Funds for Gideon Anderson and family

Campaign Created by: Jailene

The funds from this campaign will be received by Aaron Anderson.

Raised: USD $ 80,926

Burn survivor, Gideon Anderson, is son of Aaron and Miltsu Anderson and is 8 years old.

Gideon was in the backyard burning papers in the fire pit. He was holding a bottle of lighter fluid when in exploded in his hands. His clothing caught on fire. 90% of his body is covered in burns. The burns are said to be 3rd degree. He was brought to Williston where they intubated him. He was flown to a burn center where he will be treated. 

Aaron and Miltsu will need funds to cover medical expenses, the flight, etc. Aaron will not be working during this time, so there will be a loss of income, temporarily. There are travel expenses for the family, as the burn center is in a different state, along with the expenses that come with staying near the burn center. 

Any donations will help to offset all of these expenses and other unforeseen ones and give the family one less thing to worry about. 

Please pray to our heavenly father for healing, comfort and acceptance of his will. 


Martha’s Journal Entry from DAY 90, THURSDAY 17th, Aug. 2023
September 16, 2023
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DAY 90, Gideon 57, THURSDAY 17th, Aug. 2023

10:15 Gideon is sleeping after they just finished his back dressing change. Una (me) + miki came

around 5:30 ish. He was sitting in his chair when we came and soon after were here he told us he pooped. We got the nurses (Britney + Isabella) to come after a little while. Turns out It was achy a lot of and Britney decided she wouldn't clean him up in his chair anymore. (too hard) (they got him all cleaned tho). Also, grandma and Aksa came in for a bit after we first got here. Gideon wasn’t very grumpy while we were here, just a little quiet. 

After they cleaned him up they put him in his bed. We watched old pics + vids for some time before Gideon’s dressing change.  Britney was giving him pain meds and Gideon told me he had to go . Britney brought the container and Gideon started throwing up while he was peeing. Eventually they started dressing changes. Before the dressing change Gideon asked Britney to pick the scabs on his head to collect. She promised him after the dressing change. During the dressing change he told Isabella, "You have. . . you have...” 

“You have what, Gideon? 

Britney suggested 4 eyes because of the medicine he was on. Gideon nodded,”You have 4 eyes!" 

We laughed at that. 

"You look like an alien!" Gideon said.

Later, when Gideon was still on the same medicine, Britney picked a scab on his head and showed it to him. It was a pretty big scab. Gideon opened his eyes wider and said, “ Ohhhh yaaa! Put it in the container!”

Later, Isabelle showed him another big scab and he said “ Yeaaahhh!” 

That was quite funny! 

Now we are waiting for äiti and dad to come back after their dinner with Tim and Melinda in Maple Grove. 

Day 99, Friday, Aug. 25th, 2023
August 26, 2023
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Time continues flowing like a swift stream, gurgling and laughing over rocks of events thoughtfully placed or allowed to happen already in eternity by our Creator. 

I’ve had occasion before to answer the question, “How’s it going?” with, “Just going with the flow!”

I suppose going with the flow is better than going against it. 

We know the flow of time is unstoppable. In our temporal life here on earth there is a beginning point.

And there is an end point. We have had those reminders closely over the last month. 

God knows both our beginning and our end. 

He also knows all points in between. 

He knows us. 

The 139th Psalm speaks beautifully of the knowledge our Creator holds of us. 

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,

thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down,

and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue,

but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before,

and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high, I cannot attain unto it. (Ps. 139: 1-6)

To go against the flow of time and the flow of those things that have happened in our lives means living a life trying to deny that reality which is set before us. 

It can also result from grieving.  

I recently chanced upon the paper given to us describing the different stages of grief. 

One of them is to have feelings of anger and to try bargain with God; to try undo that which is done. 

I thought I was past that stage already with Gideon’s accident, or,  that I wouldn’t experience it. 

I was wrong. 

I spoke before of some anger that has welled up in me when I see Gideon having to endure pain. 

When I turn to look at the pictures taped on the wall of him before the accident, in all his boyish innocence and perfection, and turn back again to see him laying there on the bed - where he has lain for over 3 months now - sometimes I have to silently weep. 

I have felt anger. I have felt inadequate not only as a father but as a husband. 

How could I have let this thing happen? It is life changing for Gideon! It has been life changing for our whole family as well!  

If this didn’t happen Gideon would not be stuck here. Day in and day out. Hour after hour. Minute by minute. 

It is a good thing to learn from misfortunes. 

It is another to dwell on them — to go against the flow. 

I have been going a bit against the flow. 

I have not not completely accepted the reality set before me — this trial and lot God has seen fit to allow Gideon and us to experience. 

When Gideon was younger, he used to constantly ask “what if” questions. No matter the answer, there was another “what if” that he asked. 

In this case here, there is no “what iffing” to a different outcome. 

What has happened has happened. 

We must accept this 100 percent in order to move toward a brighter future. 

It’s not easy. 

I know that Gideon has also thought about the what-ifs. 

A couple Sundays ago Gideon’s voice was coming through clearly. During the conversation he mentioned how he would not be here if his brother had not went to get the lighter fluid. Surely, he has been replaying in his head the scenarios that could have been. 

My heart aches for him. 

