May 29, 2012

Birthday Card from RCS Students

Thank you RCS elementary students for your beautiful, individually signed, giant birthday card!  Mr. denHollander delivered it yesterday and it put a smile on Mr. Westerink's face to see that you remembered his birthday and that you still think of him and especially, that you pray for him. Our family has been so blessed by all the love and compassion that has been shown to us, in so many ways, by the school community and by so many others.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


May 28, 2012

G Tube

Many prayers were answered and all went well for Jack's feeding tube insertion last Friday. He was calm, had no anxiety attack or breathing problems and the procedure went without complications. (Mind you he said "It was no fun", which of course, we weren't expecting it would be) . Here's a picture of us in the recovery room.

The VON nurse is coming daily for awhile to train me in how to care for the tube and how to do the feeds. One of the perks about having the G tube is that he doesn't have to swallow all those pills now every morning. I can crush them and put them in through the tube. We now have a pole and pump and syringes and cans and dressings and saline added to our growing collection of equipment.

Jack is still able to eat orally and the nutritionist is coming to discuss caloric intake and how to balance his oral and tube feeds.

We also decided that it was time for me to get some help and we are now getting one hour of PSW support every morning to assist with morning care and one night a week caregiver relief. This is a huge step for both of us, especially Jack of course, as this is another step, a difficult, humiliating, very personal one, but we trust that God will give him grace to bear this one as well.

Before Jack went in for his procedure, he received this little encouraging message from two of our dear grandchildren who wanted to cheer up Opa.

Aside:  My mom did not write this in her update, but I just wanted to mention that today, Monday, May 28 is my Dad's 58th birthday!  We are so thankful to God that he is able to celebrate another birthday here with us.  Feel free to leave a comment on this blog :)  They read each and every one of them!!   SB.

May 26, 2012

Never Be Tired of Speaking of Christ - J.C. Ryle

Do you ever try to do good to others? If you do, remember to tell them about Christ. Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant, tell the sick, tell the dying - tell them all about Christ. Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love; tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings; tell them what He has done for the chief of sinners; tell them what He is willing to do until the last day of time; tell it to them over and over again. Never be tired of speaking of Christ. Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ, as the penitent thief did; come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.’
~ J.C. Ryle

May 25, 2012

Please Pray Today

Our dad is having a PEG tube (feeding tube) put in today at 12:30pm.  It is a relatively quick and "routine" procedure, but we still covet your prayers.  

Please pray for peace and comfort during the procedure.  It is very difficult for my dad to breathe when he is flat on his back (which he needs to do for this procedure).  As you can imagine, that alone causes some anxiety.  Please pray that the procedure goes well and that there are no complications.  Please pray for strength for our Mom as well as she is quite exhausted and physically feeling the effects of sleepless nights and heavy lifting/transferring as my dad becomes much more dependent on her.

This is a big step emotionally for our parents, and for our entire family.  Dad is still able to eat, but soon even that will be taken away from him, and today is another obvious sign of the rapid decline of this horrible disease.  

Thank you for your prayers.  We know, and are comforted knowing, that God alone is in control.  

“My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  2 Cor 12:9

I Surrender All
Judson W. Van de Venter

All to Jesus I surrender; 

All to him I freely give; 
I will ever love and trust him, 
In his presence daily live. 

Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all, 
all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Humbly at his feet I bow, 
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; 
Take me, Jesus, take me now. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Make me, Savior, wholly thine; 
Fill me with thy love and power; 
Truly know that thou art mine.  

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Lord, I give myself to thee; 
Fill me with thy love and power; 
Let thy blessing fall on me. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Now I feel the sacred flame. 
O the joy of full salvation! 
Glory, glory, to his name! 


May 24, 2012

Two Trailer Posts:

An Unexpected Visit to the Trailer (by Jack)

We had the delightful privilege of spending two days at our trailer on Pigeon Lake, near Peterborough. Our son Gerrit and his wife Sarah, went there a week before us, to clean the trailer, cut the grass, put the boat in the water, and set everything up after being closed for the winter. To our surprise, a red squirrel had been busy storing pine cones in the kitchen cupboards (several garbage cans full). That squirrel could never have eaten that many pine cones in its entire lifetime! Thank you guys, for getting everything fixed up for us to be able to enjoy using it again. 

It was so nice to be able to experience God's beautiful creation, breathe the fresh air, have a fire from the dead branches we cleaned up, and to use the barbecue again. There is nothing quite like having bacon and eggs for breakfast on the deck, while listening to the birds singing God's praises in the trees around the trailer. 

It was also so good to see our son and grandson do some fishing (our families favourite sport ), and spend some quality time together. It is so important to build relationships with our children when they are young, and then to be blessed from those relationships when they are older. I am delighted to see that tradition continue!  

