Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pastor Robin and Wasser House

These are the words that Elder Peggy Cox shared at the memorial service for my dad July 3, 2011. Our thanks to Peggy for her openness and love.

"Robin had a gift of speaking with everyone around him and a gift of listening close enough to hear their need. As he was undergoing cancer treatment at St. Mary’s Medical Center he spoke with many of the other patients there and became aware that many of the people who drove to Walla Walla each day to have treatment chose to drive home in the afternoons only to return the following day because they could not afford the cost of staying in Walla Walla on top of the other costs of the treatment.
He came to the session meeting in November 2009 with a vision for a house that the church owned. He wanted to renovate it and allow patients of the cancer center to stay in it free of charge while they were here for treatments. He knew it would be a huge financial burden lifted from the patients who were generally exhausted and sometimes nauseated after the treatments.

I also knew how important the house would be to other cancer patients and their families, since my sister Pam had spent months in a Ronald McDonald house in Denver in 2008 while her 7 year old daughter Erin underwent cancer treatment for a brain tumor. So I volunteered to help with the renovation.
Judy Holloway and I became the coordinators of the transformation. We were given a budget of $5000 to begin the project. We walked through the house taking notes of the major things that needed accomplished… all the plumbing needs to be replaced, no furnace-existing heaters had mouse nests in them, bathroom walls were rotten, windows need replaced, needs new carpet and linoleum throughout house, needs new kitchen including cabinets and appliances, spiral staircase to attic removed, interior and exterior painted, new back porch including roof, new fence. As we walked back out of the house we did not have a warm fuzzy feeling about making it into a home. It was overwhelming at first for both of us.

But as we began making the calls to have professionals come and look at plumbing, and heating, we were amazed at the excitement and generosity of people to be a part of the project. Robin’s enthusiasm soon spread throughout the congregation. Every time someone else would call us with a donation of another item we needed we just shook our heads in amazement of God’s provision and watched the house being changed before our eyes.
During the time that I was helping with the house, my niece passed away. After a couple months, when I returned to working on the house, I had one of the volunteers tell me that it was good therapy for me to work on the house to help me through the hard time of grieving for Erin. They were right. We knew that the people using the house after completion would be blessed, but little did we realize that each of the volunteers would be blessed as they came to help with the project. The friends we made, the skills we learned, the laughs we shared filled the house with memories.
Robin left for Seattle in August of 2010 to begin his treatment there. Our group continued rain or shine to work diligently on the house. Focused work days brought in more volunteers to help! The volunteers ranged from 9-75 years old. Our goal was to have the house done when he got home in November.

Robin’s treatment plan was changed so he came home in September. He would stop by the house every day for a progress report usually after his treatment at St. Mary’s. There were days that he said he was not feeling very well at all, but he was so excited to see the house taking shape. I looked forward to his daily visits so I could see that he was okay enduring his treatments. If he stopped by and I had already left for the day he would call me at home to check in with me. He enjoyed knowing that yet again he had used his gift of seeing potential in people to grow another Christian leader in our church by watching me work outside my comfort zone on leading this project. He started every conversation with "General Cox", and he left messages on my answering machine addressing me as General Cox. I would only chuckle at his comment.

On October 24, 2010 he dedicated the house now known as the Wasser House and its ministry.

He used the verse from Haggai 2:9 in his sermon in November 7, 2010 -- “The GLORY of this present House will be Greater than the GLORY of the former House, and in this Place I will grant PEACE,” Declares the LORD Almighty."

The next day he came to the Wasser house and said he thought that verse spoke about the house and he wanted it displayed. We printed the verse and had it framed and placed it on the living room wall where it still hangs today.

On November 15, 2010 one year after he came before the session with his vision for the house, we handed over keys to St. Mary’s for the first family to use the house.

Pastor Robin’s prayer for the house was that God would use the beauty, charm and love that transformed the house to encourage and bless the families that will occupy it for years to come and that the guests will feel God’s nearness and find both physical and spiritual healing as they share in life together with us, their neighbors, at College Place Presbyterian Church.

