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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Road Trip Birthday--over the speed limit and accelerating

Monday was the last day of our 6,500+ mile month-long road trip (Sago, WV to Seattle, WA and back by road, not counting the Alaska loop by air).  It was also my birthday (hint for which year in the title . . ). In honor of the event, I got the FRONT SEAT for the final leg AND the option to call the stops.  This is a family in which I am the shortest/smallest so generally I sit in the middle of the back, and a family who can get in the car and drive 17 hours stopping only minutes for gas/bathroom breaks,  so that is a bigger gift than you might realize.

Amazing pastries and smiles at Birthday base, ground zero:
Baby Luke and Emily, a medical-mom hero.

A small-batch local roastery gave us Birthday stop one,
Because a caffeinated mom is a lot more fun.

A throwback to childhood for birthday stop two,
the turtle-pecan-cluster blizzard for lunch at DQ.

A hike in a park amidst chipmunks and trees
Immersion in nature for birthday stop three.

After a month away, a practical stop number four,
Stocking up on food from the grocery store.

Reaching Buckhannon for stop number five,
we caught half of a world cup match live.

Home at last, my true love and the flowers he picks
As we walked to meadow for treat number six.

In West Virginia, also known as "Almost Heaven," 
We met my mom at our farm for Birthday treat seven.

The Birthday draws to a close with event number eight,
Family, dinner by Julia, and gifts to celebrate.

Thanks to God for 56 good years, thanks to my Mom for my life and my Dad for this farm, thanks to Scott for family and love.  And to friends and supporters for partnering with us all these years.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Token of the world's remedy---

That line appears in a poem by Thomas Wolfe, found in a book of his poetry Julia picked up in a delightfully dusty and disorganized used book store here in Salt Lake City.  He's writing about his lover dancing in the crook of his arm.  But human love, romantic and familial, truly does function that way.  A token, a downpayment, of the redemption that is remedying all that is broken.
surveying my kind of feast, courtesy of Luke's photo

The last month has been beautifully full of such remedy.

So full, in fact, so fully in our view and in our arms, that we've been out of the communication loop almost entirely.  And so much has happened, this will only be a token sample of gratefulness.

Hosting celebrations

After Julia's grad, we spent the days between Duke and UVA ceremonies at our family farm in West Virginia hosting friends of the kids.  Bike rides, river dips, tubing, gardening, cooking and more cooking, hikes and pizza, long discussions and games around the table.  Throughout May we had numerous kids for a few days at a time, sharing the wonder of WV and adding to the family.

Luke's housemates, a real community through med school

Luke's graduation

Both grandmothers, my sister Janie and nephew Joshua, and 3 of the 4 siblings plus Abby plus a Congolese refugee who works as a janitor at UVA hospital whom Luke befriended, joined us for another weekend of marking this milestone.  33&34 years after our UVA college graduations, we sweltered through a festive weekend of our son's medical school graduation.  Who would have dreamed?  Now we are a three-doc family.  Very grateful to God, and very thankful to Dr. Luke for his perseverance, integrity, passion, values, community, scholarship.  He presented his first research poster and power-point at a Global Surgery conference in Toronto the week after.

Family celebrating Dr. Luke!

Baluku Morris, one of the Kule Leadership Ugandan Med students we sponsored, and Luke at the same Global Surgery meeting in Toronto!

Cross-country Marathon

As May turned the corner to June, we departed the farm and began a cross-country trek.  We're over 2000 miles into the 3000 mile journey to Seattle (from whence we will fly to Anchorage to see Caleb), then we have to come all the way back.  Luke's Honda CRV easily held his limited earthly possessions for his move to Salt Lake City, plus Julia's Prius rocking the gas milage and bringing the rest of the family and camping gear. Along the way we stopped in on Abby plus a few relatives and friends, certainly not everyone we could have as this trip included at least one 17-hour driving day, aiming for distance over depth.  Still it was a plus to see my aunt and uncle, and Scott's aunt, who are all in their mid-to-late 80's, doing well, to hug cousins, and to reconnect with some of the kids' friends.
Luke's car with all he owned, plus one borrowed bike, the morning we left

Julia and the Prius, before the windshield crack that spread slowly across mirroring our progress across the USA

Dropped in on Jack's room mate from Duke's family . . 

