Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I'm closing the year by adding new articles for Jimmie and me both under our respective tabs above.  That sounds so strange.  Jimmie has written numerous articles and tracts over the years that have been published many places, so nothing strange about that for him. I actually ran into this new one online and realized I did not have a copy of it.  But me?  I have been writing stories, journals and poems for most of my life and newsletters for the last 25 years.  I wrote things all the time while at TFTW - but my name was rarely on it for anyone to know.  So a published article for me sounds very strange . . . but I like the sound.

This morning Jimmie wrote on his Facebook wall that he plans to be saving souls from Hell in 2012, then issued a challenge for others to join him.  Sounds like a good way to spend the year to me.

- Linda

Friday, December 30, 2011

Chemo #4

It's been 6 whole weeks since Jimmie had his right kidney removed and he has made tremendous progress, so much progress that his surgeon actually released him earlier this week.  Hmmmm. . . . Does that remove the "No Housework" restriction?  Jimmie has tried to convince me that the doctor meant that one as a life-time taboo, but I don't think so.

Yesterday's chest X-ray showed that Jimmie does have some pneumonia in the bottom of his lungs.  That was a surprise.  His lungs partially collapsed during the surgery in November so he has been puffing on that breathing machine ever since, as instructed.  He has exceeded the target set by the doctor and not had any congestion or other problems so we really thought he had managed to bypass that hazard.  But apparently not.  He goes to the pulmonologist next week for follow-up.

Today's blood work was also disappointing because Jimmie's hemoglobin has dropped once more despite the iron pills he has been faithfully swallowing again for the past 2 weeks.  So today's chemo was followed by an iron infusion. 

But the good news - no mouth sores yet!

- Linda

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas - Part 1

Jimmie's reaction to chemo #3 was shortened again - only about 36 hours this time.  Yeah!  Unfortunately, the side effects were delayed and didn't begin until the afternoon of Christmas Eve.  Boo!   There are some who might suspect that Jimmie's intense pain might have been caused more by his attitude toward Christmas than by the chemo.  Afterall, his favorite literary character has always been Ebenezer Scrooge - right up until Scrooge starts dancing on his bed.  Of course, I would never suggest that . . .

Actually, despite Jimmie's skyrocketing pain level we had a lovely Christmas.  The weekend was quiet - a roaring fire in the fireplace, a glass of eggnog and watching one of my favorite holiday movies "White Christmas".  The real festivities won't begin until Cole comes, so Christmas is on hold here until the middle of January.  Just as well . . . I haven't even finished wrapping all of the presents yet, but please, don't tell my sister that.

I had a lovely suprise on Sunday when a sweet friend mentioned that she really liked my article in the newest Christian Woman magazine.  My copy has not arrived yet so I had no idea it was there!  Now I'm anxious for the post office to get to delivering again.

- Linda

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chemo #3

Jimmie's chemo came a day early this week since tomorrow the doctor's office will be closed for Christmas.  Is it really this weekend?!   Oh, my . . . 

We actually had questions today, but did not get much info because Jimmie's doctor had already left for the holiday and the practice partner spent most of the few minutes we had with him trying to figure out how to find Jimmie's lab results.  So, we decided to wait on the questions.  This doctor did warn us, though, that Jimmie can expect mouth sores to begin appearing within the next week.  Something lovely to look forward to.  Jimmie's regular oncologist had been checking for foot swelling - and that arrived this past Sunday night for an indefinite stay.

The chemo treatment room was packed with patients today since all of the typically Friday patients had to be bumped forward.  32 recliners each with an IV stand and a patient fighting for their life.  The lady in the chair beside Jimmie noticed that the IV line was leaking from just below the bag and naturally she reached out her hand to confirm that the line was really wet.  It was an automatic gesture, one I would have taken without a thought.  But it put the nurses into panic mode when they learned she had touched the medicine.  They cleaned her wet fingers and warned her never to do that again before they ever started to fix the leak problem.  I was impressed at how quickly they reacted and took care of everything . . . and then it hit that they were pumping this dangerous liquid into her.  A  sobering thought.

- Linda

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

I felt like celebrating today for several reasons:
  • I heard a beautiful sound - Jimmie playing the guitar and singing.  It had been much too long since he had felt like picking it up, and longer still since he had enough breathe to sing along with it.  It is truly a blessing to see these signs of strength returning. 
  • Chemo #2 only made Jimmie feel lousy for 2 days this time - a definite improvement over the 6 days last time.  By Monday he was bouncing back.  I hope it will get easier on him each time.
  • I think I have finally dug out of the mountain of office work that piled up during the week I was at the hospital with Jimmie.  I managed to keep the student assignments current then but everything else just grew quietly.  Now if I could just catch up on housework and Christmas.
- Linda

Friday, December 16, 2011

4 Weeks Post-Op

What do you get when there are 4 Hill boys in the house?  Lots of talking and laughter, of course.  Jimmie's 3 brothers - Bob, Jarrod & Eric - drove down from Tennessee yesterday to take care of some yard repairs for us, which was wonderful.  Jimmie was supposed to just be "supervising" but when I found him up on a ladder in the garage as he searched for something - I almost had a heart attack!  I'm afraid that he and I have different definitions of "taking it easy".  On the other hand, I'm thrilled that he had enough energy and zeal to be there.

Today was his second chemo and it went smoothly again . . . after they located some meds to infuse.  (Somehow his chemo didn't get ordered but they got a rush delivery from the hospital next door.) 

His blood work continues to look good.  Now the only portion that is not yet in the normal range is his hemoglobin.  But the thing that had his doctors smiling broadly again today was the fact that Jimmie had gained some weight.  Over the course of the last year or so Jimmie has lost 95 pounds.  The first half of that was by design, but the last 50 fell off rapidly due to the cancer.  So, Jimmie's reaction to gaining a couple of pounds?  "Uh-oh, I don't want to get fat again!"

- Linda

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunshine

There may have been a lot of rain this fall, but there has also been some wonderful sunshine . . .


Cole always brings sunshine!
 
The 12th Doctor Who ready to use his sonic screwdriver on the Halloween crowd!