But it does no good to pine for what could have been. The focus on healing and future days is paramount. And Gideon has been healing but not without setbacks. 

On Wednesday he had surgery to cover areas where the lab grown skin product, CEA, did not work. That was his 12th total surgery. There are perhaps 4 or 5 to go: 

His left knee, feet, back of legs, and buttocks still need grafts. The majority of the skin has to be taken from his scalp. His poor scalp has sure been run through the mill. It’s no wonder that our touchy, feely Gideon doesn’t want to be touched on his head or much anywhere anymore. Touch is now being associated with pain. Other burn survivors have said that the donor sites are more painful and uncomfortable than the sites that are grafted. 

I write this all down not wanting to sound downbeat or as if wallowing in despair. 

I just want flesh out that which is on my mind. To paint an accurate picture of my/our reality. 

There are huge wins, of course. Recently, Gideon was able to drink spoonfuls of water and taste spoonfuls of yogurt for the first time since his accident. I asked him “Gideon how does the yogurt taste?” 

His expression turned thoughtful, “pretty good,” He replied, rather matter-of-factly. 

Gideon’s face is healing nice, and often I hear comments on how good he looks. That’s encouraging to hear. The skin grafts on the rest of his body are healing as well but have a different look. The newly placed skin wants to start contracting, so stretching is vital, but it is extremely painful as well. 

When stretching session comes, tears and audible cries are the norm. Often Gideon will look toward Miltsu or I with a pleading look as if to say “Can’t you take away the pain?”

If he doesn’t stretch however, his movements will become restricted permanently. 

I’m not going to sugar coat it - it has been exhausting mentally. We have had to witness Gideon work so hard and with so much pain to perform the most basic body movements, not to mention bowel movement clean ups and dressing changes. 

Those times when we get out to do outside activity and everyday living tasks has been bittersweet, for constantly in the back of our minds is Gideon’s reality- laying on his back or sitting in a chair hour after hour. Day after day. 

Despite all the difficulty, there is reason for joy. He is healing. There have been no major life or limb-threatening infections. He has generally been very healthy his whole stay here - aside from the burn wounds, of course. 

Above all, it is clear that young Gideon’s faith continues to be important to him. How can one know that a 9 year old’s faith is important to him?

Often, we end the day with evening prayers, preaching the gospel of the remission of sins, and by putting an evening devotion going. Sometimes, when asked if he wants another devotion, Gideon will nod his head. 

It is a simple faith. 

A faith wherein Gideon knows he can receive relief from burdens of conscience or everyday life whenever he asks a brother or sister in living faith, “Can I have my sins forgiven?”

Whenever I ask of Gideon this, the words readily flow from his lips, “Believe all sins forgiven in Jesus’ name an’ precious blood!” Most of the words come out silently, but the words formed by the mouth are unmistakable. 

They are always precious moments of complete peace. 

They are moments I wish to always savor and remember forever. 

Day 81, Tuesday, August 08, 2023
August 8, 2023
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Last Wednesday, a day after we heard how a friend and brother in faith passed through that veil separating temporal and eternal life, a friend posted this scripture portion:

“‘Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.

…For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thith-er, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’ (Isaiah 55:6,8-9)

Our beloved brother in faith, Wyatt, passed peacefully from this earth at 5:45am this morning surrounded by his family. We ask our Heavenly Father for acceptance of His will and give thanks for the brief time that He gave us together. Wyatt certainly embodied the joy that is found in God’s kingdom. His quick smile and jovial laugh will be sorely missed! Please remember his family in the days to come.”

One way to remember his family is by donating here, if you are able:

I’m sure most reading this have already seen the link. 

Our mortal minds can not understand God’s ways, as scriptures relate. To those who don’t believe, it may seem like these happenings are simply the result of unfortunate circumstances.

In our mind, the death of Wyatt is untimely. 

His death is not alone. Just several days before his passing, a beautiful toddler of only 18 months also was called home. 

One can help remember that dear family by donating here: 

Our hearts grieve and weep together with these families. The time of parting brings deep sorrow to our hearts. However, to the child of God, the time of death is not an end, but a beginning of life eternal with God our Father in heaven. This knowledge brings an unspeakable amount of comfort and joy to our spirit. Yet, our earthly portion struggles and wants to fight against God’s almighty and perfect will when we see our loved ones in time of trial, or when they are taken from this life. This is why it is so important to pray for acceptance of His will. 

It was precisely at 5:45 a.m. the day of Wyatt’s passing when I had text my wife, “Unbelievable. Gideon has maybe slept an hour and a half since I’ve been in here. “

I have been taking the night shift with Gideon, and Miltsu has been taking the day shift. Gideon had been awake all day and most of the night. There were stories playing and songs too, in an effort to lull him to sleep. It was to no avail. For whatever reason, he was wide awake, spending the majority of the time using his tongue to play with the feeding tube coming out of his nose. I tell him that he inherited his grandpa’s long tongue. Dad always used to show us kids his ability at touching the tip of his nose with it. 

During the day as well, Gideon was just as wired. He usually seemed to doze for quite awhile after his physical and occupational therapies and dressing change in the morning. Naps were nowhere to be found that day, however. He lay there, his attention roaming around his vast mind, absentmindedly feeling the feeding tube with his tongue. 