Robin knew he could not take away the pain and heartache of the journey these people were on, but he did know that he could give them a little hope when they needed it by having a place to call their home away from home.
After the house was structurally ready for guests, we began getting furniture donated to fill each room. The end result for the decorating theme was jokingly described as: Egyptian Renaissance. Which is fitting since it truly will be a place and time for renaissance; for revival!
Volunteers from our church came forward who wanted to clean the house on a weekly basis, to meet with the new guests as they came to town for treatment and to make meals or baked goods for the people as they underwent their treatment. Robin’s dream was realized. Robin definitely treated the people as neighbors, checking in with them during treatment or in the evenings. I agree with what the first family said “This house is a blessing. And Robin… he is heaven sent. I think he is an angel in disguise.”

The house has been used on a regular basis since the day we turned over the keys to St. Mary’s in November 2010. The guests have stayed an average of 8 weeks at a time in the house. The third family just finished their treatment and left their “home away from home”.

This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson describes Robin’s rule for his life:
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

July 3, 2011
College Place, WA

This is the sermon I delivered at my Father's Memorial Service on July 3rd. It was a wonderful day and a beautiful celebration of his life and ministry at the College Place Presbyterian Church for over 30 years. Thank you to all 500+ who attended and for those of you unable to attend, here is a brief sample of some of the wonderful, inspiring words shared in the service.

"Leaving a Legacy"
How can you measure a man’s life? Do you look at his accomplishments? Do you look at his family? What is the legacy he has left behind? My father was a worker. The Peterson family value is hard work. Many families have different ways of enjoying each other’s company… we worked. Hard. Dad even made up a song for us, “Mad dogs and Petersons go out in the midday sun.” Our family bonding took place over sprinkler pipes and broken-down tractors, onion bins and animals. I’m not surprised that God took him home before he was 60. In those few years he did the work of 3 men. One of his favorite sayings was, “A lot of men could, but not many would,” after having accomplished some incredible feat of strength and hard work. He also loved the adage, “Work smarter, not harder”, although he just worked harder anyway. He didn’t look like he could out work everyone in the field, but he did. He was so incredibly strong that we called him the “Incredible Bulk”. He never turned green.

He was always approachable. People were drawn to him. His smile and his manner were welcoming. My Aunt Pat told me a story that people have always treated him this way. Even as a baby, people loved him. Being the youngest of 13 children in North Dakota, there was not a lotof money to go around. So there weren’t many pictures of him, but there were a few. They sent a couple of photos to Aunt Pat who was working in New York as a nurse. She was dating a doctor who didn’t have any siblings and when he saw the picture of dad in a little sideways baseball cap, he asked her if he could have it. He told her he never had a little brother and that was the cutest kid he had ever seen. Aunt Pat said, “Well, I have 9 little brothers, so you can share one of them!” Years later, when she met him again, he still had that picture of dad in his wallet, his little brother. “People always loved him, for his whole life.” Aunt Pat said.

As the youngest, he wanted to be like his older brothers and sisters. They would play school with him and on the first day of first grade he already knew how to read and write, add and subtract and his multiplication tables. He was so bored that while the poor teacher of the one-room schoolhouse was busy teaching the older kids, little Robin was wandering around the classroom visiting his brothers and sisters. She got so frustrated with him that she tied his shoelaces to the chair to keep him in place and instead of staying put; he just took off his shoes. He was sent home with a note and that meant a severe punishment. The solution to the problem was that Grandma took a teaching job in another school and took dad and Aunt Kathy with her. She could teach him whatever he was ready to learn and he would mind her because it was his mother. He was a little spoiled that way. He got his own children’s books. He didn’t have his own new pair of shoes until he was 6 years old, but he had books to read. Grandma always wanted to go to Bible college and was thrilled that finally the last of her children was going to study the Bible.

