Monday, July 22, 2019

A new apple

I'm not traveling to these different destinations physically, but I'm still interested in things that are going on in various places where we traveled. I saw this article about the launching of a new type of apple:
https://story.californiasunday.com/cosmic-crisp-apple-launch
Although the link has California in it, the apple is being developed and grown in Washington state. I'd like to taste it!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pleased to get things done

I've been dealing with a slow draining sink for a while... I knew I needed to clean out the drain, but... I just hadn't done it. Finally, on Saturday, I decided it was time.

It happened to be the sink that has the kitty privy underneath, so I cleared that out first. It was not immediately obvious to me how to disconnect the drain stopper, so I did a search online and found some videos that are just right for my level of expertise - they are done by "Repair and Replace" - this was the one that helped me on this task:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ajvSQPvT1k
The main thing that was helpful to me is looking at which way to loosen the fittings -  I know "lefty-loosey, righty-tighty", but it is hard for my brain to figure this out when the item is behind the pipe and I have to reverse it! (I can't really say that this is due to grief-brain, I think I've always been challenged on this kind of thinking!)

So, I got the drain stopper disconnected, and I was using a wire-grabber type of thing to pull the gunk out... but I finally decided to disconnect the pipe under the sink (it isn't a P-trap - I don't know whether there is a trap further along in the system or not - I'm guessing that there is - but there is a right-angle bend under the sink, so I disconnected that). That allowed me to push a paper towel through the pipe and get all the nasty out... I really don't think all of that was from our creation (*my* creation since it has been the bathroom sink that I have primarily used) - I think some could have been in there since before our ownership! To my remembrance, it isn't something that we have ever cleaned out during our ownership of Miss Doozie.

At any rate, I got all the yuck out down to the right-angle turn. I thought about trying to find out if there was a P-trap behind the wall that is next to the kitty privy, but, the sink is draining well now, so I decided to just go with what I had done.

I definitely missed having Dwayne to work with me on this - this was the type of task that he would have known exactly what to do, although in recent years, he sometimes didn't have the mobility to physically do the contortions necessary so I would have helped. There were several times on Saturday that I would be trying to accomplish a part of the task and just couldn't get the screw to move or the attachment to detach, and I would stop and pray a quick prayer to God for help, and it would immediately work when it had not just the moment before. There were also a number of times that I told God how much I still miss Dwayne and, if He didn't mind, to let Dwayne know that I still love him so much! It does feel good to know that I was eventually able to do it, though.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

50 years ago

I have been enjoying reading stories and watching videos of the moon landing and moon walk 50 years ago. I remember staying up late at night to watch the moon walk.. I think it was after 11pm east coast time (I grew up in Virginia).

Here are a couple of items that are specific to IBM's involvement with the NASA project:
https://fortune.com/2019/07/20/apollo-11-anniversary-moon-landing-ibm/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPgtfOwuUGY

One of my former co-workers had worked with the NASA team earlier in his career. I remember him telling me, when the movie "Apollo 13" came out, that he was impressed with how similar the actors who played the control room parts looked to the people who actually did the jobs there so many years before.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Cameras on cats

My web browser knows I like cats, so it recommended this article to me:
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/researchers-strapped-video-cameras-16-cats-and-let-them-do-their-thing-here-s-what-they?utm_source=pocket-newtab

From that article, I found this one:
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/cats-rival-dogs-many-tests-social-smarts-anyone-brave-enough-study-them
and it has some tests to do to determine "How socially smart is your cat?" I tried some of them with Miss Kitty -- I have to admit to mixed results.

But this quote made me laugh out loud:
The team started with 99 cats but got usable data on only 41. In other labs, cats have leapt out of mazes topped with nets designed to keep them inside, leaving the whole setup in disarray. And some researchers have had to deprive cats of food for up to 8 hours just to motivate them to crave a treat. "If you want results on one cat," Miklósi says, "you have to test three."
Yep, that's cats!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ingenious advertising


There is an online bulletin board at the campus where folks can ask for recommendations, sell or give things away, indicate things that they are "in search of".

One of the ads in the past week was quite ingenious. This was the ad content:
Three piece Black and Decker exercise equipment, includes 100 ft cord, etc. Needs new home.
with this picture:
Cute, huh?


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Encountering the natives

I had been warned about some of the "native" population on the campus and particularly the dangerous ones (rattlesnakes, copperhead snakes, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders) - but I hadn't actually seen any of the creatures about which I had been warned until Sunday evening when I was walking back from Sing & Share...
Can you tell what it is?

It was a tarantula on the sidewalk. I didn't get too close, and my camera probably wasn't too sure about what I was trying to take a picture of, so it is a bit fuzzy... even fuzzier than he was in "real life".
He (or she, I didn't ask...) had a few of his legs up in the air, which I took to be a defensive posture... but, looking up information online (https://animals.mom.me/different-tarantula-stances-mean-1927.html) - it looks like he may have been in a threatening position. Let's just say that I stayed on the far side of the sidewalk...

I did NOT get *off* the sidewalk though, as another common "native" on the campus seems to be chiggers... I had to look back at a post from a couple of years ago to remind myself of what the "rub" might be:
http://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2017/05/whats-rub.html
http://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2017/05/whats-rub-part-2.html

I've been trying to remember to spray bug spray on my ankles each morning and to stay on the sidewalks... that seems to be helping a lot, but not 100% eliminating my need for "the rub"...

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

How is the ILC different from IBM?