The next few days proved to be a lot of the same. Even after he spent all day in surgery last Thursday getting his back grafted he still didn’t sleep. Of course, he was sedated during surgery, but after he came up from the OR he seemed to be just as wide awake as before. 

During his time there, we took opportunity of the hot, muggy weather and beautiful sunshine to get out and get an overdose of vitamin D. We found the shore of some random lake within 15 minutes of the hospital. I’m still feeling the effects of that dose of sunshine! Getting out, moving around, swimming, and playing spike ball with Miltsu and the boys was just what the doctor ordered. 

Dr. Bennet had then called around 3:45. Surgery was over. It went pretty good. I say pretty good, because nothing is ever perfect. Gideon had to receive some stitches on his leg due to an unintentional cut suffered on his leg while being operated on. I appreciate how Dr. Bennet brought that to my attention in full disclosure. It instilled in me even more trust to the team of surgeons, rather than reduce it. We are all humans. We do the best to our God-given abilities. But little mistakes and accidents can and do happen. I let Dr. Bennet know how Gideon, when asked what things he has to be thankful for in the hospital, mentioned “surgeries” and “the surgeons.” 

Anyway, his back was grafted and temporary new cadaver skin was placed over his buttocks. Gideon’s buttocks has been a source of extreme pain. Anytime he has to be cleaned up for a bowel movement the pain looks to be almost unbearable even though he is always given pain meds beforehand. Thankfully, the temporary graft does seem to be helping somewhat. 

However, Gideon’s feet are also still extremely raw and tender. To me, it seems as if the temporary cadaver skin covering the feet has “melted” into the body. This was confirmed to me by Dr. Lacy, one of the surgeons. She affirmed how because those have been on for so long now, the body is slowly getting rid of it. As a result, his feet look like raw pieces of meat. They will be the next things to receive grafts. Whenever they need to be touched Gideon cries in pain, even after being given pain meds. 

I have been surprised at the emotion of anger that wells up in me because he has to endure this amount of pain. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I suppose it’s inevitable, after all, I am his parent. Anger doesn’t change the situation though, it probably only makes it worse.

It’s just that I feel so helpless when he is laying there - looking to me - like I should be able to take the pain away. 

I desperately want to. 

But can’t. 

Most people, luckily, don’t ever have to see their child in a prolonged situation like this. I, of course, thought I never would have to either. 

Even after the accident, I somehow managed to trick myself into believing that the pain you hear of burn survivors having to endure wouldn’t be the same for Gideon. 

I was wrong. 

But fortunately, it’s not like he is always in pain. For the most part, he rests comfortably on his bed, listening to stories and sometimes absentmindedly playing with his feeding tube with his tongue.  

He has been, however, developing a bit of a phobia of the dressing changes and bowel movement cleanups. Gideon’s signal to the nurses when he is feeling pain is to say “ break!” Or, “ pain meds!”  

At one dressing change, he was asking for a break before they even started. I had to chuckle, “ Gideon! They can’t give you a break yet because they haven’t even started!”

May God continue to give Gideon enough strength to get through his stay at the hospital. 

Today, we will be having a zoom call with John O’Leary. If you don’t know about him, he is a well-known motivational speaker who was burned, like Gideon, when he was 9 years old, over his whole body. 

Mikki the psychotherapist made this upcoming zoom meeting possible. We have written down some questions beforehand in an effort to maximize our time with John. I just finished listening to his book “On Fire.” I listened to it while in Gideon’s room, and when he was awake, he also listened intently. Hopefully Gideon is awake during John’s call!

The days down here have all blended together since Summer Services and Travis and Rebecca’s wedding. It feels like God has put his finger on the place marker in the video of our lives and has moved it forward from the end of June until now in one quick swipe. I actually have a feeling of regret for not keeping up better with updates on this forum.  

It is what it is. 

We have been keeping a daily diary, and we have been more faithful of writing at least a little something in there each day. 

But for now, dear friend, this little update here will have to do. 

July 21st Rebecca and Travis Wedding Picture
July 27, 2023
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Day 43, Saturday, July 1st 2023
July 16, 2023
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Day 43, Saturday, July 1st 2023

Gideon’s night went very well. Miltsu was with Gideon until around midnight, when I took over. Then I was with him for most of the remainder of the night. 

The speech therapist came around 11:00 a.m. to do another trial with the speaking valve. 

Trying to make conversation, she very calmly and quietly said, “I know you and Erin (another therapist) were talking about Harry Potter together [yesterday] . . . and some of your favorite characters. . .”

This didn’t seem to be spurring much conversation. So, in a rather abrupt and almost rude way Miltsu and I both interrupted, “Gideon what were you trying to tell us yesterday?”

“Yeah, tell us what you’re trying to say yesterday because now we can hear you!” Gideon had been trying to desperately tell us something yesterday, of which neither I nor Miltsu could comprehend. He didn’t have the speaking valve on. 

“How-long-am-I-gonna-be-here?”  The boy’s voice came in a flat, robotic tone. 

“That’s a good question Gideon!” I responded with the cheeriest voice I could muster. 

Great how do I answer this? I think to myself. 

Miltsu steps in. “The doctors say you are going to be here 3 to 6 months.” She replies in her characteristically pragmatic way. “You have already been here 43 days.”

