Tickets to Ride – Stories of Travel

Today we began the first of three days’ journey to return to Japan.

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With the help of my sister Allison and our friend Arlene, two vans got our family of six and ten pieces of luggage to the Philadelphia Airport.  We flew to Phoenix and then transferred, arriving in LAX around 6:30 pm.  Eric had rented a VERY large van to hold all of us and our luggage for the next 24 hours.  We will be here in LA until we fly out at midnight tomorrow night to Seoul, then on to Japan, arriving in Sendai on Friday afternoon (Japan time).

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Southwest Airlines requires that even children carry their own boarding passes to get onto the planes.  Of course I waited until the very last minute to put each ticket  into each respective happy hand.  Our four kids suddenly felt very adult being able to carry their own pass to the gate!

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Before leaving this morning, Olivia and I drove over to see my Dad one more time.  We had had a sweet dinner last night with him and his wife Mickey;  this morning was just a short visit to say goodbye.  He was having a physical therapy treatment at the time;  sadly these last two days his dementia has seemed more pronounced.  He knew who I was;  but this morning at least didn’t seem aware of the dread that he and I both usually feel at saying goodbyes when we are returning to Japan.  Maybe that was good.

As we turned to walk out of their retirement community, I had to wonder what it will be like the next time I return.  Short of a true miracle, I know that next time I see my father he will likely not be in this same facility;  he will probably be  less lucid.  He will probably be even less able to get around.  I do not know for sure if he will live until my next visit (we never know this, do we?).  Sweet Olivia ran back in to give him one more hug.  I held my breath and looked away because I did not want to cry at that time.  I desperately wanted to know when I will be home next and what it will be like;  and yet I just as desperately did not really want to know.

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One of the most significant events of this summer was a short visit that I had several weeks ago with dear friends in the Washington DC area.  Their family had been close to ours when we were young;  our parents had attended college together and then both couples had become missionaries in different countries in Africa.  I happened to live near them after college when I moved to Virginia.  It was during that time that the husband Ray contracted ALS Disease.  My parents made numerous visits to help out and visit;  my Dad conducted his funeral several years later.  I still remember my dad sharing the story there of Ray laying on his bed, unable to talk, and spelling out the verse from Job, ‘though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

During our visit with a mutual friend several weeks ago, we found out that his youngest daughter, L., was now virtually paralyzed by the same terrible disease.  Eric and I knew that we needed to visit.  I was so thankful that her mom. answered my call and invited me to come by on our way out of town.

Eric ending up taking the kids driving somewhere while I visited. L.’s eyes lit up when she saw me walk in and she had a huge smile- that made me so happy.  She cannot speak; she has a ventilator, feeding tube and trache.  She can only move her eyes – blinking yes and no.  And she can smile.

My time with her was so precious.  While I sat with them, her mom reminded us both of some childhood and other memories.  And then she reminded me of something I forgot – I had taken L. to the Billy Graham crusade in Washington DC back in the mid 80s – I can’t believe it. (I have a bad memory).  She was about five years younger – maybe a high schooler at the time.

I asked her if L. has faith.  She said her family hadn’t talk about faith things a lot, but recently they had discussed it. and she answered that L. does have faith, but that she is afraid to die.  This is when Lisa’s tears started.  So I addressed that, and talked about the Presence of Jesus – how he is with us now, how when we each die the reality is that He is all we will have.  I won’t be with my husband or kids at my own death – only Jesus himself – but that Jesus is enough.  And He will accompany her thru death into new life, and give her a brand new body – and she will meet her dad with a brand new body. And Jesus will be here with her mom as well, helping her cope without Lisa.  I recited Psalm 23- what wonderful promises are in this psalm! – and I prayed with her, laying my hands on her that she would be touched and filled with the Presence of the Holy Spirit.  I asked if she could feel Jesus in her body and she blinked yes.  We both cried and cried some more.  I felt the anointing of Jesus on the timing of this.

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There is a story that I love from Corrie Ten Boom’s the Hiding Place:

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.”

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Tonight, as I sit in this hotel room with my feet straddling two worlds, anxious unknowns, summer memories, and future questions whirling in my mind, I picture the confident little hands of my almost-five year old as he marched next to me with his boarding pass waving in the air.  And I know that I, too, can trust my Jesus to give me – and each of us — at just the right time! — the boarding pass that we need for each new passage.

