30 April 2007

Accounting for Two Weeks

It's been far too long since my last post--a sign, perhaps that I've been far too busy.

I don't want to load you down with all the school projects that I've completed (school ends in just 3 1/2 weeks). As important as it seemed, it paled with the momentous events in Jenny's family. The good news is that Jenny's brother Johnathan has received a long-needed liver transplant at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville!

Jenny's family has known since 1992 (the year she spent as a volunteer in Cameroon, West Africa) that Johnathan had an auto-immune disease called Primary Sclerosing Colangitis. It was a death sentence in many ways--one that could only be overcome through a liver transplant. Megan and Robyn will remember what a difficult time this was for Jenny--what a trial of faith it felt like at the time.

Johnathan went on the transplant list soon after, but he was a low priority on the list. He married in 1993 and had two kids, Ava and Nathan, who are now 8 and 4. He steadily weakened. He left work and went on disability about six years ago. In recent months he had taken a real serious turn. Spots had shown up on his liver. The concern was that they might be cancerous, which would disqualify him from transplant and serve as a death sentence at age 37. His skin became ever more jaundiced. (I snapped the picture at right with my cell phone last Sunday when we saw him in the hospital awaiting the transplant. The contrast of the yellow skin on his arm with the white sheets is not an anomaly--he was that yellow!.

Last week, his poor health raised him to the top of Vanderbilt's transplant list. It was life on a razor's edge for the family: he was sick enough to get the transplant he needed, but if he waited too long, he would be disqualified. He received the transplant late last Sunday night. His family--was either at his side or resting here at our house.

It has been an eventful week with mostly good news and some scares. Johnathan's body did show signs of rejecting the transplant a couple of times, but this was managed with medicine by the experienced medical staff there. We expect him to move out of the hospital any day now into a campus apartment, from which he can meet with his transplant doctors daily until he is completely stable with his new live.

Keep Johnathan in your prayers. It is nothing short of miraculous what has happened so far, but his continued health and his full recovery are in the able hands of Gods grace and faithfulness.

13 April 2007

A Mysterious Note

After my last class had ended Thursday, I found a note on my podium. It read:

Mr. Dittes your zipper is undone.

They weren't writing a lie. Unfortunately, by the time I corrected the matter, there were no students left to teach.

To be honest, I don't know when the note was put there. I had been teaching all day--and I hadn't been to the bathroom, so it could have been at any time!

Praise God for humble moments!

05 April 2007

Another Day, Another Beach

On Wednesday we went to Tybee Island Beach, one much closer to Savannah (and much more crowded with beer-swilling college students who, like me, were enjoying Spring Break).

First, a cool beach shot. I had promised an Ellie/bikini picture in today's post. I remember posing like this with Ellie's mama when I was about 40 pounds lighter, alas.

Jonah and I did some wave riding. He got on my back, I did push-ups on the sand, and we bobbed up and down. Jo-Jo even learned to do it with no hands!

Julie had bought the kids little motorcycles. Jonah and Joshie took turns running them through the sand, flying over jumps, and splashing them in the water. This picture is the last time we saw the bike Joshie was using. It ended up buried somewhere on the beach, and we couldn't find it when we left.The day ended where all days at the beach end: in the bathtub. Julie has a super-sized bathtub with jets and everything. The boys had fun playing with animals and goofing around. Owen and Jacob refused to get out for more than 40 minutes!

04 April 2007

What I Did on My Spring Break

Girls in bikinis, white sands, tons of sand. You could say I have had it all this week, and I'm only two days into my visit with my sister, Julie, and my nephews, Jacob and Joshie.
The crew is featured above: besides Owen, Ellie and Jonah, I have Jacob (age 5) and Joshua Gates (2). We went to Jeckyll Island on Monday, and we couldn't go anywhere without climbing all over the first oak tree we could find. These things amaze me. Their branches are often longer than 60 feet, yet they seldom touch the ground.

In its day (the first three decades of the 20th century), Jeckyll Island was a super-exclusive winter playground for the rich and famous of New England. Families like the J.P. Morgans, the Goulds, the Macys--they hung out here. This place was SO EXCLUSIVE that you had to be born a millionaire to have a house here. Nouveau riche need not apply. The kids are standing in front of the clubhouse (now a hotel).

We quickly left the Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous for the beach. Jonah and Joshie had a blast. When they weren't flashing buttcrack at the rest of the people on the beach, they were running in and out of the waves. Last August, when we went to the beach, Jonah was too scared to even get his ankles wet. You can see here that he was totally into the wave action!
On the beach, I dug up a conch shell. The animal was still living inside it. Joshie spent time tickling the animal (it recoiled, bubbled and gurgled when we touched it). Then we buried it in the sand. That was the first time I had ever found one of those shells.

The boys' big project for the day was digging a "bath tub" (they needed one once the day was over--I didn't know it was possible for Jonah to get so sandy). Here you can see them demonstrating its usefulness...moments before the tide came in and erased all their work.

I realized I didn't have any pictures of Ellie! I'll rectify that tomorrow.