“Wow 43 days already! That’s almost a month and a half! Pretty cool, huh Gideon?” I strain to sound like being in the hospital for 43 days is about the coolest thing a 9 year old could think of doing on his summer vacation. 

Gideon artfully cuts me off with his next burning request, “I-want-pop!”

Yes. Pop. Soda, to all you non-midwesterners. I mean, what 9 year old who has been in the hospital for 43 days would NOT want pop? 

The speech therapist explains daintily,“That’s why we are doing this exercise, to strengthen your throat, so you can work towards. . .” Her voice trails off and is drowned out with Gideon’s next request. 

“ I-want-water! Like-lots-of-water!!” 

How can one argue with a 9 year old? 

“I know,” the speech therapist agrees quietly. “You are tolerating that speech valve really well, and we are going to work up to that ok. . .?”

I can just hear Gideon thinking, “But I’m not tolerant! Just give me some water! My mouth and throat are DRY!”

We then ask Gideon if he has any questions. 

“When-does-s-s-summer-services-s-start?” Inquires the boy, his voice coming out haltingly and with effort. 

My heart truly aches. 

Summer services! Oh what joy! The highlight of the summer! An oasis in the desert of everyday life! A place where one can enjoy God’s Word for several days in a row. 

A place for catching up with friends and family. 

A place for the children to be children, to play with their cousins and friends all day. 

A place for a nine year old to be able to spend hard-earned chore money on skittles or ice cream or chips from the concession stand! 

How can I break the news to Gideon that he won’t be able to attend summer services? He won’t be able to play and bike around with his good buddy and cousin Gavin - nor any of his other friends or cousins. 

He will be stuck. 


Lying on his back. 

Staring at the ceiling. . . 

Nonchalantly, I answer, “Services start next week Gideon! Next. . . is it Thursday or Friday?” 

“Thursday.” my wife confirms. “So, in 6 days.”

“But they will have a YouTube feed going the whole time, so you will be able to watch them!” I try to cheerfully console. 

Gideon’s face remains neutral. He is taking it in this news. 

I change the subject, trying to keep him talking during this speech therapy. 

“Gideon do you want Becu and Travis to come up?”

“Yeah!” He quickly responds. 

“They are here! They came last night!”

“They came this morning.” Miltsu corrects. 

“They actually drove through the night.” I add. 

“Is there anything you would like to tell Rebecca and Travis?” I continue, trying to spurn more conversation. 

“Yeah.” His voice comes out in almost a whisper. 

“What do you want to tell them?” 

A pause. Gideon thinks. His breathing is raspy from secretions from his lungs that rattle around his trache. 

“Do you remember that their wedding is coming up? It’s in less than a month!”

“20 days.” Miltsu adds precisely. 

“Do you want to say congratulations? Say, ‘congratulations Travis and Rebecca!’”


I try to think of other things for Gideon to talk about. 

“Is there anything you would like to tell Grandma?” I decide on asking. 

Gideon’s brow furrows. The corners of his mouth turn down. “I miss you Grandma!” His voice is plaintive and clear. 

Is there anything you would like to tell your friends? Like Gavin?

“Umm. . .umm. . . I. . .wish-I-could-s-see-you!” 

“Yeah that would be nice if he could come visit you, wouldn’t it? I agree. 

I go on to ask about other friends. Gideon expresses how he wishes he could be with them and play with them. 

Then we ask what he wants to do to celebrate his bygone birthday once he gets out of the hospital. 

“Go to D-dominoes!”

“Domino’s pizza!” I affirm. “Is there anything else you want to do?” I ask. 

“Go to the ARC!” He responds. The ARC is the recreation center in Williston that has a large indoor pool with water slides, a lazy river, and a surfing feature. We remind him that the ARC is in Williston, North Dakota and we are in Minnesota. 

“There are lots of fun things to do in Minnesota!” My wife says. 

“I-want-to-go-to-Todd-and-Ruthannes!” Gideon exclaims. He wants to be with one of his best buds and cousin, Gavin. 

“Would you also like to go mountain biking Gideon?” 

He nods. 

“Is there something you’d like for your birthday? What kind of present would you like?”

“I want. . .” Gideon’s lips purse together, once. . .twice. No sound comes out. We ask if it’s hard to talk. Gideon shakes his head. We ask if he’s getting tired. He nods. I ask him if there is anything he wants to tell his brother Aamos. 

Gideons expression turns sorrowful. 

“I really, really, really miss you!” 

“What about Aabeli?”

“I miss giving you hugs!”

“And what about Aksa?”

“I miss sleeping with you!” Gideon is on the verge of crying. 

“Aksa’s always asking about you!” I try to console, “and before you know it, you’ll be out of here!” 

“When?” Gideon simply asks again. 

“The doctors say it will be 3-6 months and you’ve been here over a month already.” Miltsu quietly and factually informs again. 

“Yep! It’ll be FAST!” I try to be upbeat and encouraging. 

“But now we just want to focus on healing and resting when you are supposed to rest. And focus on exercising when you are supposed to exercise; just like right now, talking is an exercise!”

I’m sure for Gideon this question must constantly rattle around his head. “HOW MUCH LONGER WILL I BE HERE!” 