He loved us. He was our softball coach, our soccer coach, our personal trainer, our mentor. He wanted us to achieve great things. He believed the best in others. He loved sports. He loved music. He loved teams and working together. He loved to tell stories and be the focus of attention. Maybe because he was the youngest of 13 kids, he had to get attention somehow. He loved sports and he supported and encouraged athletes of all ages to do their best and accomplish all they could. He was the self-appointed “chaplain” to the Wa-Hi wrestling team. It was his desire to help young men and women become the strong disciples of Jesus Christ that God desired them to be. He came to faith as a teenager at a Billy Graham crusade in Yakima and it transformed his life. He knew first-hand how important those teenage years can be to spiritual formation. He wasn’t one of those pastors who stayed inside the walls of the church expecting people to come to him. Whether it was at Camp Ghormley as the speaker or at a Blue Devil sporting event, at the hospital or the parts store, he went to where the people were and met them on their terms in their comfort zone and brought Jesus to them.

He lived his life to the fullest. He worked hard, he played hard, and if he ever sat down long enough, he slept hard, too. We have pictures of him holding each one of us kids and the grandkids and while the baby slept, so did he.

He loved the Blues Brothers and would often say, “We’re on a mission from God.” Even when he was in Seattle at the Cancer Care Alliance, he was ministering to the other patients and nurses and doctors there. He gave them bottles of wine and prayed for them. He brought Jesus to the cancer center, too. He had a passion for life and an unyielding faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He had a wonderful picture in his bedroom of a young man at the helm of a ship and Jesus Christ looking over his shoulder pointing the way to safety through the storm. This was the model of his life. I brought the picture to his hospital room and hung it on the wall so he would have that constant reminder and comfort that Christ was still guiding and directing and leading him every minute. Even when he suffered, he still reached people in ministry. He wrote his blogs to touch the lives of thousands of people with the saving message of Jesus Christ. He wanted to care for his congregation even in the midst of being absent physically; he was always the spiritual guide of this church. Christ is the head of the church and my father worked as His loving servant to shepherd this flock in their walk with Christ.

When my uncle suffered multiple strokes in January and February, dad wrote these words in his blog:

"Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me; and the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."

"That Jesus willingly went to the cross to conquer death is the rock that anchors my soul.

"Death in Christ is a miraculous and wonderful gift. To claim all the promises of the One who promises to be the Resurrection and the Life gives us a boldness and confidence to "surthrive" even human mortality. But the process of dying still sucks. It often hangs on to the vestiges of when it was the ultimate destiny of humanity and makes the process bitter and trying. Maybe that is part of what being crucified with Christ is all about: to share in physical pain, the loss of control and the releasing of our souls into the Hands of God may have some redemptive value we just can't see. At the end of that journey, however, I do know what awaits those who die in Christ. Twice in my baseball career I have been up to bat in the bottom of the last inning with the game on the line. If I struck out or made an out, we would lose. If I got a hit, particularly a home run, we would win. Miraculously, both times I hit a home run. Each time as I was rounding 2nd base I was suddenly grabbed by the entire team and hoisted on their shoulders and carried to third base and finally home. That is what dying in Christ is like. God's angels come swooping down and carry you home because you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you are lifted up on eagle's wings and you go home."

These are my Father’s words of hope and assurance of faith. He wrote these words in the midst of grieving his brother, Tom. I can’t tell you why my dad died. I can’t tell you what went wrong. He had cancer. And cancer sucks. Cancer kills people. Even good people die of cancer. Sometimes God's healing takes the cancer away from the body and other times God heals by taking the body away from the cancer. I can tell you with confidence that God was glorified, even in his death. My father sacrificed his life to love and serve Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. And his last words to us were, “Tell the kids I love them. Tell the church I love them. All to the glory of God.” Even in his dying breath, he glorified God.

He didn’t want to die. He wanted to be here with all of us today. He wanted to blow out 60 candles on his German Chocolate birthday cake.

Even though we don’t understand, even though we shake our fists at heaven and ask, “Why God? Don’t you care that we lost this man that we love? Didn’t you hear our prayers? Don’t you care about us?” God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.” Those words were so important to my dad. He memorized them in Greek for crying out loud! We worship a God who loves us even more than my father did. We worship and serve a God who is holy and perfect. His timing is perfect. His will is made manifest in our lives. God is able to transform what cancer did for evil, God transforms for good.

