Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Off to England

This is a quick blog as we prepare to leave very early tomorrow morning (Wednesday, August 31).  In the photo below, you will see the four of us who will be sharing in some churches in the U.K.  We will be speaking in churches in the town of Guildford, about an hour outside of London.  We will also go to Oxford University, tour in the area where C.S. Lewis wrote his famous books, and then we will also see the sights of Cotswold where there are some ancient Roman ruins.

The four of us are.....Galen and Sondra Greenwalt, Ken and Beifei Edwards.

There will be many pictures that I will share when we return.

Two other important notes:

(1)  Sondra and I went over to Kirk's house last night to visit my sister Marti, who arrived earlier in the day from Oklahoma.  She will be out here a week to help Kirk and Tamra as the baby is still in the hospital.  Little Ezekiel continues to improve slowly with his lungs and breathing.

(2)  My brother Noel will have his ablation procedure done tomorrow morning at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.  This is being done to help with his heart issues.

Join us as we pray for Noel and Ezekiel in the healing of their bodies!

Monday, August 29, 2011

San Diego and Church

Saturday we left early to go down to San Diego for the day.

David had a meeting with his 50th High School Reunion committee for Hoover High School, where he graduated in 1962.  Their reunion is set for September 2012 and plans are being formed.  Prior to that meeting in La Mesa where we dropped him off, we went with him to a violin repair shop so he could get some input and opinion about his violin that he bought while in high school  It is an instrument that was made in England in 1803.  It has some heat damage and needs restoration.

After the violin shop, we took some time to go up to the Point Loma Lighthouse.  It is located on the national park grounds where the explorer Cabrillo sailed and first stepped on land in what is now California.  It was a gorgeous day, with sunshine and breeze.  For lunch, we went to the landmark Chicken Pie Shop, a restaurant diner that opened in 1940 in downtown San Diego.

Yesterday was Sunday.  Our church air conditioner did not get repaired in time, so we had an abbreviated worship service.  We sang one song, and then I preached the morning message.  After about 40 minutes, we dismissed.  We asked the congregation to gather on the stage to take a group picture for me to take to England for our mission trip.  We will then be able to show a picture of those in our church who are praying for them (in the U.K.) as they serve the Lord there.  It was a good day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hot Is Not Fun

Recently, I returned from Oklahoma where they continue to have hot, scorching days.  It was over 100 degrees the whole time we were there.

Well, we are having those same kind of hot days here.  This week has been in triple digits.  Today, it was 108 degrees and at 5:30 pm the power in Rialto, Fontana and part of Riverside went out.  No air condioning, naturally.  So, after about an hour I told Sondra, "Let's get in the car and drive around for a bit with the air conditioning on!"  We did.  About 30 minutes later, we saw the power and lights were back on in town and went home.  Having a power outage is not fun.

This week has been full of looking after people and getting errands done.

On Monday we visited our nephew and his wife (Kirk and Tamra Overstreet) at the Redlands hospital, as their newborn (Ezekiel) is having some lung problems immediately after birth.  The baby has been moved to the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) at the nearby Loma Linda Children's Hospital, which is one of the finest in the nation.  Ezekiel is making slow progress and we are so thankful.

Also, on the same day we went to see Mr. Freeman, our landlord and very close friend for almost 40 years.  He was in the VA hospital with some pain and breathing issues.  He is 82 years old and is not in good health.

I had an appointment at the VA hospital with my primary doctor, for a follow-up to my visit to ER and admission to the hospital last week.  He was pleased with everything right now.

My brother, David, and I have been very faithful lately in going to the park nearby and walking nearly 2 miles each morning.  I am finding that my lung capacity is improving and my endurance for each lap is getting easier.  I have lost about 8 pounds since my trip to the hospital last week.  Sondra is trying to keep me on track to limit my sodium and any foods that are not as healthy as others.  Anyway, I am glad to be working out and feeling better.

Last Wednesday, the air conditioner at the church went out.  So, we are hoping to find the funding from friends and members to pay for the repair or to replace the A/C unit.

Sondra and I are continuing to prepare for our mission trip to the U.K. next week.  It will be an exciting time to share the gospel and meet other believers there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boring Is Nice

The past few days have been quiet and calm.  That can be very nice, after some days of actiivity filled with concern.  I just rested for several days and and been feeling fine.  My blood pressure is normal, and I have been trying to work out daily.  I am walking a couple of miles each morning while it is cool.

Yesterday was a good Sunday again.  I was shown much love as I greeted those who attended prior to the worship service.  It is a good feeling to know people care deeply.  The worship started off with a prayer for our praise and worship leader, who did not show up and had not called to let us know he wouldn't be there.  After the service, I called and he was just finishing up from his work as a cement truck driver.  His truck had slipped about 10 feet over the side of a mountain near Big Bear and he had no phone service up there for some time.  I told him we had prayed for him, and he was so grateful.

