrow transplant.

Prayer Request: Strength as the immure-suppressing drugs do their work. Week Three of infusion drugs and shots (the stomach shot burns and leaves a big welp and bruise). Lobster night at the Graumann’s.

If the Cancer Doesn’t Get Me, My Wife’s Driving Will 

April 23, 2023

Week One of my cancer treatment journey is over. This space is usually reserved for Kathy and my wonderful trips to fantastic places around the world. We have been blessed to take these journeys. We are now on a journey of another kind, but a journey none the less.

I am rarely driving now. I am not 100% and until I adjust to my new circumstances, I will not drive. That means Kathy is my chauffeur. This is trying to say the least! Her methodical maneuvers and slow approach cause me to take very deep breaths. This is good because my oxygen levels are dropping and deep breaths are recommended. However, I cannot keep from voicing my opinions, which affect her 0%. This is maddening. I dream now of traffic patterns and one slow car messing everything up—trucks honking loudly and road rage drivers weaving sharply in front of us. Some months ago, when I was driving, I sped up to pass a car and said out loud, “Reached my goal!” Kathy asked, “What goal?” and I responded, “…to get in front of that car…When I drive I always have goals. Don’t you have driving goals?” Kathy shrugged. I took that for a “no.” You see our current driving problem—right?

Speaking of goals—I’m not sure what they should be right now. To take my immunomonoclonal targeted therapy and to live as productive a life as possible, of course. To trust God and thank Jesus for my salvation, without question. I’m settling on simpler goals than I am used to setting—speaking a kind word to Conroe HCA Cancer Center employees and staff. To listen to the fears and hurts of fellow patients and be supportive and kind. To not complain about anything (poor driving skills are an exception) and receive with gratefulness. To count on the Holy Spirit to overcome my fears. To revel in the love poured out generously by family and friends. I reset these goals daily.

My first week had one hiccup—my oxygen levels dropped and I broke out in itchy hives. They stopped infusions and shot me full of Benadryl and an hour later I was back on treatments. On Wednesday, at home, I hit the wall, so to speak, and was so weak I could barely walk. I stayed down for the day, and on Thursday I had perked back up. Friday my week ended with labs. They will be sent to my doctor team and will begin to reveal how the treatments are affecting the defective plasma cells in my bone marrow.

 Praise Report: Your prayers for my body to accept the treatments were wonderful as that is exactly what happened Week One.

Prayer Request: That the treatments accomplish the slowing of the spread of my Multiple Myeloma.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Airport Run

December 8, 2022

On our last day, our flight home was not until nearly midnight, Israeli time, so we had the day to make stops on the way to the airport. It was an awesome day. We visited two cave areas. The Dove Caves were caves carved underground in limestone that housed thousands of doves. Little dove houses were carved into caves where the temperature was conducive as a dove habitat. The area was on a major road into Jerusalem where pilgrims to the Temple would stop to buy their dove offerings for worship purposes. It is highly possible that Mary and Joseph stopped here when Jesus was twelve, and they were on the way to the Temple with Jesus.

The Bell Caves were hollowed out from above to excavate the limestone for building purposes. The process caused the caves to be shaped like a bell in the interior. They were connected to each other and were a beautiful sight with their unique shape and coloration.

One of the Bell Caves

From the caves, we proceeded to the Khirbet Quiyafa National Park, famed because it was the site of the battle between young David (who would become King) and the Philistine giant called Goliath, ending with David’s sling shot victory. The park overlooks the Ela Valley where the opposing armies of Israel and Philistine gathered. Just amazing.

Jaffa, ancient Joppa, is a seaside port and old city not far from Tel Aviv. Here, Old Testament Jonah tried to escape from God, being swallowed by a large fish when he was thrown overboard into the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that Jesus healed Tabitha (Dorcas), a revered woman of extraordinary good works. It was also here that Peter, in the still present home of Simon the Tanner, saw a heavenly vision of unclean animals and heard God say he was to eat. Peter realized that God was telling him to open the church to Gentiles, who were considered unclean, thus setting the church on a missionary path into the world. Today, the old city has been preserved and is quite trendy with artist shops along its narrow cobbled streets and sailing vessels filling its long pedestrianized harbor area. One particularly unusual artist piece was above us as we walked along one area. Hundreds of white plastic lawn chairs were stacked together and snaked over and around buildings. Fun!

We had a farewell dinner in Joffa and headed off to the airport. We flew overnight and arrived home in the dark earlier in the day than we departed (flying against 8 time zones) only to go to bed at the time we normally would have been “up and at ’em” in Israel. We treasure the memories we made in the Holy Land!

