Brief Finale (2021 December 1)

Debbie passed away three days ago – – while she slept. Innumerable messages have been sent to us. I only read 10 or so each evening, when our home seems too quiet – – and when I am thinking about Debbie. My glasses tend to “fog up”.

Debbie had been sleeping the previous five days when she passed away gently into the arms of her Creator on the 28th. I can’t understand what it is now like on the other side for her, but I put my faith in the Almighty One, that He has her cautiously, carefully and confortably in His presence.

My daughters (+ Son in Law) and I lay Debbie to rest in a traditional casket in Ferndale, WA this Friday. Debbie’s sister and husband from Canada will join us. My close friend Paul Goodner will officiate. This will be our quiet moment to reflect on this wonderful woman.

This post serves as finale to Debbie’s difficult 2 year 4 month battle with cancer. Through her suffering and tears and innocent pleas to the Most High (“why?”), she always kept her heart toward the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” was her life verse.

I feel that in her last days she had intimate time with the Lord which is beyond what I can explain. Many times in the middle of the night (while checking on her) she would (without words) have her hands talking-ly in the air – – – – as though reaching out to and/or communicating with her Savior, whom she loves. On day #13 (before passing away) Debbie’s eyes all of a sudden one morning: bulgingly gleemed huge as she repetitively exclaimed vigorously and verbally “it is so beautiful // it is so beautiful // it is so beautiful”. After that moment, she communicated no more. No more communication after that.

On the 28th of November, His gates were opened for Debbie:

” Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.” (Ps 118:19 NIV)

I sign off now with a quiet and thankful heart,

Patrick

(206) 660-6185

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A Very Short Update (by Patrick) October 29, 2021

Debbie’s days may still be many? I hope so!

Or perhaps few?

Our upstairs den is now – – at the nurses requests – – her ONLY place to be: with a wonderful hospital bed; with her husband who sleeps at her feet (floor); with now near-daily visits from her hospice team (chaplain, her primary nurse, her hygiene attendant, her social worker, a music therapist and an extra 3hour/day miscellaneous helper).

Middle of the night times always include – – for Debbie and me – – talking about Heaven and Jesus and a few previously chosen memorized verses.

We do not know. Her days may yet be many? Yet, currently everyday now is sleep-filled + “rest-sitting” next to her bed (on our comfy upstairs den couch).

Yet, lucidity (mixed with a pinch of grogginess) sparks to action on its own schedule. Lucidity is Great! You may get get a text or call from her? I hope so.

Keep praying with us, and with me – – for my “Canada’s Finest”.

Warmly,

Patrick (for the both of us)

Her life verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov 3:5-6

Wedding Weekend ~ Sunday, October 17th, 2021

Our weekend wedding, in Mount Vernon, WA.

Featuring:   ~ Kathryn Alyssa O’Connor & Carl George Kulper ~

  • Friday: Out of town Bridal Party Arrives
  • Saturday: Rehearsal Activities
  • Sunday:  Set Up, Photos & Wedding (4 pm- 8pm)

Prayers for:

~ God to be glorified.

~ My wisdom, strength & energy.

~ My good health.

~ Overall good weather.

Thank you for being with us in spirit as we celebrate this joy-filled day!

Love and blessings from our home to yours,

    Debbie & Patrick

October 3rd, 2021 – – Lots of Updates…

“The end of all things is near.  Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:7-8

Emotions Update: 

For the first time in this cancer journey I am experiencing a great amount of grief + sadness.  The other day I was reading Lamentations which expressed very well my lament at the present moment.  Please pray for me as I deal with my emotions and the sadness that naturally comes when facing death.  Yes, I trust in the Lord and place my hope in Him and my future hope of Heaven.  However, with all this said there is still a lot of loss, grief and heartache to process and I want to be able to process this all well.

Health Update:

Thank you for your prayers for my physical health.  Over the past few weeks my body has really changed.  My stomach is permanently bloated from the cancer and I struggle with low energy levels, edema (swollen ankles, feet and legs) pain and nausea.  I continue to have good days and bad days.  I really don’t know what triggers a bad day and at this point I don’t see much of any cause and effect.  Hospice offers comfort care which means exactly that.  My nurse practitioner (who comes once a week) does her best to monitor my medications that provide comfort but no treatment for the cancer as the doctors felt that treatment would only prolong suffering and that current treatments available to me would not help the situation.