But now Gideon is tired and all this talking is tiring him out even more. It is near the timed goal for keeping the speak valve on anyway. The speech therapist takes the valve off. Gideon’s eyelids become heavy and he dozes off. 

Later, after his dressing changes, Rebecca and Travis came to Gideon’s room. Gideon had asked to "sing Gods Word" with Rebecca and Travis. They sang “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus, and “Lord I am a Little One.”

Before they were going to leave he wanted a hug from Travis. 

Then, with Miltsu, Gideon asked if he could see a picture of himself at the hospital. She showed him a picture where he was sitting up in a chair that the physical therapists set him in, next to his sister Martha. 

A little later on when I came into the room, Gideon tells me he wants pizza. I promised that we would make a deal that the first meal he eats when he leaves the hospital would be pizza. I ask, “what kind pizza do you wanna eat Gideon?”

"Pepperoni!" Was his reply. Ah, yes! What 9 year old WOULDN’T want pepperoni pizza as the delicacy of his choice after months of not eating reeal food? 😄 And then as an afterthought he says "I want bread sticks too!" 

“Ok we will eat pepperoni pizza with breadsticks! Fist bump?” Gideon clench’s his right hand into a fist the best he can, which is not much of a clench, but like a very loose hand-hold. 

Day 41, Thursday, June 29th, 2023
July 16, 2023
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Day 41 Thursday, June 29th, 2023
When I last left you, before my quick updates, Gideon was just about to be wheeled down to the OR. That surgery (where they took out the staples and the fabric-looking covering from the CEA) went well. 
We took advantage of the time Gideon was in surgery to visit the Science Museum of MN. Mikki Rothbauer, the Burn Unit’s psychotherapist, had finagled some admission vouchers to the Science Museum and to the Omni Theater for us. It was the kids first time visiting the Science Museum and Omni Theater. They were quite entertained. 
Day 42 , Friday, June 30th, 2023
Miltsu spent last night and the night before with Gideon. The night went quite well even though Gideon didn’t sleep the whole night. It also didn’t seem like he was feeling cold. 
Gideon slept when the speech therapist came. Predictably, not much was said. Then PT came and moved him to a chair where he lounged for the better part of an hour. 
Sophia (Gideon’s nurse) informed us that at the latest burn conference there was talk about how using the CEA is being viewed a little differently than before. The old school thinking was to keep the patient fairly immobile during the whole drying out period. New school thinking is saying that it’s ok to move the patient around in as little as a week after surgery. Thus, Gideon had the privilege of lounging in the easy chair. 

Update #37
July 13, 2023
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Here is another super quick update. 

Gideon has a been almost completely weaned off of the sedation medications again. He is breathing on his own again with just the trache dome covering his trache. (That provides warm, moist air and more oxygen if needed.) He has been really sleepy this whole week even with sedation meds being turned down and off. 

The CEA on his chest and belly are looking good and now they are able to apply lotion to those areas. The CEA on his legs still needs time to “dry out.” 

I think I had mistakenly said that both hands needed to be pinned. This is not the case. It is just the left hand where the fingers need to be pinned straight to keep them immobile. This is so tissue can heal around the knuckles where the bones had started to poke through. 

A rough guess as to when all his surgeries would be done is two months. Then another rough guess for recovery and therapy until discharge is another 1-2 months - give or take a month or three!🤓 

By recovery, I mean good enough to be able to go home. It will still be a couple years of wearing compression garments and a year of wearing the face mask. In addition, he will have quite a time with his body having to get used to his new skin. Did I mention the application of lotion and stretching 3 times a day? In short, it will be a new normal. 

Maybe Gideon will be able to leave the hospital by the end of October - just in time for winter in North Dakota! I’m just sayin, things couldn’t get much better! 

Friday, July 7, 2023
July 7, 2023
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I’m going to post just a quick update on Gideon’s status. Quick is never my forte so here goes:

Gideon had surgery yesterday. It was his 8th one. I received a call yesterday from a plastic surgeon seeking consent to “pin his fingers” which was outside the scope of the original consent given. They noticed, in preparing for the surgery, that Gideon’s finger bones were starting to pop through his temporary grafts. They had to pin his hands in a position so that they will heal. I don’t understand exactly how they did it as I have not seen pictures. In a few weeks they should be able to graft the hands. 

The rest of the surgery went very well. They were able to graft his neck and his right arm, from what I understand. 

Gideon will be intubated and sedated for 5 days so he doesn’t move his neck and cause damage to the graft. This, in a sense, is actually a gift to us. We feel more free to attend our church’s big summer services being held in Monticello, MN.  We feel like it’s not quite as critical to be by his side, as there will be a nurse right next to him during that period of intubation. 

Perhaps some reading this aren’t familiar with the services of which I speak. If you are curious, you can read all about it here:

There are many days and moments that I still want to write about, of which I have not yet. I’m hoping to do catch up sometime soon. 

But for now, I need to go and enjoy the services and fellowship!

Thank you for your understanding. 🙂

Thursday June 29, 2023 Day 41
June 29, 2023
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Tuesday was a special day. 

It was Gideon’s birthday for one. He turned 9 years old. 

It was also another small victory on this road of healing. More on that in a bit. 

However, the night before was trying for Gideon’s nurse. Gideon was restless. Tense. 