Julie and Cole spent a week with us after Jimmie came home from the hospital.
- Linda

December 2011 Report


Dear Brethren,              


            Shortly after our return from the South Pacific gospel campaign in April and May of this year, my life has become filled with doctors and numerous medical tests.  After being diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis and anemia, several cures were tried to no avail.  I was referred to a hematologist (who is also an oncologist) who ordered two different full body scans.  On October 17th, Linda and I were told that I had stage four renal (kidney) cancer and that it had spread to my lungs.  Linda and I were shocked!  After having thyroid cancer in 2008, I thought I was a cancer survivor.  Now, that remains to be seen.  However, God is in control and whatever happens will happen.  I have reconciled myself with everyone and everything and like the apostle Paul, if my departure is at hand, “I am now ready to be offered” (2 Timothy 4:6).  But, enough of that!

            I am in my fourth week of recovery from the surgery and everyone says I am doing very well.  (I wish someone would convince my insides of that.)  The surgeon said since it was major surgery, it would take about eight weeks to recover and that I was not to push it   However, those of you who know me know that I cannot not push, at least, to some extent.  I am feeling stronger every day and working as I can but looking forward to getting back to our work together for the Lord on a full-time basis.
           
            Yes, medicine is wonderful with what can be done today but it is certainly expensive.  I received a notification from the hospital in the mail that said I was responsible for $56,000 plus owed to them.  That didn’t even include the pulmonologist, the physical therapist, the two surgeons, and the host of other specialists involved.  One cannot afford to be sick these days.  Oh well, “Jehovah-jireh,” God will provide (Genesis 22:8, 14).

            May our God bless each of you and please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your prayers, words of concern, and financial support in our work.

In Christ Who Saves,
Jimmie B.Hill



Greetings from Georgia!   

We have not been able to send out a newsletter since mid-September, so here’s a brief timeline of our fall:

9/28 – Jimmie’s anemia worsened so he was referred to a hematologist.
9/30 – Emergency infusion treatment – Jimmie’s calcium level was almost to the coma-inducing level.
10/3-13 – Lots of blood tests, visits with specialists and finally 2 full body scans.
10/17 – Diagnosis:  Stage 4 Renal Cancer. The tumor was already involved with the vena cava so surgery might not be an option.
10/26 – Biopsy attempts on his lungs failed, but the kidney sample confirmed malignant renal cancer.
10/31 – The urology surgeon decided the vena cava was too compromised for him to tackle.  He referred Jimmie to a team at Emory Hospital. 
11/1 – Jimmie had 3 MRIs needed to evaluate surgery options.
11/3 – Jimmie’s first chemo was scheduled but his oncologist insisted on reviewing the MRIs first – then cancelled chemo.  He decided surgery should be possible and chemo would interfere. A few hours later Jimmie got a call from the first surgeon. Based on the MRIs he was willing to operate, provided a vascular surgeon agreed and would assist.
11/4 – Jimmie developed severe hiccups from the cancer. 2 different medications from the doctor gave only short respites from the horrible muscle spasms.
11/10 – The vascular surgeon signed on.  We got a call scheduling surgery!
11/11 – The oncologist almost cancelled surgery when he saw first-hand how sick Jimmie had become due to the hiccups.  But a CT Scan of Jimmie’s lungs showed no additional cancer growth there so he allowed plans to go forward. 
11/14 – Jimmie received 2 units of blood to try to make him stronger before surgery.                 
11/17 – Jimmie’s right kidney was removed.  During the 3 ½ hour operation he lost and received 6 ½ liters of blood - more than his whole body’s volume - so was sent straight to ICU on a ventilator.
11/18 – The ventilator came out but more blood had to go in.
11/19 – Jimmie left ICU for a surgical room.
11/20 – His blood counts dropped again so he got 2 more transfusions.  He was only allowed out of bed to take 2 steps to a chair, then back again.
11/22 – Jimmie got his first sip of water since surgery and was allowed to walk a bit further.
11/23 – Jimmie came home!
11/28 – 28 staples were removed from his abdomen.
12/9 – Chemo began.

Jimmie receiving his first chemo treatment.

Jimmie’s progress since the surgery has been nothing less than astounding to me, but his oncologist has been almost as happy about it as me.  He confided that he had really been afraid Jimmie would not survive the operation, but we all knew it was Jimmie’s only option.  As Jimmie said, it was definitely the right choice this time.  His remarkable recovery is also due to God’s grace and your prayers.  Thank you!  And thank you too for all of the cards, calls, emails and gifts we have received.

Now, we have a second battle fighting the cancer that is left.  His oncologist believes that our best weapon is a chemical too long for me to pronounce, even though this drug will not kill cancer cells.  Its purpose is to prevent further growth.  But we are praying for better results than that.  We know there is a stronger weapon. 

The day the doctor said “cancer”, the first question Jimmie asked was, “Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?”  Please continue to pray that this will be possible.

In Christian love,
Linda Hill

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank you!

We have received many, many encouraging phone calls, cards and emails in the weeks since Jimmie was diagnosed with renal cancer.  We truly appreciate each one.  Knowing that prayers were going up for Jimmie literally around the world was amazing, but also a tremendous comfort.  Thank you.

We have also received several wonderful gifts in the past few weeks that were greatly appreciated.  Most were sent anonymously so I will have to express our "thanks" here.  Fa'afetai tele lava (as we grew accustomed to saying when we lived in Samoa)!  There's just one small note to the dear, unknown friend who shipped us the fruit tower - those chocolate cherries were addictive.  Wow!

- Linda

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chemo #1

Jimmie's first chemo treatment on Friday went smoothly, but he has felt quite a bit rougher since.  I suppose that is not unusual.  The doctor assured us that this particular chemo would not make Jimmie sick - although the Internet does list some typical side effects that Jimmie experienced this weekend.  But since it is not a poison he did not need to have a port installed and it should not cause him to loose any hair.  All good to hear. 

The down side is that this chemo can interfere with healing from the surgery and it is an ongoing, weekly infusion.  Worse, it will not kill the cancer cells.  Renal cancer is a tough one and does not respond to either the typical chemos or to radiation treatments.  So, this medication strives to prohibt any additional growth in the cancer, but in the process it sometimes shrinks it.

We are praying for better results than that and for the strength to accept whatever God's grace provides.

- Linda

Thursday, December 8, 2011

3 Weeks Post-Op

It has been wonderful this week to see Jimmie getting back to work - one of the advantages of having his office at home.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Forward

Yep, Jimmie definitely overdid it on Sunday.  For the first time in months he was able to attend both morning and evening worship - and he drove both times.  In between we enjoyed the noon congregational potluck, and Jimmie talked so much that we were one of the last to leave.  The transformation between Jimmie now and Jimmie before surgery is absolutely astounding!  Jimmie may still be frustrated with being weak and tiring easily but I am amazed at how quickly he has progressed after such major, invasive surgery.  We both thank our Lord daily for His grace and your prayers.