Wedding Update:

Kathryn and Carl will be married later on this month on October 17th.  It has been amazing to see God at work on all the little details.  Planning a wedding within a two-month period is a miracle and I know that God has done some pretty amazing things to bring all these details together for Kathryn and Carl.  Your prayers are greatly appreciated as the wedding date quickly approaches.  Patrick and I are excited and are rejoicing with Kathryn and Carl.

Project Update: 

A couple of weeks ago a blog was sent out regarding my desire to have a last final project of a camp baptismal mini-waterfall and “Reflection Garden” at the Honduran camp called Converge in Tegucigalpa.  We have had a lot of responses and I thank everyone who has participated in this project so far.  Thank you for your desire to bless the camp with a baptistry and thank you, too, for the funds to build a beautiful reflection garden partnering with the women of Honduras. 100% of donations will go to Honduras. Thanks, too, for wanting to bless me!  I appreciate your support. Lord willing, in the next couple of weeks hopefully we will have a better idea of how much money has come in for this Baptismal Garden in Honduras. We are headed in the right direction!

Thank you:

Thank you again for you continued prayers.  I never knew that people with terminal illness face so many trials and hardship.  It is not easy.  With out the Lord by my side, family and friends holding me up and the prayers of loved ones I don’t think I could make this journey on my own.  THANK YOU!

With much love,

Debbie (with Patrick, Sarah and Kathryn)

Dhonduras@gmail.com

Finishing well, well.          September 19, 2021

Again, he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants that the birds can perch in its shade.”  Mark 4:30-32 — Given to me by the Lord in 1997 after Women’s Conference as to the scope the women’s ministry would have in Honduras.

As I wonder about my transition into glory, I think about the importance of always starting something with the end in mind.  25 years ago – while living in San Pedro Sula, Honduras – the Lord gave me the vision for uniting the women of Honduras.  The vision was to encourage, build one and spur one another on together, but with GOD in the lead with GOD in control!  Sounds simple, right?  Well, maybe not. 

While many of us could see the benefit of bringing — from across the country of Honduras — women to form a vibrant group of volunteers, the question that everyone asked was always the same, “QUIEN MANDA?”  This little phrase packs a powerful punch.  It translates to: “who’s the boss, who’s in control, who dictates, who’s in charge?”  Interestingly, those asking the question naturally thought, of course, that it was they themselves who needed to be in charge!  

Why is it that we tend to want to be the boss?  The “grand poohbah”;  the one in charge?  Why are we not content to “let go and let God”?  This is one thing that attracted me to both Suyapa Delgado and Reina de Guillen — two humble women from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro who just wanted to serve the Lord. They — along with a small group of other female leaders – just wanted to serve others for God’s glory; not for their control, nor for their glory. But for the glory of their God!  Those were our humble beginnings back in 1996. And these are the humble beginnings that I want the women and leaders of Honduras to remember today.

The Lord has put it on my heart to create a special project through our agency (and with their blessing) as my final tribute to honor God but also to honor the women of Honduras:

  • It is to God because He has done amazingly wonderful transformations in the lives and hearts of Christian women of Honduras:  I have seen God take some of the most unskilled, unprepared & uneducated ladies to transform them into strong, confident leaders who honor God and Honduras.  For 25 years, they have used their talents, skills, and giftings to the glory of God in the women’s ministry focus there. To see their journey brings tears to my eyes for what a powerful, gracious God we serve. 
  • It is also to honor my fellow sisters in Christ in Honduras, who love the Lord and serve Him.

As a missionary, my final Special Project is to raise funds for a “Reflection Garden” which will be within the Conservative Baptist Tegucigalpa Association Christian Camp, “Converge”. (Patrick and I had served with the CB Conservative Baptist’s for 26 years). This garden will remind the woman of Honduras from where they have come and that we are called to be servant leaders.   