His dressing changes went smoothly, no problems there. The workout came after that. 

I say dressing change, but it was a dress down more than a dressing change. Because of the CEA product, the lab grown skin, the process of it healing and growing into Gideon’s body requires it to air dry at least 12 hours a night. This is done from 9 pm to 9 am.

After the dressings were taken off Gideon he began to talk. “I’m cold!” He mouthed. 

“Great,” I sigh, “what can I do? 

The thermostat is maxed. We can’t drape blankets over him. 

It’s that dratted air vent directly over Gideon. 

He is shivering. 

Then his expression changes. 

It’s a mixture of sadness and pain. He starts waving his hand. That’s the top secret signal nurse Mel invented for Gideon to tell us when he has to go poop. A couple of days ago his rectal tube came out because of him coughing. He coughs whenever his trache is suctioned. They decided to leave the tube out to give him a break from it. 

Now he was giving the top secret signal. It looked like he was scared. Did it hurt to go? Or was he just embarrassed? We reassure Gideon, “Just poop! It’s ok! We’ll get it cleaned right up!”

Gideon begins to cry his silent cry. Nurse Trevor assures him, “It’s alright, my man! That’s what we’re here for! We’ll get it cleaned right up! You’re all right Gideon! 

After a bit, he calms down a little. 

“Did you go?” 

Gideon nods. 

Time to clean him up. Trev calls another nurse over to help him. Fresh sterile pads are placed over Gideon’s body so he can be turned on his side without touching the delicate and sterile CEA. Gideon has been given Ketamine for pain, and that seems to work very well. Even so, when his backside has to be touched with the wet wipe to clean the stool, Gideon winces. The brief under him is carefully folded over on itself to contain the mess. The pads under him are carefully rolled up and tucked under him. 

Now they have to roll him the other way. Very carefully, he is rolled to his other side. They pull out the brief and the used pads from under him. Then they pull through and unroll the clean pad that was tucked under him. It goes very smoothly. 

Gideon is clean with a fresh brief and fresh pads under him. The nurses lift Gideon higher up on the “wedge” behind his back using the bedsheets. A pillow is tucked under his head and his face mask is placed on his face. 

The face mask is used to put pressure on the skin graft to smooth out scarring. He will have to use this over the course of the next year or more. The blue light phototherapy heat lamp is rolled into place. 

Gideon is now all set up for a good night’s rest. Being as he is no longer on a ventilator Gideon is not required to have a nurse physically in his room at all times. 

Trevor leaves the room. 

And Gideon promptly poops. 

He is sad and embarrassed and pained all over again. The stool presses against his raw backside and so it clearly stings the young boy. He is trying to arch his back to lift up his butt into the air as much as he can to relieve the pain. 

I call Trevor. “Gideon pooped again.” I inform. 

A little sigh. 

“Ok, thanks for letting me know,” Trev says trying to be as upbeat as possible. 

The whole process starts over again. 

By the time, they are finished it is close to 2 am. 

2:30 rolls around.  

A pained expression. A sad expression. Words being spoken, known only by watching his mouth move. 

Gideon is having another bowel movement. The process starts over again. I feel too tired to stay in the room for moral support. I leave around 2:45 a.m. and wish Trevor a good rest of the night. 

It turns out, Gideon still had two more bowel movements after that. Trevor didn’t have any time to decorate Gideon’s room for his birthday like he was planning. 

Because Gideon was up so much during the night, he began sleeping blissfully during nurse Sarah’s shift. 

She had time to do a little decorating. “Happy birthday” was taped to the ceiling above Gideons head along with a cut out of balloons. “Happy birthday” was also taped to to the privacy curtain rail next to the ceiling. In addition, balloons were brought in. 

Gideon was mostly too tuckered out during the day to be able to enjoy his birthday. Then the speech therapist came in to try out a speak valve on his trache. 

That’s when Gideon gave us a wonderful gift. 

We were able to hear him clearly speak!!

I had him repeat after me: 

I love you gramma!

I love you mom!

“Aww. Gideon I love you too! Do you love daddy?”

Gideon simply nods.  

The speech therapist continues to keep him talking, “Where are your brothers?”

“They’re in Finland!” Gideon replies. 

Miltsu comes in the room. 

“Look there’s mom! Say, ‘hi mom!’”

“Hi äiti!” He says. 

She is on the phone with her brother Miika and doesn’t clearly hear Gideon. 

“Say ‘Hi mom!’ again!”

“Hi äiti!” Gideon repeats. 

“Oh look you’re talking, Gideoni! That’s such a good present, to be able to talk, isn’t it Gideoni?” 

He nods his head. 

Gideon’s oxygen level is dipping a bit so the trial is ended.  

We are left savoring the joy of being able to hear Gideon’s voice. 

Just a little bit later I am given another gift. Gideon lifts up his arms and spreads them wide. Miltsu asks him if he wants to give dad a hug. Gideon nods. I bend over the bed and Gideon puts his arms around me. I am smiling widely. Gideon also clearly smiles. It’s a special moment. We have been able to hug after over 5 weeks. 

Yesterday morning was special as well. Gideon suddenly began saying something. At first the only thing we could make out was the word “Aamos.” 

“What about Aamos?” We ask. 

