When I was a kid, my family would take summer holidays to Prince Edward Island. Travelling mostly by car and some by ferry, we’d make the trek across the island and to the mainland in our station wagon loaded up with boys, bulging suitcases, bologna sandwiches and a mom (often my dad would stay home to work and fly in to join us for part of the time). The hours of driving would be a mix of laughter, endless games of “eye spy”, and the odd charlie horse. I have vivid memories of lying on top of the luggage in the back of the car and staring out the window at the sky or the countryside as it whirled by. Sometimes I’d stare at the clouds and find animals in the various shapes of cumulus, or catch sight of a bird flying and imagine myself joining her as she floated high above earth and all its…stuff.
One of my favourite things to do was to play visual games, like locking my focus on a tree in the distance ahead of us and keeping my eyes on it as it got closer and closer, raced by us, and then stay focused on it until it went out of sight far behind us. Electric poles were easier to stay connected with because they stood out more. Picket fences were the hardest to keep focus on at high speeds because the pickets were so close together they just blurred into what looked like waves. I could watch for hours.
This summer has been a blur. Each day on its own held multiple challenges which, when added to other days and weeks and months, flowed together into a motion of conflict, resolve, relief, and healing. Here it is in broad strokes.
Our Great Blessing! June 15 – July 28
Erin’s roommate during her freshman year at Azusa Pacific was Sylvia LePoidevin, a sweet, little blonde girl whose family are missionaries with Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Mozambique. Because she needed to work during the summer to make money for her tuition, we invited her to stay with us from May through August. This really helped her gain the ground she needed financially but also set up an unexpected blessing for us. Her parents, along with her 17 year old brother and 2 year old sister, were coming back to the states in August for their oldest daughter’s wedding and decided to take additional furlough time to spend with Sylvia. They emailed us and asked if we knew of a cheap place to stay for the two months they were going to be in town. Clearly this was a no brainer for us. We were lamenting the fact that, because of Jill’s illness, we hadn’t been able to work with missionaries internationally this year. Now it was as though God was bringing them to us. We invited them to stay in our home! Friends and ministry partners pitched in and provided piles of food from Costco, a car seat, a portable crib, a high chair, even the loaning of a new car and gas cards for while they were here. We were blown away! Their stay was a direct answer to prayer! Our Father brought the nations to us!! Directly in line with goals for overseas outreach! We were able to meet a very practical need (a much needed family time) for our MAF friends, but we believe we received the greater blessing.
For more info about Dave and Gerd LePoidevin and their ministry.
We had special friends visit from Washington (Danielle Carter and her son Benjamin) and from Toronto (Jeremy and Lalitha Viinilaas with their kids Priya and Daniel). It was great to share with friends form many years back and notice that, though we had many changes in life, we were all still much the same, like no time had passed.
Though Jill was 30 lbs. lighter than a few months ago, her strength was increasing and so we thought we were ready to start with some “baby steps” back into ministry opportunities. We were asked to lead worship at our home church in Visalia, Neighborhood Church. It was amazing. Jill could actually sing from a stool and made it through the rehearsals and both morning services. She had very little shortness of breath as she had in the spring. It was awesome, but it left Jill WIPED out. It took days for her to recover. Lesson learned, but a great first step.
July 13 – Love
We celebrated 27 years of marriage! We are grateful for the love in our lives. We laugh about the ways we’ve changed. Right now Jill, unbelievably, is thinner than she was the day we married, and I am… less so.
July 14 – August 5 Back to “The Rock”
We went to Geoff’s home in Newfoundland to celebrate Geoff’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Several of the grandkids sang for the 65 friends and family members at their party. It was particularly sweet because of the health journey we’ve been on, and we happened to be there in between Geoff’s mom’s surgery, cancer diagnosis and the start of chemo. We had the most time together with Geoff’s side of the family in several years. We laughed a lot, cried some and tried to have courage for the road ahead.
A milestone! Finally weaned off all pain meds!!!! By the time we left Newfoundland, she only needed antibiotics and blood thinners.
We also met with friends and church leaders to explore the possibilities for C4W coming to Newfoundland in the next year or two.
August 7 – Miracle blood!
Back in Visalia, we had our first doctor’s appointment and blood work done. The test results showed Jill’s hemoglobin levels to be the best they’ve been in 8 years!! Also, the physical therapist said he sees tremendous improvement in Jill’s knee!! Though she will likely have to settle for reduced flexibility, her leg is getting stronger and her therapists are showing her little ways to improve her walk and ways to take the stairs more than one step at a time.
August 12 A Milestone for Allison
In keeping with a Ludlow family tradition, we had friends join our family for a great celebration of Allison’s 13th birthday. Several people shared encouraging stories, notes and anecdotes of Allie’s life, and we were amazed at how our little “surprise” 13 years ago has become a gift of great worth to our family and many people around the world. We love you Allie-girl!
It was a HUGE weekend, but Jill was not wiped out! Praise God! She felt like herself again!
August 15 – Trevor (Senior) and Aubrey (Freshman) started school at El Diamante High School and it felt like a fresh start for them and a time to “turn the page”. Allison started home school for her eighth and is already enjoying being our only home student.
Jill flew to Portland for a gathering of Klipple-Trenaunay Sydrome patients, a kind of support group for people with KT . She loved it. She was able to meet over 10 people with KTS and their families and was amazed at the diversity of symptoms. Her form of the KTS didn’t seem so bad compared many difficult conditions some live with. She was able to gather much medical information and gained a greater understanding of her own body’s condition. She loved getting to know some new friends and listening to their stories and getting to share her personal journey with several of them.
Erin left for school. Azusa Pacific is a wonderful place for her. But we really miss her.
We have had the month of August in mind as the time we’d be able to make decisions for the direction of ministry ops for the future. Jill’s healing has progressed beautifully and we believe we are ready to start planning for the future. Stay tuned. We’re very ready and believe the possibilities are endless!!
That’s the summer in a nutshell.