One of the Dove Caves
Kathy descending into the Dove Cave
David and Goliath battlefield overlooking the Ela Valley
Our group viewing the site of the battle of David & Goliath
Jaffa  (Joppa) Harbor

Spiritually Enriching

December 7, 2022

Our hotel in Jerusalem has been wonderful, with excellent food and lots of buffet choices. For breakfast, shawarma was a favorite of many. It has pickled vegetables in a tahini/hummus/tomato sauce covered with cracked eggs and baked in an oven.

Later, we descended into the rock which housed the Jebusite irrigation canal. Many of our group walked, or inched and squeezed, through it. Others in the group descended further down to Hezekiah’s water-filled tunnel which he engineered to bring water into the city and cleverly disguised to hide it from enemies, all hand-chiseled out of dense stone. All of us ended up at the same place, the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed the man born blind.

After breakfast we visited the old Jerusalem in the morning, known as the City of David. It had been a stronghold of the ancient Jebusites, but David sent some troops to secretly find their way through an underground irrigation canal that he theorized would lead into the the heart of the city. He was right! Later, Jerusalem (City of Peace) extended outward beyond the walls into the city it is today. David’s palace has been discovered and excavations are continuing. It felt surreal to walk through the palace, not large, but an important part of the Old Testament history (think David and Bathsheba).

A highlight of the day, if not the trip, was having communion at the Garden Tomb, the second contested site (the Temple Mount being the other and the one most scholars believe to be the correct one) of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. It was a very meaningful moment in time.

The day ended at the Machane Yehuda Food Market. It was huge and colorful with spices and food vendors making foods we do not really have available in the States, but very tasty. We got to sample many along the way. I so wanted to eat a piece of poppy seed rolled loaf. However, one had to buy the entire loaf, not just a piece, and I knew I would eat the whole thing if I bought it, so I refrained. It was back to the hotel and a night of sweet dreams.

Celebration of Holy Communion at the Garden Tomb
Foods available at the market


December 6, 2022

After breakfast, we took the very short ride to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. We first visited an artisan woodwork factory run by a Christian family. The Christian community is under duress in the Palestinian-controlled area. We watched artisans taking blocks of olive wood and turning them into beautiful objects, often religious in nature. We were able to visit the traditionally-accepted place of Jesus’s birth, a cave. One can crawl on hands and knees to touch the accepted place of the birth. Only a short distance away are the shepherds’ fields where the temple shepherds were watching their flocks at night when the army of angels appeared to them announcing the Savior’s birth. Up the hill is a church with phenomenal acoustics. Our rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High” sounded beautiful. 

Watching a Christian artist create a Biblical scene out of olive wood.
Entrance to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
Within the Church of the Nativity the traditional site of the birth of Jesus
A Bethlehem church in the Shepherd's Field honoring the angelic choir that announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds
A scene in the Bethlehem church
Our group in the Bethlehem church

From Bethlehem, we returned to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus went to pray with His disciples. Over 2,000 year old olive trees witnessed Jesus’s visit. We had one section of the garden to ourselves where we spent time in personal reflection and prayer. This was a powerful time, and our view of Jerusalem across the valley was glorious. We walked all the way down to Jerusalem on the Palm Sunday Road immediately outside the gates of the Mount of Olives, the same road on which Jesus rode a donkey to the applause of the people of Jerusalem. After the Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. Here He was betrayed by Judas, handed over to the soldiers, and the Passion Story began to unfold ending in the Crucifixion of Jesus. We visited the stunning Church of All Nations at Gethsemane filled with intricate mosaics. 

The Mount of Olives
Within the Church of All Nations
The Church of All Nations in Jerusalem

Our day concluded at the Western Wailing Wall, which is a remnant of the Great Temple that at one time stood there. People approach the wall to pray and to stuff small pieces of paper with written prayer requests into the crevices of the wall. It was a long day and a very rewarding day. Evening meal, shower and sleep! 

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
The women's side of the Wailing Wall

Road Trip to Amazing

December 4 and 5, 2022

We boarded our bus to travel to Magdala, the home of the Biblical Mary Magdalene, the first person to see Jesus after the resurrection. A thriving community on a major trade route, Magdala was home to a beautiful synagogue, now being excavated. Here was discovered the oldest engraving of a menorah ever found. The engraving is like a post card from the past in that it shows the pillars of the Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed in the first century.

It is the only image of those pillars that has ever been found. 