A bit of history about the CB camp in Honduras: This 11 acre property — which would later become Camp Converge in Tegucigalpa — was donated to the association of churches in 1995.  For the first few years nothing was done on the property, as no one really came forward to take on this monumental project. In 2008 some funds were raised to build a dorm. Later in 2009, an American missionary Michelle Crotts — who was a mentee of mine and serves full time in Tegucigalpa — along with our beloved women’s ministry leader Suyapa Delgado started bringing in work teams to finish up the dorm.  As Michelle puts it, “we just never stopped.” Today Camp Converge is one of the most popular, well-developed Christian camps in Tegucigalpa. It can house 200 people on forested land. From humble beginnings, the camp grew slowly over the years with a lot of Honduran involvement from the start. Today, the camp has several dormitories, cabins, a meeting hall, sports fields, guest houses, classrooms, gazebos and a kiosk for barbeques.  

One thing the camp still needs is a baptistry, where the churches using the camp can baptize new believers.  For me, without knowing that this was the direction their local leadership wanted to pursue, the Lord put into my mind last month for the idea to have a baptistry/mini-waterfall project at the camp.  I feel that not only will such a baptistry/mini-waterfall be a beautiful landmark for the camp, but also a special spot for churches when they have believers who want to be baptized.  

Would you consider giving a small gift to help me with this vision? Through our mission agency, 100% of all donations for this project will go to this baptistry/mini-waterfall at Camp Converge. 100%.

If you would like to participate with the Special Project, here are details:

Via personal check:

  • e3 Partners Ministry, 2001 W Plano Parkway # 2600, Plano, Texas 75075. 214-440-1101 [Memo to #691 Patrick & Debbie O’Connor]
  • Action International Ministries, PO Box 398, Mountlake Terrace, WA, 98043-0398.  (Phone: 425-775-4800) —  [Memo to  #42026 Patrick & Debbie O’Connor]
  • Action International Ministries 3015 A 21st Street NE Calgary, Alberta T2E 7T1 Canada. [Memo to #42026 Patrick & Debbie O’Connor]

Via URL digital donation: 

Watch “Debbie O’Connor – – Special Project (through e3 Partners) for Honduras. Mini video. 9/11/21.” on YouTube:  https://youtu.be/aF-UPJb6a90

Thank you for standing with us through the years as I have served the women of Honduras.  

Thank you,

Debbie O’Connor

DHonduras@gmail.com

9-2-2021 Hospice and Celebrating MOM

It was about 2 weeks ago that we got the recommendation from our oncology team to stop all treatment and make plans to put a hospice team together. We were told that the best time to start hospice is before, we think we need it.  Even though we did not understand what this meant, wisdom has shown us that sometimes it is best to do what others tell you.

It has been quite a transition for our family to move from being on a cancer journey to now being on a mom going home to Heaven journey.  The first few days were a mess of emotions and thoughts: anger, fear, joy and doubts —  all mixed together with lots of questions.  As a family, we have been able to come together and learn from one another.  We are learning that we need to grieve and mourn and we are also learning that we each mourn differently. Also, that we need to respect how everyone in our immediate family is processing this information.  It has given us a greater love and appreciation for one another and patience for one another as well as we realize we are “all over the map” with our grief.

Our hospice team is a team of 5 people which we are in the process of meeting: a nurse, a social worker, a personal care worker, a chaplain and an overall case manager.  Their goal is to walk alongside us these last few months as we transition from this world to the next.  Thank you for your prayers for us during this tumultuous time.  We are trying to take one day at a time and learn the things that we are to learn and that we would make some good memories together.

As we walk this road of sadness and mourning, there is a parallel road we are walking on at the same time.  The road of joy and hidden treasures.  As mentioned previously, our youngest daughter Kathryn got engaged and is planning to marry Carl Culper on October 17th in a small intimate wedding celebration.  It has been such a joy to go wedding dress shopping and find “the dress”!  God has been so faithful at going before Kathryn and Carl and paving the way as they look for a venue, for caterers, for a florist, and on and on.  Thank you to the many friends who have chipped in and helped with these wedding details.  Please continue to pray for the many wedding details.

