prayer & praise


Looking back at last month’s update, it cannot be clearer that God responds when you pray. We asked that you "undergird our many travels and Slick’s house hunting by joining us in prayer for safety, expedience and opportunities to serve those with whom we interact." Though not entirely as planned, we uneventfully traversed ten states from Arizona to New Jersey, thoroughly enjoying a crowd of friends and family on the way. The following week, Slick and Hachi arrived safely in Japan and have found a good house already. Donna (after winning her age group in a local triathlon) settled into camp with the girls where she has an endless opportunity to serve. Slick has also begun serving and encouraging several ministries in Misawa Air Base.

Though he would always prefer vocational ministry, Slick counts it a huge blessing to work with humble and considerate Japanese fighter pilots instead of their far more colorful US counterparts. Would you join us in asking for opportunities to build relationships with them through which Jesus might be shared? The Gospel tends to make very slow progress in Japan; culture opposes it in many ways, so we have a unique opportunity with this job.

Please also pray for good rest, supernatural energy, insight and compassion for Donna as she seeks to serve, primarily supporting the counselors at the Camp Mt Gilead in eastern PA. It is an exhausting job! But amazingly rewarding, especially when God clearly works in people’s hearts and in situations to meet people just where they are. For instance, Donna was able to entrust her archery class to the assistant so that she could wait for a camper who had just had a deep conversation with her counselor and needed some time to think. When she returned to the path where Donna waited, she asked what she had to do to ask Jesus into her life. After a brief explanation, the girl shyly said, "I just did." Praise God!

Thank you for walking this journey with us. Please let us know how we can uphold you in prayer as well!

A chance to give Mom an extra special treat – to stand behind home plate at Yankee field and be treated to a game as a military veteran’s guest. The picture posted on the big screen was an extra benefit – lol!

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Clearly God has been active this month since Slick is still alive after pulling Donna into the pool. Donna was fine of course, but the phone drowned!

He also finally let us in on the secret of Donna’s 20+ year old collarbone pain after months of doctor visits. The path to healing? Stop the moving. LOL! Thankfully, God’s work through modern medicine has also relieved Slick of constant back pain, the bane of many a fighter pilot. There are benefits to living in the US…

In May, we explored a position in Long Island while friends watched our girls. God abundantly responded to your prayers for both direction for us (we are staying on course for Japan for now at least) and protection for the girls – they have yet to stop talking about how much fun they had at their respective friends’ houses. Not only were the girls safe, but they were blessed and blessings to those who watched them (or so our friends said!). Slick leaves NJ mid-June when Donna and the girls go to summer camp. We’ll rejoin in early Aug. Would you undergird our many travels and Slick’s house hunting by joining us in prayer for safety, expedience and opportunities to serve those with whom we interact?

As we depart the Phoenix area, I’ve lost count of the moments of deep gratitude for the time there, scootering to school with the girls, walking to the library one block away, biking to the YMCA pool one mile away, swimming in Nationals with the Masters team, the two older girls doing their first triathlons, feeding fish at the local pond (and Zoe falling in!), selling enough brownies and iced tea to buy goats for a family in need through Compassion International (totally the girls’ idea), hiking and running desert mountain trails with blooming cacti, road tripping to God’s vast and striking beauty in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks – and along the way, playing in Utah snow on Memorial Day weekend!!

More importantly, we thank God for the opportunity to encourage the folks at our local church and do some work for them, while also reconnecting us through a lost pool buoy with an old friend from a the world of writing (www.brenna-stull.com). On each of her and Donna’s weekly bike rides, she shared the amazing work God continues to do in the local high school and among the community of their church plant. Replete with laughter and discoveries of common ground, dinner with the Stull family this past week was a huge blessing, as was their watching our girls the evening we left so that we could finish packing and cleaning. Praise God for friends like them!

And praise God for friends like you who continue to follow our journeys and to stand beside us in prayer. Please let us know how we can return the favor. We’d love to hear from more of you!

Donna near Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

Matti, Gwen and Zoe at Bryce Canyon National Park

All of life ebbs and flows, this past weekend reached the pinnacle of our time here in Phoenix in the form of a visit from old friends. Read more of the amazing miracle God is working in their life on Donna’s blog.

We’ve been asking for prayers for clear guidance and direction, and this month is crunch time, so we covet those prayers even more than normal! Please also pray for those who’ll be watching our girls as we do a visioning visit mid-month. After that we’ll be able to say where we appear to be headed next! Maybe Japan, maybe not… Maybe Japan then the mission field again somewhere…

On the home front, however, Slick has been deeply encouraged by some of the interviews he’s had en route to finishing his doctoral research and beginning the writing phase. He would greatly appreciate your petitions that his investment of time would be of eternal value in helping the missionary community move through the support raising phase and get to the field more efficiently. He also praises God for giving him the skills to excel on his F-35 simulator checkride (like a test in an airplane simulator).

Donna’s praise comes from the more frivolous joy of sharing triathlon with the girls, this time starting down a water slide into the pool! And sharing the Masters Swim National meet with a friend from New Mexico. Thank you for supporting us in prayer and please let us know how we can return the favor. We continue to lift up those who have shared – and thank you for letting us help carry those burdens!