Gideon persists in trying to convey his message to us. It’s a long sentence and mother is much better at reading her sons lips. 

“ Aamos. . . Sins forgiven.”

“You want Aamos to tell you sins forgiven? Miltsu asks? Gideon nods emphatically. 

Aamos and Aabeli are at their cousin’s house. We call Ruthanne. She has to go wake up Aamos. Aamos groggily answers the phone. It is a FaceTime call so Gideon can see him. We have the flipped the camera to front facing though so Gideon isn’t surprised and dismayed by his own face and the grafts that are on it. Gideon is looking up at the phone. Aamos and Aabeli are there. 

“Do you miss the boys we ask?” Gideon nods. More tears stream down his face. 

We explain to the boys why we called. 

Aamos and Aabeli both bless their youngest brother. Gideon seems content. We ask him if he wants to continue talking to them. He nods. The boys tell him they miss him. They say a few more things but then can’t think of much else to say to Gideon. 

Now, as I am finishing this current narrative, Gideon is about to be wheeled down to the OR. The focus will be taking the staples out from the CEA. 

The line going into his stomach that takes the bile away will be changed as well. That seems to have plugged up yesterday and so no bile was able to be pumped out. The reason for this tube is because his feed tube goes past his stomach straight into his small intestine. As a result of it being plugged, Gideon aspirated a few different times yesterday. He also started running a fever. He was put on some antibiotics as a result of his fever, and lactase level, indicating that he could be fighting something . If he does well enough, there will also be a little skin grafting done.  

He literally didn’t sleep at all last night again because of being uncovered and uncomfortable. 

And because of his bowel movements. 

So, last night, I tried to console Gideon by reminding him of how God is helping him. He is here with him, and so are all of his guardian angels. Gideon began to cry. I reminded him of how we can pray to God for strength to get through this trial. 

“Do you know what a trial is Gideon?” 

He shakes his head, “No”

“It is when we have a really hard time in our life, Gideon. Just like you are having now. We have these times in our lives so we are drawn closer to God, Gideon. It’s God’s way of wanting us to remember Him. And you can pray as well, Gideon,

for strength to get through this time that you are now experiencing!”

Tears are streaming down his cheeks and abruptly he brings his arms up and folds his hands together as best as he can. Gideon is praying for strength. I bless him with the gospel as well. He puts his hands down by his sides and relaxes at least for a little while. 

Sunday, June 25th, 2023, Day 37
June 26, 2023
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Sunday, June 25th, 2023, Day 37

“When you are on day “x” of this journey already and Gideon finally wakes up enough to become aware of his situation, he will be on day 1.”

Those were very wise words of advice spoken to us by Mikki, the psychotherapist here in the burn center. 

To us it seems that Gideon’s day 1 was a week ago Saturday. 

That day he was more awake than ever until then. More aware than ever. And more emotional than ever. 

Apparently he had waken up in the previous night several times after we had left the room. He had waken up in tears. Did he have a nightmare? Was he remembering what happened? 

That was the day also, as I wrote about, that he astounded the therapists by sitting up for 10 minutes on his own. 

He did that during the day while Miltsu and Rebecca were attending Rebecca’s bridal shower at Todd and Ruthanne’s place. The house was packed with ladies. Miltsu expressed how thankful she felt to be in this throng. After the shower she went and picked up Gabriel, Mikael, and Max (Maijastiina’s boy.) 

They had just come back from music camp at Stoney. It sounded like they thoroughly enjoyed their time up there! It is a blessing to be able to attend these camps. 

Then in the evening, Miltsu and the kids were able to go over to Melinda’s dad’s place for a sauna and swim; much needed relaxation! 

Saturday, after the shower, many of Rebecca’s friends from Williston, who were in town for the shower, came to see Gideon. Gideon has had his share of visitors!

Back to “Gideon’s day 1.” Was it truly his day 1? Was he finally now just realizing where he is and that he is badly injured? What’s it like for the young boy to finally be cognizant enough to know that his whole body is wrapped up in one big bandage resembling a bad Halloween costume of a mummy? 

Miltsu told me that when she was present during a bandage/dressing change Gideon had lifted up his arm while the bandages were off. His eyes grew wide when he saw his own arm uncovered. Was he horrified? Miltsu assured him that his arm looked like that because the doctors have not yet put new skin on his arm. How is he processing the fact that he can’t even pick up his own legs without excruciating pain?  

I wish I knew. 

The frustrating part of this healing process is the silence because of his trache. I can’t imagine how scary, how frustrating, how bewildering, and how inexplicable not being able to talk is to this boy - this boy who was talking right after the accident and in the ambulance ride all the way to Williston. On a side note, yesterday evening I told Gideon that Aamos asked when he could see Gideon. I had said that I didn’t really know, but it could be awhile still. I asked Gideon if he would like to see Aabel, Aamos, and Aksa. He nodded “yes.” I was thinking out loud and said “Hmmm maybe I should FaceTime them sometime with you.” Then the thought occurred, “Gideon, do you remember when we FaceTimed Aksa when we rode in the ambulance to Williston? To my surprise, Gideon nodded yes. . . 