And my Uncle Joe, Aunt Patsy, and cousin Janet . . 

Plus Scott's Aunt Lyn and family . . 

And our dear friends the Bolthouses.

America the Beautiful

To keep sane in our dozens of car hours, we have camped or hiked in a few lovely places.  The Rockies (CO), Arches NP (UT), and Canyonlands NP (UT) so far.  Our experience of the American West is fairly limited, so we have reveled in the scale of the vista, the color palette of rocks, the clarity of the sky, the bright specks of wild flowers.  So far our sightings include two moose, numerous elk, marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, hawks, thrushes, various lizzards, and a bull snake that Scott nearly stepped on.  My maternal agoraphobia has been pretty intense.  (stay tuned for Scott to add better photos here . . )

Utah's symbol, the iconic Delicate Arch in Arches NP

Ten thousand feet up in the Rockies

I used to be tall. Sweet times with Julia.

A New Home for Luke

Tuesday afternoon we reached Salt Lake City, home to University of Utah's Orthopedic Surgery training program where Luke will begin his residency on June 22.  He signed a lease for a small but bright studio apartment, and we've spent the last three days learning the ins and outs of procuring reasonably priced home essentials in this city. Ikea nearly sent some of us into full blown catatonic mental overload, and it took us a while to figure out that all the grocery stores here are called "Smith's" (as in Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism).   But we made it to the weekend with a bed, table, couch, and two chairs in place, plus a broom, some pans, sheets and pillows, and most importantly, a way to make coffee.  He has electricity, gas, and internet set up.  And on breaks from scouring the city (checking used furniture stores off our list when the chairs were priced like pieces of art . . . or realizing his small studio's inches of counter-space won't accommodate a dish-drying rack . . . ) we were treated to tickets to see the US National Women's Soccer team play an international friendly against China, and the local MLS team Real Salt Lake (a friend Luke played soccer with at UVA is now working for the Royals here in SLC), and we drove half an hour into the mountains east of the city for a spectacular (steep and exhausting though!) hike to an alpine lake fed by glacier-covered peaks.  Salt Lake City has been surprisingly fun city so far, and we are thankful for Luke's opportunity here.

Meanwhile, Myhre's crossing oceans

C. finished his 9-month combat deployment to Afghanistan and long-delayed trek back to the USA, landing in Anchorage a week ago.  We are so thankful for his safe return, and can't wait to see him IN THREE DAYS.  It's been over a year.  Jack began the cross-country drive with us, but flew to Burundi a week ago.  Literally he lifted off US soil one hour after C. landed on US soil.  He'll be working with the Kibuye team engineer Caleb Fader as they prepare for a team coming to install a massive solar array to power the hospital there.

The 1rst Lt. last night at his battalion's welcome home ball

Missing Jack already.  Thankful he could celebrate with Luke, and travel the first legs of this journey with us.  But a little sad that the six of us won't be together at one time this year (last time was Christmas 2016).

And life goes on

As we drive and engage, shop and cook, focus and listen here in the USA these two months . . . we also continue with phone calls, emails, zoom meetings, reports, plans for our teams in East and Central Africa.  Two hopeful and productive recruiting calls, many hour-long mentoring calls with leaders of 8 of our 11 teams plus a few others, personal meetings with supporters, speaking at our key supporting church, face-to-face retreat planning with our invited speaker, and more.  Sliding across American time zones while trying to connect with African ones can be challenging; the new reality that our family life and work life now have almost no overlap brings its own aches.  Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Congo, South Sudan, and Malawi are never far from our awareness.

So, the world still needs remedy.  We need it as our rough edges of sin and self grate on each other in dozens of hours cooped up in cars, in the grinding gears of being a family after years of kids being independent adults.  Our world needs it this week as would-be immigrants have their toddlers taken away from them wailing, as lava flowed across Hawaii, as our Serge team in Nicaragua faced roadblocks and forced evacuation, as Ebola continued to spread in the DRC, as our new team leaders for Litein landed into immediate sickness and infestation and exhaustion trials.  But we look for tokens that the remedy comes.  That Jesus heals, reunites, celebrates.  And we see those tokens in the profusion of wildflowers and the graciousness of ordinary people who love us so well.

Aspens in Utah

Salt Lake City Saturday Farmer's Market this morning