Sunday, December 15, 2013

Halifax, Nova Scotia - December 15, 2013

Smoke on the water - Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

You know it's cold out when you see "smoke" on the water! Yesterday morning it was - 15°C, but with the windchill it felt like -25°C. For those of you that don't know Celsius -  it was cold enough for your nostrils to stick when you breathed in! The snow was crunchy underfoot and so we only did rv's in service. Today we are under a Winter Storm Watch and the meeting was cancelled for this morning - we weren't too sorry that we could stay home and keep warm!

This past week has been rather busy with appointments and information in regards to Pat's health. First of all, on Tuesday we met with the ENT surgeon that performed the biopsy. He indicated that the initial results were in and the results showed a "low" indicator for Lymphoma. We were excited and discussed the other possibilities (i.e. Sarcoidosis or Wegener's) and that there was a possibility that we would only have to stay in Canada for about 6 months. We left the appointment feeling pretty good and my mind was already on "the exit" plan back to Nicaragua.....

At noon on Wednesday the surgeon phoned to say that the final pathology on the test was back and that it unfortunately did confirm that Pat had Lymphoma.... We didn't even bother to ask if it showed what type and only confirmed that we would be following up with the Hematologist's office in the coming days.

On Friday Pat had a followup appointment with the Infectious Disease guys. They confirmed what we already knew that the results came back negative for TB and the other diseases they tested for. The doctor did however let it out of the bag that Pat has Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We had been expecting him to have non-Hodgkin's - so this was a big surprise. Since it is likely that Pat will require Chemo they decided to do a few more blood tests because there are some parasites, that if Pat has them, will go into overdrive from the Chemo. When we got home Pat received a call from the Hematologist's office. He has an appointment Tuesday morning next week to meet with the doctor. There are also some more tests that are being booked - a PET scan and a Wall Motion study. We should get the dates next week. Pat also had to head back out to the lab for some more blood work that they need the results back for Tuesday's appointment!

On other news, last week I went to see my old boss and she indicated that there might be a job for me. We had just found out Pat's diagnosis so when she asked if I was looking for temp or permanent, full or part-time work I had to say - permanent full time! Looking ahead it will be good to have a job that provides benefits (medical and dental). We are still considering looking after an apartment building, but Pat would be the superintendent rather than me. Many of our friends are busy collecting everything that we need for an apartment and by the time we move into a place of our own we will be well setup - thanks everyone!

Pat in his "office"
While we wait for treatments to begin Pat is keeping busy sorting out the congregation's territory. There has been a lot of construction over the last few years and nobody has had the time to make cards for them. The pioneers were thrilled to have new territory to work last week and are looking forward to some good calls when the weather improves. The room we are using as a bedroom has a "wall bed" that can be put away during the daytime. Pat sets up a table and chairs, puts on the "fire" and gets to work.

We want to say how much we miss our "family" down in Nicaragua and hope you will keep in touch. We are thinking of keeping this blog going so that you can know what is happening with us - I guess we'll have to change the title....

Evey and Debbie braving the winter cold

Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Halifax, Nova Scotia - November 20, 2013

Lake Banook - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
 Slowly, we seem to be acclimatizing - perhaps it's the long-johns that are helping! There have been a few snowflakes in the air but so far no accumulation. We are already looking forward to spring....

So... last week we visited the ENT doctor thinking that Pat was going to have a biopsy performed on-the-spot only to find out that he was there for a meet & greet. No biopsy - that will be performed at the Dartmouth General on November 29th. The lymph node that they will take the biopsy on is in a very delicate position (close to the carotid artery) and has to be performed during day surgery. If all goes well he should be home the same day. We should get initial results (lymphoma or some crazy infection) within 2 weeks. If he has Lymphoma it will take another 2 weeks to determine the specific type. We presume that about that time we will meet with the Hematologist to determine the course of treatment.