I was struck today with differences between the ILC (International Linguistics Center, where I'm volunteering) and IBM (where I had a 33 year career). There are some similarities - both use acronyms, though they mean different things (PD was Personal Development at IBM, but is Partner Development (aka support raising) at the ILC). As I mentioned that I heard at Florence Gerdel's memorial service a few days ago (http://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2019/07/florence-gerdel.html), "Every job has its bedpans." - and I guess that applies here too, though I have to admit I haven't seen any noticeable "bedpans" yet!

A few differences I noted today:
  • We had a department meeting today, and it started with prayer, requested prayer as we discussed specific thorny problems during the meeting, allowed for sharing of prayer needs by individuals, and ended with prayer at the end.
  • A co-worker came by my office and I was sharing (complaining, more like it!) about not feeling like I am doing a very adequate job in the task of the volunteer office coordinator, and, after listening to me for a few minutes, he said, "I'd like to pray for you about this, would that be ok?" and he proceeded to take my concerns to God.
  • The goals are to honor God in what we do, not just to get a job done.
I am indeed, wonderfully blessed!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Another birthday...

I thought I would share some things that happened today and the blessings that this day brought...

About a year and a half ago, Dwayne and I decided to stop purchasing cards for each other for different events... we'd lived in our "tiny house" for a few years, and had cards that we had received previously. We had stopped near Carlsbad, NM at the Escapees co-op park there, and one of the other couples mentioned that they just re-gave previously given cards for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc. We thought that sounded like a good idea, so we implemented it. We had already started putting the year that a card was given either on the envelope or inside... so, I gave the collection of cards that Dwayne had given to me back to him, and he did the same back to me... and then we just selected one of the cards that we had already given once and put a new year on it, and gave it again! Saving money and saving space - what a plan!

So, I had found the cards that Dwayne had previously given to me in the past, and when I got up this morning, I selected a couple of them and enjoyed them as the cards that Dwayne may have chosen to give to me this year. It wasn't like I was settling for something less, because I wouldn't have received a new card even if he were still living on earth with me! And, he always picked such sweet cards, so the words were so beautiful to read, even though I had read them before.

Other thoughts came to me during the day... I remembered the birthday celebrations that my friends and I were involved with doing when I was in college... we would go to great lengths to surprise the birthday girl or guy... some examples:
  • Since my birthday was in the summer, we generally didn't celebrate my birthday. So, my friends decided one year to celebrate it on some random day, I think it was in March. I had a very "interesting" job to guard the basement loading dock door of the library. No one ever exited the building that way that I remember, but for whatever reason, the library decided that they needed someone sitting there after the normal loading dock usage hours were over to ensure that no one stole books by going out the basement door. From 6pm to midnight one evening a week, I sat at the desk at the basement door and did homework and got paid for it. (It was a cushy job and all of the library workers wanted to do it, so any single individual could only do it one night a week, and I think only seniors got to do it.) On the night that my friends decided to celebrate my birthday, I was working down there. I heard some noise from the elevator, and to my surprise, it was coming down to the basement where I was working. When the door opened, there my friends were with cake and party items. What fun!
  • Another time, one of the girls in our group had made it clear that she would love to have a surprise party, but that she always saw through the surprise beforehand, so she wouldn't ever be actually surprised (I guess having the party on a day not remotely close to her birthday wasn't in the plan). So, we planned a "fake" surprise party, with very thinly veiled hiding of the surprise, "Oh, wouldn't you like to come over to the apartment for a little while this evening?" (wink, wink, sly glance, etc.). So, she came over... our plan had been, for the fake party, to get a piece of cake from the cafeteria at dinner and just put a candle in it for her... unfortunately, the cafeteria didn't have any cake for dessert that evening, so the guy who was to get the piece of cake got a piece of cherry pie instead. We dutifully put the candle in the pie and when she got to the apartment, yelled, "Surprise!" and had her blow out the candle. We didn't know at the time, but she didn't even *like* cherry pie! Soon after she had blown out the candle, we all went back to studying... no time to waste on a party, sorry! She (probably very disappointed at the rudeness of her friends) and her roommate left to walk across campus... back to their own dorm room... where the *real* surprise party was to occur! As soon as they cleared from the front of the apartment, those of us who had thrown the "fake" party flew out the door to a car that we drove to the dorm. Meanwhile, her roommate had her shoe come untied several times as they were walking across campus, further delaying their arrival at the *real* surprise party and allowing the rest of us to arrive -- and yes, I think she actually was surprised!
    • I particularly thought of this experience because I worked at the cafeteria serving at lunch today, and for my lunch "sides", I selected a piece of chocolate pie. As I was walking back to the Welcome Desk, I was grinning thinking that I would have pie for my birthday "cake" this evening! And, it was *delicious*!
I also told some of my co-workers about the way that Dwayne and I used to give each other cards -- during the night, we would place the card on the sink area so when the recipient got up in the morning, they would say, "Oh! There's a card for me!" and then we'd open it and enjoy it together. For our anniversary, we'd each put a card by the sink -- so, the first one up would say, "Oh, there's a card for me!" and when the other came into the bathroom to see, they would say, "Oh, there's a card for me too!!!"
The year that we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, we were on Kauai, and both cards were appropriately left by the bathroom sink. We both arrived in the bathroom with expected expressions of surprise that there was a card for us, and proceeded to open the cards. As I took my card out of the envelope, I thought, "Oh no, somehow we've got it switched up, I'm opening the card that I got for Dwayne..." but, no, it was just that we had picked the exact same card to give to each other! I figured at that point, after 16 years of marriage, we no longer had original thoughts! From then on, when I picked an anniversary card, it would say "To my husband"... I figured it was unlikely we would ever duplicate the same card that way!