To God be the praise for undeserved blessings and gifts. Perhaps we can do it again soon. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

First Trip to the Trailer, and Why it was a really big Deal for our Family (by Joni)

Mom and Dad, Gerrit and Sarah and their 2 children made their first trip up to our family trailer on Pigeon Lake this week. We have a lot of wonderful memories there as a family - especially memories of good times for my Dad. For him - the trailer was a precious place of escape. Dad loved his very busy life at the school and the church and in his community but every once in a while you just need to get away from it all. Get away to a quiet lake where there are no sounds but a loon call. Where your daily "to do" list consists of heading over to the Mennonite shop for a fresh baked pie and some muffins, trying out a new lure on the lake, and making smores over a fire. When you live a public life that includes stressful meetings and conversations, sometimes it becomes a vital and wonderful thing to escape for a bit!

I think that our family, remembering the joy the trailer brought to our parents before Dad got sick, really wants to recreate just a small bit of that joy for them. But Dad is no longer in the public sphere. He no longer has full busy days, and doesn't need to "get away from it all" anymore. Going up to the trailer again actually seems like an exhausting and scary undertaking now for him. He feels safest at home with all his medical equipment, his lift recliner chair and the little bit of security that they have been able to create for themselves in a world which is becoming more and more unsecure. The symptoms of ALS are showing themselves more than ever for Dad. He has daily attacks where he can hardly breathe and has to stand, gasping for air to fill his lungs. He has cramping and spasms which last all night long, and his legs and arms twitch constantly. He gets a prickly, tingly pins and needles type feeling in his feet which causes him to moan in discomfort. His leg has started to vibrate up and down rapidly sometimes, and he can't control it. My Mom is starting to really feel the effects of long sleepless nights and pain in her whole body as she lifts and turns Dad on her own. Things are very difficult to say the least, and so home seems the safest place to be.

There is another reason why going up north is not a simple thing. While physically going has presented many challenges that my brother Gerrit has so joyfully undertaken (building a ramp, rearranging a bedroom etc.) there are also emotional challenges which are also a large hurdle. As each "tent peg" has been pulled from the ground of my Dad's life, God has graciously given him the ability to let go. Let go of walking. Let go of service. Let go of church duties, etc. He has emotionally boxed up that item, taped it off and given it to the Lord. I know my Dad and I know how he operates. He is the picture of efficiency! If you know him, you know that doing things twice is not his style. You do something right the first time and you are done with it. Junk mail comes out of the mail box into the recycling bin - you don't lay it on your desk. The phone bill is opened, paid, and put in the mail box - no filing it for later. This ability has served my Dad so well in his tasks as administrator. He is organized and efficient. He always had the items for the first staff meeting of September printed in June. By September he was planning the Christmas program and by January he had graduation Bibles ordered and the calligraphy done on the diplomas. He has been the butt of endless family jokes for this efficiency which has permeated every aspect of his life- from how he eats (fast!) to yard work and even to family relations. 

Emotionally this has usually proved beneficial for him as well. If there is an issue, you deal with it (no sweeping it under the rug or putting it on the shelf for later) and then you put it away for ever. There is no rehashing or pulling up old pains and problems - move on! I think this is the first time in my life that I have seen this attribute become a painful part of my Dad's life. He had given up the trailer and his northern vacations to God. He put them in a box, taped it up and realized that, that part of his life was over. God gave him the grace to give it up and he has his eyes fixed on the destination now. So bringing up the idea of trying to go back up north was very difficult. I think its something that you can't understand unless you have personally experienced this. Some area of your life that you thought you had with dealt with and then it comes back to you and even if its a good thing, it can be hard to "unpack" it again. Its something we have had to talk through as a family - understanding my Dad's anxiety about opening this door again, and deciding to go ahead with it anyways.

The reality is that sitting in one recliner for 18 hours a day, looking out the same window loses its appeal pretty quickly. For both my Dad and Mom, a change of scenery is necessary for different reasons now. They don't need to get away from the stress and busyness of their old life, but they need to see something new. They need to breathe fresh pine air, listen to the birds, walk (roll) by the water, and take pleasure and joy out of seeing their kids take pleasure and joy in being up North. They need to be distracted from the physical pain and the ever increasing demands my Dads care is having on both of them, and just see God's creation again with fresh eyes.

The trip up was no simple one. Packing lists now include: medications, drinking straw, wheelchair, commode, walker, etc. in addition to the regular things needed on a trip away. But by God's grace they were able to undertake this huge (for them!) trip. God gave travelling mercies, and a little bit of joy to weary souls. No red squirrel damage (see pictures) were able to take away the blessing of a few days away.

Just wanted to share this item of praise with you all, to thank you for your continued prayers for my parents. They desperately need it, as do our whole family. The journey is becoming very difficult, but praise God, joy can still be found!