Pat and Debbie - November 17, 2013
While we are waiting for the medical diagnoses we are enjoying the hospitality of many friends. One evening we were asked to share our experiences in Nicaragua with a young family during their Family Worship- who knew that we would be "show and tell". This past weekend we joined the Halifax circuit at their Circuit Assembly. It was a real treat to see so many of our friends all together in one place. To try and prevent Pat catching a cold or some other bug we listened to the sessions in the First Aid room. The night before the assembly Pat received a hand-me-down suit from a good friend - very much appreciated since the two suits he has are far too big for him.

I guess I never realized how much wildlife there is in the city. Here are a couple of pictures I took while out in the ministry today:

feeding the ducks

small herd of deer in the city

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Halifax, Nova Scotia - November 13, 2013

We've been back in Canada for two weeks now and are still adjusting to the change. The climate for one thing is a big adjustment - we're heading into winter here and our bodies still think we are back in Nicaragua.

Fall is a beautiful time of year in the Maritimes with the leaves changing colour. On sunny days I can almost fool myself into thinking that it is warm outside!

Chai Latte with snack
I've enjoyed a few days out in service when the weather hasn't been too cold, but have taken advantage of warming up in the car in between calls. Oh, yeah - there's something called a COFFEE BREAK too! We didn't have any of those in Pearl Lagoon. Like everyone else, we are busily distributing the Kingdom News tract #38. I met a nice young lady last week and hope to return to her tomorrow. Service has pretty much been impossible for Pat because of the cold, but he was able to accompany us on some return visits on Saturday.

Halifax Harbour ferry

Public Witnessing - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Another adjustment is seeing the prices of our favorite foods in the supermarkets. $5.00 for two avocados! Limes 3 for $1.99! Crazy!

 On October 30th Pat had a CATSCAN and we received the results from our family Doctor. It appears that Pat definitely has Lymphoma (in 4 areas of the abdomen) and a biopsy is scheduled for this afternoon. Once we have the results from the biopsy we will have a better picture as to whether we will be able to return to Pearl Lagoon. However, we are coming to realize that our stay in Canada will be far longer than we had anticipated.

Pat - Lake Banook - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Debbie - Lake Banook - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halifax, Nova Scotia - October 30, 2013

Yes, you read that heading correctly. We are unexpectedly back in Canada. Last week Pat broke down and saw a doctor in Bluefields. During the examination it was determined that he had some medical issues that needed to be investigated further and the doctor recommended that we return to Canada. Since our tourist visa was due to expire on October 28th (we were due to visit Costa Rica) it made sense to schedule our trip for that date. We had only a couple of days to pull everything together and by Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m. we were on the bus heading out of Pearl Lagoon. We spent a relaxing day at the Best Western Las Mercedes in Managua on Sunday in preparation for our flight home on Monday - to COLD Halifax. We were very grateful for the warm jackets that awaited us when we arrived.

Tuesday was spent reactivating our NS Health Insurance and a trip to the Halifax ER. During the hospital visit we learned that Pat does not have TB (which the doctor in Bluefields suspected) and some further investigative tests are in the works. We will keep everyone updated when we find out. We are hoping that Pat's medical issues can be resolved quickly and that we will soon be heading back to Pearl Lagoon.

Fenelia, Honorio, Kathy and Katiel
We had only started settling into our new home before we left, but we already had some excitement. Since we live so close to a field many little "field mice" like to make our home their home - we aren't too happy with that arrangement. We - or should I say Pat - managed to trap a few of the furry little creatures, but one morning at the field service arrangement I was putting my bible back into my service bag when a mouse jumped out of it and made a getaway. Thankfully the little guy hadn't been in my bag for any length of time and I was happy that he didn't decide to make his getaway while I was at someones house having a bible study.

Before we left Pearl Lagoon we were happy to welcome Honorio back to the congregation - it was nice to hear his cheerful whistle.

We managed to capture a few pictures of the congregation during our last meeting:

Pearl Lagoon Congregation - October 24, 2013

Pearl Lagoon Congregation - October 24, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua - October 13, 2013

Here we are at almost the half-way mark of October. We have been super busy with non-theocratic stuff. First off, we helped the Blake family with roofing of their house in preparation of their moving in. Since Pat was part of the "roofing" crew in Nova Scotia he learned first hand the differences between how things are done back home and how they are accomplished here in Nicaragua. Granted, putting a roof on the Blake's family home is different than a Kingdom Hall project but, the different methods in building construction were very much in evidence. No hardhats, safety shoes or regulation scaffolding here but, common sense was evident and the guys managed to work safely with no injuries or near misses to report.