On Becoming a Lice Professional

You can get a sense of what our lives are like when one day our blog talks about tsunami relief efforts up north and then, I return to the realities of scourging lice in the next.  Hopefully, this is our last entry (for awhile!) on this topic.

While still being cautious, I want to tell you that sixteen days later we are now – very tentatively – lice free.  I have not dropped my vigilance! — I am still scared every night I check every head in our family and am constantly changing pillowcases just in case — but things are looking good.

Now that I am a self-proclaimed lice professional, here are my recommendations for any moms down the road who experience the same panic that I did when I got that dreaded call from the school.  (I have to say there has been great commiseration from more people than I ever expected who have gone through this as well.  I found out that right now the Christian school on the other side of Osaka has had a really bad problem with their girls and lice- they have instituted a no-hugging policy to try and stop it).

Here are my recommendations for getting rid of lice in your family, in my own order of priority:

(Note:  we used the pharmacy lice shampoo for a week, and the lice came back after nine days before doing the last dose.  It did not seem effective enough.  Others have found it really effective, but I was concerned about using such strong shampoo for another week on children, based on what I have read about its toxins).

1) Buy a lice metal comb at the drugstore and use it EVERY night for about ten days.  The plastic ones that come in the shampoo boxes for lice do NOT work to remove the eggs from hair.  You need the metal comb;  and you need to go through each child’s head meticulously, every night.  Sometimes I found it easier to use my fingers than the comb, but the comb helps during the initial infestations.

2) Denorex  Shampoo – This was the number one recommended de-licer.  You can use it every night on your whole family safely (or at least safer than the official lice shampoo).  It is a strong dandruff shampoo – the first night leave it in everyone’s hair for 30 minutes while they are showering, then rinse.  It will feel cold and tingly on their scalps.  Then rinse it out, and use it every night for at least a week.  We are continuing for two weeks – just in case.

3)  Buy a small bottle of tea tree oil (Amazon Japan has one company that sells it for 980 yen).  Add about ten drops to your favorite conditioner  – use it after the shampoo and keep using it.  Lice hate the smell and apparently it helps prevent lice from coming back.  We also put ten or twelve drops with water in a small pump bottle and use it every morning when the kids go to school and I do their hair. You can use this oil to clean your hairbrushes and put a few drops into your laundry as well.

4)  Mayonnaise or olive oil the hair once at the beginning – apparently this smothers the live lice.  In the sink or shower massage a significant amount into the hair- all over – and wrap with several layers of saran wrap.  Leave on for at least one hour, then rinse.  You can then use the denorex shampoo and conditioner.  Some recommend keeping this in overnight – I couldn’t do that to our kids.

5) Coat the hair in vinegar after the rinse.  Seriously.  This helps loosen the nits that are stuck on the hair.  We did this the first three nights and then stopped when most of the eggs were gone. My daughters’ hated this the most, and it is sting-y on eczema or sores, so it is better to do this step in the sink.

6) LAUNDRY everything- bedding, pillowcases, pajamas, towels, couch pillows and blankets, and vacuum well.  We have changed pillow cases and towels every night this past week; and I’ve changed the sheets every other night.  Thirty minutes in the dryer works as well.

7) Cut hair if you can!  Short hair is a lot easier to find the nits. We cut our two boys’ hair. I have kept my long-haired daughter’s hair braided (the one who happens to be totally into Rapunzel/Tangled right now – I can’t bear to break her heart by cutting it).

8) Be diligent – every night- in looking for the nits.  The ones within a few centimeters of the scalp are the ones you need to be most concerned about.  They are usually shiny and off-white.

9) Follow the lead of  Betsy Ten Boom and Annie Takamoto- and practice the discipline of thanking God even for lice that have stolen six hours of your day.  I realized after several days of trying to thank Him as sincerely as possible (sometimes with gritted teeth!) – that one of the wonderful results is that it includes God in the process of what I amdoing… it allows him to enter into my bad days and my frustrations.  I don’t need to do this alone.  He wants to take the lead – and it is a beautiful thing to give away the lead and let him bear it with me.  We stilll found nits and a few lice for several days after, but I didn’t feel alone.  I could thank God, and remind him that HE needed to clean up this problem.  I don’t need to understand all of his purposes, but I can trust Him.

So, as my back has continued to not get better and cause considerable pain, I have begun thanking God (once again sometimes with gritted teeth) for my lower back pain.  And once again, God is reminding me as I do this that He is involved in my pain, that He cares for me, that I can trust Him.