August 17, 2011

Greetings dear friends and family,

I am writing to you from our trailer on Pigeon Lake near Peterborough, Ontario. It is a beautiful day here and we are enjoying a few quiet days together. This is week 8 of Lena’s vacation from work. She took four weeks of paid vacation time and four weeks of unpaid leave of absence. We have enjoyed many one on one personal visits with friends and family at our home, and here at the trailer.

Jack with his parents, brother Doug and sisters Margaret and Joanne.

The time sure has gone fast. Lena will be going back to work on August 22nd. We spent 8 weeks together, 24-7, and it will be a big change for us again when she goes back.

In June, we decided to wait until the end of the summer before making any major decisions and changes in our lives. I think that this was good because it gave us time to think things through, and we did not want to run ahead of God. In the mean time, the ALS has continued to progress quite rapidly, and I can notice an almost daily regression. The time has now come to make these decisions and we thought we would bring you up to date on what we have done.

Last week we prepaid the costs and made all of the arrangements at the cemetery where we have our grave plots, and the funeral home. All that is left to do is write the obit for the Hamilton Spectator. It may sound strange to you, but it was good for me to be able to walk into these places, make the choices, and sign my own name. It is something I really wanted to do this summer.

Last week I also met with the elders and minister of our church. I retired from active duty as an elder. This past Sunday, our minister Pastor Procee addressed me personally, my wife, children and grandchildren at the end of the service. It was a very emotional event for me and I really appreciated the way in which our Pastor spoke. He truly has been a kind, caring, loving Pastor and friend. I have served in the consistory for 21 years, and always considered it a great privilege and honour to be part of the work. However, I must confess with scripture, that at best, I have been an unprofitable servant. My official work needs the cleansing blood of Christ, and there is nothing there to build on. This chapter in my life has come to a close.

This week I met with the executive of the school Board where I have worked for 33 years (20 years as Principal). Rehoboth has a very gifted, dedicated, experienced and supportive school Board and Education Committee. I needed to make a decision concerning my future involvement with the school, and this decision will be made known to the teaching staff and membership soon.

Concerning the home that we have moved into 3 months ago, before we knew that I had ALS, we have decided to stay put and make the minimum modifications necessary for me to be able to function. As you know from previous emails, the Lord has wonderfully provided, through the generosity of a Christian family in Cambridge, a substantial amount of very expensive equipment (two wheelchairs, powered lazyboy chair, commode, special pillow, seatlifter, etc.).

This past Monday night Harry DeHaan, from Double H Construction, and our son Gerrit, came over to discuss the needed renovations to our bathroom. The next morning, yesterday, the work crew came to the door first thing in the morning, laid the drop sheets and began the work – deconstruction before the reconstruction. Plumbers showed up in the afternoon and roughed in the plumbing for the new fixtures. Wow! Things sure do happen quickly, for which we are grateful.

Last night we decided to go to our grandchildren’s soccer game. I didn’t really feel up to going to the game, but we went anyway and found out later why we had to be there. I introduced myself to a woman there and got to talking and it ends up that she bought a new house which has a chair lift in it and they plan on tearing the house down anyway so she said we were more than welcome to have it!  We had been talking about purchasing one from Kijiji, but again, God overwhelms us with His providential goodness and mercy.

On September 10th, we hope to attend the wedding of our niece in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Quite a few relatives from the Netherlands plan to be there as well. We look forward to meeting them. It is difficult for us to plan much further into the future than that. God has been so good and merciful to us.

We have had our down times here and there, but mostly we are at peace with God’s way in our life. Sometimes it can briefly seem surreal, like it is happening to someone else, but then I take a few steps and reality quickly sets in again. So many are praying for us, for which we are grateful, and we receive strength and encouragement from them.

Pastor Schoeman, from St. George FRC, had a sermon last Sunday on the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the desire to be rid of it, and the Lord’s gracious answer to him:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (II Corinthians 12:9)

That has been our experience and our prayer as well. Our desire is that God would truly be glorified in all things.

Jack and Lena

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