Pat setting up scaffolding for the roof

Byron and Pat working on the roof

Debbie handing a piece of zinc to the guys

We have missed a lot of service over the past two weeks, so we will have a lot of catching up to do. We did have a nice group out in service for the first Saturday of the month.

October 5th service in Pearl Lagoon

So - the secret is out and just about everyone knows - Jean Blake is getting married next month. As a congregation we had a "Bridal Shower" Nica style. We had planned to spend the day in Awas at the beach so that the kids could go swimming but, the weather didn't cooperate and so we had the party at the Kingdom Hall since it was empty (the Blake family had already moved out and we hadn't yet moved in).

There was lots of good food and plenty of laughs. When the invitations to the gathering were handed out each family was asked to bring a specific "gift" for Jean. For example, we were asked to bring a bag of salt (cost of 5 cordobas). During the party we "presented" the gift to Jean with instructions on how to use it. So, we told her that she would not always get along with Luke and that at times she will have to "season her words with salt and if all else fails she can use it to season her food too!" It was funny at the time! Everyone took a turn and we had a lot of fun - Jean got some practical advice too!  

We had lots of food and the kids played some games. When the party was over the Moms and kids went for a swim since the rain had stopped.

Some of the food for the party

Debby and Yoli


Jean with the kids playing a game

Amy and Fenelia

Yaya and June


Jean - the Bride-to-be


Nathan, Debby, Chase, Yoli, Katiel and Kathy

So, we moved yesterday and have settled our things into the Kingdom Hall. We have taken two rooms (one for our bedroom and one as a living room). Camille will have a room and then there is a fourth bedroom which holds all the "things" for the boat.

The room that we have for the "living room" has paint that compliments our furniture - so at least we won't have to paint it. We are struggling to set it up right - so if you have any suggestions please feel free to make them!

Our bedroom:

Now here is the real challenge - the kitchen. We need cupboards! We see two options - putting shelves under the counters or having a "pantry" built and putting it on the wall beside the fridge. We can't hang cupboards on the wall above the counter because I wouldn't be able to reach them. Any suggestions????

Really, anyone with an ounce interior design abilities - please help us out!

The neighbours are far away - so it will be a lot quieter.
from the back door

from the front door

large field on the left side

abandoned house and mango trees to the right

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1, 2013

Writing letters at the Kingdom Hall
Where did September go? I can't believe that today is the first of October. September ended up being a fairly rainy month and there were a number of days that we had to dedicate at least part of it to letter writing. I must admit that I enjoyed being able to sit down for a morning rather than tramp around in the rain. I'm afraid that at times there was a little more "chatting" going on than writing! I guess it was a good excuse to get to know our new brothers and sisters better.

September seemed to be a difficult month to settle back into routine with our studies. Many of them have taken advantage of the "shrimping" season to earn a little extra money and so haven't been available. Now that the season is over we should be able to get everyone back on track.

I really enjoyed the part last week on the service meeting "How did we do last year?". The figures for our small congregation were staggering! For a congregation of 11 people we had the following totals: 6,345 hours in the ministry, 215 books, 554 brochures, 2,431 magazines, 3,293 return visits and 525 bible studies (7 pioneers and 4 publishers).

The savanah between Pearl Lagoon and Raitipura

kids playing in a canoe

Nora - she joined us for our service arrangement

As a special treat Kathy prepared roasted turtleback. We all went to her house yesterday at noon to have a taste - it was soooo good! She also made some cassava (yuca) and banana to accompany it. Yum!

The hungry crowd!

Katiel making sure she doesn't miss out!

Haley and Amy enjoying the company

Kathy's dogs get the leftovers

Chase and Katiel having a ride on Byron's bike