Saturday, October 22, 2016

      It's October, but I'm not sure that we've recovered from the summer yet. I'm sorry if that sounds like I'm whining, but what a summer! Between the end of Spring and the middle of September, we had a high school graduation, visits to Sharon's parents in Texas, Paul's encounter with his newly discovered brother in Washington D.C. two memorial services of dear friends,  and Paul's class trip to Spain.  Patrick, Paul Hugh and Sharon all started new university programs.  Oh. Did I mention a wedding? The Wedding. Here are some photos and quick comments.
      In order to graduate, Czech students have to complete grueling written and oral exams called maturita. That's because it's assumed the process shows, or confers, maturity. In Paul Hugh's case, it really did! His results: English, 1, Psychology, 1,  Czech Language and Literature, 2 and Art, 1. Remember that 1 is the best. Paul Hugh graduated with honors. Interestingly, he and a friend were our school's first to choose Art for the finals. They worked together on a graduation project. In the photo on the left, Paul Hugh is defending his work before the evaluation committee. In the photo on the right, he is awaiting the announcement of his excellent results.
      At graduation, the class president traditionally makes a speech. Paul Hugh's was sweet and apt, full of respect and gratitude for the many adults who had brought them so far. And here he is, doing just that.

      Almost as soon as school was over, we received news that our dear friend Mike Packevicz was losing ground in his battle with cancer. Mike was the best man at our wedding, as you can see in this photo.

      Good friends recommended that we not wait until Lucy Rose's wedding to see him, so we changed plans radically and flew to see the Packevicz family in Connecticut. After some precious days with them, Sharon, Paul and Isaac drove across the country to meet Paul Hugh and his girlfriend, Kristina Kampová, at the airport. We all then flew to Texas to see the Nicholsons. Here's Grandpa smiling at the visitors and Kristina helping in Grandma's kitchen.
      Then came the toughest and most exciting part of our journey: getting back to Illinois for the wedding. This included welcoming some of Lucy Rose's Czech friends and of course helping with preparations for the festivities at Pottawatomie Park by the Fox River in Saint Charles.  What a lovely location!  Check it out here:
      This whirlwind adventure had too many highlights to get them all into a blog, but these pictures give a few impressions.
Lucy Rose got to introduce Sheldon to family and friends who feel like family
Wayne and Gina Detmer hosted a fabulous brunch where hymn-singing was a highlight

Paul's birth mother, Diana, got to meet some grandchildren and Sheldon for the first time
Isaac was in charge of preparing a dance for the wedding

Patrick was in charge of preparing a song

Our friend Matěj was in charge of keeping Sharon's folks with us by Skype
Thank you, Prem Thomas, for this great shot of the big moment

      After the wedding and a few days to recover, some of us headed home to the Czech Republic and Paul went to the Washington, D.C. area to have a first meeting with his newly discovered half brother. Wolf and Paul have the same Mom, biologically, and are just two years apart. Wolf is a scientist and leader of a government research agency. He was welcoming and they talked many long hours about family histories, hockey, Baltimore, Washington and even spiritual things.
      Paul got a little more time in Connecticut with Mike and his family before returning to Europe. Almost immediately, though, our dear friend Juanita Chamberlain passed away. Sharon was able to make it to New York for the services and fellowship in her honor.  Immediately afterward, Paul helped to lead the BMA fourth year student's trip to Spain, featuring Barcelona and then the beautiful medieval town of Girona, below.

      Immediately after that, Mike passed away, and Paul went back to the States. He spoke at the memorial service in Connecticut. Many of Mike's close men friends wore bow ties in his honor, as you can see below.

      And finally, sometime in October, we stopped traveling all over. We tried to settle back into school. We're settling back into church. Sharon sometimes leads worship and is once again leading a weekly women's ministry.  Paul still delivers about two Czech sermons a month. Soon B.M.A. will be in the thick of the fall recruiting season, with the trips to feeder schools and Open House day. Isaac is settling into school. He loves having almost four hours of dance classes every week. Paul Hugh is coming home from Slovakia almost every weekend. The leaves are turning yellow and gold and the mornings are chilly. Here's a scene from the mountain over our home. Consider a visit. Definitely pray for us, please.