Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dear family and friends,

Thank you for your continued interest in Antonia’s progress and for visiting the website.

In June, I had the great blessing again of visiting my sister, Antonia and her family. It was a wonderful trip and I was there about 9 days. Antonia has made a lot of progress since I was there 2 years ago, especially in her ability to speak and be understood. I enjoyed many hours sitting with her and talking about memories that we share from the past and having a lot of laughs together. She continues to have a great sense of humor and likes to make other people laugh as well.

I brought my 2 children with me to visit and my older sister Melanie and her 2 children were also there at the same time. We decided to rent a house for us to stay in during our visit because 6 children and 7 adults in one house generally is quite crazy. The house we rented was very close to Dean & Antonia’s house and one night we took Antonia over there with us to hang out. The house had about 8 stairs that lead up to the bedrooms and restroom. We had not really thought about Antonia needing to use the restroom while we were there and how we would get her up the stairs in her wheelchair. Well… problem, we just helped her sit down on the bottom stair and, with some help balancing, she pushed herself up with her good leg, one stair at a time. The same on the way down. She was determined to do it and she did. She loves any challenge and really thrives when given one. She also made her way down the hallway of their house using the support bar and with me helping her left leg forward as well as giving her support. We had a race one day at the pool and she swims really fast for only using one arm and one leg. I don’t remember who won, but we had a lot of fun.

Antonia is a very attentive mother and really listens to her children when they are telling her something. I was thinking that sometimes us “able-bodied” mothers can be very busy sometimes and not listen as we ought. She encourages them in what they are doing and admonishes them if she thinks they are doing anything wrong.

I believe she is really trying to love and serve God with the abilities she still has. And although her short term memory is not that good, she remembers scripture and is quick to hold the children accountable to God’s word. She still has her outbursts of anger but they seem to be less often. She responds very well during these outbursts to someone gently speaking to her from scripture and what the Bible has to say about the situation that has upset her. She is also quick to repent when she is wrong and quick to forgive and forget when someone has hurt her.

Her short term memory seems to have improved somewhat since my last visit. There were several occasions when I realized that she remembered something that was not prior to the accident but that had happened recently - like a persons name or something we did, etc.

She really enjoyed playing with and talking to her nieces and nephews as well as her own children. She loved to sing along when they played the piano and cheer for them when they were through. As always, she still loves to sing and joins her voice with whoever is singing.

I couldn’t believe how much Isaiah and Azaleah have grown in 2 years. They are very smart and it is so hard to believe that only 5 years ago they couldn’t speak a word of English. Isaiah can recite Bible verses from A to Z with no problem. They are both reading and memorizing all kinds of things and playing the piano a bit. The children all got along well and really enjoyed being together.

I think the most necessary prayer needs for Antonia and her family at this time would be:
1) Continued progress and healing for Antonia
2) God would provide an additional suitable caregiver for Antonia. Mary is still caring for her but needs assistance. It is a very physically and emotionally demanding position. They are having a difficult time finding someone who works well with Antonia and who is dependent and kind and who is looking for a long term situation.
3) Strength and wisdom for Dean as he cares and makes decisions regarding the needs of his wife, children, family and the church.
4) Strength, health, love and patience for all those who care for Antonia and her family in so many different ways. May they not grow weary in doing good.

Lastly, thank you to all of you who continue to pray for Antonia and her family. God has done so much and continues to answer our prayers.

May we all be like the “persistent widow” and keep asking God to do what ONLY HE CAN DO.