So, even though Jimmie overdid on Sunday and is still completely wiped-out energywise, it was worth it.  But now the order of the day is to get him rested and ready for his first chemo on Friday.

- Linda

Sunday, December 4, 2011

200

I can't believe this is the 200th post I've written on this blog!  I am so thankful that it is with encouraging news this time . . . cancer, surgery and the worry that comes with them can be downers.  But the trip to the oncologist yesterday was definitely a pick-me-up instead. 

First, Jimmie's doctor seemed geniunely thrilled to see the wonderful progress Jimmie has made since the surgery.  He literally beamed from ear to ear the whole visit.  He told Jimmie that he had actually been afraid to send him to surgery, afraid Jimmie would not get through it.  But Jimmie assured him that surgery had been the right choice this time - and the doctor very happily agreed.

Second, all of Jimmie's bloodwork Friday showed wonderful improvement, especially the hemoglobin that has been such a problem for so long.  Obviously, it was that huge tumor that was destroying Jimmie's red blood cells,

Last, chemo has been scheduled to begin next Friday.  This variety is not expected to make Jimmie sick, but the oncologist thought another week of healing would be a good thing before beginning the weekly infusions.  I know it feels like we just won, but that was only the first battle.  There is still a war to wage so Jimmie was pleased to have a starting date.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Still Recovering

The big news so far this week is that Jimmie is now staple-free.  We went to the surgeon's office on Monday to get them out.  Unfortunately, the excursion completely wiped out Jimmie's energy reserves and he has yet to get any back.  I've encouraged him to rest more but he is so tired of being in bed.  Of course, having our grandson here this week may be another reason he prefers to spend the day closer to the family.  Watching a movie with Cole may not be as restful as a nap, but it is certainly a boost to his spirits.

Another boost recently was the news that we have a second grandchild on the way.  Congratulations Bronson and Julie!!!  Cole is excited about becoming a big brother, but quickly reminded them that he had put his order in early, "No sisters!"

- Linda

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving

Jimmie is continuing to improve since we've been home.  His pain is still intense at times, but is diminishng.  His appetite that had become nonexistent before the surgery is now picking up.  And his color continues to be better so I hope that means his blood counts are still going up.  Jimmie is now anxious to get back to work in his office so naturally, his recovery is not rapid enough for him.  But I'm pleased to see steady progress.

A few days before the surgery one of his doctors voiced the fear that Jimmie would not be able to survive it.  He was that sick.  And with the tremendous blood loss Jimmie sustained during the surgery we could have easily lost him.  So I know that Jimmie is only improving today through God's grace and the glory goes to Him.  The power of prayer is truly awesome.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

S + 6

Jimmie is home!  Yesterday he was getting his first sip of broth and asking how he could get out of the hospital.  I was replying, "Do the things that they've told you to do," and getting dirty looks for my impertinence.  Deep-breathing therapy and walking hallway laps are alot harder than they sound when someone has made a 12-inch slit through your middle and played with all your organs.   So I have to brag on Jimmie for a moment.  He determined to do it, and he did over and over yesterday.  We were even walking the halls again this morning at 6 AM.  Hmmmm. . . . I wonder if our grandson coming to town was the little extra motivation Jimmie needed.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

S + 4

Sunday was a difficult day, but today was better.  Jimmie lost a couple more of the tubes protruding from his body (one by accident when the stomach pump tube fell out on its own . . . hope he won't need it again.)  The doctor changed the pain control medication to something stronger (I had no idea there was something stronger than morphine, but it seems there is) so Jimmie suffered a bit less.  And Jimmie was allowed up to walk just a bit.  All positive moves forward. 

On the negative side, Jimmie's digestive system is still sleeping so he is not yet allowed anything by mouth, not even a sip of water since the surgery.

- Linda

Sunday, November 20, 2011

S + 3

I'm just home to grab a shower and head back to the hospital.  The guest lounge there provides Internet access that allows me to keep up with assigning online students to their teachers and see my email, but won't allow me to write on this blog.  So, a quick update.

Jimmie was moved to a regular room on the surgical floor last night.  Yeah!  That means he is improving!  He also hoped that would mean he would get some sleep, but that is hard to come by anywhere in a hospital so he was disappointed.  I was disappointed by Jimmie's blood counts.  He got 2 additional units of blood on Friday and baffled us all because his blood counts stayed exactly the same.  This morning they had dropped significantly so he got 2 more units immediately.  That is really not the direction it is supposed to be going and the doctors can't figure out why.  Jimmie also continues to be in a lot of pain. 

Your prayers for his recovery are greatly appreciated.

- Linda

Friday, November 18, 2011

S + 1

A very quick note - yesterday's surgery is done and Jimmie survived it.  That is certainly the important information.  There were a few complications.  The surgeon just said that the tumor was really huge, nasty, and difficult to get out.  And he was not able to remove quite all of it.  A portion had adhered to the wall of the vena cava and could not be extracted.  Hopefully, chemo will be helpful there as well as Jimmie's lungs.

But the major complication was that Jimmie lost a tremendous amount of blood.  The human body holds about 5 1/2 liters of it.  Jimmie lost 6 1/2 during the 3 1/2 hours of surgery.  He was bleeding it out about as quickly as they were pumping it in.  As a result, he went straight from the operating room into critical care on a ventilator.  But his vital signs were great and were still good this morning so the ventilator is out and he is breathing on his own.  His vascular surgeon figures Jimmie will remain in ICU through the weekend.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

S - 1

What can I say about today?  It was one incredibly tiring day while I tried to get everything prepared for tomorrow.    Jimmie proved once more that large doses of pain medication make him very loopy.  (I'll never think about the story of the Tortoise and the Hare quite the same way again.)  And we have received some wonderful, endearing messages from some wonderful, endearing friends.  In all, it has been a good day.

Monday's blood transfusion did not give the remarkable surge in energy I had hoped for, but it is helping.  And the hiccups have been very quiet today.  I hope tomorrow's surgery will clear them for good.

I don't know how soon after surgery I will be able to post anything.  Those who are friends on Facebook should hear something from our daughter.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

S - 2

2 days until surgery.  We've cleared most of the hurdles so I feel like it is truly a countdown now.  But my "To Do" list seems to keep growing rather than shrinking.

