from east to west


Crews of friends from various contexts gather in Philly to carefully organize and pack the stuff of life for three of their friends who just moved to Oregon.

West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship

Among these faces you’ll find Lorie (front, black top), the pastor of West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, who gave her permission to share this photo with you. I saw it on Rachel’s Facebook with this message: “Love to you, Rachel, John, and Oscar from West Philly Mennonite. We miss you but are so glad you’re in another place of such beauty, support, and love. Oregon looks amazing, by the way!” These folks poured their hearts and love all over our little family for the few months that Rachel and Oscar attended services in their neighborhood church.


Another go-getter, Susie, pictured here with Rachel and other friends, has organized another team of helpers to work alongside the church folks to accomplish the big move. Prior to the move, Susie’s love for and friendship with Rachel motivated her to enlist help with food and transportation and care for Oscar and people to look after Rachel while John worked and … and … and … and . . . all while awaiting the birth of her 10 pound 10 ounce son! And now that he’s here she’s on task with the details of packing and loading the truck. (You’ve already guessed Superwoman Susie is in blue next to Rachel, April on Rachel’s other side, with Mara and Emily in back.)



The very idea that we few family members could make a dent in the task in two days, even with friendly help, was ludicrous! But these folks are making it happen. On Monday, two car lengths plus ramp space will be reserved on the street in front of John and Rachel’s house for the delivery of a U-Pack moving trailer. And then, after all of the inside fun is complete, the loading fun will begin. And if all goes according to plan, John and Rachel and Oscar’s worldly possessions will be traveling from east to west.

I am personally astonished by all of this. The goodness of people who gave financially (many of those only peripherally connected to Rachel and John), who stepped up to the plate with their gift—whatever it was, who offered encouragement to us and others on both sides of the country . . . humbles me. I can only sit here in front of my computer and marvel.

– – – – –

How is Rachel doing? The cancer has ravaged her body and withdrawn our hope for improvement. She herself had high hopes for their life in Oregon, trips to the beach, visiting friends in the area. Instead, in only a week, her condition has continued to decline. She has resigned herself to the inevitable but still enters into life happening around her as she can. Hospice comes regularly; John and the local family see to Oscar’s entertainment and social needs; the community brings in meals; close family and friends take turns “sitting.” I’m here now, enjoying my “turn.” Rachel just sat up and ate some ice cream, she listened while I read a special e-mail to her, she asked to go outside. I sit beside her on the deck. We listen to John and Oscar out in the field, tossing the frisbee. She nods off. Idyllic. While it lasts I will soak in every moment.

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13 Responses to from east to west

  1. Craig MacDonald says:

    “Grace to help in time of need.”

  2. LizW says:

    *sigh* Hearts still breaking for yours. So very glad Rachel is here with her family during this time. What a precious gift for you all.

  3. Aneta Hullinger says:

    Praying that you daily gain strength from above. Treasuring each moment and continuing to make sure you capture these moments for Oscar, John and Rachel. Hugs !

  4. Kati McKee says:

    Praying for God’s great grace of comfort and love for you all as you travel this journey together.

  5. Sharon Hodgkins says:

    I am so happy and grateful that Rachel, John and Oscar are being wrapped in all your love. I taught with Rachel and John in Guatemala and never forgot them. Oscar was a little baby in Rachel’s tummy at the time and I was thrilled to be able to meet up with the family when I visited Philly two years later. I live in England and wish I could do more to help but pleas know that they are in my thoughts and prayers every single day.

  6. Cheryle Takacs says:

    There are few words but as a Mom, a friend…I feel the ache and yet the joy that her faith will be rewarded with a new body and a new day. My eyes fill with tears as I type. My prayers are for more sweet sharing time, more hands held, more hugs given and received and more sunsets. Sending love, my friend.

  7. David Schick says:

    Millie and I are praying for all concerned. God bless!

  8. Scott and Donna says:

    Love and prayers from our family!

  9. Joanne Thor says:

    We are reading your blog and continue daily to keep Rachael and you all in our prayers. Much love to you all….Charlie and Joanne Thor

  10. Our hearts are aching for your family again. Praying for peace and being blessed by the evidenced love of and for your family. May God continue to hold you tight during this time!

  11. Janet Marie says:

    You’re all amazing, loving on these dear souls. You’re all in my prayers, but especially John, Oscar, and Rachel as she bravely faces each moment with God so close.

  12. Don Staples says:

    I have started this reply at least four times … no words other than to say that love always wins … and Rachel’s family and friends are proving it right now. Thank you for allowing us to share in a small way the journey you are on with Rachel. Your family is very special to me.

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