Almost daily I’m reminded of Dad’s humor and quips, like "aging right on schedule – whatever that is!", "two days: this day and that day," and "another an opportunity for spiritual formation."

Running seems to grow daily more painful, but it’s hard to know how much is age and how much is tripping on the dog when she’s excited by the crowds competing in the Turkey Trot. Zoe ran the 6K and Matti biked with an occasional push as I (Donna) attempted to keep us three together and our crazy puppy out of everyone’s way. Or how much is running the stairs through the Tori gates in Kyoto featured in Memoires of a Geisha? Three miles straight of them! Thankfully we only walked through the temple, imperial palace, bamboo grove and monkey refuge later that day. Sightseeing Douglass style, like aging, is not for the faint of heart!

With an eye toward "that day," we’ve been blessed by many dinner guests offering mutual encouragement around the table. Likewise, Thanksgiving with five other families, formed a household of faith as snow drifted in the air to the music of children’s laughter (lots of children and laughter!).

Between highlights such as these, there remain "opportunities for spiritual formation" at every turn. Slick is thrilled to have finished not only his current class at seminary, but also the first draft of his dissertation. Preparations for a marriage enrichment retreat which we get to lead in two weeks are also near completion. Meanwhile, Donna has been given the challenge to serve faithfully in the midst of adversity while waiting on God’s timing with the women’s ministry. Please join us in asking God for clear guidance and for truth to prevail such that wounds may be healed, marriages strengthened and ministry move forward.

Through it all, we are deeply grateful that we can rest in the confidence that the One who desires the best for us also knows the best for us AND is able to accomplish it. Truly, perfect love drives out fear and leaves us free to serve with joy. Please let us know how we can come alongside you in your walk with Him who is faithful and true.

Rock climbing at Kuji. The cliff is right behind Hachi, who has replaced all fear of heights with a dread of being left at the bottom when Mommy climbs the heights.

If "every good and perfect gift is from above,"* then laughter is from God, too. Some events, like girls’ comments and Matti literally bouncing with energy, cause immediate [and often stifled!] laughter. Other events take some time to age into laughables. Someday, The Battle of The Bedbugs will age into humorous, though at that moment it is cause for much fervent petition and tentative praise: after a week of heavy fighting, we haven’t detected any further infiltration. We never did see a single one, nor any evidence besides the intensely itchy bites. Crazy!

A second good gift from above came, like many, only after what seemed like humiliating defeat. Gwen is now happily ensconced in a Japanese youchien (preschool) near our house with only one other American. She’s learning rapidly and loving it, as are we. It’s a much better situation that we’d been working toward for over a year. "God blessed the broken road…"

Though not without its accompanying difficulties, God has also blessed Sandi’s hard work with favor among the Japanese he serves. He has been able to make significant inroads in serving them and building relationships and credibility with them, personally and professionally. Would you continue to pray with us for "an open door" for the Gospel** among these Japanese who are also precious to God?

On the ministry front, we continue to move toward leading a marriage retreat in December for a local church and toward becoming certified marriage counselors with Love and Respect/Dare to be Different. Having two targets painted clearly on our marriage, please join us in extra prayer cover for intentionality, diligence, connection and protection.

Finally, as we’ve moved forward in careful confidence following your prayers for wisdom and guidance, God responded by moving hearts at the women’s Spiritual Health Seminar. Long and deep conversations, soaked by tears, bore witness to God’s work at the event. We continue to ask for God’s wisdom and unity for Donna and her fellow board members, as well as His ongoing work in individual ladies’ lives.

Thank you for walking this path with us. Please let us share your burdens as well.

*James 1:17

**1 Corinthians 16:9

Gwen’s first day of youchien.

A morning run through 3 miles of tori gates and stairs – three miles!! Matti stopped counting them at 2000, about half way through our hike the next day.

After several hundred people shuffled through the lunch line, Slick served the last bit of pulled pork onto the plate of the last person in the line at the chapel’s block party last Sunday. Clearly that was a God-thing! The whole pig had been eaten but brisket, burgers and dogs held out as did all the sides and fixings. But the more important part was that many folks heard about chapel programs and local churches, and a few even showed up at the women’s studies this week as a result.