Two special requests are: 

(1) For nice weather the day of the wedding and

(2)  That the USA/Canada border situation would allow entry to family and friends coming to the wedding from Canada.

A prayer request I have had for several months is that the borders would open up so I could go see my mom who is in a memory care facility just on the other side of the Canadian border.  About a month ago there had been some restriction changes which allowed for minimal travel across the border.  When trying to decipher the implications of the changes the outcome looked as clear as mud.  I am happy to report that on Friday August 27th Patrick and I  had a very emotional visit with my mom and other family members at my mom’s memory care facility. It had been 19 months that I had not been able to see my mom face to face.  It was a wonderful visit and my mom was more alert that I had ever seen her previously.  With her advanced Alzheimer’s my mom generally does not recognize us any longer and so often during a visit mom would just stare off in to space.  Of course, we would just talk to her and tell her all about what we are doing, about family life etc.  Most of the time mom would not respond at all.  But during our visit seemed that mom was really tracking.  She was very concerned when I was crying – that I was telling her my news of going to heaven soon.  She reached out to me and was trying to console and comfort me.  Mom kept silently staring at Patrick and smiling and was pointing at him as if she was trying to tell him something. She was very interactive, not with her words (as she rarely says anything any more), but with her gesticulations and her eyes.  She was there and she was engaged.  This was such a gift to me as it is very likely that this will be my last visit to Canada and my last time to see my mom.    Thank you to all who prayed.  It was a blessing and made my day.

Thank you for your love and encouragement to us.  We receive notes, texts, cards, letters, flowers, meals or some other love communication almost daily.  We feel very supported by you.  Thank you for walking this journey with us.

Please continue to pray for:  swollen feet and legs, back and stomach pain, stomach bloating, extreme nausea that comes and goes, low energy levels.  Praise God for times when I feel pretty good and can putter around in the garden, get some projects done around the house, go out for an errand.

Love from our home to yours,

Debbie (with Patrick, Sarah and Kathryn)

(Update by Patrick on 9/5/21 – Debbie is having a pretty bad episode this weekend, but three days ago she wanted to get this blog out, but was unable to. )

August 17th 2021 GOD IS WITH US…

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper and the waves of the sea were hushed.”  Psalm 107:28-29

   Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers since the surgical procedure of the stents of two weeks ago. Sadly, I have not experienced any great changes in bloating, abdominal discomfort or the capacity to eat.  I had an x-ray today to evaluate the stents and soon to follow up with the gastroenterologist and the oncology team after that.

My health continues to deteriorate. When we met with Dr. Martins last Thursday he recommended that we stop all treatment. Since the beginning of this journey, we knew we were dealing with a rare form of cancer that is considered incurable.  Our goal since the beginning of this cancer journey – two years ago in September –  was to fight the cancer to the best of our ability focusing on quality not quantity of life.  Even though we are stopping treatment I will continue to maintain contact with the team who will monitor my health and ongoing issues at the moment.

Moving forward I am sensing God preparing me for Heaven.  It is a sweet thing to be able to have this time to say good bye and to finish well. I have had the chance to reach out to old friends that I have not spoken with in years and have had people who I have not heard from reach out to encourage me.  It is a gift from God when we are told, “that in this world we will have trials of various kinds” but we are exhorted to look for “joy in the journey”.  

One of the best joys that God has brought to our journey thus far is our very recent news of the engagement of our youngest daughter, Kathryn, to her boyfriend of one year, Carl.  We are thrilled for Kathryn and Carl as they start a new chapter of their lives and look forward to planning a wedding together over the next few months.  Thank you for rejoicing with us!

On this journey I have never stopped believing nor asking God for a miracle. I know without a doubt that God could heal me in an instant, but walking by faith also causes me to know that each of my days are numbered by God, are very precious to Him and are held so tenderly in His hands. 

     As I now get close to the end of life, it is interesting how the things of greatest importance come to the forefront:  Time with the Lord, time with family and time with friends. This is what occupy my thoughts and very limited energies. 

