Tuesday, April 30, 2019

2019 FIRST World Competition-Detroit

Only a few of these beauties were left when we got back from our days away at the FIRST World Championship in Detroit. My memoir writing moments were few as well. Yet the focus of this blog remains--memories and memorable moments. It is a record of memories that surfaced during the week, whether directly related to the period I am currently writing about or the highlights to be remembered.

Monday, April 22 was my uncle Dan's 101 birthday. Of the six hirschy siblings, only two remain.

Phil, Grandma Hirschy, Mother, Dan
My latino friends from our Doulos days and I have been following the visit of the newer ship, the Logos Hope, to the ports we remember fondly from forty years ago. Someone posted this old photo from 1981 in Buenos Aires. I couldn't find our family, most likely because we took time off to be with my parents and brothers who still lived in Argentina.

A drone view of our old home appeared on facebook today--Doulos Phos Anchor Isle, now a resort, hotel, and museum.

April 24 was Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. Last week I wrote about Michael and Bob Craton's experience one memorable Resurrection Sunday in Eastern Turkey and the stories they heard about that event in history.

PhyXTGears headed to nationals after big season
Wednesday we left very early for Detroit. Michael always drives the team trailer to competitions. Our friend Donna Banker met us in the long line of team vehicles waiting for their turn to unload. She took me to the COBO Center Detroit where I picked up all the name badges for the team.

After delivering them to Michael, we took off for some time together. She took me on a beautiful drive along the shore to a very good eatery--the Nautical Deli.

We had a lovely time together before she drove me back into Detroit to the church that hosted the team for four days. Donna was very brave to deal with the complexities of city traffic and very generous to travel 30 or 40 minutes both ways to spend that time with me. Last night she wrote from the hospital asking for prayer-- what she thought was heartburn turned out to be A-fib, so we are praying for her.

I was in time to meet the team and proceed with them to the People Mover station. We used public transportation the whole time we were there to go back and forth to COBO, to the showers at the YMCA, to the Rennassaince Center for evening meals and other events.

I like newspapers, even the 19th century bronze one at the station.

The two days of qualifying matches were spent in the stands cheering for our team, . . .

Team 1720 drive team at their station, lower left.

. . . or in the PhyXTGears pit checking/fixing the robot--Space Walrus, . . .

. . . or walking around the ginormous convention center checking out different areas such as the Innovation Center exhibits, the FLL pits (FIRST Lego League) from so many different countries, various workshops, and more. I earned my first Urban Boot Badge--a Fitbit award for steps achieved! One day alone I got in 19,639 steps! Ha!

On one of those walks with Michael we saw this jet engine which triggered a memory from when he was in college at John Brown University. There happened to be a jet engine down the hill from the campus. His roommate Jack Roberts was running for student body president and they decided on the theme: Jet away with Jack! Six guys attempted to move the enormous engine up to campus and failed. That night, around 1:30 a.m.,  Michael and one other guy, only two of them, figured out a way. Leveraging it onto skids, they dragged the engine up the hill with a truck. The skids suffered the most, worn down to 1" thickness. He can't remember whether Jack won or not. Ha!

I think grandson Elijah (14) enjoyed t/his FIRST event--407 teams from 70 countries playing on six different fields or subdivisions; thousands of people, lots of noise; a whole lot to experience.

Friday evening FIRST arranged for an entertainment option--opening night of The Avengers! There was another option--Robo Prom. Four of our students chose that, and we went as chaperones! Ha!
Kaylee is our only senior on the team. 
Two seniors ;-)
We have a younger group this year, a great bunch of kids.
It's great to follow the alums of the program. We met up with one young man who now helps out with another robotics team while he is a student at Purdue.

Garret and his mom

His team was in a different subdivision. Surprisingly, though they were ranked 13th, they did not get picked in alliance selection. Hard to believe that it was the end for them.

On the other hand, Team 1720 ended up 23 out of 68 and was picked as the fourth or alternate team by Alliance # 2. Competition was tight, defense was brutal and we lost by two points in a rubber match.

Archimedes Alliance #2
Interestingly, the alliance that beat us ended up losing to the champions by one point!

So, why do we do this? I think the following poster says it all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


A week of remembrances: Holy Week to meditate on Jesus' last week on this earth; the annual Seaman memorial; ongoing condolences for friend and coworker from M/V Doulos, Em Namuco from the Philippines; photos and posts about the visit of the new OM ship, Logos Hope's visit to Uruguay; and the surprise visit of a family friend who grew up with our kids.