Not all was roses, however, as deep brokenness and hurt was evident at even so shallow an event. Nor have the studies and meetings we are both involved with been without challenges. We’d much appreciate your prayers for these situations, not that God would give us clear sailing, but that we’d be able to discern where God would build our character through perseverance and where He is shutting doors in His own sovereignty.

On the encouraging side of the railroad tracks, Slick’s been invited to help lead a men-and-boys’ retreat for the chapel and we’ve both been asked to run a marriage seminar through a local church. These elicit both thanksgiving and many prayers for wisdom. Would you join us in those?

And finally, during his week in NY at school, Slick was able to catch up with many folks. For one of them Slick has been praying for years that God would give this young man a disciple to pour into. Slick repeated this request in the man’s hearing as they prayed before hanging up and within moments the man received an email from a friend who was seeking a mentor. From Joe’s perspective, a demonstrative and immediate answer to prayer. From Slick’s, God finally responding to years of praying. Either way, may God be praised. J

How might we celebrate and supplicate with you?

Playing with the next door neighbor Molina who is between Gwen and Matti’s ages. One of the best parts of this picture is a complete lack of boxes (except for the one beside Zoe’s left ear if you look carefully). Proof that pictures can be deceptive!

I thought I sent this last week! Alas, I didn’t!!

School and activities have started for the girls, Slick is busy with a new class of Japanese F35 pilots and we are not insane yet, despite being still surrounded by boxes – so God must be responding to your prayers 😁. It helped to have four days of reprieve to show some Colorado friends all around our area. God gifted us with rare and perfect weather for hikes on Mt Iwate and in Oirase Gorge as well as an afternoon at a local beach interspersed with other sightseeing. We are prepped and ready for our next visitors. Any takers?

With local folks, Slick has seen some "lightbulbs going on" as well as having great discussions with the Gap Year Bible Study group and some of the men with whom he meets weekly. We very much covet your prayers that those morning meetings be effective in an eternal sense and that the women’s group Donna is starting to work with might draw women toward Jesus and His Word. There are certainly some very deep needs among the young couples and families here in this remote place.

How might we walk beside you in prayer during this season?

Showing the McClarrinons Oirase Gorge.

We don’t get to walk across an F2 every day!! But we did at the local airshow.

Sunrise over a run through farm fields near the house.

"Adultery is the process of becoming and adult." "What is bathtisum?" (aka, baptism!) Those remain my favorite quotes of the summer at camp. And my favorite moments were conversations where we really dug into things as widely varied as: how can we be sure the Bible is true? will my dog be in heaven? will God always remember my sins? election or free will? can I lose my salvation?

God clearly sustained Donna as she poured out on people from dawn to beyond dusk each day on an average of five hours of sleep – not something Donna could ever do on her own! He also sustained a team of amazing, godly counselors, mature beyond their years, through late nights, early morning, tough questions and situations of all sorts – running the gamut of exhausting to inspiring on all levels. Each week God worked through these young women to transform scared new campers into happy cabin families, able to share intimate thoughts, fears and feelings, and in some cases, even becoming new, baby believers.

Meanwhile, on the west side of the Pacific in northern Japan, God was answering your prayers to speed Slick’s time away from the girls by involving him not only in productive relationship-building at work, but also in various supporting roles at the base chapel. One family more or less adopted him, and God’s brought several young men across his path for instruction and encouragement.

As Donna and the girls crossed the ocean to join Slick, they felt like Elijah after Mt Carmel, napping and eating well by turns on the 24 hour journey, and even getting to visit Grandma Kohout and Grandpa Douglass along the way! It was the perfect healing balm for sleep-deprived weeks at camp and preparation for reunion.

As we rejoin and reform as a whole family, will you join us in interceding for a smooth transition to family-hood and ministry in Misawa, as well as a speedy moving process into our new home? Please pray that people would experience God, not Slick or Donna as we lead a gap year group, mentor several men on base (Slick!), and assist with the women’s ministry (Donna!). How might we walk beside you on your sojourn here on earth?

Zoe in her happy place – on a horse. In this case, Justin.

Some the counselors Donna worked with, dressed up for an evening occasion.

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!

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 ( 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!