Would you please pray for:

  • My desire to finish well — and wisdom to do so;
  • My desire to get to Canada to see my mom, who is in an Alzheimers care facility. We await ceratin border policy changes to permit this to happen. Please pray for a miracle.
  • For my body — to permits rally and due to rest from further treatment.
  • For Kathryn and Carl (and our family as a whole) as we plan their wedding together.  That we would experience much joy and laughter together.
  • For our family as we grieve together, with our desire to spend quality time together these next few months.

Please know that we thank you for journeying with us. Truly.  With much love to you,

Debbie and Patrick — with our girls Sarah and Kathryn.

(8-2-2021) Mission Accomplished

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,  they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2

We had a successful surgical procedure today.  Thank you for your prayers. 

As suspected, there was a biliary (liver) tract obstruction and a pancreas obstruction. 

The doctors were able to insert two stents: one into the liver bile duct and the other into the pancreatic duct, which will open up the area to permit backed up G.I. fluids to move.

After the procedure, I was able to drink and eat some watermelon and applesauce in the car as we drove home.

When I got home, Patrick helped me get settled in bed and I slept for four hours.  I woke up feeling pretty good.   So, thank you for your continued prayers for post-operation progress.

I will follow up in a couple days with my medical team to check the liver enzymes numbers and see how everything is responding.

Thanks again for your encouragement and support.

Firmly in His grip,

Debbie (with Patrick)

Surgical Procedure date & time (7/29/2021)

Thank you so much for your continued support in this journey.  

The surgical procedure is scheduled for this coming Monday August 2nd at 7:30 am. The surgeon will go in to see what is causing the biliary (liver) blockage and then determine a course of action, to be done right then. This may be putting in a stent to drain the blockage or there may be some other attempt to unblock that area.

Please pray that the procedure is successful and that – as a result of this endoscopy – my liver numbers would come down to a normal range. Also, that I would get physical relief from feeling full and bloated.  And finally that I can get my appetite back and be able to eat to my great pleasure!

Love and blessings,

Debbie (with Patrick) 

Lord, we need Your strength (July 22, 2021)

“Summon your power, God; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.”  Psalm 68:28  

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”         2 Chronicles 20:12

This past week with a trip to the ER and three days in the hospital is somewhat of a blur.  Here is a summary of what was found out from various scans, tests and blood work:

  • The cancer is no longer stable, but has shown some growth as well as some spreading.
  • A blood clot was found in my stomach and I am now on blood thinners.
  • My liver (which in the past was stable) is now irritated because of the cancer.
  • I have a blockage in a bile duct that may require a stent to be inserted. We are monitoring the situation and I will have more labs early next week to determine whether or not I will need the stent procedure later next week.
  • I started a new chemotherapy that will hopefully bring some relief to my liver. 

Thank you for continued prayers:

  • That my body would respond to the new chemotherapy. Please pray specifically against back and abdominal PAIN.
  • That perhaps the blockage would work itself out on its own.
  • That if I have the medical stent procedure next Friday, that it would be a success and rectify the blockage problem.
  • That Patrick and I would have ongoing wisdom and peace from the Lord as there are many twists and turns on this journey.

On an encouraging note, three of our pastors from our church came to pray for Patrick and me last week. They anointed me with oil to my forehead, as they prayed. What I found as an added bonus is that after you are anointed with fragrant oil you smell that oil throughout the day. From this, I was reminded of the presence of God. This visit also brought to me such peace and assurance and was a direct answer to my prayers for encouragement.  As always, God’s timing in all this was perfect — as it was just two days later that the ER storm hit.  So even though it was not fun going through the suffering, I had a heightened awareness of God presence.  

Another blessing was that I had a very informative visit with the nutritionist who was able to give me some great ideas on how to get some more calories and protein into my diet.  Eating has become a real challenge so I am again encouraged to have been able to talk through some ways to get maximum nutritional value with the few foods that I seem able to tolerate.  That is a huge answer to prayer.  THANK YOU, LORD! And thank you for your prayers!

Please remember that we are praying for you.  Drop us a note and let us know how we can be praying for you.

Much love to you,

Debbie and Patrick

(My email is: DHonduras@gmail.com)