As most of you know, dad loved the Celtic Women concerts on PBS. His favorite song was “You Raise Me Up”. The day he died, I brought DVDs of the concerts to play in his room and we played them over and over all day long. When he died, the song “You Raise Me Up” came on. It was as though God blessed us with the assurance that He had raised dad up to heaven in that moment. God gave us that blessing and comfort that dad didn’t have to suffer and fight with cancer anymore. He was raised up to a new life in a new resurrection body where there is no pain, or crying or hurt or cancer; where God wipes away every tear.

We miss you, daddy. We love you. But we know that you don’t have to fight any more. And for that, we are grateful. This world is not all there is, and my father has gone home on the shoulders of angels to hear those words we all long for, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

I remember dad saying, “When I die, I want a Dixieland band to play, “When the Saints Go Marching In”, because that day is going to be a celebration. I will be in heaven with Jesus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rev. Robin Kerry Peterson Obituary

Robin Kerry Peterson was born in Beach, North Dakota, June 30, 1951, to Joye Obert Peterson and Ruth Francis Woodard Peterson. He always claimed to be lucky # 13, as the last of 13 children. Robin attended the one-room schoolhouse, the Lapla Rural School, near the ancestral home. On his first day of first grade, he could already read and write and knew his multiplication tables, so he was sent home with a note that he had been a terrible disruption in the one-room schoolhouse visiting with his older sisters and brothers. So much so, that the teacher tied his shoelaces to his desk and he simply took them off.

His Mother, Ruth Woodard Peterson, had returned to Dickinson State College in the late 1950s to obtain a teaching certificate and ultimately a degree in Library Science. Robin and his older sister, Kathy, moved with her to a small rural school in Little Beaver Creek, North Dakota, when Ruth received a job teaching at a one-room school. The family moved to Watford City, North Dakota, in 1959 and Robin had to adjust to town living. Ruth was offered the position of Head Librarian at Wapato High School in 1962 and the remaining children living at home made the pilgrimage from North Dakota to the Yakima Valley. Robin was just entering Junior High School at that time and made the best of another disruption of friends and setting. He was an extremely talented musician, playing the trombone in Wapato High School Band, Orchestra and the infamous “Coherents” Dance Band. He was a talented athlete and excelled in both basketball and tennis. He was an exceptional student, and chose to attend Eisenhower High School in Yakima for his senior year in order to focus on studies and eliminate the distraction of sports. He graduated in 1969 from Eisenhower High School and enrolled in Yakima Valley Community College where he played tennis for the Yaks.

Robin studied at the French University in Aix-en-Provence in southern France in 1971. While there, he played on the University basketball team along with a few other American students. They called themselves “The All-Americans” and made it all the way to the national championship in Paris. He came home for Christmas vacation and married Kristie Kathleen Kwak in Harrah, Washington, on December 30, 1971. They spent their first 6 months of marriage in France. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in French Education. He attended Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. and earned a Masters in Christian Education. They moved back to Harrah to work on Kriss’ family farm. While there, daughter Hanna Kathleen was born in Toppenish September 14, 1975. Robin was asked to serve as Interim Pastor for the Wapato Community Presbyterian Church. He also taught French at Yakima Valley Community College during those years while deciding which Seminary to attend. Son, Amos Kerry, was born in Yakima on August 6, 1977. Six weeks after Amos’ birth, the family moved to Pasadena, California, to attend Fuller Theological Seminary. He graduated from Fuller with a Master of Divinity Degree in 1978. He was enrolled in the PhD program at Fuller and expected to return after the summer break. God had other plans for him and he was called to serve the Presbyterian Church in College Place.

Robin began his ministry at College Place Presbyterian Church Labor Day weekend, 1978. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, USA, at Wapato Community Presbyterian Church and Installed as Pastor at College Place Presbyterian church in January 1979. Daughters Ella Kristeen was born June 7, 1981, and Cleo Kristienne was born February 12, 1983, in Walla Walla. He served the congregation faithfully for over 30 years. He was a blessing to the community and officiated at weddings and funerals for hundreds of people. He never met a stranger and was a friend to all. His passion for sharing the love of Jesus and his devotion to Christ was evident in all he said and did. He gave sacrificially of his time and effort to the people of the Walla Walla Valley. He taught French Language at Whitman College as a visiting professor for several years and was even known to climb on top of the desk in true Robin Williams’ fashion (Dead Poet’s Society style) in order to help his students have a different perspective on the world. He loved Walla Walla Blue Devil High School Athletics and never missed a basketball or football game, tennis or wrestling match. He showed his love for people of all ages by supporting their interests and activities. He shared the love of Jesus with any and every one in the example of Christ by walking alongside them through their lives.