Today we must go for the hospital pre-op appointment . . . again.  We actually did that yesterday, but as we were finally called to a room I asked to call the treatment center down the hall to let them know things were running slow.  Jimmie had a blood transfusion scheduled for 1pm and I wanted to be sure that having that pushed back for another 1 1/2 hours was going to be alright.  Instead, the nurse immediately said the transfusion took precedence and hurried us over to the other part of the hospital.  I had no idea that blood transfusions took so long!  We did not get out of the hospital until after 8pm and by then I'm not sure that the word "exhausted" is the right adjective.  But it is wonderful to see some color in Jimmie's cheeks after months of ashen grey.

- Linda

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jimmie is finally getting some breaks from the hiccups.  The second medicine worked a little bit so Friday the doctor doubled the dosage and now it is working much better.  Jimmie still isn't hiccup-free, but he does have more quiet times he can sleep and when he does have a bout they are not as severe.  Ah, the things I have learned in recent weeks.  I had no idea that something as simple as the hiccups could be so devastating.  More than a week of those really rough ones squandered much of Jimmie's strength.  I pray that he can regain some of it before the surgery.

- Linda

Friday, November 11, 2011

At last!

The urology surgeon's office called yesterday afternoon to tell us that Jimmie's procedure will be Thursday November 17th.   But Jimmie has had so many "procedures" in the last 5 months that I had to verify, "Do you mean his surgery?"  Yes!  The wonderful office assistant who called had actually booked the operating room while waiting on an answer from the vascular surgeon so as soon as he approved she had everything done.  I think that smart assistant deserves a raise!

But we only got to savour the joyful optimism for about 18 hours.  This morning when Jimmie's oncologist  heard first-hand the struggle Jimmie has trying to breathe during these hiccup bouts he started talking about cancelling the surgery.  His fear was that the cancer that had spread to Jimmie's lungs had grown so much that it was causing the problem.  If it was then the operation would have to be scrubbed and chemo begun immediately. 

Amazingly, his secretary managed to schedule a CT scan at the hospital with only an hour's wait and we headed over there.  After the scan the technician said it usually took at least a day for the report to be sent to the doctor - so I'm thinking late Monday if we're lucky.  Jimmie was supposed to have pre-op on Monday morning so I begged him to put it through right away.  (The doctor's orders had specified an immediate response but he never looked at that.)  Thankfully the young man carried through on his promise to mark it STAT and we got a call this afternoon that the nodules in Jimmie's lungs were unchanged.  So the surgery is back on.  But I'm exhausted.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

. . . and waiting . . .

It's Wednesday but no word about surgery.  I called the urology surgeon this morning as instructed last week, but his assistant just said they were still waiting on the vascular surgeon to review and decide.  I got the classic, "We'll call you."

The medication the doctor prescribed on Monday had failed miserably in controlling the hiccups.  Jimmie has had several bouts of hiccups so bad he could hardly catch a breathe of air which was frightening for both of us. Today the oncologist prescribed something stronger and it is working.  Jimmie has actually been sleeping since shortly after taking it - I'm not sure if that is a result of the drug or the exhaustion - but the quiet sounds wonderful.  He definitely needed the rest.

- Linda

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Still Waiting

Another day of waiting.  Not that the day has been idle . . . there is plenty to keep me busy.  I always forget just how much Jimmie does until he can't do it and I try to fill the gaps.  Still, waiting is one of the hardest part of our days right now.  It's been just over 3 weeks since the doctor shocked us with the C word, and about 10 days since he confirmed that it was already stage 4, something I had figured out from my frantic Internet research.  But it really feels like it has been much longer.

- Linda

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hiccups

I remember when someone getting a case of the hiccups seemed hilarious, especially as they tried all of the old wives tale remedies, like drinking water upsidedown or breathing into a paper sack.  I've laughed at myself a few times, but this time it isn't quite so funny.  Jimmie has had hiccups continuously since last Thursday evening and considering how sore his midsection already was, these hiccups are beyond annoying.  We have tried every home remedy I could find - and there were a number on the Internet that I didn't know about.  Not even my surefire, never-failed-before remedy of a teaspoonful of sugar held in the mouth made any difference.  This morning I called the doctor who immediately called in a prescription.  (The nurse told me that hiccups are not uncommon with the location of this cancer.)  The hiccups persist, but Jimmie does think they have gotten a bit milder.  I hope additional doses of the medicine will calm them more because he definitely needs some sleep.

No word yet from the surgeons.  The urology surgeon said he would try to have something definitive for us by Wednesday.

- Linda

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good News

We arrived at the doctor's office this morning for Jimmie's first chemo infusion.  We left 2 hours later WITHOUT the chemo - and yet we were not disappointed by the delay.   Instead, we were rejoicing with good news for a change:
  1. for the first time since becoming anemic Jimmie's hemoglobin level quit its downward spiral and headed back up slightly
  2. Tuesday's MRI on Jimmie's brain showed nothing but heathly tissue - no cancer has spread there
  3. Tuesday's pictures of the kidney tumor do show that the vena cava is definitely involved, but not as severely as expected from the CT scan so surgery should be an option afterall
We are still on hold, waiting for the fight to begin.  But the plan of attack is looking better.

- Linda

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jimmie had some sage advice as we left the imaging center yesterday.  "If you ever are having an MRI and the technician asks if you want a break - Take it!"  He did not and sorely regretted it.  Of course, at the time he did not realize he would be on the table for 3 1/2 hours for 3 back-to-back MRIs.  My stint in the waiting room was exhausting just because it was so long, but adding several decibels of noise while being stuck in that narrow imaging tube certainly made his afternoon worse than mine.  I was very glad to get him home again last night even if the house is far too quiet now.  Our daughter and grandson had to return home yesterday.

- Linda

Monday, October 31, 2011

Still no results from the lung and kidney biopsies last week, but we saw the urology surgeon this morning.  Removing Jimmie’s kidney is complicated by the fact that the tumor seems to be entwined with his vena cava (the major vein that returns the blood to the heart) so it is beyond what this surgeon can do.  He is referring Jimmie to some specialists at Emory Hospital in hopes that they will do the surgery.  Jimmie is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow on the area of the vena cava, something these surgeons will have to have to determine if removing the tumor will be possible.  I’m told that it will probably be at least a week before these oncology surgeons at Emory will let us know if they will even see Jimmie – so more waiting.  We appreciate your continued prayers.


