Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Week 12: Spring is here!

 And with spring come flowers and milder weather conducive to outdoor enjoyment; robotics competitions, and even ice carving events.


Spring break ended before the official arrival of spring. Students questioned whether it should be called winter break instead. "Aren't we due a spring break?" Good try. But, no, classes resumed Monday, and with a chapter test!

A surprise awaited in the mail--a handwritten card (always a delight!) with a photo from some 50 years ago. I wish I could remember what happened to that accordion.


Many other memories and images from even further back are stirred as I read "Aunt Margaret's" letters. I may not have mentioned yet that when I go to see Mother in Grace Village, she and I visit her dear friend and neighbor, also former fellow missionary and neighbor in the first town they lived in--La Carlota.
Margaret wrote such detailed letters to her family, some handwritten, but most typed single spaced on both sides of onion-skin paper. The entire collection was recently returned to her and she is slowly perusing them. She writes about life in the 15-room house they shared with our family in 1950.
This diagram and her detailed descriptions brought back many images from my early childhood.


I had to beg Aunt Margaret to let me read her letters. Now I look forward to a new installment each time. Then I scan and make copies of these treasured documents and pour over them throughout the intervening couple weeks.

Tuesday, I had a little visitor. We went for a walk, but Rebecca was determined to turn it into a run.

"Run, abuela."
Michael was very focused all week on preparing for the second district competition. Thursday afternoon the drive team went ahead to Indianapolis with Spitfire, the robot, carefully packed with all their tools and equipment, ready to set up their pit and begin competing the next morning.


Friday, after several appointments, I watched all of their qualifying matches online. 1720 only lost one out of nine and made the first highest score of the day.


The game this year is quite complicated. During the game gears--hung on a peg, hoisted by the pilot, positioned and rotated--accrue the most points.  Then in the last 30 seconds robots that grab and climb their rope receive another 50 points. Fuel (yellow balls) delivered (shot) into the boilers are worth very little, but can serve to break a tie, as in this very first match.


Michael came home that night and I went along Saturday to experience the event in person.

From my perspective
The following photos I borrowed from the team 1720's Facebook page.

I especially watched (and prayed for) the drive team--operator, coach, driver (pictured below in that order), a pilot up in the airship, and a human player delivering gears.

Drive team saluting when they are presented
It was a good day. Once again we were #4 in the alliance-selection line up. However, the #1 team invited us to join their alliance. We heard later that 1720 was the top choice on all three lists because Spitfire was the only robot that could place a gear and throw fuel into the boiler during automated mode.

The girl reps from teams 71 and 1720 chose 1529, the Cybercards, to partner with them. Their mascot cardinal represented the team. This alliance had a fun cheer leader who had them huddle together, gave them a pep talk, and then as a group use each team's unique salute in turn.


It was a very close competition with some tired robots, and we came in second. We also received a presitigious award.



The same day, Stephan and his ice carving partner got second place for their owl and squirrel sculpture--Survival: Furry Flurry.



See more here: Long John Jamboree Yellowknife Ice Festival.

Then today, Sunday, we had a second March-family-birthday celebration, but those pictures will have to wait till next week. It's late. Good night!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017 Week 11: Growing and Aging

In my haste to download photos from my cell phone, I hit delete (so sad) and lost five most recent and favorite pics (so very sad).



Yes, God's love is as multifaceted and His children as diverse as the colors of the rainbow.
Yet each one of us are His unique creation.

Leah received her Christmas gift at last--the results of an Ancestry DNA Ethnicity test.
She is thrilled to know more about her background. Not surprisingly there is a lot of European in her. The Native American percentage was of special interest.



Monday, as soon as I could get myself together after the exhausting robotics weekend away, I went to visit my friend Viola and witnessed a sweet mother  and eldest daughter reunion. Sadly, her youngest daughter passed away last week.


Tuesday I could look out at the bright outdoor scenery while I cleaned and tidied the house all day long. As usual, I needed a deadline to motivate me--the Bible study ladies were coming over Wednesday


I was able to rescue some bent over frozen daffodils for the occasion. They've been much happier indoors.


Thursday evening Jude was dropped off to spend the night. We enjoyed many things together: we read books about fish and sharks and Jonah; watched the squirrels eating bird seed off the ground; played "war" a card game; and had a Crazy Clown sundae at Ivanhoe's. That is one of the cute photos I lost. :-(  And while I slipped away to attend Maggie's funeral, Jude helped watched grandpa start the fire.


Friday I saw this week's SEGway and the article I submitted!