What fun memories, of Dwayne and of others - so thankful for all of these that God has placed in my life, whether for a short season or for a longer time - all of them were blessings that God has given to me!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Toxins

Our pastor is preaching through the book of Joshua this year, I am learning so much as he leads us through this book each Sunday. Today, we were in Joshua 9, where the Gibeonites come to the nation of Israel and lie and present themselves as being from afar off so Israel will make a covenant with them. Pastor Rickey pointed out that both the nation of Israel and the Gibeonites knew the word of God, that the law allowed Israel to make a covenant with people who were not located in the Promised Land - but that the Israelites relied on what they saw and their own intuition to accept that the Gibeonites were as they presented themselves to be (from far away), and to go ahead and make the covenant... rather than asking God for guidance (v14: ...but did not ask counsel from the Lord.)

Pastor Rickey then shared that the point of this story might be hidden from initial perusal... we might immediately see truths such as "don't depend on your own intuition" or "once you make a covenant, you need to be committed to it", but, he pointed out how ultimately this story is about God's Sovereign Grace. For, these lying, deceiving Gibeonites were not only saved from being put to destruction, but they were put to work, not just for the Israelites, but in the temple of God (v27: ...But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day...). In other places in the Bible, we can see that Gibeon was the place that Solomon went to sacrifice to the Lord and where he requested wisdom as the gift he desired most from God (I Kings 3). The Gibeonites were part of the named people who participated in the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah 3 (v7). The inclusion of the Gibeonites in God's plan did not negate the fact that they were liars and deceivers, but rather demonstrated God's grace in the face of their failures.

Pastor Rickey shared with us the following applications:
  1. Trust that God's Sovereign Grace can overcome the foolish decisions of my past.
  2. Release into God's Sovereign Grace whatever remains in my heart from the sins of others.
  3. Hope in God's Sovereign Grace to save sinners from every nation.
In our community group class, we discuss the sermon each week... today, each of us shared that #2 is the hardest for us to do - it goes against our nature that wants to "take care of it ourselves", "be active", "be involved", while God calls for us to "rest in Him", "abide", "release".

As we were discussing this, I thought about the things that happened at the end of Dwayne's life... what I think ultimately killed him was not exactly the cancer, or the chemotherapy, but rather the killing of the cancer cells by the chemotherapy. As those cancer cells died, they released toxins into Dwayne's body, that ultimately caused his systems to shut down and caused his death.

In a like way, when others sin against me, residue is left in my life, toxins that can be threatening to my spiritual life. Unless I release those circumstances and people to God for Him to deal with, I will keep toxins in my life that ultimately will do worse to me than to anyone else. 

I am so thankful for the grace of God in my life!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

"How to prepare yourself for a good end of life"

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I thought it had some good thoughts:
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/How-to-prepare-yourself-for-the-good-end-of-life-13622599.php
(When you use the link, you may be asked to subscribe to the San Francisco Chronicle, but just close that pop-up window and you should be able to read the article...)

The article brings up some important considerations -- one of the things I have been thinking a lot about was presented as "find your posse". In walking with Dwayne through the his hospitalizations in the last few months of his life, I realized that it is really critical to have someone walking through that path with you... the person who is sick and/or hospitalized is often not fully aware of all that is going on - their sleep patterns are disturbed, they are on various medications and monitors -- even being in the hospital with him and *not* sick (as I was at the time) was disrupting and confusing. To be sick and trying to manage decisions at the same time... I think is too much to contemplate.

One of the recommended things that GriefShare has had me do is to list all the "people" I lost in losing Dwayne -- the fact that I lost my husband is obvious. But, I also lost, for example:
  • my companion, 
  • my lover, 
  • the person who traveled with me, 
  • my mechanic, 
  • my gourmet cook, 
  • my person to bounce ideas off of, 
  • my prayer partner, 
  • my encourager, 
  • my Bible study partner, 
  • the shoulder on which I could cry, 
  • the person that I knew so well that I could plan things for us to do that I knew he would enjoy doing, and he would be so appreciative of the things I planned,
  • my friend... 
  • and I lost the person who would be the primary person in that "posse" that the article talks about.
I suppose it is natural that I contemplate my own death more now than I have before - not in a sense of thinking of taking my life - that isn't a thought at all... but, I definitely have spent time thinking about, "What would I do if I got a cancer diagnosis?" (Answer: "Hallelujah! God has stamped my exit ticket!!!") and, "How could I make it easier for whomever has to deal with my body and my estate when I am gone?" (pre-planning and pre-paying for final disposition of my body and ToD (Transfer on Death) definitions on accounts), and I have thought about being a single person and not wanting to be a burden for anyone - I have confidence that God knows what I will need and will provide, so I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on it, but it does cross my mind!

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the 5th month-versary of Dwayne's death... and Monday will be the first time in 30 years that he won't be here to celebrate my birthday with me... I suppose it is also "natural" that my tears are a bit more closer to the surface this weekend. I am so thankful that scripture doesn't tell me, "Don't grieve", but rather,
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7 ESV)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 ESV)


So, I grieve my own earthly loss, my loss of the wonderful, gentle man with whom God blessed me, who filled those roles that I listed above (and many others!). But, I don't grieve as one who has no hope, but rather I am walking through this time of mourning as one who can hold onto the most incredible hope in the world and the promise of a home in heaven with my Savior!

Friday, July 12, 2019

God-incidences

I previously posted a picture of the bookcases in the lobby that contains first edition New Testaments which have been worked on by folks associated with SIL International and/or Wycliffe (https://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2019/04/bible-translation.html).

