Friday, October 31, 2008

October is over and November is coming!

Dear friends,

I must admit that I am glad October is over today. I am not crazy about Halloween. I will welcome my little neighbors and then hybernate in the back of the house. I am keeping my knee on ice for 3 days to see if the pain and swelling in the back of my left knee goes away before going back to the doctor next week. It has been hurting for 5 weeks. Since the ultrasound showed it wasn't a cyst or vascular problem, we still need to figure out what it is to figure out how to make it better.

I will be seeing by breast surgeon on Nov. 11th. I have so much 3 dimensional scar tissue under my arm and on my side where I had radiation, that it is beginning to concern me. The cancer that recurred 2 years ago was very small and felt the same way. How do we KNOW that this is just scar tissue and not cancer? My cancer looks and feels like scar tissue, which makes it tricky. I just don't want to miss an early diagnosis by waiting for a vascular system to develop if cancer is happening. I hope that is understandable. I already wrote about this in the summer in more detail.

I am scheduled to see a urologist in Dec. about the blood showing up in my urinalisis. I might get in sooner. They will probably do a scope to look around and don't want to do that until I am off of Coumadin. My oncologist is letting my off Coumadin on Dec. 6th so I am ready for these tests when I get back from Thanksgiving in PA on Dec. 8th.

I had a Taiwanese lady who is a missionary in Central Asia over for dinner last night, a Wycliffe missionary and our adopted daughter, Lindsay, who got engaged last weekend. She is the one who lived with us last summer. Greg is in Denver for the OMF board meeting and Jesse held his own at dinner as the only guy. What stories we heard! I wish I could have had you here as well! Joanne and I had a wonderful time of prayer when I took her back to her host home. I feel so very blessed to have these relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ from other parts of the globe...

Next weekend I will be in Seattle for a conference to learn how to do children's ministry cross culturally by an organization called Kidzanna. Partners is sending me with another Partners staff member who has a heart for this to see what we can learn and then pass on to our partner ministries in the 10/40 Window. There are many doing children's ministry who have not had much training. The catch is that they aren't asking for training because they have no idea that there are things to learn! So Arlene and I are going to at least get started with these resources and get ideas to present to the leadership at Partners. I don't have to teach or lead anything, so I will be able to enjoy learning with no pressure.

I am diving into curriculum writing for the next 2 days to finish my Dalit curriculum. I would appreciate your prayers that I will be able to make fast progress on the various segments of the curriculum and get them turned in to the Dalit Freedom Network and Partners. The DFN has a conference coming up and need several things done in time for that. Thank you for praying for God to give me creativity and clarity of thought as I work on writing these ideas down for others.
Happy All Saints Day on November 1st! Blessings- Nancy Fritz

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back from Colorado!

Dear friends,

It is Thursday afternoon and I got back from Denver on Tuesday evening. I am sitting in the waiting room at Inland Imaging to have an ultrasound done of my left leg. I saw my oncologist yesterday, and he felt we should look at the swelling behind my left knee right above the initial clot location in that leg. Since I am on Coumadin, it is very unlikely to be another clot. My INR right now is 4.1. It is supposed to be between 2.0 and 3.0, so it is very high. This level indicates how long it takes for your blood to clot. Coumadin thins my blood to keep it from forming any more clots (DVT’s) in my legs. Apparently, even after my 2 clots dissolved, residue can remain on the walls of those blood vessels, making rough spots which can attract new clots to form. Taking Coumadin for these months gets rid of the clots as well as the residue. I won’t take any Coumadin tonight and then will resume my dose and go back for a check on my INR level next week. I learned that it only takes 3 days for Coumadin to get out of your system.

As I have mentioned recently, there has been a count of 25-50 of blood in my urine. There should be none. 3 weeks ago I had a CAT scan done of my bladder and kidneys looking for the cause, and it showed no tumors or stones. Since the oncologist found a 50 count of blood cells in my urine again yesterday, he is talking to my internist about me going to a urologist for further investigation. I have had some level of blood showing up in my urinalyses for years, so since it has increased, my doctors feel it is time to find out why it is happening. The Coumadin might make a difference, but not this much. I should be talking to my doctors this week.

Now it is Sunday evening. The ultrasound showed there is no baker’s cyst or vascular problem behind my left knee. They will call me about that this week too.

Colorado trip
I went on the 14th and came back on the 21st. I visited a lot of friends, attended a few meetings and I want to tell you about the program I did last Sunday morning at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. On Saturday I went and set up for Sunday with Greg’s cousin, Keyley, for 1 ½-2 hours. We set up pictures with descriptions of Partners International projects on the walls all around the room. We also put up maps, posters and got all the supplies organized. I had very little to do on Sunday morning when I got there.

Well… you can probably expect a story is coming! On Sunday morning I learned that the class I was going to be with has 300 kids over the 2 hours. Last I had heard it was 150, and I usually had 60-70 per hour- max. So I had ½ hour to adjust my approach for the extra kids I would have. When I got upstairs to the room I walked in with a friend and the room was EMPTY! Through a miscommunication, the building staff guy took it all down that morning. The friend I was with prayed with me, an honest call to God for “HELP!” All my things were neatly piled on a table in the corner. We started to put it back together and as parents dropped off their kids, Shelby, Greg’s sister and my neice, Natalie, came, and everyone helped to put it all back on the walls. What a flurry of activity! I think we were done with about 10 seconds to spare! I will never forget that experience.