The fifteenth Taylor University Chapel in memory of Richard A. Seaman was followed by a special luncheon with family and friends. We look forward to this inspirational event and to reconnecting with the family each spring. He was a beloved business professor who impacted many in his short life. He died suddenly at age 42. Ironically, this memorial coincided with tax day.

In this old photo we were celebrating Em Namuco's 35th birthday in Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, at my parent's home in Argentina, forty years ago. We were there with a team from the ship Doulos. Our children were 8, 6, and 7 months. And my youngest brother Alan, in the middle next to Em, was only 16. So many memories.

Eduardo Wojnarowicz (on right) was a member of the Doulos Singers forty years ago. Their music touched many hearts, however, the greatest impact was on their own lives. Eduardo was thrilled to be able to visit this newer ship. Here he posed with ministry leaders onboard, Randy and Kimberly Grebe. They have stayed in our home a couple times!

Kyle Doane moved away a long time ago, but he has always been a good friend to Leah, in fact he is Kayla's godfather.

So Holy Week began with Palm Sunday and a special Kiddie Kampus program with Rebecca and all her preschool friends singing excitedly, expressively. So cute!

Maundy Thursday I was thinking of one of the last things Jesus did with his disciples when he knew his time had come--He washed their feet, and urged them to do the same (John 13). I am reminded of two things: the daily cleansing available to us from taint of sin, and Jesus' commandment to love one another.

Interestingly, the 2019 calendar dates are identical to 1946, the year I am working on as I write about my childhood.
April 20, 1946, my parents wrote:
This is Easter season and a big one here in the Argentine. Last night at 6 o’clock (Good Friday) we put Rita in her cart and went up to the main street to see the big parade. It looked like all of La Carlota was there to parade the streets in hopes of saving their souls. The procession began with a boy carrying a cross. He was dressed in a fancy white cape. Behind him came about 75 children dressed in their best clothes. Next in line came men and women carrying lighted candles, chanting as they went. All the women wore netted veils. Throughout the whole procession were three images. These they bore on staves like the Israelites did the ark. The first image was of Christ, the second of Mary and the last of Christ resting at the foot of a cross after His death. The priest walked before the last image and at every street crossing he would stop the image and chant off a few lines of something. . . On a cross out in front of their church is written in Spanish “Save your soul” so I suppose they were in the process last night. . . Mrs. Dowdy told us that every year they bury or go through the act of burying Christ and some people actually think that the Lord dies every year. 
Saturday, Michael and I visited Mother in Grace Village. Brother Alan and nephew Daniel joined us in the main dining room to celebrate Easter with her. It is always good to catch up with one another. The big news was that Daniel is moving in June and will be taking up a new career--culinary studies.

On Sunday our family got together to celebrate the Resurrection. There were many precious and memorable moments. I can only highlight a few. Our little ones entertained us delightfully. 

Jude is in Kindergarten, already reading well. He read us the Easter story.

Zion loves the book I read to his third grade class and wanted to read it to the whole family. He did so with great expression.

Then Rebecca danced for us (with Kayla's coaching, of course) as a celebration response.

Michael told us of an Easter Sunday long ago, probably 45 years ago, when he and Bob Craton were in Turkey to make a documentary. Interestingly, Bob wrote about the same memory.

Christ is risen! Many years ago I celebrated Easter in an Armenian Church in Eastern Turkey. Many members of the congregation remembered relatives and friends who were martyred for their faith during WWI. One woman told me how her father, brothers, uncles and cousins had sung a hymn as they were marched away to their deaths. Christ is Risen had a meaning to that congregation that most of us American Christians cannot comprehend.
Michael added a few other aspects of that memorable experience. The host served everyone from the roasted lamb by tearing off pieces and handing them out, no utensils needed. Their home was part of the jail complex where the condemned men were held. Another memory of that march to their end, was the sound of the women making the high-pitched tongue-trilling sound for celebrations--the kelele (?) Martyrdom ushered the men into the presence of the risen Christ.

 He is risen indeed!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April Surprises

 Every spring I am delightfully surprised to see the blooms that pop up in our woods once again.