This past week, on one of the days when I was volunteering at the Welcome Desk, Barb from Archives came to shelve some of the printed books that had not yet been put into the bookcase.
Barb coming with the new New Testaments to shelve... God provided that a couple of ladders would be there (the IT folks were pulling cable above the ceiling tiles).

Barb placing a New Testament while Vanay looks on...

Another one placed...

About then, one of the new volunteers on campus, Doug, came in. He was interested in what was going on, and Vanay showed him one of the new New Testaments. Doug was **so** excited (can you see the blur of his finger as he is pointing and explaining?)...

He went on to explain to Vanay (and Barb and me) that, when he first heard of Wycliffe Bible Translators, it was from a man who came to speak at the college church where he and Joy were attending. The man went on to the Philippines to do early language survey work with the people group about whom he had shared and Doug had heard. Now, after the work of multiple teams have been invested, there is a finished New Testament for this people group!!!
It "just happened" that Barb brought this particular New Testament this week, and it "just happened" that Doug was walking through the lobby when she was shelving, and it "just happened" that the translation that was instrumental in Doug's interest in Wycliffe was being placed when Doug was there!!! Is that not a God-incidence?!?!?!?

Barb was able to complete her task of shelving, while we all rejoiced in what God has done!
Dallas area friends - we can always use volunteer help on campus!
RVing friends - there's an RV park on campus where volunteers can stay at a reduced rate...
Wouldn't you like to come here and volunteer?!?!? Then you can see what God-incidences God has planned for you!
A listing of some of the types of positions available can be viewed here: https://sites.google.com/a/sil.org/dallas-center-ilc/volunteer-opportunities

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Florence Gerdel

I mentioned a few days ago learning about Florence Gerdel (http://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-good-seed.html) and that I planned to attend her memorial service on campus on Thursday (today). What a blessing to learn more about this lady...
Florence was born just a few months after my Mom (who passed away in 2010).

Some of the greatest parts of her legacy - New Testaments in the languages of three peoples.
Things I learned about Florence from the memorial service,

From the Eulogy:
  • "She joined Marianna Slocom in the Tzeltal work in Chiapas in 1949 as a temporary helper, but the partnership endured for 65 years." (Italics added by me!) They were 15 years working together, first with the Highland Tzeltal people, and then the Lowland Tzeltal people. 
  • "Florence's nursing and teaching skills resulted in the multiplication of many village health promoters and literacy materials that encouraged healthy living. A two-story clinic was built in Corralito and staffed by trained Tzeltals to serve the extended community."
  • "Wycliffe's founder, William Cameron Townsend, urged Florence and Marianna to continue Bible translations for yet another group. With incredible fortitude for middle-aged ladies, they moved to Colombia to begin all over again among the Paez Indians in 1964.... In addition to The Paez project, Florence served her colleagues as a phonology consultant..."
  • "Florence returned to the United States in 1989"  and continued serving with SIL in the US.
  • Florence spent the last years of her life at Grace Presbyterian Village (now Villages of Dallas), (which is also where my Mom spent the last years of her life).
From what I wrote down that others in attendance (all of whom are probably also current or retired Wycliffe missionaries) said when sharing their remembrances of Florence:
  • One lady shared that the church that they attended was one that was a partner in supporting Florence and Marianna's work. She related that Florence put a note, like a postscript, on a Christmas card one year sent to their family which said, "Maybe one of your girls would like to go into Bible translation." She encouraged us to never underestimate the influence of just a postscript like that to encourage or be used by God to call one to His service.
  • Another lady shared that Florence provided phonology consulting for her when she was working in Colombia. (From Wikipedia, "Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in spoken languages"). Florence recommended to her that she notate the glottal stop in the language with an "h" rather than a ' (single quote) (the lady speaking was dramatically indicating the typing of a single quote with the pinky finger of her right hand while saying this), because, on the manual typewriters which they were using, her arm muscles would get quite tired with the typing of the single quote!
  • In addition to the video that I saw ("The Good Seed"), there was an earlier movie done that greatly influenced many of the folks who were at the service, telling about Florence and Marianna's work with the Tzeltal people (I think it was called "Now God Speaks Tzeltal"). One lady related that it had still pictures of the Tzeltal people reading in their own language, and she was impressed with the thought that it was the first time that the people understood communication in their own language not "in the moment", but rather that their language was being used to communicate with them about God who had loved them from eternity past until today.
  • Many shared how the examples set by Florence and Marianna had encouraged, challenged, pulled them along.
  • It was also shared that Florence could have quite a wit - one example was when she had changed from nursing to the executive secretary to SIL's VP of Academic Affairs when she came to Dallas - Someone commented on the differences between nursing and what she was doing now, and she responded, "Every job has its bedpans!"
The message encouraged us to consider something that know our human natures pursue: Security, Satisfaction, and Significance. Florence found her security in God (Romans 8:37-38), her satisfaction in Him (John 6, Jesus is the bread of life, the one who believes will never be hungry, never be thirsty), and her significance in what God had called her to do.

As I said in my previous blog post, I am so thankful to have gotten to "know" Florence, at least a little bit... I hope you have enjoyed getting to "know" her a little too!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What do you do when the network is down?

On Tuesday afternoon, the network went down at work... we were discussing how dependent we are on having network access... I suggested that maybe we should get out the "Shave Ice" machine and make shave ice to "celebrate" how hot it is and to have something to do in the heat and without the network... but... how would we let folks on campus know about the shave ice being served without the network?