Growing up on a farm in North Dakota, the land was always in his heart. He bought a 65 acre farm near Whitman Mission in 1990. He raised sheep for many years as well as Walla Walla Sweet Onions and served as the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Growers Association President at one point. He raised beef cattle and horses and put up alfalfa and grass hay. The connection to the land was grounding for him. He loved to spend hours on a tractor talking to God. He walked through the cows and horses every day and felt a powerful connection to God through nature. He believed that God calls us to be good stewards of all creation and raising healthy animals was his way of fulfilling God’s command.

Robin loved his children deeply and cherished his grandchildren. He wouldn’t say he was proud of them because pride is a sin. Instead, he would say he “took great delight in his children” and that “with them he was well pleased”. He was a man who knew the value of hard work. He instilled that work ethic in his children and expected great things from them as he did himself. We all miss him terribly and will strive to be worthy of his delight. We love you, Dad.

Robin was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006. He underwent years of radiation and chemo-therapy and continued to serve his congregation throughout his physical trials. In May 2010, his lymphoma changed from a slow-growing to aggressive type. He came under care of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in August and prepared for a stem-cell transplant. His daughter, Hanna, provided his donor stem-cells and the transplant was successful on 1/11/11. He fought valiantly to overcome the scourge of cancer. He developed Graft vs. Host Disease from the transplant and suffered from pneumonia. After six weeks in the University of Washington Medical Center, the Lord took him home peacefully, surrounded by his family and close friends on May 17, 2011. His last words to us were, “Tell the kids I love them. Tell the congregation I love them. All to the glory of God.”

Memorial contributions may be sent to the College Place Presbyterian Church for the upkeep and ministry of the Wasser House Cancer Respite home at: 325 NE Damson, College Place, WA 99324.

Robin was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings, two in infancy, and his brothers Charles & Tom Peterson. He is survived by his wife, Kriss Peterson, and his children, Rev. Hanna Peterson of Kelso, WA; Cpt. Amos Peterson, DVM, of Colorado Springs, CO, and his wife Lindsey and their two children Rhona and Thorsten; Ella Peterson Brown and her husband, Christopher, of Portland, OR; and Cleo Peterson of Seattle, WA. He is also survived by eight living siblings; Patsy Joann Pagiotas, Clifton Park, NY; Earl B. Peterson, Bozeman, MT; Noel E. Peterson, Alberta, Canada; Jan M. Peterson, West Yellowstone, MT; Harvey L. Peterson, Beach, ND; Dan E. Peterson, Bismark, ND; Ophie Hart, Palmer, AK; and Alice Kathleen Peterson, Newton, IA. Numerous nieces and nephews and their offspring round out Robin’s family who will miss him dearly.

His burial will take place in Walla Walla on Friday, May 27th, at 3:00 p.m. at Blue Mountain Memorial Gardens. A Celebration of Robin’s life will be held Sunday, July 3rd at 3pm in College Place, WA.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Going Home

My father died today. Those of you who have lost a parent know how difficult this is. You understand the enormous hole you feel in your soul. I am now among the "fatherless". We met with the doctors yesterday and discussed the future of his treatment. The prognosis for recovering from his pneumonia was only about 20%. The only way to determine what was really causing the pneumonia was a surgical procedure to take a sample of lung tissue. In order to do this, they would need to intubate him and he might not come off the ventilator. This was not an acceptable treatment for us. My dad had walked with too many families who had to make the terrible decision about terminating treatment and "pull the plug" on a loved-one. He always told us that he never wanted that situation. Especially after walking through that situation only months ago with my Uncle Tom, it was not something he was willing to go through. The doctors were a little surprised at our answer, but in the end, we made the correct choice. My Aunt Kathy is here and she stayed the night with him in the hospital. He called us at 4am and asked us to come back so that he could say goodbye. Aunt Kathy said he spent a good deal of the night talking and praying. He was making peace with his Lord. When we arrived, he told me that I would have to do the services (for him and my uncle). I told him I would be fine. It would be what he wanted. He just couldn't think about it right then. He told mom he loved her. "Tell the kids I love them. Tell the congregation I love them." We said we would. Then he said, "All for the glory of God."