This time of year some like to prepare their hearts to celebrate Resurrection Sunday--Easter.
I learned this week of a 7-Day Art Challenge: Thriving in the Light of Easter--#resurrectionthriving.
Every day we were given a theme and Bible verses to inspire a creative response.
Day 1: Given eternal life
I focused more on the price paid for the eternal life I can enjoy. He took my place, ". . . he was pierced for our rebellion. . ." (pastels on tar paper)

Day 2: Healed in Body and Mind
On this day I thought about the abundant life His healing made possible for me. In response I want to give back using the gifts He has given me.
In fact, on the evening I was working on the giving hands, I was so carried away enjoying the process that I forgot my regular responsibility, to pick up Rebecca from her program at the church.
They called 30 minutes later. I saw the name, did not even answer, just ran to the car. She was the last one there. Hopefully she was not permanently damaged, ha! Actually, she likes to run around the church for a while and is never ready to leave right away. She spent the night here the next day and we had fun.

I haven't progressed much this week in the WRITING area. It was a very full week for both of us.
Michael and the drive team left Wednesday afternoon for the Indiana state FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) in Kokomo.

I stayed home again, this time because of my responsibilities on the organizing committee for the 9th annual Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts festival. I set up some of our art on Friday night, before our local author's event--a couple of Michael's clay sculptures, daughter Leah's piece and my most recent watercolors. However, I felt we needed to fill the space better and tell the story of Leah's "Shattered Woman." So, the next day I brought "Serenity" and "Youth", the two bronzes.
The story behind Leah's piece starts with the disaster that struck the lost wax process. Unbeknownst to us, Leah collected the broken pieces. Michael did not give up, came back to the project and painstakingly restored each part, and finally was able to complete the bronze pour. "Serenity" is a beautiful masterpiece.

This year Leah finished her very meaningful rendition of "Shattered Woman" using all the rescued pieces.

She did not enter any poems this time. I didn't either. Instead I was one of the adult poetry judges.

Alongside the beautiful sculptures, my watercolors looked rather silly. So when they handed me the prize for Adult Artist, I knew there was a mistake, they had the wrong Koch. I went to the front desk to point out their error, and saw that the votes were for the following specific paintings, by title! Ha! Those were not even my favorites. Strange things happen.

The most exciting surprise of the day was that Michael won the Woodie Flowers Award for Indiana, a most prestigious honor and long overdue recognition of all his contributions as lead mentor for the robotics team. 
Go here to read the essay the students wrote that won him the nomination. Then watch the emotional moment when all the former Woodie Flowers awardees greeted and congratulated him.

It was a very good day for the entire team. Space Walrus, their googly-eyed robot, performed very well with the help of a great drive team. Team 1720 captained the #2 alliance; once again made it to the finals; is currently ranked third in the state; and headed to World competition next week! Oh, PhyXTGgears also won the Autonomous Award for their climb mechanism!

Wow! What a weekend! How was yours?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April Memories

The awaited explosion of blooms happened this week--narcissus, daffodils, jonquils (I never know which is which). There are hundreds, and thousands (maybe even millions, billions, and trillions!)I go out every day and bring in an abundant bouquet of only the fallen and hidden ones. Their beauty needs an audience!

Very old memories also exploded this past week. I am nearing the end of letter resources, so I looked into the photo album about our life in Argentina. I had put it together for my parents years ago. There were many that were difficult to arrange chronologically. I took along 10 pages-worth of 2"x 3"-size photos when I went to visit Mother on Tuesday, April 2, which would have been Dad's 98th birthday.

After sharing them with Mother and Aunt Margaret, using her big lighted magnifying glass, I decided to scan and enlarge them before our next visit. In the process I made some interesting discoveries that help piece together the story of those early childhood years.
I also posted the entire collection on Facebook for my Argentine friends to comment and hopefully recognize some of the faces in the pictures.

When we first arrived in La Carlota, our first mission assignment, we worked with the Dowdy family. Here you can see them in the back center, my mother next to Dortha, and me on the shoulders of one of their boys.

Now it's your turn for the find-Rita-in the-next-photos challenge.

After a few months, the Dowdys moved on to another assignment and my parents were left to carry on the work, which included three other small towns as well as La Carlota.

Summer camps and annual church conferences took place in the sierras during the summer months, January - February.
Me with Mrs. Dowdy and camp cook.

Looks like I got passed around quite a bit.