So... thoughts that we came up with:
  • Get carrier pigeons and attach smaller versions of the announcement type-signs that airplanes tow behind them letting folks know about shave ice being available.
  • But... it is so hot, that most folks are inside, so they wouldn't see the pigeons flying around outside, so, we'd need the pigeons to go to the windows of the buildings and peck on the windows... then we would need to put signs around the necks of the pigeons alerting the folks when they looked out at the pigeon that there was shave ice being provided!
  • Another suggestion: so many of the folks here on campus have served in places around the world where they are disconnected from phones or networks, and yet, the people in the villages are able to send messages to people in another village that is over the mountain or down by the shore -- through some sort of signaling devices. We should schedule classes where those of us who have *not* been to these places are taught how to send and understand smoke signals or making sounds with horns or whatever to communicate to people who are at a distance away!
Uhm, well, that's what we did while we were unable to access the computer tools or applications that we needed to use to do our jobs! You can't say that we aren't creative!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

"Beware of suspicious articles"

One of the recommendations that I have received in working through my grieving is to have pictures of Dwayne around... for most folks, I guess, there would be pictures in their home of husband and wife, or of each of them individually... but... that wasn't the case in the RV. So, I've printed out a couple of recent pictures of Dwayne and put them up where I see them so I can enjoy his smile.

I also have been looking back through pictures - specifically I was looking at some that I collected as I was putting together the video for Dwayne's memorial service (the video can be viewed here if you would like to see it). The pictures go pretty fast as I had a lot that I wanted to show - and I culled a lot out to get it down to under 13 minutes (3 seconds per picture).

In looking at the ones I had collected, I came across one that was taken on our first trip to Israel, at Tel Aviv Airport as we were waiting to check in...
Can you read the sign?
Don't you think that Dwayne's expression looks pretty suspicious in that picture?!?!?
I miss my Dwayne so much... but I am so thankful for all the things we got to see and do together! I am particularly thankful that I took retirement early so we had the last 4.5 years to spend together in retirement... since I am soon turning 60, I realize that, had he not encouraged me to retire early, we would have missed out on that wonderful time together! How grateful I am that we had that time!!!

Monday, July 8, 2019

"Why all world maps are wrong"

I recently saw this post and video and recommend it to you to view - "Why all world maps are wrong" or, my subtitle, "a sphere does not lend itself to depiction on a flat surface":
https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/06/why-all-world-maps-are-wrong/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SharylAttkisson+%28Sharyl+Attkisson%29

The video mentions another website, https://thetruesize.com
I found it interesting to take the map of Texas and overlay it on top of other places around the globe... one thing that I learned was, though Alaska is certainly bigger than Texas, it isn't as much bigger than Texas as I had thought based on the fact that Alaska gets a boost in size from being closer to the poles.

The video also mentions this site: http://metrocosm.com/compare-map-projections.html
An interesting way to swap between different map projections and see the impact.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"The Good Seed"

A friend, Karen, who also works at the Welcome Desk here on campus, invited me to her home dinner with her husband and some other friends on Friday night. I was so glad to hear their stories. Karen's husband had worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators as a pilot. One of the other guests was the new Associate Center Director, Doug, along with his wife, Joy. He has recently retired from employment as an engineer and they are just now moving to the Dallas area for him to start his position here. Their son, Hasso, works on language development software on the center.

While visiting, I learned that Karen has had a ministry to single missionaries who have no family. She has most recently ministered to Marianna Slocum (who passed away in late 2017 at age 99) and Florence Gerdel who passed away the last week of June, and whose memorial service is to be this coming week. Both Doug and I had seen the announcement of her memorial service, and when Karen suggested that we might enjoy seeing the video about their ministry, we all heartily agreed.

What a blessing to see "The Good Seed" - the story of these two women who dedicated their lives to bringing the scripture to people groups in Mexico and Columbia. Marianna was engaged to be married to a young man and together they felt called to go as translators for the Tzeltal people. Then, suddenly, 6 days before their marriage, her fiance died. She still felt that she was called to go to the Tzeltal people, but the lowland people where they had planned to serve did not allow her to stay. So, she went to the highland Tzeltal people and Florence joined her a few years later as a nurse. Together, they ministered to the people, learning their language, even in the face of opposition for many years. Eventually, some people came to follow Jesus, the New Testament was completed for the highland people, and, a few years after that, for the lowland people as well. Many had become believers and many churches were during the time that Marianna and Florence were there. They could have felt that they had done enough...

But... they were called to go to Columbia to do a translation for the Páez people. The Tzeltal people, now gifted with God's Word in their language, participated in sending Marianna and Florence to Columbia, in gratitude for the great gift which they had received.

Karen told us that, while Marianna had grown up in a Christian home, Florence had not. Florence had become a Christian while in nursing school. Florence had spent the last several years of her life in a care facility in the Dallas area, and Karen was her faithful visitor three days a week. What a beautiful ministry that Karen has had here!

Karen encouraged us to go to any memorial service that we can while we are on the campus, and I am certainly planning to attend Florence's this Thursday!

