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!

Miracles, big and small. Eight weeks ago, S was sent home on hospice with 2-8 weeks to live because of a pop-up freak leukemia and an eye infection that blurred his vision, closed his eye and extended into his brain. About four weeks ago God motivated us, and we are sure others, to pray specifically for S’s healing. During Slick’s drive from Seattle to Phoenix, S called to say he was planning to preach on Sunday. His eye infection is obviously on the mend and he’d been declared "in remission". They said he’d never see clearly again, but now not only is his eye open but he can see clearly out of it, too. I’d venture to say he can probably see many things more clearly now than ever! Clearly, God is healing him. Miraculously.

Will you pray with us for S’s continued healing and remission, for the sake of God’s glory as well as that of his wife and 10 young kiddos?

In answer to your prayers of last month, several events coincidentally* occurred on the same day that led us to discern God was directing us to a job with Lockheed Martin and the Japanese Air Force F-35’s at Misawa, Japan. So we are now in Phoenix for five months (back to Japan after that). Today, we continue to settle into our desert tan apartment and research activities for the girls even as we pray for the folks battling to get Misawa chapel programs moving forward. Would you intercede for a moment on their behalf, as well as on ours, that we might see where God would have us invest while we are here?

*Coincidence – a small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous. J

Gwendi, Matti and Zoe in the Hakkoda Mountains before we left Japan.

Statue of Liberty Park, a quick bike ride away from Misawa Air Base, Japan ?!

“Today, seventeen years ago a plane crashed into the World Trade Center…” Ack! I thought. Was it already seventeen years ago that, less than three miles from here, I sat in a Bible study with three other gals when a phone call cued us to go online and look at the pictures of the WTC. We saw the shot of the plane poised to hit the second tower then the connection was lost, overwhelmed by people desperate for more details.

At that time I was thankful Dad had retired from United Airlines the year before so I didn’t have to worry about him being the pilot! Now, 17 years later, I ran a memorial 5k hosted by the Navy here at Misawa in northern Japan to commemorate our fallen brothers and sisters. That run and similar opportunities, along with Chapel events have enabled us to meet people and begin some friendships through which we can explore where God is working in this part of the world. He is definitely working, of that we are convinced as there is ample enemy activity that has taken its toll on the once vibrant ministries here. But the positive side is that there is lots of work ahead and we appreciate the opportunity to come alongside those who are leading to help them however we can.

Thank you for praying for our transition and the details. Many decisions and moving parts still lay ahead which we would greatly appreciate being facilitated by your prayers, among them a home, the continued transition to homeschooling and where to invest ourselves during our time here. Let us know how we can also be walking beside you in prayer.

We stayed overnight in a treehouse!

Japan?!

And so, we waited on the Lord through most of August. Our house was packed and in storage at a warehouse awaiting further direction. The visa process blocked our progress toward Italy as it seems that the entire country takes vacation in the month of August. A surprisingly detail of the hiring process blocked progress with F-35’s under Lockheed Martin. And our deadline to move out of the parsonage slipped by while we explored amazing Alaska following cousin Jen’s memorial who had just lost her few months battle with cancer. Good to see Alaska and family, though the occasion was anything but welcome.

Yet since our decision to go back to the job offer from a few months ago, we have met with what seems to be God’s approval: even with rooms packed by the impending airshow, the base allowed us a 2BR apartment for a month; someone we know from our last time here is in the US for the month and lent us a Subaru Forester until we find our own vehicle and all the travels have been entirely uneventful if not downright enjoyable. We even took the girls to Tokyo Disney for two days to help switch time zones before the last leg of the journey. It is good to sense even the slightest confirmation that we are where God wanted us, especially after a particularly ambiguous month of August!

Please join us in praying not only for the myriad details that come with such a move, but also for us to recognize where He is working here in remote northern Japan and to join Him in wherever He would allow us to serve. How might we be praying with you, too?