This was the theme of his life. Everything to the glory of God his Father Almighty. My father was not perfect. He was impatient and quick to get angry. But he loved Jesus. He wanted everyone he met to know and love Jesus, too. He was a good man. And now he is resting in the arms of Jesus. Thank you for loving my dad. Thank you for your words of encouragement. In the most difficult days of his life he looked to you, his readers, for encouragement and purpose. He wanted to know that he left a legacy. His legacy is in you. Make a difference in the lives of others. Share Jesus with those around you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Six Weeks and Counting

May 15, 2011

Hello All, this is a message from Kriss (Robin's wife) and Hanna (his daughter). It has been a long time since Robin has written and we know this has been hard on his readers. Hopefully this blog entry will give some explanation and let you know how things are going with him. It is our fervent hope that he will improve quickly and be up to writing again soon.

Yesterday was the beginning of week six of Robin's most recent bout in the hospital. He was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance infusion floor on Friday, April 8th, with a lung infection from the para-influenza 3 virus and severe gut issues from resurfacing GVHD/CMV and the Noro virus. Late afternoon on Thursday, April 28, he became very agitated and short of breath after they did an upper and lower GI trying to determine what was the cause of his continued diarrhea. He continued to have escalating problems with breathing, pain in his left side, and some confusion that he needed constant nursing care and observation. A variety of doctors, nurses, pulmonary and respiratory technicians cycled in and out of his room all night long working to get him stabilized. On Friday, April 29, when they had a bed available, they moved him into the transplant ICU unit. He was very sleepy most of the time in ICU. The pneumonia is concentrated in his left lung but is very severe. It isn't getting better or worse; which is good that it isn't continuing to decline. He is working very hard at breathing with an average of 69% oxygen supplement. This puts stress on his heart and he has some arrhythmia. This seems to have cleared up slightly.

As his own private Cinco de Mayo celebration, he was transferred to a regular transplant room and out of ICU protocols on Thursday, May 5th. It is encouraging to have him out of ICU, but even if he improves significantly, he is still looking at several more weeks in the hospital. He is very weak. He is more awake and alert, but doesn’t have the strength to walk and barely gets out of bed to the chair. Late Friday night he had an MRI and Saturday morning they did a bronchoscopy to try and find the culprit causing the pneumonia. On the chest CT Thursday, they saw a new development in the right lung as well as the left lung’s ongoing problems. He occasionally has a coughing episode when he tries to talk very much so phone calls are sometimes tricky. We all feel a bit like the turtle in the race, but hopefully progress is slow and steady. Robin is eating a bit more, but not much of anything. He seems fairly comfortable, but we can only imagine how it feels to be constantly force-fed pills, poked and prodded and surrounded by mask-clad beings. We hope he'll get back more of an appetite soon. That seems to be the best indication that progress is being achieved.

All the kids have been here to visit recently which is always a boost. Daughter Ella and son-in-law Chris were here over the Mother’s Day weekend. Son Amos came for a visit May 9th through 11th. Daughter Hanna comes up for a couple of days whenever she can and daughter Cleo pops in from time to time after classes at Seattle University. Kriss is able to print off emails and bring cards in as they arrive which is a welcome connection to the outside world. We can tell he is feeling better as he is more interested in what is going on in the world of sports. Between that and the History channel he is passing the time. We had never imagined he would have this long-term hospital stay, but there you have it. Your emails and prayers are a great comfort to him. Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes.