Some other articles about Marianna and Florence.


https://www.wycliffe.org/blog/posts/threetime-pioneers

https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1901-2000/marianna-slocums-last-days-with-her-fiance-11630771.html

https://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/marianna-slocum-the-chol-the-tzeltal-and-the-bachajon-thank-you

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Seed-Marianna-Slocum/dp/0939497093

Saturday, July 6, 2019

How to respond

A friend of mine recently posted a link to this article on her Facebook page:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-help-a-grieving-friend_n_5aa9801fe4b0004c0406d2fb?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003&fbclid=IwAR26qGe9TIko6oyVCOKXsM-WwwPKvAwBYyvvrbld2MId_FGfXHdMvuRbl-Q

While the title relates to "how to help a grieving friend", the content spoke to me in all conversations... here are some quotes that I am trying to take to heart:
... I didn’t know what to say, so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself.
That hits home...
... What all of these people needed was for me to hear them and acknowledge what they were going through. Instead, I forced them to listen to me and acknowledge me. 
Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency to insert oneself into a conversation as “conversational narcissism.” It’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. It is often subtle and unconscious.
...
Derber describes two kinds of responses in conversations: a shift response and a support response. The first shifts attention back to yourself, and the second supports the other person’s comment. Here is a simple illustration:

Shift Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Me too. I’m totally overwhelmed.

Support Response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Why? What do you have to get done?

Here’s another example:

Shift Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Me too. These things are falling apart.

Support Response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about? 
In our "Healing the Wounds of Trauma" class, there were three questions recommended:
What happened?
How did you feel?
What was the hardest part?
 Simple questions that allow your friend to share what is going on in their heart.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fairness and Justice

I went out for dinner tonight with Kathleen and Mark and enjoyed talking about many things with them as we enjoyed hamburgers on this day when customary celebrations include "all American" choices such as hamburgers, or hot dogs, or apple pie. It was fun to think and talk about how we had celebrated Independence Day in the past - I remembered a time when I lived in northern Virginia and, with my home group from church, took the Metro into DC for the parade, followed by naps on the grass on the mall, and then watching fireworks from the Pentagon (where we saw a lightning show in addition to the fireworks and cheered for all!). And both Kathleen and I remembered having sparklers in the yard and being cautioned to be very careful - to not start anything on fire, or to poke the metal part into our eyes, or to get burned... or any of the many other things that could go wrong!

I was also thinking of a blog entry that I had partially read earlier today, and which I went back to read more fully after getting home, where my friend, Krista, had written about fairness versus justice.  I invite you to check it out here: https://chocolatefilledhope.wixsite.com/home/copy-of-in-the-balance-3

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"Fried things"

You might remember that I shared that the menu for this week in the cafeteria included "Fried Things" on Tuesday (http://trekincartwrights.blogspot.com/2019/06/aquaponics-and-cafeteria.html). I volunteer at the food pantry in Irving on Tuesdays, so I didn't get to go to lunch to see what "Fried Things" might be, but Ruth, a friend who works in the cafeteria, took pictures for me...
Some of the "Fried Things" in the process of being cooked...
Some more of the "Fried Things" on the serving line...
It turns out that "Fried Things" is the way to use up smaller amounts of things that are on hand - in this case, there was some fried pork things, and some fried beef things, and some fried chicken things, and some fried fish things! The cafeteria gets to clear out some items, and the customers get a lot of choices, as long as they come early before some of the "Fried Things" sell out!

Many thanks to Ruth for doing the research for me!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Finances...

I went to see our financial advisor, Steve, at Morgan Stanley this afternoon. I had seen him a few weeks ago when I signed the paperwork to move accounts into my name. I was indicated as "TOD" (transfer on death) on all the accounts, so it was an easy task mechanically. Today I saw him to submit the paperwork to re-start the periodic transfers that Dwayne had been previously receiving.

I thought that I should probably share things I've learned about income and death of one's spouse, in case it might be helpful to others.

Income streams that were directed specifically to the individual who died are cut off as soon as the paying entity is aware of the death. Social Security is notified by the funeral home; others may also learn through the change of status of the social security number, or, you're supposed to notify them. I was thankful, right after Dwayne's death, to have talked to a friend who was widowed in the past couple of years, and had asked her, "What things happened that you wish someone had warned you to anticipate?" She told me that her husband's social security payment was deposited into the account that they used to pay bills, and then it was subsequently removed from the account, causing a number of scheduled bill payments to have insufficient funds. There is a fee for presenting a request for payment for which you don't have sufficient funds, and that fee is charged each time the request is presented -- it seems that most items are presented 2 or 3 times before the recipient who is desiring payment gives up -- so your account doesn't have money in it, and you're racking up overdraft fees 2-3* for each item being presented to be paid. It can quickly get you into a place where you owe the bank hundreds of dollars, and... there's no income coming in.

So, I had forewarning about that... Several years ago, Dwayne and I attended a Crown Financial Ministries class. One of their recommendation was that you keep 3-6 months of living expenses in a readily available account. I would have tended to keep just 3 months of living expenses set aside (why keep the other funds out of investments?), but Dwayne was managing the accounts in the last few years, so he kept 6 months of living expenses in a savings account. Yet another way that Dwayne is taking care of me, even after he is gone!

After Dwayne's death in February, in the beginning of March, I saw that Dwayne's Social Security payment, and his pension, were deposited into the account. Within a day or so, I got a message from the bank that the deposits were "on hold", and, then I got a message that the hold was released... but the funds had been taken out.

Steve, our financial advisor, had recommended that we delay telling the accounts that were solely in Dwayne's name about his death for a few weeks, until such time as we were ready to work through the process of transferring the accounts into my name. So, the deposit for one of the annuities that he was getting was put into the account in March, but the other one, an IRA, was not. The second annuity stopped in April.

Based on Dwayne's age, and my age, at the time of his death, he was receiving Social Security, pension from the federal government, and two annuities from investments we had made. I was receiving my pension from IBM. About 75% of our household income was from sources associated with Dwayne, and 25% was income associated with me. So, I suddenly was getting only about 25% of the income we had previously received. Thankfully, I could use the savings to supplement the shortfall.