- Linda

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No News

The follow-up appointment with the doctor on Friday did not give us any new information since he did not yet have the biopsy report.  We have an appointment tomorrow with a surgeon to find out if the kidney can be removed - something I thought would have been determined while we were waiting on the biopsy, but it wasn't.  So the feeling of trying to walk through molasses continues.

- Linda

Friday, October 28, 2011

Biopsy

Wednesday was an exceptionally trying day.  In addition to 3 puncture wounds, Jimmie came home from the hospital with all his ribs bruised and a shoulder smashed by the CT scanner.  So Thursday there were not very many places on his body that didn't hurt.  Ouch!  To make it even more fun the radiologist was not able to get a good sample of tissue from Jimmie's lungs so after a hurried phone conference with the hemotologist he did a kidney biopsy instead. 

But even with Wednesday's worries there were still blessings, like -
  • Jimmie's lung was punctured twice but didn't collapse (we had been warned several times that it might). 
  • Some wonderful friends stuck with us until I could bring Jimmie home
  • Our daughter and grandson arrived.  An exuberant 5-year-old in the house always does wonders.
- Linda

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do you ever feel like things are moving in slow-motion around you?  Now that we know there is a problem we need to be fighting we are anxious for the fight to begin . . . but things don't move very fast in the medical world.  After waiting 4 days for the hospital to set up the lung biopsy their first available time became this coming Wednesday.  It will be Friday before we know anything about the results.  Waiting is a lousy option, but the only one we have right now.

Please continue to remember Jimmie in your prayers.

- Linda

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prayer Request

We got the results of the full body scans yesterday and they were not good.  There is a large mass growing in Jimmie’s right kidney that the doctor identified as renal cancer.  There are also additional spots in his lungs that they will biopsy next week to see if cancer has spread from his kidneys.  The doctor said that after he gets the biopsy results he can begin to plan a treatment regiment, so we won’t know anything more until then.

The news yesterday was certainly a shock, but Jimmie’s attitude is great.  Actually, he may have startled the doctor a bit because the first words out of Jimmie’s mouth were, “Can you get me well enough to go back to Africa?”

Prayers will be greatly appreciated.


- Linda

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Down, Umpteen to Go

Was it really only a week ago that we thought the only thing we had to figure out was why Jimmie's anemia was hanging on?

We saw the hematologist this afternoon, but left with more questions than answers.  He told us immediately that they were able to rule out Multiple Myeloma (a type of blood cancer), but the doctor declared he was not happy about some of the other results.  There were so many numbers on so many items that it was quickly a blur, but the doctor said a couple of items indicated there is a lot of inflammation somewhere in Jimmie’s body and another value indicated there is a problem in his bones.  He has ordered still more testing  – more blood workup today and 2 scans next week, a full body cat scan and a bone scan with a dye.  They set up to do both next Thursday so that’s going to be a long day.

Parathyroidism could still be the culprit, but the parathyroid test had not been done.  It seems that it falls into the endocrinologist field – and the endocrinologist didn’t do it Wednesday because he assumed the hematologist had already done it.  There was annoyed head –shaking by more than just the hematologist today.  Specialists are great, but sometimes just a shade too specialized for me.  But the hematologist ordered the blood work today after talking to us, which meant that Jimmie had to be stuck twice.  If they continue to take blood every time we walk in the door Jimmie will be needing transfusions for sure, especially since his hemoglobin level had fallen again today.  But at least they have now determined for sure that this is iron-deficiency anemia so Jimmie is to go back on the prescription iron.  It is a new version of iron, though, so hopefully it won’t make him as sick as the other did.

But despite all that Jimmie actually said he felt a bit better today.


- Linda

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update on Jimmie

Just to let you know - we’re running the alphabet on doctors again.  Last week it was the hematologist (to check why Jimmie's anemia was not improving).  Yesterday it was an endocrinologist.  Between them they have taken so much blood Jimmie is bound to be running low on it, not good for someone already anemic.  But they had a new word for us to learn – hypercalcemia.  That just means recently Jimmie started having too much calcium in his blood.  Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron in the blood, which is probably why the super doses of iron Jimmie has been taking for weeks has not phased his hemoglobin levels.  But I still didn’t understand what all the alarm was last week – the doctor actually called it an emergency to get the calcium level down.  The doctor yesterday explained that high calcium can also cause several other problems, including brain fog, stroke and starting by level 13, even coma.  Jimmie was at 12 last Wednesday.  But last Friday’s infusion treatment worked and Monday he was back down to 9.3, normal range.

The doctor yesterday explained that the only 2 common causes of high calcium are: 
1.  A short list of cancers or
2. A tumor in a parathyroid gland. 
The hematologist is also an oncologist so he is focused on cancer and is running a whole panel of tests to check for that.  But from everything I’ve read online the last few days it is much more likely that the problem will be Jimmie’s parathyroid gland - and they are checking on that as well.  Parathyroidism is the most typical cause of hypercalcemia, plus on the rather short list of factors that increase the risk of getting parathyroidism is radiated iodine treatments used for thyroid cancer.  Jimmie has had that twice and the first was a larger than normal dose in 2008.   If this is the cause of the high calcium level the only treatment is surgery to remove the offending gland or glands.  (Everybody has 4)  We are scheduled to return to the hematologist on Friday to get test results so hopefully he will have some answers then.

We continue to need your prayers.


- Linda

Monday, September 26, 2011

Milestone!

A few days ago one of the aspects of International Bible Teaching Ministries hit a milestone that I found very exciting.  1,000 students enrolled in the online Bible study!  I find that fairly amazing since the online Bible program didn't get into full swing until this past February.  Currently these 1,000+ students have enrolled from 99 nations around the world.

If you are interested in adding to your Bible knowledge and would like to enroll just go to our website:  http://www.ibtministries.org/.  Complete an Introduction Lesson online and when you submit this enrollment form you will be assigned a teacher to work with you via email.