In God's provision of those he brings our way, we have a back-up person who is ready at a moment's notice to help with leading music.  God is amazing as he brings individuals to serve who have special talents and abilities as well as a willingness to step in when needed.  My sermon for the day was about Abraham and his intended deception as he and his wife Sarah entered the land of Egypt and the reigning Pharaoh.  His lie brought plagues and unintended consequences.  God's grace and intervention showed God's sovereingty.  My message pointed out the predicaments we may face as ones we cause by lying, by broken trust and by disobedience.  One quote I used was by another preacher who said, "Instant obedience ot God's plan is real obedience.  Delayed obedience is disobedience."

After church, we had little Bailey and ate a light lunch.  Crystal and Shawn had asked us to meet them for an early dinner a little before 5 pm.  Shawn has been laid off from his joy, and Crystal had just worked her last day before taking maternity leave.  We talked about how life has many changes along the way.

They told us they had just found out that Kirk and Tamra (Marti's son and daughter-in-law) had just had their baby early Sunday morning.  What excxitement!  They named the baby boy Ezekiel Zion Overstreet.  We are certainly happy for them and hope to go by to see the baby sometime today.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Overnight in the VA Hospital

Two days ago (Wednesday), I had been sitting at my computer doing various things to catch up on needed work for both church and home.  As I stood up to go get a drink from the kitchen, I felt very light-headed and dizzy.  I assumed it was from just sitting for too long and getting a "head rush" too quickly. 

Anyway, I thought nothing of it and did nothing about it.  I happened to mention it to Sondra, and she became concerned.  She asked me to check my blood pressure.  My readings (as I took several) were all around 90 over 50.  A little low!  Because of that, Sondra called the advice nurse at the VA Hospital hotline and described my symptoms and what had happened.  With the background of my heart attack and bypass surgery two years ago, the nurse said I needed to go to ER to be checked out.  This all happened between 2 - 4 pm.  Sondra asked if I needed to go immediately, and the nurse said, "No, but I am inputting this in the computer so he needs to go sometime this evening."

So, I finished getting ready, and Sondra and I went to church.  I led the 7 pm Bible study.  Afterwards, I felt obligated to go to the VA Hospital ER and let them look me over.  I was not in pain, I had not been dizzy since that afternoon.  I therefore felt kind of silly going in.  I thought they would check my vitals, ask me questions and let me go.

Well, that didn't happen.

We arrived right about 9 pm.  They took my vitals, gave me a quick EKG, drew some blood and told me to wait.  After a while, they took me back in and tried to draw more blood but I am what they call a "hard stick" and they gave up for a while.  They then sent me to wait for a doctor to be available in the ER exam room.  Around 11 pm, I was seen by two doctors at various times.  Also, more vials of blood were taken and sent up for evaluation.

One thing I learned while they were taking blood was that tea, because of the caffeine, has a diuretic effect.  I was taking blood pressure pills plus four "water pills," plus then I had been drinking a lot of ice tea that day.  I was told that the ice tea doubled the effect of flushing the liquids from my body!  That dehydrated my system.  I was told to drink decaffeinated ice tea from now on.  I had been drinking fluids all day, but I was still dehydrated because of the tea!

Close to midnight, the doctor came to me and said, "We are going to admit you now."  I was flabbergasted!  I was not ready for that, as there did not seem to be any indication so far.  The results, however, were showing that my kidneys were not functioning properly.  I was dehydrated, and my blood pressure was low.

I was wheeled immediately to my room where I was to be admitted.  The nurses there asked me many of the same questions I had been answering all night, while they took more blood and gave me more "physical ability" tests for eye and hand coordination.  By the time they finished it was around 1:30 am.  I was in a room with three others already asleep for the night, so now there were four of us in the room.

Thankfully, it did not take long for me to go to sleep, but I woke up around 5 am.  The nurses were back in, taking blood samples from us all, as well as taking our vitals.  I got no sleep after that.  I found out again how bad hospital food can be.  Both breakfast and lunch were tasteless, no matter how much pepper and salt substitute I used!

I was seen by several doctors.  I was given a steady drip IV to rehydrate all day.  I was told that the dehydration had given me a "dry kidney."  After the IV all day, they were hoping I would rebuild to a functioning "wet kidney."  Thankfully, that happened.  At 2:30 pm, they came back with a report that my kidney was functioning well so I was discharged and sent home with new meds.

During the morning and early afternoon, I began talking to a fellow veteran who had spent the last three days at the hospital in this room.  During our conversation, he asked me, "So, what do you do now?"  That opened the door for me to talk about my ministry as a pastor.  To make a long story short, he told me he had been thinking about going back to church and was going to start looking.  He asked me for my business card, which I just happened to have!  He and his wife live in Ontario, very close by our church.  He told me I will see him soon at church!  His name is Joe Sanchez.

If for nothing else, my overnight stay at the VA Hospital may have been just for me to meet Joe Sanchez and help him in his walk of faith.  I am looking forward to the days ahead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Exciting News

I have been in conversation with an individual who has invited me and Sondra to be a part of a mission trip to the UK, specifically the Surrey area of England.  I did not share this with anyone for several weeks because I was not sure it would come to fruition.  Now, all the plans are in place, with airline tickets and most of the schedule in place.  I will be preaching and sharing in various churches in the town of Guildford, which is the home of the University of Surrey.  We will also be spending some time in Oxford, as well as the countryside of Cotswold where there are many ruins from the early days of Roman rule many centuries ago.