As a pastor, Robin is normally the one giving love and support and prayers for others. It is an interesting challenge to be on the receiving end of all that now. The congregation at College Place Presbyterian Church has been such a blessing to all of us through this difficult season. They have raised funds and support and given sacrificially of their time to make our house a clean, safe environment for Robin to come home to. We hope that day is soon coming. They have sent letters and cards and calls in order to share their love and prayers with us. For the most part, we have lived by the proverb, “It is better to give than to receive” and so it is an act of grace to receive the gifts so graciously given. This is often the most difficult and humbling thing to do. And yet, this is exactly the response one must have in order to receive the wonderful gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. You can’t achieve it. You don’t deserve it. And yet there it is, freely given, ready to be humbly received. All we can do is say, “Yes, Lord, I believe You are God. And I am ready to give You my life and receive the gift of eternal life from You.” But so often, we run around trying to earn the right to receive the gift of relationship with God. It is an exercise in futility. No matter how “good” you are, you will never be perfect enough to be in relationship with God. And, thanks be to God, no matter how “bad” you are, you are never disqualified from relationship either, because frankly, it isn’t about you. It’s about Jesus.

The miracle of the incarnation is that God comes to our level and meets us where we are and changes the rules of the game. He took our place and bore our sins on that cross. And we celebrate the promise of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. The good news is that because Jesus is Risen, we no longer have to fear sin and death. Easter is about forgiveness. Easter is about new life. And as Resurrection People, we know that Robin is in God’s loving and capable hands. Whether he comes through this hospitalization with an incredible testimony of God’s miraculous healing in his body, or he is ushered into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father and joins the Saints in glory, we know that God is good. And we strive, each and every day, as Jesus’ faithful disciples, to make it not about us, but about Jesus.

Warmly in Christ,

Kriss & Hanna Peterson

Saturday, April 23, 2011


We have been in Respiratory Isolation at the U of W Medical Center for the last 15 days. It matches the same time we were here post transplant. We had hoped to be released on Good Friday, but I am still battling life-threatening complications. Something as simple as a common cold can trigger a domino effect of other transplant related medical conditions. We just had a visit from two Drs. from the infectious disease department. It was both sobering and encouraging. They were very honest with us about the possibility of things spiraling out of control and that I could die from these complications. However, they see lots of positive results from a new chest X-Ray this morning and feel like it is just time and vigilant care that will turn the tide. Being here over Easter makes me feel like I am going through my own version of Calvary. The Apostle’s Creed affirms that Jesus descended into Hell between Friday night and Easter morning. I Peter describes what He did over those three days. He proclaimed the hope of the Gospel and led a train of believers out of the darkness of despair and into the light of life.

My best estimate is that I will be in the Hospital for at least another week. I have to get to the point where I have an appetite and can consume enough calories to sustain myself and get the diarrhea I have under control. I have just passed the 50 lb. weight loss mark since I arrived for transplant. I don’t know how much more I can lose and have any strength left. I am weaker than I have ever been in my life and it is very difficult to consistently exercise. I have a great physical therapist, working with me as much as he is able, but ultimately, I have to make the effort myself on a daily basis. Being in isolation makes it that much more difficult, since I cannot walk the halls like I did the first time I was here.

God continues to sustain us through your love, letters and support. We simply would not be able to face all of this without your unconditional love and God’s faithfulness. I was very frustrated and discouraged on Friday. One of the Drs. actually signed discharge papers early in the morning, only to cancel them before noon. It was the correct medical decision, but it is just an example of the roller coaster we seem to be on. I am learning how to be more patient and trust God for each day. My life is not in my hands and I pray that God will bless all of you with a wonderful resurrection weekend. We will be home in God’s time and look forward to seeing all of you. Robin and Kriss

Thursday, April 14, 2011


No one knows for sure what kind of fish swallowed Jonah, it must have been a whopper. He had a distinct aversion for the Ninevites verging on hatred and racism. When God called him to go and proclaim a message of repentance to the Nivevites he took the first public transportation the opposite direction and thought that was the end of it. God’s sense of humor is only rivaled by God’s sovereignty. Though a series of adventures culminating in his expulsion from public transportation, he landed in the belly of a fish and was regurgitated on the outskirts of Nineveh. He must have made a spectacular sight. Bleached like Clorox, whiter than white. Half decomposed strings of skin falling off of his extremities, fish odor and God only knows what other kinds of fish smells. It must have resembled a Norwegian/Swedish Holiday Party with lutefisk and Grog. God gave him a clear message to walk the entire length of the city calling the Ninevites to turn from their sinful ways and embrace the hope of the one true God. Jonah was less than enthusiastic, but with all that he had gone through the last few weeks, he went ahead and obeyed, not expecting, nor particularly wanting much of a positive response. God’s compassions go so far beyond our capacity to love or care. Here were hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t know their left hand from their right and God loved them in spite of it, maybe because of it.

