Our son has gone partially nuts

More about my tardiness in publishing updates … in the next update.

You’ll probably remember that our son, Caleb, has a number of food allergies. It’s especially easy to recall this fact if you’ve ever had us over for dinner. Broadly speaking, one of those allergies has been tree nuts, which includes things like cashews, pistachios, pecans, and more. We’ve know for several years that he is not, however, allergic to pecans in particular. He was tested specifically for this because we had two large pecan trees in our backyard in Texas. That could’ve been awkward.

Our boy has been through a number of tests with an allergist here in Germany. Some of them have been better experiences than others; Katherine would be the better storyteller on that score. But in the latest round, the allergist encouraged Katherine to do some testing at home as a result of low, low numbers in Caleb’s blood tests (IgE levels). Home is more comfortable.

The test subject was to first try chopped hazelnuts baked into food. (Eating something baked, versus raw, can reduce the possibility of a reaction.) Chocolate almond cookiesThen we were to watch for the usual symptoms. So the test preparer, namely Katherine, prepared something delicious with hazelnuts bought in the shell. And then the test subject ate said delicious somethings. We watched, and watched, and watched, but he did not react to the nuts. He did react to the deliciousness, though, but not in any way that would concern an allergist.

Over the span of a few weeks, Caleb was to keep eating things with hazelnuts in them. Poor boy … so many yummy muffins and cookies, and so little time. Now he eagerly cracks them open himself and pops them in raw, and we now have a new source of protein (and much-needed fat) for him.

He’s been through the same routine, successfully, with almonds. We’re equally happy for that, too, but almonds are terribly expensive here.

Whether you’ve ever had to prepare food for our son or not, please be thankful to God with us for this change in Caleb’s life. He is, and he has the crumbs to prove it!

Six little, five little, four little allergies …

For four weeks now, Caleb has been eating a food that was previously off-limits: wheat. Blood tests done in the U.S. last year indicated that he was much less likely to develop a reaction to it. However, there was not enough time to follow those tests with a food challenge. Working through a new contact – and subsequent friend – here in Germany, Katherine made an appointment with an allergist at the children’s hospital run by the German Red Cross in nearby Siegen.

Based on the exam and a review of the test results, the allergist recommended that a food challenge be done. Early last month, the clinic applied a test that didn’t go so well. The poor lad had to drink quite a lot of two not-so-smoothies to get enough wheat (plus a control) into his system. At the end of the testing, he just couldn’t keep it all down.

First wheat cupcake!The doctor wasn’t convinced that this reaction was due to an allergy, and she suggested that Katherine give Caleb a little wheat here at home. So Katherine baked him some chocolate cupcakes that included some wheat flour. With little to no coercion, he tried them, liked them, and – more importantly – did not react. We waited one day, two days, and still saw no signs of his body rejecting the new food. The whole family gave up a cautious “Hallelujah!”

Over the next few weeks, Katherine tried additional wheat foods and increased the amount that our very happy boy was eating. There was still no reaction. With four weeks behind us, it seems that Caleb is in the clear!

First pretzel!Katherine discovered during this time that an area bakery, which is based within a very short walk of our home, keeps a thorough catalog of their products. It lists all of the ingredients for each item. If there’s a possibility that the product contains trace amounts of any of the common allergens, the catalog lists that, too. With that information in hand, Katherine got Caleb a treat – his first soft pretzel!

We are ecstatic that Caleb is free now from an allergy that put some of the most severe restrictions on his diet. Our thanks go to the LORD our God for hearing our prayers – and those of family and friends – over these many years. He has taken soy and wheat off of Caleb’s list now, with only milk, eggs, peanuts, and (most) tree nuts still out-of-bounds.

Praise God with us for this wonderful development! Please keep praying for our boy’s allergies and health, when you think of it. Who knows but that we may soon see more of these allergies fall by the wayside?

The Gift of Wheels

For two months after we arrived in Germany, we made do with vehicles that we could borrow from friends or the Wycliffe offices. There was a waiting period for receiving our setup funds, so we couldn’t buy a car of our own immediately. That didn’t stop from researching the possibilities, and I felt ready to pounce on some good used cars when those funds came through.

One day, though, a friend and colleague at Wycliffe Germany stopped me and mentioned that he had received word of a person who was interested in giving a car to a missionary. Might this be a good option for us? I’m still not sure how one says “Duh!” in German, but I probably replied “Stimmt ja!”

After receiving the contact information for the donor, I carefully crafted a message in German that explained who we are and how very much we’d like to have the car. Would he be willing to send me more information?

Later that day, he wrote back. In English. Yes, he had a car for us. Could I call him so that we could chat about it? And, indeed, his own mother tongue is English. Will God’s wonders never cease? (No, they won’t.) I had been a little nervous about conducting potentially complicated transactions, such as this one, in German. Double Hallelujah!

This fellow and his wife came to Germany from South Africa to work with their respective companies German offices. They had lived here for several years, and now it was time to go home. As followers of Christ, they felt that at least one of their possessions here – this car – could benefit someone doing work for the Kingdom of God. And now they were very generously giving it to us!

Well, perhaps I shouldn’t write that they gave it to us. To reduce the complexity of the transaction, we agreed to conduct it as a sale. We set a date to meet in Köln (a.k.a. Cologne) at the main train station, and I set about arranging for insurance.

[singlepic id=58 w=320 h=240 float=left] So in the second week of October, I rode the train out to Cologne. But shortly before my arrival at the Hauptbahnhof, I got a call from the donor. There was a lot of construction traffic around the main station – could I get off a stop or two early? I got off the train one stop ahead almost exactly after I got off the phone. Whew! Now to wait for them to arrive …

While I was waiting, a fellow walked up to me and asked how to get to the train platform – the path wasn’t terribly obvious from the parking lot. I gave him awful directions. Not long after that, though, I got another call from the donor. He was on the platform – where was I? I’m in the parking lot, I replied … oh, you were just there? Ah, I see.

[singlepic id=59 w=320 h=240 float=right] Can either of us be blamed for not recognizing people we don’t know? Well, all’s well that ends well. I clambered into the car that was soon to be ours, and we drove off to a shopping center where there was a copy service to take care of our sales contract. His wife gave me an overview of the car – it had been her main vehicle – and we transferred the snow tires from the back of his car. Most importantly, I handed over our payment: a single 1 € coin. Hallelujah! After many signatures, we parted ways, each of us thankful for our God’s provision for our needs. They had a car they needed to give, and we needed to receive one!

What a blessing this car has been to us so far. It’s perfect for our daily use. And we know who to thank: “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” (James 1:17) Thank the Lord our God with us for our little Renault Mégane!

Next up: the boys’ experience of school in Germany … in German (not the next post – the experience)