Oldest engraving of a menorah, found in Magdala
Discovery of the first century synagogue in Magdala
Excavating in Magdala
Excavating in Magdala
Altar scene in the church at Magdala depicting the resurrected Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene whose home was in Magdala
Worship in the church at Magdala

From Magdala we drove to Dan, a journey that few tourists take. It was the home of the tribe of Dan, one of the twelve tribes of the Jewish people. However, Dan’s history goes back much farther, possibly to the year 7,500 B.C. Lot, the nephew of Abraham, had been kidnapped; Abraham pursued the captors all the way to Dan. We saw Abraham’s Gate, the ancient city’s mud brick entry. Recently uncovered, it is the oldest such gate in existence, since most mud brick disintegrates over time due to water. The gate dates to approximately 2,000 B.C. When King Solomon, who built Jerusalem’s Temple, died, Israel divided into two separate nations. The two southern tribes became Judea, and the ten northern tribes became Israel. Israel’s new King Jeroboam decided to build new Temples for his nation, and he chose Dan for one of them. The problem was that the new Temple in Dan combined false worship with truth, and even had a golden calf. We saw where the golden calf would have been placed. Archeological conservers were hard at work the day we visited, yet we were privileged to see the 1,300 B.C. gate of the city. The city never recovered from the idolatry of King Jeroboam and eventually the ten tribes were carted off into slavery, basically disappearing from history.

The beauty of the area of Dan
We visit the city of Dan
Excavating the city wall of Dan
Discovery of Abraham's Gate in the city of Dan

Our journey then took us to the pagan city of Caesarea Philippi, a city that Jesus and His disciples visited in the far north of Israel. The worship of the god Pan is on display here, and our words pandaemonium and panic are derived from this worship centered on debauchery and even human sacrifice. We saw the sacrifice cave and the false god’s niches carved into the  rock walls. Jesus took His disciples here because he wanted to make it clear that worshiping Him was distinctly different from the secular and twisted worship on display in Caesarea.  

Temple of Pan in Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

We finished the day by visiting the “Alamo” of Israel, the “Roaring Lion” memorial to the first Jews killed in battle who lived in the area that would later become Israel. We ended our day in our comfortable Jerusalem hotel for a wonderful meal and good night’s sleep. 

The Roaring Lion memorial to Jewish heroes
Memorial grounds to Jewish heroes

Early morning breakfast–let’s stop there–breakfasts here in Israel are very good and very different! Tuna fish, pickled herring, creamed hyssop, salads, eggs baked in spicy meat sauce, tabula and at least 25 other food choices on a buffet beacon every morning. We loaded the bus and headed off to Beit Shean, a marvelously preserved Decapolis (ten major) city–mentioned in the Bible numerous times– in the Jezreel Valley. Columned streets with decorative tile side walks lead to the preserved theatre. The baths here are very interesting and served as a center of entertainment; spa treatments were a part of daily life. We learned that the large public toilets that had continuous running water under the seats were also a place of entertainment. 

Beit Shean
Beit Shean

We traveled on to Gideon Springs, a place where a powerful bubbling spring served as the place where God winnowed 35,000 Hebrew soldiers down to 300. Those who lapped water at the springs with their tongue like a dog were the soldiers selected to fight the Midianites under the leadership of Gideon. The Hebrews won a major victory as they attacked at night and routed the confused Midianite army. The area is a beautiful garden where the colorful bougainvillea and the unusual bulbous silk floss tree call for attention. 

Gideon Springs

The day concluded around the Dead Sea. Qumran was a community of the Essenes, a reclusive Jewish sect who spent their energy focused on copying the Bible and writing religious philosophy. A young boy throwing rocks into caves discovered the scrolls in clay pots carefully preserved. The discovery was an international sensation. The scrolls do much to verify the wording accuracy of the Old Testament of the Bible since the Qumran scrolls of Scripture were copied over centuries independently of the Jewish scribes’ scrolls, yet comparisons show amazing agreement of the text.  

Excavations continue at Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered.
Excavators continue the work at Qumran

Several of our friends floated on the Dead Sea and reported that they automatically floated. The Dead Sea is the lowest elevation on planet earth, and it also has the highest salt content of any body of water. Mud baths are also popular. Our ride from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem was smooth, although we arrived well after dark at our hotel. It was a wonderful day! 

Floating in the Dead Sea

Experiencing Where Jesus Walked

December 3, 2022

We started our day with an early morning trip to the Jordan River where important stories of Jesus’s ministry took place; most importantly, the inauguration of His public ministry when he was baptized by John the Baptizer. It was here that His Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit gave public witness that Jesus was the Son of God and that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were in union as the Trinity. We took time on the banks of the Jordan to remember our own baptisms as we reenacted that part of our personal spiritual journeys with water from the Jordan. It was a priceless moment in time. Interestingly, the water was warm on this beautiful winter day. 