- Linda

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 2011 Report

Dear Brethren,              
            On August 1st the IBTM Africa Campaign team prepared to depart.  But the plane bound for Johannesburg, South Africa, sat on the tarmac with all the passengers and crew on board.  It was ready to go - all except for the storm overheard.  After a two hour delay, the flight took to the skies and on to its destination – only not to its original destination.  The flight now was bound for Paris, France.  On arrival in Paris, there were flights available that evening – but not to Johannesburg.  That connecting flight would not be available until the next morning and so there was an overnight stay in Paris. The campaign group finally made it to Johannesburg and then the final connections were made to Livingstone, Zambia.  Everyone one was happy – except some of the team didn’t have their luggage. With the luggage recovered and day and a half lost in weather delays, the team made it and began their work in Zambia.
            Many missions trip begin or are interrupted with events such as this.  This is an aspect of every mission trip that one must look forward to as a missionary.  It happens!  Fortunately, it does not happen all the time.  But this time, I missed all of this excitement. I was not able to leave for Zambia on this mission trip August 1.
            After returning from a mission trip to Australia, New Zealand, and American Samoa earlier this year, I felt terrible and went to see my family doctor. It was determined that I had thyrotoxicosis. It seems that my thyroid doctor gave me an extremely high dosage of synthroid and it went toxic in my system. After having my liver, heart, kidneys, and seemingly ever other part of my body checked out, I was found to be in good shape – except the thyrotoxicosis gave me anemia and my hemoglobin dropped considerably.  My family doctor got my thyroid medicine under control and I am now taking prescription iron for the anemia, which I understand takes a few months to get over.  I am now feeling better. (How do doctors determine whether you are getting well?  They weigh your wallet.) 
            So the reason I did not make the trip to Zambia this year was precautionary.  My family doctor reasoned that if I needed a blood transfusion due to the anemia that I would not want to have one in Africa.  He was right. And due to the fatigue, lack of vitality, rapid heart rate, etc., I truly have not felt like producing a newsletter for a few months.  I beg your forgiveness please.
            But now that I am feeling better, I am gearing up for Africa next year.  I am raising funds for books for students of the International College of the Bible, Bibles for the peoples of Africa, good, used suits for the students of schools of preaching, postage to get these materials overseas, and personal support (I am down about 35% from last year). 
            Brethren, I sincerely ask your continued prayers for these good works.  I also
thank those of you that continue to support this work.  The needs are there and prayer does change things.  Consider letting me come and present this work to you.
            May our God be with each of you.

In Christ Who Saves,
Jimmie B.Hill



 ]  ]  ]

Greetings from Georgia!

I always liked math . . . until I took college statistics ages ago.  For the first time I found numbers boring.  Charts and graphs of business revenues or people surveyed were mind-numbing.  I mention this tidbit of trivia because one of the things I do for IBTM is keep the statistics on our work - and suddenly those numbers are not boring at all!  In fact, I find them fascinating.  I quickly realized what made the difference – my statistics each have a soul attached.

Take our websites, for instance.  When I say that they have gotten 32,500 visits this year, there’s a person reading the Gospel on their computer screen every time.   Of the 195 nations who have sent visitors, USA is #1 which no surprise. 

But I was surprised that of the 775 US cities who sent visitors, none sent as many as Accra (Ghana), Nairobi (Kenya), Harare (Zimbabwe), Lahore (Pakistan), Manila (Philippines) or New Delhi (India) did.  Yet China really surprised me.  In many nations our visitors are limited to just the capital, or a handful of the larger cities.  But our visitors from China have been from 224 cities scattered all over that country.  In all so far this year our visitors have come from at least 2,081 different cities around the
world.  And the traffic to the website just keeps increasing.

Our correspondence students do, too.  We now have over 900 online students from 96 nations enrolled.  That just blows me away because our online program really didn’t get into full swing until February.  But it has been keeping me and our great team of teachers busy ever since.

The Internet is truly an amazing thing.  How else could I or someone else like me be at home in Georgia, or vacationing in another state, or traveling to another country and still teach someone the Gospel of Christ on the other side of the world?  It’s a teaching tool that we really need to use more for the Lord.

Speaking of home, this summer has been difficult since Jimmie’s recovery from first the thyrotoxicosis and now anemia has been so slow.  He isn’t quite there yet, but he is definitely better.  Please continue to keep both him and our work in your prayers.

In Christian love,
Linda Hill

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Two Steps Forward . . .

Jimmie's health has been the primary topic of just about every conversation we've had in the last 15 weeks.  That's difficult for a guy who is generally pretty healthy.  Of the problems caused by the thyroid medicine overdose, the anemia has been the hardest to correct.  Jimmie's improvement has typically been measured in hours, followed by days of total exhaustion again.  Very frustrating.  But FINALLY something good to report - he has had TWO good days in a row.  He put the extra energy to good use as well by writing a new article.  (See the Featured Article tab.)

Maybe he can stretch this rebound into a streak and we can do a newsletter soon.

- Linda

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Good News Again

The latest bloodwork this week revealed that Jimmie's thyroid level is back to normal at last.  Fantastic!  Now all he has to deal with is the anemia that was apparently caused by the high thyroxin levels.  The doctor has stepped up the effort to increase his hemoglobin, so hopefully Jimmie will begin to feel better soon.  But I'm told that recovering from anemia is a slow process.

Ron Gilbert and the rest of the campaign group are in Zambia right now, so please keep them in your prayers.

- Linda

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good News

A gastroenterologist tooks pictures yesterday of the typical places Jimmie might be loosing blood internally and found nary a trace of it.  I took that as very good news!  (Jimmie was a tad loopy most of the day from the anestesia he was given so he didn't even remember that the doctor talked to us - but he took my word for it later.)  So I believe that puts us back at my original conclusion - all of Jimmie's scary symptoms and sickness in the past 7 weeks have been entirely due to the long-term overdose of medication.  I hope that this latest reduction in the dosage will be what was needed to put Jimmie on a healthy track again.  Your continued prayers on his behalf would be greatly appreciated.

- Linda

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bad News

In the 5 weeks since our family doctor realized that the amount of thyroid replacement medicine Jimmie was prescribed had become toxic to him, Jimmie has improved some.  Learning that his heart had not been damaged  was fantastic news!  Getting his blood pressure back into normal range and fluctuation was also a huge relief!  But overall the improvement in how he feels has been like an incredibly slow roller-coaster.  One day his exhaustion, shortness of breath and dizziness recedes enough that he is sure recovery has arrived.  The next day they hit him again with a vengeance.  So we were not surprised at all last week when Jimmie's newest blood panels showed that the current level of thyroid med is STILL toxic.  The dosage was reduced again - still high but not as high.  This slow backdown on the drug has seemed very strange to me since it is a drug-overdose that is making him sick, but the fear that a cancer cell could be lurking somewhere in his body was the reason given.

