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.
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.
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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 The cancer has ravaged her body and withdrawn our hope for improvement.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.