The lesson itself went extremely well. The lesson on Money and Missions was fun and educational. The kids seemed to really “get it.” They learned about international exchange rates, the need to pick what they are giving to strategically, and they learned how to figure out their tithe. Watching them “shop” for their projects was fun and hearing them share why they picked the ones they did was great as they had thoughtful reasons.

So after sharing about Partners International at the Outreach Leadership team meeting on Monday evening, I headed home on Tuesday. Greg and Jesse are hunting this weekend. I had 9 Ghanaian Whitworth U. students, the father of one of the students who is one of our PI partners, and 2 other families over for dinner last night. It was a nice time. Feeding college students is always satisfying, and it was nice to get to know Kofi Papa better. Today I took a long nap and talked to my mother for a nice visit. And now I am catching you up on these adventures.

I often meet people who tell me they read my blog. Thank you for doing that. I am humbled and blessed by your interest and prayers. I will let you know when I hear more from my doctor. God Bless you! Nancy Fritz

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ghana or Denver- Where am I?

Dear friends,

Last night I did a program with 60+ kids at our church about Ghana. Are you ready? We played Mancala which is called Oware in Ghana. The kids learned 2 praise songs in Twi. We ate pineapple, bananas, FuFu and something that starts with a B, both made from flour with cassava, plantains and yams. We did dances from Ghana (courtesy of a DVD from our public library) learned Twi words, prayed, played a tag game called, "The Big Snake," and learned facts about Ghana. Our church has a Ghana focus and we have several Ghanan students who attend our church while going to Whitworth University. One of these guys is Kofi. His father is coming next week and is one of our Partners International leaders in Africa. So we have church and Partners connections to Ghana. A guy at Partners gave me an outfit from Ghana, which is comfortable and pretty. The kids call me, "Hannah from Ghana." Our Ghana guys came and helped me cook the FuFu and teach the words, etc. We had 4 year olds to 5th graders and it was fun for all. Whew! I thank the Lord for staff at the church who help me execute my ideas with the kids. And the kids love learning about other cultures. I am tired today and have a pretty awful headache, but I had the strength when I needed it. My medicines have helped it tone down to tolerable now.

Next week on Tuesday, I am leaving for a week in Denver to visit our supporters and church there. I have been invited to do a lesson in Sunday School for the Bible Blast class. Our family has been adopted as their class missionary. Each S.S. class has an adopted missionary at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, CO.

I have an idea for the lesson I will do with them next week in Denver. I will have about 60 kids two times- so 120 total. I am planning to call it "Money and Missions." It is coming to me bit by bit from the Lord. That sounds strange probably, but during the day an idea will drop into my mind and it is like puzzle pieces falling one by one into place. The lesson will deal with issues about money and tithing, the economy, currency exchange rates and how that affects missionaries and the kids will also receive an allotment of pretend money to spend at the Partners International Store on projects featured in our current Harvest of Hope Catalog. I will have them posted all over the walls. They will each get a HOH catalog to take home as well. I think a song is even making its way into my mind today from the Lord to go with the lesson. You just never know with me! I liken myself to a combination of Dori from Finding Nemo, as my memory is about that bad, and the squirrel in Over the Hedge, when he drinks caffine and gets really hyper and moves at super-sonic speeds!

Medical Update
I had the CAT scan of my kidneys and bladder last Wednesday. I think because of my blood being extra thin due to the Coumadin I am on (last INR level was 3.7), it was very hard to get an IV in for the contrast. I think I had 5 stressful and painful tries before it finally went in. I was about to have the 3rd person try. I layed down after it had gone on for a while and didn't faint. I won't say more, but some of you know what I mean.

Anyhow, after the IV was in the test was pretty fast. My doctor called to tell me that nothing of concern showed up on the scan. He didn't see any tumors or stones or anything like cancer. Hallelujah! He said a lot of contrast accumulated in my appendix, but that it would dissipate over time. So, where the rubber meets the road, the blood in my urine has no obvious cause, so we don't need to be worried about it. Some people just have it, I guess. Just like some people get DVT's in their legs for no reason.

I'd appreciate you praying that my INR number, which indicates the blood clotting ability of my blood, will get down to the 2.0 to 3.0 range. I have it checked tomorrow. I haven't been wearing my compression socks because they have caused me to get a "bakers' cyst" behind my left knee. This pocket of fluid causes pain when I bend my leg too much. I ice it once or twice daily and that helps it to hurt less. Maybe I can get compression stockings instead of socks...I'll have to ask tomorrow.

Family News
I got to Skype with Allison last Saturday night for 1 1/2 hours! It was wonderful. Not as good as being with her, but a treat none-the-less. She met and spent time with the Australian drummer who played for Hillsong on their US tour. He and one of the teachers in her city is a Christian, but she is having a hard time finding English speaking Christians. She is going to try downloading church from the internet for her spiritual growth. She loves her students and teaching is going well. She MIGHT get to come home for Christmas and to be in a friend's wedding. Please pray for God's will about that. It comes down to money, as it usually does, but God can do it if He feels it is best for her.

Greg and Jesse are heading up into the WA mountains to hunt this weekend and for the next several weekends. I personally am hoping for an elk, but they haven't seen any animals on their scouting trips recently. I think this weekend, they only have tags for deer.

Laura, Jesse and Jenni are doing fine. And Greg is doing great. I sure do love him! Well, I should let you get back to your life. I need to make plans for my trip to Denver. I was so focused on Ghana for the last week or two, I haven't even arranged where to stay or a car to drive- Yikes!
May the Lord bless you as you bless others He brings into your life. Blessings- Nancy Fritz