Boynton Canyon, Sedona, AZ – a 7 mile round trip what we all enjoyed hiking, even 4-year-old Gwendi, our littlest, and 8-month-old Hachi, our Aussie puppy.

Wind blew gently, helping us spread the ashes near a familiar stream in a location dear to the hearts of all the Knocke women present (Donna’s mom’s family). Stories, laughter and tears helped us say goodbye to Aunt Dorothy, both by the stream and at her memorial. Thank you for asking with us that God might work in hearts in this sensitive time. Slick was able to tactfully share a few words of perspective at the memorial as he MC’ed the evening. Who knows what God might do with those seeds?

Further west, Slick’s dad successfully transitioned back to Minnesota, happy to be in his familiar cold while temps here soar to the 80s and sun glares daily. We felt blessed to be able to serve him for a short time, at least.

Still further west, here in Phoenix, the girls each won their age groups in a local triathlon! We were also able to use the AZ state masters swim meet as an excuse to reconnect with a close friend of Slick’s in Tucson.

The latest? We continue to serve in small ways and to toss around a variety of ideas for ministry in the next chapter of our lives. Thus, we continue to covet your prayers for patience and clear guidance for our future in general. As we pray each day, how might we come alongside you and your heart’s cry?

Knocke women (left to right, back row) Deb, Donna, Diane, Martha

Visit to a friend’s farm, complete with cows, goats, chickens, ducks and an Australian shepherd dog

"I love you," "No, I love you!" "No, I love you!" And so it went most of the way to Gwendi’s preschool on our bikes with Hachi running beside. Precious arguments with a four-year-old over who loves who more!

All the girls would argue that they love Grandpa the most and we will miss him as he heads back to MN and his familiar cold and snow. He has been a tremendous blessing and we are sad to see him go! Please join us is covering his travels and resettlement in the cold, dark north with prayer.

While Daddy has suddenly become much busier, we do appreciate his clearance coming through so that he can complete his training. He will finish close to the end of the school year so we plan to stay in Phoenix until then, then drive back to NJ. We’d like the girls to attend a camp in eastern PA similar to the one we so loved in upstate NY before we join Slick in Japan. And Mommy is being considered to work there for the summer.

So again, we covet your prayers for patience and clear guidance as we continue to meander down this twisty road called life. We would love to settle somewhere, and neither of us feels Japan is it…yet we know that we are all sojourners here on earth…

Sadly, the earthly sojourn of Donna’s aunt, who’d lived with us in Morristown, NJ for some time, ended in mid February. Would you join us in asking God to work in this sensitive time of mourning for Aunt Dorothy? Few of those who appreciated and loved this amazing horse-woman knew Jesus… (Read more about Dorothy here.)

How might we join you in the requests of your heart?

Donna and Gwendi ride to school on a brisk, beautiful Phoenix morning.

Aunt Dorothy reads to Matti and Zoe a few years back. Kids are kids at the darndest times!

New Years found us making intimate acquaintance with many porcelain fixtures as we passed the 24-hour stomach bug among our entire family. We even included Grandma, but despite the time of trial, we thanked God that it was not gifted upon anyone else we visited over Christmas.

We are also thankful to receive Grandpa Douglass into our home for a time. And thankful yet again for a home where we are able to do that comfortably, though he is still getting accustomed to the noise level of 3 granddaughters and a puppy!

And lastly, bookended by two long drives, we enjoyed the blessing of two phenomenal days of skiing in Durango, CO where even Gwendi slid somewhat gracefully top to bottom and Zoe began to copy Mommy skiing backward. Since Donna helps Gwendi, she sometimes leaves her poles on the hill awaiting Gwendi’s departure and nap later in the day. This time, someone else decided they needed them so they were gone when she went to pick them up. But God redeemed even this – the following morning staff let Slick pick a pair of poles from the lost and found, but it wasn’t until later in the drive home that we discovered they were the exact right length, though Slick hadn’t even checked. God cares about details.

On the work front, our prayer is still for patience and clear guidance as we continue to wait on Slick’s clearance to learn the F35 in preparation for return to Japan. We would greatly appreciate your partnership in this request. How might we raise up your needs to the Savior? He cares even about the little details.

Always loved the Colorado Blue sky – like nowhere else!

Three sisters in Monument Valley, both in the foreground and the background. And the new puppy Hachi.

The year began in New Jersey, spent parts of the summer visiting Pennsylvania and Alaska, took a brief sojourn in Misawa, Japan and will end here in Litchfield Park (near Phoenix), Arizona. We expect to return to Japan in spring of 2019, unless plans change of course!

We praise God for the miraculous healing of our friend (see previous blogs) as well as for guidance along the way and for a healthy, happy family and new puppy added to our number.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

the Douglasses

Slick/Rich, Donna, Zoe, Matti, Gwendi and Hachi

Please email (or comment) if you would like our new contact info.

Taking advantage of living in AZ – a visit to the Grand Canyon. The girls and Donna did some biking!

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