Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2
It's Flame Tree season on Guam right now. The photo of this tree comes from one of Guam's small public parks. These trees are large and lovely, and stay in bloom all summer, once they get going. What a beautiful time of year.
It's also birthday season in our family. Cristel Boedecker, who is a sort of second daughter of ours, has a birthday tomorrow. Jeff is the day after that, August 4. Ben Walhof, one of our grandsons, is August 5, and his Uncle Andrew Johnson is on August 6. Wow!
In Jeff's birthday card this year, I quoted a writer I dearly love, one of America's earliest female poets, Anne Bradstreet. In 1678, she wrote to her 'dear and loving husband' the following:
If ever two were one, than surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
compare with me, ye women, if you can.
Clearly, there was more to those Puritans than met the eye!
It's no small blessing to have been married for nearly thirty-eight years and still feel so fortunate. So this year, I'm celebrating birthdays along with Flame Tree season, and honoring my own old(er) flame at the same time!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yesterday, July 22, was Liberation Day on Guam, arguably our largest public holiday. People set up canopies all up and down Marine Corps Drive and enjoy a parade that has to be one of the longest anywhere. Yesterday it began about 9:30 am and ended at close to 2 pm, with nearly 85 entries. Actually, the festivities commenced a few days ago when the Marine Corps Band from Okinawa arrived on island and began holding concerts at parks, shopping centers, and senior citizen residences. The video here is a sample of their delightful traditional patriotic music. They also brought with them a group called the "Party Band," which plays great jazz and pop music as well--many younger folks prefer the jazz to JP Sousa (though I confess to being a traditionalist in that regard).

The Lutheran Church of Guam really gets into Liberation Day. This year, on the night before the parade, people gathered at the church for a sleepover that included an evening of board games. The children seemed to sleep comfortably on their air mattresses or the padded chairs we use instead of pews. Parents seemed somewhat less delighted by the night's sleep they reported the next morning, but everyone was cheerful. Some folks ate breakfast downstairs and some wandered up to the parsonage and everyone was on hand by the time the parade began. During the parade, around lunch time, the barbecue began and we enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers fresh off the grill. By the time the lunch and the parade were finished, attrition had set in and most of the kids were in the church watching a movie, while a number of their parents napped.

Which may have been just as well, actually. Toward the end of the parade, at a home between the church and the entrance to the Adelup Governor's Complex, a family was peacefully gathered in the shade of a large flame tree in the yard when a sharp cracking sound alerted them to trouble. Before they could move, a large portion of the tree broke off and plunged to the ground, injuring three people beneath it. The first, a child, was treated at the scene and released to his parents. The second, an adult man, had his leg badly broken, and the third, a middle aged woman, was rushed to Navy Hospital, where she died shortly afterwards. One of the church members had walked down that way and, seeing the accident, rushed back to get Dr. Mike Arnold of our congregation, who ran to assist with care for the victims. We all feel so badly for the family, whose Liberation celebration ended tragically.

In the evening, fireworks were scheduled to be displayed from Chamorro Village. As we've done for a number of years now, we had ice cream sundaes at the parsonage about 8:30 pm, prior to watching the fireworks from the lanai at 9 pm. We've always had twenty to twenty five people come in the past, but our publicity must have been better this year. We had about sixty takers!

It's all over now, of course, and Guam's businesses are back in operation as of this morning. We still mourn with our friends down the block. I'm still humming patriotic tunes. There's still a little leftover ice cream in the freezer. We still wish, most of all, that you were here to join with us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Although sometimes our lives, like everyone elses' lives, are more hectic than we'd like, one thing we do that we really enjoy is swimming. There's just something about salt water that relaxes us and the half hour or so we spend in it is a wonderful time to talk together. The beach shown here is not far from our house and when we walk into the water, we are in depths over our heads within about ten steps.

For some reason, one of the things I like best about this swimming beach is the late afternoon shadows of the nearby palm trees which show up on the water. Today, I finally remembered to bring my camera, so you could see them, too.

At this time of the year, we can't make anyone jealous because of our weather. It's gorgeous in the mainland at this time of year, too. But still, Guam has many good points, and nice warm salt water to swim in is certainly one of them.

By the way, I'm now on yet another revision draft--the third one--of my novel. I want to write as well as this story deserves and so far I'm not quite there. I belong to both a local and an on-line critique group and they certainly have been helpful. Still, I have promised Jeff this will be the last revision before I print it and send it out to readers. Incidentally, if you are one of those folks who agreed to read it, I'm sorry to say it won't be in your hands by June 1st. But I hope to have it done and mailed by June 10. Hope your projects, whatever they are, continue to do well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catching Up

Today I realized with a start that I haven't updated our blog for two months. The lapse has certainly not been because nothing is happening here! In fact, the opposite is true--we've been very busy. For this blog entry, I'll be describing a new venture of mine. As some of you know, I completed my wonderful job with the ELCA's Global Mission Unit on December 31, so no more trips to supervise teachers in Japan, Hong Kong, mainland China or Indonesia for me. Am I sad about that? Absolutely! Do I miss the travel and my friends across Asia? Indeed I do? Does this change mean new opportunities? It certainly does, and I'm grateful for them.