Now, also, at this time, there were a lot of unplanned expenses: funeral home costs for the cremation, cost to acquire the niche where Dwayne's ashes were to be placed, and... (not necessary to be done at the same time, but I (a) wasn't thinking clearly and (b) didn't want anyone to have to deal with these expenses for me), I did a pre-planned contract for my final arrangements. Each of these were high costs, not something that I (or anyone) could pay out of pocket without dipping into other savings or going into debt. And, I am cheap, erh, frugal... so I was not going with luxury options on any of this.

So, the income streams stop very efficiently and with just a phone call... getting survivor benefits is not quite as straightforward. First, you have to have a death certificate. This was complicated for me that, in the state of Texas, a new system was put in place at the beginning of 2019, which was, uhm, buggy... as I heard it, for the first two weeks of the year, not a single death certificate could be produced or requested. As I understood it, this meant, for example, that no cremations could be done for the first two weeks of the year as the request for the death certificate would need to be started before the cremation could be done. Imagine the frustration and angst for the families... In addition, doctors did not have appropriate credentials to be able to certify death certificates, and those credentials had to be requested and approved. This meant that, by mid February when Dwayne passed away, they were still dealing with a backlog of requests. I was told to anticipate a 4-6 week wait for the death certificate. For me, it ended up being just short of 6 weeks.

Then I could apply for the survivor benefits - actually, the process with Social Security went relatively easily. I called and got the information I would need to bring, and in that call learned that I was not eligible for survivor benefits until I turned 60, which happens this month (July). I could, however, *apply* for the benefits up to 3 months before I was eligible, meaning in April. I could also apply for the death benefit ($255 -- let me just say that $255 is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs that are incurred). So, in April, I went to the Social Security office in Denton, and other than a long wait to actually talk to someone, the process was pretty easy. I have received the $255, and am supposed to start getting survivor benefits in August.

I also had contacted the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) both to report Dwayne's death and to ask about how to apply for survivor benefits. They sent me the paperwork, and, once I got the death certificates, I applied. I hadn't heard from them so, a couple of weeks ago, I called to see if I could get the current status -- the person I spoke with said, "Yes, I see that we received your paperwork in April; it is currently anticipated to be processed in August. If you don't hear something from us by October, please call again." Huh?

The final two income streams were periodic distributions from two annuities. Once the investment companies knew about Dwayne's death, we could make no changes to the accounts until they were processed into my name through the TOD setting. (Note: somewhere in this timeframe, the setting for "e-delivery of paperwork" got reset, and I started getting prospectuses and proxy voting forms hardcopy in the mail to our Livingston address, which then I had to pay postage on when they got forwarded to me -- I tried to get that stopped, but no one was allowed to make changes on Dwayne's accounts during this time... I'm hoping I've got that fixed back to e-delivery now!) A few weeks ago, Steve helped me get paperwork completed to set up the new accounts and transfer the funds based on the TOD, and today, he helped me get the paperwork completed to re-start the periodic distributions from the two annuities. One should start in July, and the other in September.

So, by September (maybe October, depending on the FERS progress), I may be receiving the survivor benefits for the income sources that we had been living on for the past 5 years (since we retired in 2014) -- seven or eight months after Dwayne's death.

Let me be very clear - I am NOT in financial difficulty. We have investments, and I could, during most of this time, have accessed funds that were not solely in Dwayne's name. I have been transferring from savings over to checking an amount to cover expenses that I know will be incurred in the next month. I have had sufficient funds in savings to do this, and could continue, if necessary, for about another month and a half before needing to access other funds. I didn't want to pull funds out of investments if I didn't have to... and because of Dwayne's wisdom in keeping 6 months of living expenses in savings, I haven't had to. I haven't written this post for anyone to think that they need to help me out financially, but, since I was so floored by what I saw happening, I thought it might be instructive to someone else in their planning.

I talked with Steve today about how much he recommended that couples keep in easily accessed accounts to deal with death or job loss - he said he recommends 3-6 months. 3 months if the couple are high wage earners and working in two different industries (so there would not likely be a downturn affected both of their jobs at the same time), 6 months if they are employed in the same or like industries, or if they are retired. For a single retired person (me), he recommends 3 months.

One additional thing: through our married life, each of us had, at various times, been responsible for paying bills for the household. (A funny story -- at the beginning of our marriage, each of us was trying to be responsible for paying the bills, each wondering why the other one was not letting us do it. Finally, one day, it came to a head, and one of us, let's say, Dwayne said, "Why aren't you letting me pay the bills? Don't you trust me?" to which I responded, "Why don't you trust me to pay the bills? In my family, my mom always took care of paying the bills!", and Dwayne came back with, "In *my* family, my dad paid the bills!!" -- and both of us realized that we were indeed, arguing about finances, as we had been warned that newlyweds often had issues with finances... though I think our "issues" were possibly different from other newlyweds with regard to *what* about finances we were arguing about, though not different in the sense that we were arguing rather than having communicated clearly beforehand!) Anyway, at the time Dwayne went into the hospital in November last year, he was handling most of the bill paying and I was handling most of the contributions to charities. After he was in the hospital a week or so, he asked me if I could bring his laptop in to the hospital so he could check to see if the bills were all scheduled that needed to be paid. I suggested that, while he was in the hospital, I take over the responsibility for bill paying on my laptop and so I transferred the files he used to cross-check and follow-up onto my laptop, and he tutored me on how he looked up what needed to be paid and used tools to ensure nothing fell through the cracks. I am so thankful that I had 3 months of tutelage from Dwayne before having responsibility for this on my own. I would recommend that couples consider how both of you can be knowledgeable about your finances and the simple mechanics of paying bills for your household so either can handle the task if needed.