May 10, 2012

Having No Fear of Death - J.C. Ryle

Christians no longer look forward to death with silent dismay, as a horrible thing which they don't like to think about. Through Christ they can look this last enemy calmly in the face, and say, “You cannot harm me.” They can look forward to all that comes after death - decay, resurrection, judgment, and eternity - and yet not be the least concerned. They can stand by the side of an open grave, and say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” They can lay down on their deathbeds, and say, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” “Not a hair of my head will perish.” This is true liberty. This is to be truly free. Best of all, those set free by Christ are free forever.    ~ J.C. Ryle

May 7, 2012

Walk for ALS

My grandson Elijah, is in Grade 3 and his teacher, Mr. Kloostra and another student in the class, Bryce, were having a competition growing their hair.  One day in class, they were discussing cutting their hair and decided that
it would be nice to raise money for a good cause. Elijah mentioned that he was going to walk on the ALS walk-a-thon and it was decided to raise money for that cause. Mr. Kloostra challenged the class that if they raised $100, he
would get his hair cut at the barber. If they raised $200, then he would let the students cut his hair! What if they raised $300, what would he do then?  He agreed to get a buzz cut. If they raised $400, he would also shave off his goatee. Elijah's dad said that if they raised $500, that he would
treat the class to a pizza party.Well, the class got busy, as you can imagine, and started calling and collecting furiously. At the end of the week, they had scraped together $1,473.57. Amazing!  

Friday turned out to be a very hot and muggy day; the perfect day to shed your winter mane and get your summer look and that is exactly what happened to Mr. Kloostra. The whole school was gathered out back around the playground equipment and there, on the top was a stool and an electric
shaver and a nervous looking Mr. Kloostra, with his long locks blowing in the wind for one last time. Beside him stood an overly eager Mr. den Hollander, grinning from ear to ear with shaver clutched in hand; but first the grade 3 class would get their turn. They were lined up at the bottom of
the ladder and one by one they climbed up, took the scissors and snipped off a chunk of hair and then slid down the slide. Once the class each had their turn, Mr.den Hollander finished off the job, giving their teacher a nice
buzz cut as well as shaving off his goatee. It was definitely a new look for Mr.Kloostra, a much "cooler" look.

Thank you Elijah for the great idea! Thank you Grade 3 for your enthusiasm and support! Thank you Mr. Kloostra for being such a good sport!

Once Mr. den Boer heard what the grade 3 class was doing, he was wondering what else the school could do to help out the Westerinks. He thought it might be a good idea to raise some money to help us pay for the extra expenses that we now have. He thought that since the shaver was going to be
out anyway, maybe it was time for his big, bushy, white beard and moustache to come off. After all, it has been 17 years since it last came off. The students were not allowed to ask their parents for money, it had to be their own money that they donated. The staff also generously donated and at the end of the week, staff and students had collected a total of $3026.42! The students were very excited to see a part of Mr.denBoer that they had never seen before, his chin and upper lip!

On Friday Mr.denBoer was up there on the bridge of the playground equipment with Mr.Kloostra and there, in front of the whole student body, Mr.Naves shaved off his beard and moustache. The Hamilton congregation is going to wonder who the new deacon is, this Sunday!

Thank you so much, Mr.denBoer and the whole staff and student body for your very generous support but even more than that, thank you for your love towards us and our family in our time of trial. Please continue to pray for us and we will continue to pray for Rehoboth Christian School, the whole
school community, which we love so dearly.

My wife Lena and our children and grandchildren will be walking in the ALS walk. The walk is booked for Sat. June 2/12 and it will be a 5 km walk around Bayfront park. If you would like to sponsor her, please follow this link.

If you would like to join "Team Westerink" on the walk, please register at the following link and click on the purple "Join Team" button:

Thank you to all those who have already joined and sponsored.

May 3, 2012

Five Encouraging Words - J.C. Ryle

When the apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans, he used five words which the wisest of the heathen could never have used.  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Seneca were wise people. On many subjects they saw more clearly than most people in the present day. They were people of mighty minds, and of a vast range of intellect. But not one of them could have said as the apostle did, "I have peace with God."  (Rom 5:1)  When Paul used these words, he spoke not for himself only, but for all true Christians. Some of them no doubt have a greater sense of this privilege than others. All of them find an evil principle within, warring against their spiritual welfare day by day. All of them find their adversary, the devil, waging an endless battle with their souls. All of them find that they must endure the enmity of the world. But all, notwithstanding, to a greater or less extent, "have peace with God."

~ J.C. Ryle

May 2, 2012

Sister-In-Law Returns to B.C.

Ineke, Lena's sister, returned home to B.C. today after spending six weeks with us. She was a big help during this time, and a great moral support as well. Ineke has been a nurse for over ten years, and her assistance and advice proved to be invaluable. She is a great cook, house cleaner, gardener, and fun to be around. We have always been quite close to Ineke, and we will miss her very much. We enjoyed many spiritual conversations ( daily ) together, and we see eye to eye and heart to heart on most things.  Thank you Ineke!

We would also like to thank Ineke's four children for selflessly giving up their mother to us for such a long time. This was your gift to us and we really appreciated it!