The most exciting opportunity that's come my way so far is completing both the first draft (in February) and the first revised version (this morning) of a novel, Family Decisions, that I started a few years ago and never managed to finish until my job ended. As some of you know, I've published (with my three intrepid co-authors) two education-related books about teacher mentoring. One really sold well, had an expanded second edition published recently, and--how's this for an odd experience--was chosen for translation into Chinese! But I've never before tried fiction. I plan to attend the annual conference of the American Christian Fiction Writers in September to learn a bit more about the fiction market and fiction writing in general. Will this novel ever see print? Some days I read a section and think "This is pretty good;" other days, I read a section and think, "Why don't you just shut off your computer and go clean your kitchen cupboards!" Whether or not I manage to get into print in fiction, though, I'm thrilled to finally be trying something I've wanted to do since middle school. Not everyone gets a chance to pursue this kind of dream--it's a privilege.

My husband, a.k.a. the Energizer Bunny, is working at his usual frantic pace and enjoying his life as much as ever. Tomorrow morning he will have the wonderful privilege of baptising a whole family--great people--out in the ocean in front of the church. Last week, a class of 24 new folks was taken into membership. The church parking lot project is 3/4 finished and looks good. Many, many exciting things are happening.

Suddenly, this blog sounds like one of those gloating Christmas letters we all hate to receive: "Both my husband and I got promotions at work this year, our son Buzz was named all conference quarterback and our daughter Honey made the dean's list and was accepted at 4 Ivy League colleges." Life has been good lately, but the credit goes to Someone much more accomplished than we could ever hope to be!

I conclude with a (commercial) picture of Guam from the air. Such a small piece of land, surrounded by a formidable ocean, but even here, God is present and building his Kingdom every day. We're happy to be able to help the process along. Happy Mothers Day, everyone!

Guam From the Air

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Island-Wide Match-Up

On Sunday, March 14, our son Andrew's team, the Shell Hal's Angels, played in the Miller Football League (MFL. . .okay, it's a corny name!) island wide championship. They were playing the Docomo Pacific Rams, a team they'd beaten once and lost to once before as well. Both teams have unusually good defensive sides, and it turned out to be a largely defensive game, with only one touchdown each. In the end, because Andrew's team had gotten a two-point conversion while the other team only got one point after their touchdown, Andrew's team won and they became the champions. He played very well all season and got a lot of playing time. He's already looking forward to next year. It's been amazing to us how the community has come out to take an interest. Our island newspaper--which covers the league as if each game were the SuperBowl--estimated Monday that there were more than 2000 people in attendance. Great fun--and a nice opportunity for us to spend Sunday afternoons in island-style fun.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ague Cove

Last Sunday, Jeff and his friend Dave went for a hike to Ague Cove, a short, steep hike with a rocky coast at the end of it. The hike involved some swimming and snorkeling, too. They both really enjoyed it. Dave sent along some pictures, too, which I have attached. Sometimes in the bustle of our lives, we forget how beautiful our island home is--these photos remind us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Temporary Rest and Permanent Retirement

We've seen a nice contrast in the last few days. On the left here is a picture of the beginning of the retirement ceremony for MSgt Wes Willand from the Air Force. Beside him is MG Don Goldhorn, of the Guam National Guard. Below is a picture of Jeff's day off yesterday--the rhythm of temporary rest for Jeff and permanent retirement for Wes struck us greatly yesterday.

Jeff's day off yesterday was much needed--it's been busy around here. We went to Ipan Beach Park (near Jeff's Pirates' Cove, if you know Guam). We spent almost six hours there, talking, reading, swimming, napping, and enjoying the perfect weather. If you are in the midst of winter. . .sorry. Just remember when you are having beautiful summer and fall weather, it's pouring buckets out here, so there is justice in the world!

Last week, we went to our first military retirement ceremony for our friend and congregational member Wes Willand, who will be leaving the Air Force after 20+ years of service. He'd like to have stayed in a bit longer, and so it was a slghtly bittersweet day for him. However, we were so impressed at the supportive traditions of the Air Force. People had a chance to share good memories of working with Wes. His career in the military was detailed so that everyone could recognize his faithful service. His family received thanks for their sacrifices and their support. Pictures were showed, laughed at, cried over. There were presentations of momentoes and new awards. Another congregational member, who heads the Guam National Guard here, gave a very good speech, full of praise and humor and accolades. Wes had a chance to recognize the workmates who have been most special to him. God's name was honored throughout. I couldn't help contrasting this ceremony with its helpful and meaningful rituals, with some of the non-military retirements I've seen--a handshake, a plaque, or sometimes no recognition at all. It was a meaningful difference. It made me glad that we take time to recognize the departure of members here at LCG. Maybe the church should do even more, because these are important transitions. Something to ponder. . .