However, we were very surprised by another level in Jimmie's recent bloodwork.  5 weeks ago the doctor told Jimmie that he was slightly anemic - not enough to get concerned about, just something that would need checking when everything else got corrected.  I read up about anemia online and learned that it was likely responsible for all of his symptoms.  I also learned that it is always caused by something else and the short list of causes included hyperthyroidism - so the overdose of med was probably responsible for the shortage of hemoglobin as well.  But last week the anemia had gotten worse - definitely not what we expected - and suddently our family doctor was very concerned.  Now he is on a quest to be sure that Jimmie isn't loosing blood internally, so Jimmie will be having 2 different procedures on Tuesday to check for that.  The doctor agreed that the medicine is probably still the culprit, but he doesn't want to assume that and possibly miss another, more urgent cause.

Our doctor was also very concerned about Jimmie's planned campaign trip to Africa for the month of August.  Departure on August 1st is just 4 weeks away and, as the doctor pointed out, Jimmie's condition isn't stable yet.  Flying off to remote areas of Zambia and Ghana where medical facilities are either substandard or nonexistent would not be a good move.  He also told us that if the anemia gets worse again Jimmie will be needing blood transfusions and with 40% of the African population HIV positive, that is NOT the place to get one of those.  Jimmie pointed out that he does have MedJet insurance that would fly him to a better hospital if needed - probably South Africa - but I'm afraid our doctor was not impressed with that as an option.  Neither was I.  And really, neither was Jimmie, but it is hard for a missionary to give up a planned mission trip.  His heart has been in missions since our first campaign to Ghana in 1983, and working in Africa has been one of his greatest joys for just as long.  Still, Jimmie understood the wisdom of getting his body healed before heading there again.  At his doctor's recommendation Jimmie is reluctantly cancelling his campaign to Africa for 2011. 

Disappointed but not undone, Jimmie is already talking about 2012.

- Linda


Friday, June 17, 2011

3 Years!

I just realized that I missed an anniversary!  I began this blog on May 31, 2008, as a way for Jimmie and me to more easily stay in touch with those interested in our work.  3 years and 165 posts later I'm still blogging. 

My first entry was the story of our first foreign campaign in 1983 - the 6 weeks in Ghana that still spring to mind as our Campaign to Gehenna.  Even though the 3 weeks of traveling in the South Pacific that we just completed were physically more gruelling, it still holds first place on my Worst Ever list.  Fortunately, no other campaign has ever come close to it in terms of stress, although the aftermath of Hurricane Ofa in American Samoa was another experience I hope to never repeat . . . but we lived on the island of Tutuila then, so it wasn't a campaign.  Still, re-reading this post just a few minutes ago reminded me of two things. 
  1. In the 28 years since Jimmie and I began doing mission work we have always tried to concentrate on the positive.  We don't normally report when things get bad or people get ugly unless it is necessary news.  Even in talking about the Gehenna campaign there was so much more that was distressing that I didn't mention.  At times I have thought that may be a mistake, particularly if it adds to the misconception that campaigns are just another word for vacation.  (I've definitely never been on that kind before!)  Then I read a mission report where the writer did nothing but complain . . . .  I'll stay on the bright side whenever possible, thank you.
  2. When I began this blog I planned to include some stories from past mission days. Woefully, I haven't done much of that.  But we lived in the South Paicific for 5 years and Jimmie has been on a whole slew of campaigns - so stories we have.  Stories like when he got pelted with rocks by a Baptist preacher in Ghana or a man stuck a shotgun in his face in Samoa to try to stop a Bible study.  I really need to get him busy writing some of these down for me.
- Linda

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 2011 Report

Dear Brethren,


Linda and I, along with Ron and Caroline Gilbert, had a most successful trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Pago Pago, American Samoa. But instead of writing the details of that mission trip here, I would direct you to read of all our efforts on our blog, http://www.hillmission.blogspot.com. We sincerely thank all who made this mission trip possible. May our God continue to bless each of you.

On my next mission trip, in conjunction with my work, International Bible Teaching Ministries, I have the opportunity to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Livingstone, Zambia and Nkoranza, Ghana. During this mission effort, we will be holding Gospel meetings in Masika, Siamafumba, and Livingstone, teach classes in the Zambia School of Biblical Studies and the Siamafumba School of Biblical Studies. We will also teach classes in the International College of the Bible, and do many one-on-one Bible studies. In Nkoranza, Ghana we will also hold Gospels meetings and teach daily classes for the brethren. I will have the pleasure to work with brother Ronald Gilbert, brother Barry Gilreath, and brother and sister Rusty and Laura Stark. Brother Gilbert and I will then be going on to Ghana from Zambia. I will be leaving the States August 01 and returning August 30, 2011.

I need to raise $4,000.00 for airfare, food, and lodging for this effort. If you can help with supplying these funds, please send your contributions to the Hill Mission Fund, NEW HOPE ROAD CHURCH OF CHRIST, Post Office Box 1334, Dacula, Georgia 30019 and make out your checks to Hill Mission Fund – Africa.

In addition to the $4,000.00, I am also trying to raise money for Bibles and bicycles for the work. We can buy and ship a paperback NKJV New Testament for $1.76 and a complete NKJV Bible for $3.50. We can also purchase hardbound Bibles in the native tongues of the people for about $10.00 each. We purchase bicycles for each graduate of the two schools of preaching so that they can reach the lost in the bush areas of their nations. The cost of these bicycles ranges from $100.00 to $120.00. If you wish to send money for bicycles or Bibles, please know that every penny you send will be spent only on those items.

Thank you once again for your continued support and thank you once again, in advance, for helping with this mission effort in Africa. You, indeed, are the backbone of our work together for the Lord. If you have any questions, please contact me via post, email, or by phone. We would be glad to talk with you.

In Christ Who Saves,
Jimmie B.Hill

 
 
Greetings from Georgia!


I can’t believe our campaign ended 3 weeks ago. In many ways it was absolutely wonderful and in others it was excruciatingly difficult. Meeting new brethren and reacquainting with old friends was a joy. Traveling over 25,000 miles in 3 weeks while dealing with sickness, exhaustion and stressful situations was not. And since our return we have continued to be swamped. Two of my duties with IBTM are assigning online BCC students to a teacher when they enroll and assisting teachers when they have problems. I managed to keep those current during the trip, but all of my record-keeping and statistical chores were quietly multiplying in Georgia. It took me a week to catch up and before I finished a new problem had hit.