Kimberly at the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River
Remembering their Baptism

Nearby, we arrived on a hill overlooking the Sea Of Galilee into which the River Jordan flows. Atop the hill is a church covering the spot where Jesus preached the famous “Sermon on the Mount.” We read part of the sermon from the Bible and sang the old hymn, “Just as I Am,” to recall that the sermon was in part a call to follow Jesus throughout life. Surrounding the church was a beautiful garden which had awesome views of the Sea of Galilee below. 

Church at the Mount of the Beatitudes
Depiction of the Sermon on the Mount at the Mount of the Beatitudes
Gardens on the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount

Just a short drive away is Capernaum where the Apostle Peter lived.  Located here is a portion of Peter’s preserved home where Jesus would have been a guest. Steps away is the synagogue ruins where the Bible records that Jesus read from the Old Testament. It is also here that Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus, a leader in the community. 

Garden in Capernaum
The excavated site of Peter's home in Capernaum
Excavated cathedral in Capernaum

After just a short drive was the place along the Sea of Galilee where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes feeding thousands of people. It was first marked with a stone upon which later a beautiful church was built. Under the altar is the ancient stone marker. It was fitting that we drove to a nearby local restaurant where we ate fried fish, called “Peter’s Fish,” and had bread. The fish was wonderful! 

Feeding the 5,000 men with the loaves and fishes

After lunch, we drove to a shore line rocky beach where the resurrected Jesus noticed that the fishermen were not catching fish and told them to cast their nets on the other side on the boat. When they did so, they hauled in an oversupply of fish. Upon reaching shore, they noticed that Jesus was the man who had called out to them. Shortly thereafter, the disciple Peter, who had denied Jesus three times in public was restored to ministry by Jesus Himself as He asked Peter to “Feed my sheep.” A church and beautiful gardens surround this beach. 

Jesus restores Peter with the words, "Feed My sheep."

Then, as the light began to fade, we arrived at our fishermen’s boat for a ride on the tranquil Sea of Galilee. It was another awe-inspiring time as we viewed one Biblical site after another as we sailed the middle of the lake. Praise music played and we often burst into singing. The high hills that surround the Sea of Galilee provided a majestic backdrop to the deep blue waters, and the setting sun and flocks of birds that surrounded the boat couldn’t have been prettier. We danced and sang and meditated along the way. 

On the Sea of Galilee
On the Sea of Galilee

Departing the boat, we walked to a museum which houses an over 2,000 year old Sea of Galilee fishing boat. It had been preserved in the mud of the lake. Because it was made of cedar, it is the only such ancient boat in existence. It dates to the time of Jesus. A question on the museum wall asks if Jesus would have seen this boat or maybe even sailed in it? We will never know. 

2,000 year old Sea of Galilee fishing boat

What an amazingly refreshing day filled with spiritual enrichment and encouragement! 

Our stops nearly always include Bible reading about the place we are encountering and often some Biblical commentary or prayers. Donna is a great Bible scholar and Ori, our guide, “knows his stuff!” I add the pastoral touch. We are in Bibleland! God be praised! 

Living our Encore Life

Our Encore Life began in 2013 as we closed the fulfilling chapter of full-time ministry at Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas. During the year 2013, we were privileged to travel in Europe and along the West Coast of our beautiful USA and had the joy of taking our grandchildren on a month-long adventure with visits to extended family and selected national parks. At the end of the year, we returned to our home in Tomball, Texas, and in 2014, we began fifteen months of God-blessed ministry at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Houston. As we returned to our home in Tomball, a life-changing decision was made to "right-size" and move into an active 55+ community in Montgomery, Texas--Bonterra--where we could still be near our children, grandchildren, life-long friends, and our church. Following our move, we had the pleasure of sharing Europe once again with friends in travels during 2015 and 2016. Our travels in May and June 2017 introduced us to the wonderful people and spectacular geography of South America in Ecuador and Peru. In the autumn of 2017, we explored both the ancient and modern, the rural and cosmopolitan, wonders of China and the Yangtze River while being able to visit Kourtnie Kroll, who was ministering from Salem in Shanghai, and our niece, Joy Stuhr, a teacher in Beijing. During the summer of 2018, God called Wayne to experience the joy of ministering again as Interim Senior Pastor at Lamb of God Lutheran Church in Humble, Texas, during which time we experienced the pleasure of cruising the Norwegian, Icelandic, and Scottish coasts and experiencing northern France. As our service at Lamb of God concluded in the autumn of 2019, we had the joy of walking in the footsteps of Jesus as we visited the Holy Land. December 2022 found us returning to the Holy Land walking where Jesus, our Savior, walked. April 2023 finds us on a new adventure, the cancer journey. We invite you to follow us once again.