Also, a wonderful video wrap of the event was posted online:  St. Joseph District robotics competition.

Saturday was a big day for both of us. Mike went in earlier than usual for their regular workday and came home later than normal, and was very pleased with the progress on the robot.

I went to my Mother's and met with two area brothers and their wives (that is another photo I deleted, sadly). We gathered to discuss with Mother the opportunity to move to an Assisted Living studio apartment that became available recently. However, she does not feel it is time yet.

I returned in time for the special (lamb burger) and Phil Linehan's art talk at The Bridge Cafe. (I didn't know they were videoing the event!)

Today, Sunday, we gathered to celebrate Stephan's 46th birthday. We hung his Christmas gift just in time for him to admire his handiwork in its perfect location.


Michael put together a wonderful meal while I went in to Marion to pick up Diane.


We surely enjoyed our little ones. Zion and Jude prepared a "joke show" for Stephan, our family comedian. And Rebecca bossed entertained us all.


How comforting to know that though we change, grow old, and die, God's love and faithfulness are ever the same.

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Week 10: Full Week

Ha! As soon as I wrote the title for the week, I thought, aren't they all?!
So the old coloring I found, felt very fitting, and once again is proving true--God is faithful!


Monday, after a painful bout of food poisoning (probably some of the leftovers I ate) and hardly any food throughout the day, I felt greatly helped as I taught for four hours.

Tuesday, I decided to go to Mother's as planned. We had a good time and uncovered many more treasured family memories. It was also my "little" brother's birthday.

My lovely mother calling Alan to wish him a happy birthday.
Among the files I found this old photo of Alan. Another birthday, perhaps?


Couldn't resist borrowing a picture of cutiepie as she arrived at Nanna's.


This last week before the first competition, Mike has been working on the robot every day. Thursday was the big day when they had six hours to "unbag" it and restore the 30 lbs. of parts allowed to be kept out for continued improvement and practice. And after that they had to pack the trailer with everything--robot, a whole pit-worth of tools and team accouterments. So, that was a late night.


Meanwhile, I enjoyed Malachi's theater performance, maybe his last with the Delta Troupers. He was Mr. DePinna, a hilarious role, and Lexi was Mrs. Sycamore. It was fun to watch the play together with Stephan, Karen, Sam and Kristie.



Friday noon at Writers' Bloc we critiqued Karen's novel and enjoyed the time with our writer-friends.
Shortly after that it was time to head up to Mishawaka for the St. Joseph District FIRST competition.


Notice the fun spirit gear

Members of the drive team in various roles: waiting in the queue; checking out Spitfire; prepping for alliance selection

We were proud, excited and grateful as we watched our team climb the ranks from 17th to 4th seed. The drivers and Spitfire performed beyond our expectations. Though we were eliminated in quarterfinals, it was a great learning experience. Already improvements to the robot and game strategy are in the works. The next district competition is in two weeks.

In addition, our team won the Engineering Excellence award. And Michael Koch was nominated for the prestigious Woodie Flowers Award, quite an honor in itself!

Finally, our highest privilege and honor is to work with these young people and watch them grow from giggly immature teens into amazing youth and outstanding young engineers.

We were glad to be home again Sunday night after two very long tiring days--Mike on his feet the entire time and me mostly sitting on the hard bleachers for hours.
I must confess that I was worried about all I had to do when I got back and very concerned about my friend Viola whose daughter died unexpectedly while I was away. But am encouraged remembering that God is in control!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

2017 Week 9: The Robot Rules

 Yes, the health and progress of the yet-unnamed robot rules our schedule, Michael's anyway. He often rises early with designs and improvements rumbling around in his head and has gone in to the shop every day this week.

Puzzle I gave Mike for Christmas
So what did I do with all that time? In addition to all the regular stuff: I read the first draft of DIL's novel; went to a poetry festival committee meeting; attended a book launch and a concert; in spare moments put together the puzzle I gave Mike (couldn't resist :-); and ate all the leftovers in the house. But more importantly, I sorted through files and archives, made some interesting discoveries; and determined a course of action for my family-history project.

About the regular weekly stuff:

After class Monday I took a young friend,Trisha, with me to Stephan's meal. We went for a walk to explore the farm and witness the sunset. The chickens had gone to bed already.



We saw the spot where Karen's writing cabin will be located soon.


Wednesday was our biweekly ladies Bible study. It is always a joy to get together with these friends and share.

Almost matching
No tap class. Kayla has been sick.

Thursday, Kayla did go back to work. I got to visit with her a little while and then stay with Rebecca until someone else came to take over the babysitting duties. Always a privilege and joy.