Four days after our return Jimmie suddenly became very ill - exhausted to the extreme, hurt all over and had trouble breathing. He had fought a chest cold while on campaign so now figured it had turned to infection. I made him an appointment with our family doctor and drove him to it expecting to head home later with antibiotics. But Jimmie didn’t even make it to the examining room before he had the staff in a tizzy. The nurse took his blood pressure, shook her head muttering “that can’t be right”, changed equipment and took it again, then again. She grabbed another nurse to take it who had an identical reaction – then took off down the hall to get the doctor. When he got the same thing, Jimmie said the doctor became visibly upset and sprang into action. I was waiting in the examining room wondering what was going on, so was very surprised when Jimmie arrived with an EKG machine being wheeled in right behind him. When that charted as normal the doctor jumped on the phone with a cardiologist, then ordered us to the hospital for blood work. I’m afraid that Jimmie and I were completely baffled by this point. As our doctor explained, we just did not understand how strange Jimmie’s blood pressure reading was. The two numbers – systolic and diastolic – are supposed to go up or down together but Jimmie’s had split. The top number was a bit high, but the bottom number had dropped extremely low. This is a very rare occurrence that indicates heart problems.

Just minutes after returning home from the hospital lab the doctor called with the results. The thyroid replacement medicine Jimmie takes had become toxic in his blood. The doctor had already talked with Jimmie’s endocrinologist and the dosage was being reduced, but there was still the fear that Jimmie’s heart had been damaged by it. (The endocrinologist had kept Jimmie on a double dose since his thyroid was removed almost 3 years ago to prohibit the growth of new thyroid cells that might be cancerous.) Minutes after that we got word that the cardiologist wanted Jimmie in his office now, as soon as we could get there. So began a slew of tests over the next week. ALL came back GOOD. Not only did the doctor not find damage, he said that Jimmie’s heart is in great shape. For that we thank God and all of you who prayed for him! Jimmie continues to feel better each day as the toxicity decreases.

Back at work, the statistics I keep show tremendous growth in our outreach this year. We’ve had website visits from 185 nations with more than 4,000 souls now coming monthly to read the Gospel materials. 400+ students from 64 nations have enrolled in IBTM’s online Bible correspondence program while 150 brethren from 13 nations are taking college-level courses with ICOTB. These and other stats are very exciting! But doing this mission takes money - money to live and money to work. Support for both of these areas is severely lacking and of great concern. Please pray that we will be able to continue this effort.

In Christian love,
Linda Hill

Monday, May 23, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #24

Home at last.  Our flight landed in Atlanta just after 6 AM on Wednesday, but by the time we could collect our baggage and be collected by Kieth & Ann Fields, it was 8 AM when we reached Dacula.  Thankfully our return trip was slightly shorter than our departure 3 weeks ago . . . only 40 hours from Pago to Dacula.

It has been a good campaign, but exhausting.  In the past 24 days we have traveled more than 25,000 miles, most of that by the 14 different airplanes we have flown.  Jimmie spoke 3 times at the Eastern Shore lectureship, he and Ron conducted 3 Gospel meetings, Carolyn and I taught ladies classes., and we have all been incredibly busy with a variety of tasks and very little down time.  There were two major purposes of this trip - encouragement to brethren who can easily feel isolated and spreading the word about our work.  I think both objectives were met, particularly since we picked up new teachers for IBTM and new students for ICOTB both.

Thank you to all who made this campaign possible.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #23

We made a new friend in Auckland.  The knee brace stowed in my carryon raised red flags at some but not all the airport checkpoints, as did the metal in my knee, so I grew accustomed to the extra searches that entailed.  Most of the security guards in these various airports were nice but rushed.  This one was different, possibly since the Hills and Gilberts seemed to be the only transient visitors arriving just then.  Once our guard had determined that I was not actually carrying a strange-looking gun he became very friendly, remarking that my brace reminded him of Forest Gump's.  (I had had the same thought weeks ago.)  He and Jimmie were off and running, talking about all their favorite movies.  Then later as we were sitting at one of the tables by Burger King waiting for the powers that be to decide which gate to use for our next flight, he stopped by to chat again.  It turns out that he had been part of the extra cast in one of my favorite movies, Lord of the Rings.  So now I have officially met an Orc!

The flight to California got underway about 10 PM Tuesday night, and it was excruciating.  I was impressed by the spaciousness of the Business Class we walked through as we boarded the plane, but soon realized that the airline had made up for it by getting as many seats as possible in Economy.  The flight was chock-a-block full as the Aussies say, so we were crammed tight.  And it was a bumpy ride for the next 12+ hours.  The only exception was the hour or so of the worst turbulence I had ever experienced.  As we were being jerked and bounced the flight attendants came on the intercom TWICE to apologize for the rough ride.  Then after a few more episodes that had me remembering all those airplane disaster movies that I now no longer like, even the captain came on the air.  He just wanted to assure us that the plane really was built strongly enough to withstand the stress even if the turbulence got worse.  Lovely thought.  But finally the feeling of being shaken by a dog smoothed out to more normal bumps.  We landed at LAX to learn it was now 2 in the afternoon on Tuesday.  This International Dateline thing could get just a tad confusing.

But none of us were confused by who we saw at McDonald's during our agonizingly long 7-hour layover in Los Angeles - the television evangelist Jimmy Swaggert.  I laughingly dared Jimmie to do his Swaggert impression, then rushed him out of there when he actually started it.


Carolyn managed to catch a nap at LAX.


South Pacific Campaign - Day #22

Our short hop to Apia started about 8 AM this morning with the dreaded weighing of the suitcases.  Jimmie and I both squeaked by, but Carolyn and Ron had to do some quick reshuffling between their cases.  Then we STILL had to pay for excess baggage before we could board the tiny prop plane.  International flights are allowed 50 pounds per bag, but the inter-island commuter charges if they go over 40.  Bummer!

The skies were hazy today, but I was determined to take at a few photos from the air since my camera batteries had been dead when we arrived.


The Pago Internation Airport as we left the island.  It is actually located in Tafuna, but Pago is the name everyone seems to know when you mention Samoa.

The village of Iliili.  The English home where we stayed the last week is one of these.

We had a layover of several hours on the island of Upolu in the independent nation of Samoa. . . long enough to get boring but not enough to go anywhere since the town was so far away.  Most of the wait was spent standing in lines, but we did get a lunch of fish and chips and I resumed the shopping that was interrupted our last stop in Apia.  Fortunately to Jimmie's way of thinking, there wasn't much I cared to buy.  Finally our flight left Samoa at a little after 3 on Monday afternoon.  4 hours later we landed in Auckland, New Zealand where it was then Tuesday night.