So, there's my financial lesson for you for today... I apologize for the long entry on a mostly boring topic, but maybe it will help one person or couple and for that I will be grateful!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Zuri

The security firm on campus has a new member of their staff, Zuri..


Helen visiting Zuri a couple of weeks ago...
Zuri's humans arranged for him to have a photo shoot.

Is that not cute?!?!?

He is intended to serve as trauma healing support as well as (eventually) search and rescue.
 Zuri is part of Tier One - they provide campus security for many different organizations.
https://securecampuses.com/

I think he is "just plain cute"!!!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Aquaponics and the Cafeteria

On the campus, there is an aquaponics environment growing tilapia and vegetables.

Fish eat food that contains nitrogen. They excrete ammonia and ammonia is also added from decomposing material. Nitrosomas Bacteria convert the ammonia to Nitrites, and then Nitrobactor Bacteria convert Nitrites to Nitrates. Plants use Nitrates as fertilizer.

Some of the plants that were growing in the greenhouse during the tour...





They are doing a test on growing duckweed as a source of food for the fish (tilapia).

Currently the tilapia are fed externally acquired food, but they would like to make it more of a closed-loop system, and duckweed might provide a solution to that.

As I understand it, one of the goals of the study of aquaponics here is to see what could be done to alleviate "food deserts", city areas where grocery stores have closed down leaving no food stores available other than possibly convenience stores such as 7-11 -- which aren't known for providing fresh fruits and vegetables. I think that Mark (our guide) told us that the space where two cars could park in a driveway could house an aquaponics system that could provide one meal a day for 3-4 families (or, it could provide all the meals for one family as long as they could get used to eating tilapia for 3 meals a day).
http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts

For us on campus, we get to have tilapia and fresh veggies in the cafeteria -- Yum!!!

An additional note about the cafeteria - I am learning the tasks to be able to back up the lady who creates the display of the menu on the screens in the cafeteria, so I was typing in the menu for this coming week... check out what's going to be available on Tuesday....
Uhm, Fried Things?
Our cook, Lety, always makes delicious meals, so I'm sure the Fried Things will be good! Maybe it is a way to get rid of an assortment of things? Or maybe a nod to the Texas State Fairs variety of fried goods each fall? Unfortunately, I will be at the food pantry on Tuesday, so I won't get to sample! I will need to get someone to take a picture so I can report back...

You may note languages listed under the day names - each day of the week, there are options to sit at a table where the folks there will be speaking a foreign language - a way to get conversational practice on a language you're learning, or to connect with other native speakers at lunchtime.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

For your beach-going pleasure....

I heard about this item available from Amazon (actually, I heard about the reviews...):
What fun, right?

12 foot pole-to-pole? Uhm, ok?

Well, maybe not!
More reviews:



Link on Amazon

Friday, June 28, 2019

English is an interesting language...

I think I am glad that I have not had to learn English as a second language...
This both has one of the many violations of the "i before e except after c" rule, as well as multiple ways to pronounce the letters "ought"....


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Influences

Some interesting information which I have seen recently....
This was presented in the Explore Bible Translation class back in May...

I saw this in one of the hallways on campus...

The Ghanaian Proverb is posted next to this fabric art on the wall.
I found it interesting to see the impacts of education of women to their families and communities.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The industrious spiders

As I prepared to leave Miss Doozie this morning, I noticed that an industrious spider had created a web that covered most of the window of the exit door:
It isn't as pretty in the picture as it was in real life!
As I walked to work, I saw two other large beautiful webs - maybe it was a good non-windy night for web weaving!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Directions

There is a family that has moved into the RV park here that has 3 children... they play well together, riding their bikes around the outside of the building that is in the midst of the RV park.

Today, one of the children must have been giving directions to another one...
Eli has a choice of which direction...

Only one choice, straight ahead!

3 choices at this point!
It is fun to see the games they come up with! They do a lot of artwork with chalk!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Dvu Story

This is one of the stories which was shared during my Explore Bible Translation class... it is probably my favorite of all the stories I heard:
Translation advisor Lee Bramlett was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people? What clue had He planted to let the Hdi know who He is and how He wants to relate to them?
Then one night in a dream, God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee and his wife, Tammi, had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u? Lee asked the translation committee, including the most influential leaders in the community, "Could you 'dvi' your wife?"
"Yes," they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.
"Could you 'dva' your wife?" Lee asked.
"Yes," they said. That kind of love depended on the wife's actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
"Could you 'dvu' your wife?" Lee asked. Everyone laughed.
"Of course not!" they said. "If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say 'dvu'. It just doesn't exist."
Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, "Could God 'dvu' people?"
There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded.
"Do you know what this would mean?" they asked. "This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people."
One simple vowel, and the meaning was changed from "I love you based on what you do and who you are," to "I love you based on who I am. I love you because of Me and not because of you."
God 'dvu' you...

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A house moved into the RV park!

I had heard that it was coming, and in the past few days, it arrived! A tiny house has moved into the RV park!
Driving into the RV park

Ready to back into its site

In place!

Open house
Lots of folks came out to walk through during the open house. It is quite spacious! In Texas, a dwelling less than 400 square feet is considered an RV, so, since it is 399 square feet, it is located in the RV park on campus. They are considering getting some larger ones (about 600 square feet) to replace some of the older mobile homes on campus.