Friday we woke up to a coating of snow which did not take long to disappear.


The snow was there Saturday morning again, and so was Team 1720's trailer for the robot. It had been newly labeled with this year's sponsors in readiness for their first competition, March 11-12.


Then there are the things that happen around the world that affect us.

My BFF in Argentina wrote about the passing of a dear man we knew. In fact I stayed in the home of Dora and Erni Jencquel when I visited Argentina in 2007. (Go here to read about them.)

Almost every day  we read on Facebook about the unresolved Raymond Koh case who was abducted three weeks ago and has not been heard from or about since then. He was a young Malaysian on board the Doulos at the same time we were there in the early '80s.

Among the treasures I came across this week is a letter in my grandfather's handwriting addressed to one his parishioners on his return voyage from Argentina. He had accepted a position as a chaplain of a passenger ship in order to visit our family, even if briefly.



Here we are having a picnic on that trip to the interior.


I have one memory from that short visit--grandpa teaching me about the stars and pointing out the southern cross in the night sky.

What surprises or discoveries will next week bring?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 Week 8: Craziness, Good and Bad

As quiet as last week was, this one was crazy, mostly in a good way.

Sunday I was privileged to get away mid morning to attend Malachi's baptism. 
Mike was sick, resting, trying to make it through robot build season.


Son Samuel and family attend The Gathering in Muncie, a very alive community of faith. The testimonies of the four being baptized projected on the large screens can be viewed here.

The baptisms were truly a congregational celebration and love fest. Each family participated in their loved one's ceremony.


I rushed back to our church for the luncheon and sharing time with our friends who serve in Indonesia. We knew Leilani years ago when she was a student at Taylor U. and were so privileged to host them Saturday through Wednesday.


Sunday evening Leah and family joined us at Ivanhoes. She remembered Leilani from youth group long ago.


Kevin and Leilani were very busy those days visiting and catching up with friends,
Mike and Team 1720 were intensely focused on getting the robot ready for Bag and Tag deadline Tuesday at midnight. They put in 16-18 hour days. Here are a couple screen shots I captured those last two days of craziness.


I decided to stick with my original plan to visit Mother in Winona Lake Tuesday. That was February 21st the fourth anniversary of Daddy's passing. Among the treasures I discovered this time as I looked through more of Dad's files, was this very brittle newspaper clippling--their wedding announcement.

I stayed up past midnight watching online all the houpla surrounding Robot Bag and Tag, and then several videos descibing the last minute craziness.
So I was quite awake amd aware that Mother was having trouble sleeping. She was up trying to find relief for stomach pain and nausea. Finally after the third or fourth time she asked me to take her to the ER.
The rest of the night was spent there undergoing tests. By early morning they admitted her, inserted a NG tube in hopes of resolving the bowel obstruction without surgery.
Ivan stopped by in the morning, Wednesday, and I drove home.



Meanwhile other family members faced illness. Kristie and Kayla ended up at the pediatrician's with their little ones. Rebecca was diagnosed with RSV and Jude the flu resulting in benign acute childhood myositis causing severe leg pain and trouble walking--scary stuff. Meanwhile my brother in Pennsylvania was hospitalized.

I spent a couple hours Thursday afternoon with the young'uns so Kristie could run some errands--always a joy and privilege to spend time with the grandkids.


Friday, Mike and I had tickets to a Josh Garrells concert at Taylor University! We've known him from before he became a sought-after awarded-singer, a good friend of our kids. Sam listens to his albums constantly. I could tell from watching the crowd response that they too have memorized Josh's songs.


We talked to him briefly backstage. He told us he'd been sick with respiratory issues for two months and didn't know if he'd be able to go on tour. He had only started singing again one day before leaving. He must have a lot of people praying for him as he travels and shares his powerful message in song. We thought his voice sounded better than ever.

Saturday I went back up to Warsaw to spend the day with Mother. There'd been progress in her condition. Here she is minus the NG tube, contentedly waiting for her second meal of the day. Even the liquid diet was a treat after all those days.


Today, Sunday, SIL Kim wrote: Mom is being released now and she's more than ready 🙂 !

Bowel obstruction resulting from scar tissue adhesions is a common problem after bowel surgery. Mother had colon cancer in 2001. Almost exactly a year ago she was hospitalized and they had to intervene surgically. We are so grateful that was not necessary this time.

And now we hear that Sam, who is away on a work trip in New Jersey, is sick with the flu. So we pray for help and healing and his safe return.