God has provided all the finances for this 12-day trip.  We will leave on August 31 and return on September 12.  We will be staying much of the time with a Christian couple who has been actively involved in mission work around the world.  Another couple will be part of this as well.  Ken and Beifei Edwards, the couple who will travel with us, are a part of our church and actually were part of a mission trip to China last year.  Beifei is origianally from Beijing.

On another note, today is my mother's birthday, August 16.  She is 88 years old today.  She is doing well and will be having a stir-fry dinner this evening at my sister's house (Marti and Bill Roberts).  Naturally, Noel and Mark are invited as well as they are staying in Shawnee for a couple of weeks.

I am getting caught up on some church errands this week, as we have just returned from our trip to Oklahoma and Missouri.  This past Saturday, some church members held a Yard Sale at the church to help raise funds for our mission efforts in both Mexico and the Homeless Feeding.  At the Yard Sale, a lady who attends our church was helping and approached me about being baptized.  She was insistent that I baptize her the next day (Sunday).  I was thrilled, and we got everything set for the baptism.  Sunday was a wonderful day of joy and fellowship, and this woman (Rosie) came up out of the baptismal water and gave me a big hug......and therefore my shirt of wet for the rest of the service.  Everyone chuckled and we had a good laugh.  We have great fun as we worship and praise our wonderful Lord.

I have been trying to walk several miles each day in preparation for our trip later on.  I have lost some weight but need to lose much more in the months ahead.  So, it's one step at a time!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back Home Again

The trip to Oklahoma was a series of ups and downs for Noel's heart health issue.

The doctors put him on some new prescriptions and therefore they needed some time for it to show its effect.  Noel went in for more blood tests this past Monday.  Now, as of yesterday (Friday), he is back in Shawnee to wait for his next appointments, and then the doctors will talk about any upcoming procedures they will do.  So, it is probably another several weeks before any procedure is done.  Therefore, it is simply a time of patience and hopeful expectations for these days ahead.

Sondra and I spent much time at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital that week.  Noel continued to have daily episodes of extreme pain with his problem.  After his discharge, we took him back to Springfield, Missouri, and Sondra and I stayed there for several days.  In fact, at Noel's pastor's invitation, I preached in the morning worship service there in Springfield.

We went back to Shawnee, spent time with mom and Jason's family, and then we headed home this past Thursday morning.  We got up and left at 5:45 am (Oklahoma time) and drove straight without stopping (except for gas, bathroom breaks and fast food to go).  It took us a little over 20 hours driving time, so we arrived in our driveway a little after midnight (Thursday night).  Yes, we were very tired, but we were very glad to be home as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Medical Information on Noel

A week ago Monday, Sondra and I left on an emergency trip to Oklahoma.  My brother, Noel, was admitted to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Midwest City (just on the outskirts of OKC).  He was having severe pain in his chest with his heart condition.  As background, he also has diabetes and has had four stents implanted in the last several years.  Some years ago, he received a pacemaker for his heart also.  A year and a half ago, he suffered a stroke as well.

This will be a load of medical information, which you may or may not want to read in its entirety.  Just know that Noel is at mom's house in Shawnee this afternoon after a ten-day stay in the hospital.  He was ready to get out and have some good food, so we went immediately to Chili's for a quick lunch.  He enjoyed it immensely.  He is now busy this afternoon getting all his lab work and doctor's appointments lined up for the days ahead.  He hopes to get the ablation therapy soon.

So, here's the medical scoop.

While in the hospital, Noel has had many tests.  He had three separate head CT scans, an abdominal ultrasound (looking at liver, bladder, pancreas), a carotid artery ultrasound, an echocardiogram (EKG), a TEE (Trans-Esophageal Echocardiogram), and an angiogram.

Noel is in atrial fibrillation almost 100% of the time.  AFib (for short) is the abnormal heart rhythm of the two upper chambers of the heart.  It involves the quivering (fibrillating) of the heart in the atria, rather than beating in a coordinated contraction.

The real problem for Noel is severe chest pain.  He describes it as a tremendous pounding of his heart (like he has run a marathon) even when he has done little or no physical activity.  While in the hospital, the pain was so intense that he was given nitro pills and then morphine to contain the pain symptoms.  Apparently this problem is due to his AFib condition.  Several doctors have now come to common agreement on the ablation therapy to fix the problem.  If that doesn't work, the MAZE procedure may be considered, which calls for open heart surgery.  The ablation is the first and least invasive surgery.

So to make an attempt to fix the AFib issue, one procedure is ablation.  This is a specialized procedure to treat AFib by a heart specialist called an electrophysiologist.  It is performed by guiding special wires and instruments through the circulatory system to the heart.  The areas of the heart or arteries that cause the abnormal electrical signals are neutralized.

Noel has been contacted a short while ago, and sppointments have been set up for him to see his heart specialist and another doctor (the electrophysiologist) on Thursday, August 18.  Apparently, they will set up the ablation surgery at that time.  He also has lab tests next Monday, August 8.  All of these appointments are in the OKC area.  That's it for now.