Of course Jonah goes out and sits under a tree and pouts because of his tremendous success as an evangelist. Frederick Buechner notes that “envy is the overwhelming desire to have everyone else as unsuccessful as you are.” God doesn’t seem to condemn Jonah for his callousness of heart. It’s hard to overcome generations of prejudice and begin to see people as God sees them. Now it’s time for Jonah to repent and it was the greater miracle to change that one heart than the thousands of Ninevite hearts.

I have latent prejudices towards cities. It was here, beginning in 7th grade that my father left our ancestral home and went to work for Boeing Aircraft Company. He vowed to come home every weekend to visit us, but one weekend turned into two and then three. One a month was good enough over the winter months when the roads were dangerous between Seattle and Wapato. The money was essential and my parents seemed to get along better apart than together at that stage of their lives. They drifted apart and created friendships and support groups and mutual interests that didn’t include one another. It was inevitable that it would put a fatal strain on their relationship and they just drifted apart. It was a prolonged and nasty divorce. Both sides trying to gain the allegiance of the 11 living children any way they could. Kriss and I and our children were caught in the middle since we had moved Mom back from Vancouver, BC where she had also attended Regent College, quite successfully.

By this time the Wapato Community Presbyterian Church was phasing out of one pastoral relationship and seeking a permanent ordained/installed pastor. The Presbytery of Central WA took me under care as a Licentiate, which category no longer exists, and so I was able to fill the pulpit, administer the sacraments, moderate the session and even qualify to accept the position as ordained/installed pastor with 2/3 vote of the Presbytery after having finished a Master of Divinity Degree from an accredited institution. We moved out of the Blue House on the Ranch and moved into the parsonage belonging to the church in Wapato. I continued teaching French at Yakima Valley Community College and also took German on the side. Hanna had been such a compliant and perfect baby that we thought we had the parenting thing pretty much figured out! What a miscalculation that is on the part of any parent. Each child is wholly unique unto themselves and you have to start from scratch and just know that you have no idea what is going to be in each of their best interests. I guess that’s how God has to deal with each of us, as well. I learned how to be a pastor during those two years in Wapato, the best and the worst of it. We took a mission team to Southeast Alaska for three weeks and saw many lives changed mostly those in our group. Amos was born August 6, 1977 and six weeks later we arrived at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. How little did we know that we would have been followed by one of the most renowned Serial Killers in the history of American criminal annals.


Fuller Theological Seminary took great pride in considering itself the Princeton Theological Seminary of the West Coast. It wasn’t, except in expenses and a self-inflated set of its own California mystique. Having already received two advanced Theological degrees from truly world class international theologians, I was in no way intimidated when they paraded “super-star” Southern California Mega Church Pastors in front of us as if to say: “ this is what you could become, with our guidance and training.” Horse-pucky. Who would want to be chauffeured around in a luxury automobile to avoid having to drive yourself on the freeway system? You would be amazed how many of those mega-stars went down in flames of public disgrace and humiliation. Jesus calls us to a life of servant hood, not rock star status. I wrote scathing critiques to the professors, but not a single response from any of them. Their Assistants did all the reading of papers and the professors were too busy going out to lunch with the superstars and their Hollywood clientele. It was a valuable lesson to learn in idolatry both within and without the church. In Canada, you could enroll full time as a student and take as many classes as time allowed. At FTS, they nickel and dimed you out of every credit you took and after registering the first day, I had to go home and tell Kriss that all our money was practically gone and only God knew how we could survive the next 9 months. Pollution was at its worst in early September, the kids were not adapting well to their environment and Kriss began to develop a series of bouts with strep-throat that would plague her the rest of the year. And then Anthony Bono showed up on the streets of Pasadena.