An extra challenge: find my brother Lynn also!

Photos add to my memories and available records. My father seemed to get involved in a building project wherever he went. This was the start of the Templo Evangélico in La Carlota. I wrote about a related memory in this blog post.

The children seem to be holding a model of the church being built. Next time I will see if Mother remembers this.

In my search for more resources, I wrote to my cousin who has access to the family archives. Kae is an archivist herself. She enlisted her mother's help. Aunt Fae wrote a very timely note:
As I am going through the diary for Rita’s book items, I came across this writing of Grandma’s—
This is Sam’s birthday, and we planned to celebrate Daddy’s [Grandpa’s birthday was April 4.]
and his together—were going to have ice cream after service,—but we got a telegram from the War Dept.,—stating  Phil was missing in action  since the 16th. [copied from the 1945-49 diary.]
 I imagine the planned party turned into a prayer meeting.

Esther and Norman Hirschy (my grandparents)
The diary contained a note about the previous day, Sunday:
Sunday—Sam played two  numbers on his new horn in church.
 They were having special services with Ralph Stoll.    This is when they learned the chorus ,”I Believe the Answer’s on the Way”. 

Yes, their prayers were answered. Uncle Phil came back to them, having narrowly escaped death, and lived a good long life.

I realized this week that I never knew any great grandparents, yet so many in our circle of friends and acquaintances do. We ourselves are blessed to have a great granddaughter. We treasure every opportunity to spend with her.
I usually pick her up and taker her to a community children's program at our church Wednesday evenings. This time abuelo brought her to our house first. She is growing up so fast, not soon enough for her, though. Rebecca says she wants to be five like her friend Sophie. She didn't quite understand that in the same month Sophie will be six!

Friday, I had a delightful time as the mystery reader in Zion's third grade. I introduced them to the oldest truly American picture book--Millions of Cats

Zion told his mom all about it and summarized the story like this:
Millions of kittens and the humble kitten was the most beautiful of all!
The reading and talk about old books that have remained popular, segwayed perfectly into the teacher's story of one of her favorite old books that has come to her after many years with the library card signed out to her more than once. 

Another memorable event of the week was a baby dedication. Sharon and I travelled to Edinburgh about an hour and 40 minutes away to support our young friend Trisha as she dedicated her son and commits to raising him to know and follow Jesus.

Sharon Ewband and me, holding Jackson.

Trisha's family support system
 The couple standing behind Trisha were her foster parents when she was very young. Over a period of 14 years they fostered 41 children and still stay in touch with several. Their daughter continues the family example. Some of the little ones in the photo have come through the system. God bless their faithful service.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Last Winter Blast

Our week ended with a sudden blanket of snow, one last glimpse of winter beauty lest we forget in the euphoria of spring blossoms and scents.

The most powerful memory that surfaced this week was the anniversary of the horrendous accident our grandson Malachi suffered March 24, 1918.

Son Sam, ever intentional to remember anniversaries of God's gracious goodness, wrote:
Hard to believe it’s been a year, it’s been a whirlwind! This day was by far the scariest and hardest day of my life and yet a day filled with the hope and peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit. Not to mention the amount of support and prayers we received that were absolutely felt and tangible......So thankful looking back for our older sons and the work God has done in their lives since then. I am humbled
The event was complicated by younger brother Elijah's skateboarding accident within the same hour!

God's presence, grace, protection and healing covered our family, like the blanket of snow abundant and beautiful. 
A year later, the family is intact and active. And there is the promise of a new member--Malachi's fiancé, Lexi Meacham (above lower right).

Another anniversary remembered--Tuesday the 26th, Jimmy's 45th birthday. I love this photo of Papaw with his favorite little person.

Wednesday, we introduced Moriah to a movie that stood out in our list of meaningful thought-provoking films. How many have seen The Mission? If so, what was your reaction?
For me it has the added attraction of taking place in Northern Argentina, in the area of Iguazú falls.

Sunday evening we enjoyed a meal with our home group from church. There is so much to learn and gain from sharing in community. We love getting to know these friends. And Michael's idea of a potato and ice cream bar was perfect. Everyone brought a topping for each, and a favorite ice cream.
Son "Chef" Stephan's directions for the perfect baked potatoes worked beautifully.

Thus ended the month of March, one quarter of the year, and another page of my sticker calendar complete!