June 2010


Not sure how the whole idea of engagement rings got started. But they are an obvious and unavoidable announcement of intentions, very much ‘in your face’ and out there. It comes at the price of much good-natured ribbing all around, and we are sure that Greg and Liz have been the happy recipients of much of that recently.

So now that they have released the news to their friends, it is safe for us to comment. We’d just like to say great choice Greg, both in the ring and in your future wife. We are so happy for both of you and Pam can hardly wait to see you in just a few weeks and to start doing some wedding planning.

We were delighted to meet Greg and his family on our last trip home and found them all to be very lovely and hospitable people who all seemed to have developed a real affection for our daughter. That Greg and Liz have made this commitment to each other makes us very happy indeed. What delightfully good news!

Take 350 teenagers and pack them into dense rows in tiny desks and what do you get? In Malaysia you get dead silence. In fact when I took this sepia-toned picture on my phone, a digital shutter noise went off, and half the students looked my way (much to my embarassment), because it was the only sound in the room.

The concentration and devotion to the task at hand that you see in this picture characterize these kids. Quite simply their future success is on the line. They know it, and behave as if it matters every day. If they are successful, the Malaysian government will fund not only this year, but four year’s worth of education at a university of their own choosing anywhere in Canada. If they fail to qualify – and qualification means a graduating average of 80-85% depending on the funding program they are under – they not only do not get to go to Canada, but their families will have to pay back the $5,000 from this year as well.

In return the students must agree to return to Malaysia and serve their country in some capacity – as engineers, technicians, pharmacists, etc – for five years. It is a good deal for the kids, and an expensive commitment from the Malaysian government to the success of the youth and the future wealth of the country.The armed forces in Canada have a similar program, but not nearly so broad in its scope.

Not all the students do return. Some take jobs in Canada and settle down there, which greatly enriches our country. Contrary to the widely misunderstood notion of immigration, foreigners do not steal our jobs, they create them, but that is a post for another day. Let me just say that I am pleased to be part of the effort that this country is making to raise the educational standards of its youth, and greatly admire the dedication to excellence of my students. I also wish them well on a very tough English exam! I will post your marks on BB7 early next week.

After a totally sleepless weekend and many doses of a major tranquillizer to help settle him, the doctors finally agreed on Monday morning that perhaps it was the drug that was causing the agitation. With the first dose of the new medication, Dad promptly went to sleep and has essentially stayed that way since.

It is such a relief to see him at rest finally. When he is awake, he is fairly well orientated and is able to be up and walk in the hall and you see glimpses of my sweet little dad. Unfortunately, with the heavy sedation he becomes quite confused especially when first waking up, often resulting in his pulling out his various tubes. The major concern right now is that he has not yet regained his ability to swallow, even though the surgeons are quite certain that there should be no impact from the operation and follow-up CT scan on Monday shows no evidence of a stroke.

Yesterday, we began the battle of now trying to convince the doctors that he is over sedated and they did finally agree to a very small decrease in his morning dose in the hopes that he will be awake more during the day. He was actually too sedated to participate in the swallow test or to walk any distance so the therapists requested a medication decrease and they have some pull.

We would appreciate your prayers specifically for his swallowing as this just keeps him in a constant cycle of instability. He can’t regulate his own fluids so he gets it IV or via nasogastric tube until he is over hydrated and his lungs fill up, they give him IV Lasix until he is so dry that his blood pressure drops so low that he is drowsy and confused, he pulls out the tubes so they tie him down which really agitates him and they have to bolus him with fluids and the cycle starts again. We are well aware that at the tender age of 85 any recovery will be slow and unpredictable but there are some very encouraging moments, especially when he starts teasing the nurses. Then you know that his real self is still alive and well.

God is faithful, who will not try us beyond what we can bear. It is hard to be here in Malaysia when Pam and her family are going through so much back in Canada. At such times we just want to be beside those we love and offer what comfort we can. Skype is great, but it doesn’t add up to a hug when you are feeling overwhelmed, and I’m sorry I can’t be there to give one.

Fortunately for me, I teach for a living. That means I get to be surrounded with young people who are full of smiles and good wishes. Especially now that the long semester is over and my students can look forward to the very real possibility that with another week of effort during exams, they can earn a flight to Canada and the chance for a world class education for the next four years.

It is a great honour and an undeserved privilege to be a part of that earnest ambition. To urge and encourage (and yes, sometimes scold) the best out of the fine young men and women in my classes. To require of them the best they can produce, and to see them exceed themselves and delight in what they have accomplished is unadulterated joy.

These students have earned something that will change their lives. They stand on the brink of that change with a mix of excitement and fear. So much will be different four years from now, and I had an opportunity to help bring that about. That makes me a very fortunate man.

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