Many times Gideon’s mouth has moved - trying to communicate with us. His words he speaks are silent. His cries he cries sound silent. He must have wondered at first, “Why can’t I hear myself even though I am talking?” We have explained to Gideon many times that even though he is speaking, no sound will come out because his tracheostomy is below his vocal cords. Very little air travels past his vocal cords. Despite knowing that, Gideon still tries to talk to us. This morning his mouth was moving. He was trying to tell me something. I had to confess that I am not good at reading his lips, and so I asked him yes/no questions. 

“Did you sleep well?” No. 

“Did you have a nightmare?” No. 

“Did you have a dream?” No. 

“Do you know you are in the hospital?” Yes. 

“Are you comfortable?” Yes. 

“Do you have pain?” “No.”

“It’s already Sunday, Gideon, June 25! Do you know that you came here over a month ago on May 20th?” No. 

I can’t figure out what he might be asking or trying to tell me. He didn’t look distressed or agitated. It looked like he simply wanted to tell me or ask me something. I had to shrug my shoulders, unknowing. 

I ask in Finnish, “ Haluatko synnit anteeksi?” 

Big brown eyes blink. Gideon nods his head. 

“Jesuksen nimessä ja veressä kaikki synnit anteeksi! Joo ja kaikki epäilykset ja kiusaukset kans anteeksi Gideoni!” 

Tears run down his cheeks. Then his gaze fixes on mine and he becomes calm. The blessing remains the young boy’s source of strength and comfort. 

There have been so many times we stand there listening, but unhearing with our ears. We are listening with our hearts. Our hearts hear the silent words and cries that Gideon speaks. They hear but can not always comprehend. We recall our own experience those first days. 

How were those first few days for us? We remember waking up in the morning and thinking that this can not be true. This is a nightmare from which we simply need to wake up and everything will be better. But we were already awake. There in room 3 is our little Gideon, fighting to stay alive, though I didn’t recognize what a truly precarious state he was in. Nonetheless, he was still bad off, and I knew his whole body was burnt. 

Varying degrees of sadness, guilt, anguish, helplessness, and the list goes on, would wash over me those first days. We think the same was happening with Gideon, now already a week ago Saturday. He was so sensitive and crying over everything. The emotions are so strong in those first days of trying to come to terms with what has happened. We have it easy. We are not the ones laying in the hospital bed. Day. After day. After day. After day. . . 

Gideon is trying to come to terms with his new state of normal. How can a boy as young as him even have the ability to process all that is happening? He has done remarkably well. He has been remarkably strong. Where has this strength come from? A nurse helping out with dressing changes today said that Gideon was the bravest patient she has seen. We are glad for these reports. We only hope and pray his strength can continue. 

Thursday June 22, 2023 Day 34
June 22, 2023
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I just wanted to post a few pictures of Gideon on here. 

Two were taken yesterday when they actually sat him in a chair as part of his Physical Therapy. 

The one with the hat is right before he went down to surgery today. 

I asked him if he would smile for me. I smiled my biggest smile I could muster as an example for him to follow. I’ve been trying to get him to move his facial muscles to help stretch the skin.

It looked like he was smiling as wide as he could when I took the picture. 

I asked him if it feels weird to smile with the new skin on his face and he nodded yes. 

Update #32
June 21, 2023
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Wednesday June 21st, 2023, Day 33

“Gideon are you excited to do physical therapy today and sit up?” I cheerfully inquired Saturday morning. 

Gideon emphatically shook his head.


I could tell already only a few days into having do some physical therapy that this was not something Gideon enjoyed. 

He has been laying down for a month already, heavily sedated, and on a lot of pain meds. As a result, his muscles have no doubt atrophied. 

“Gideon, you have to do it!” Miltsu and I persuade. 

“That’s how you’ll get stronger and heal! 

That’s how you’ll be able to get out of here!” we continue. 

The physical therapists, positioned on each side of the bed, lift up and twist Gideon so he is now sitting upright, on the edge of the bed.

“Wow, Gideon! Good job! That’s the way to do it!” we encourage. 

Gideon sits up on the edge of the bed for 10 minutes all on his own strength. 

The therapists are stunned. 

Yesterday he sat up on his own strength for 30 seconds. How has he made such a remarkable improvement? 

I don’t know. But I’ll take it. I could see the determination in the young lad’s face during his therapy. He forgot all about not wanting to do it. 

Saturday during one of the dressing changes, one of the surgeons saw a couple areas of concern and decide to get some cultures done. Those cultures came back yesterday morning and are showing a positive test for aspergillus. This fungus comes from common mold spores, which could have come from just about anywhere. 

They put Gideon on a pretty robust anti-fungal medicine as a result. The doctor told me that they were very small spots, but they began treating it immediately, as if it were invasive.

 The doctor advised me against googling it. 

What does one do when advised not to do something? 

As soon as she left, a-s-p-e-r-g-i-l-l-u-s, into the search engine it goes! 

I’m really not that nerdy. 

But I do want to know about what is affecting my child. I want to have a dose of reality every now and then, to know what we are up against. 

From the very beginning of this whole ordeal, I have, more or less, always had this positive feeling that everything will turn out beautifully. As I reflect back, I wonder if it was simply due to a profound ignorance of the severity of the situation. 

Most likely. 

But that’s not all bad. 

It has probably shielded me from undue stress. Stress about a situation that, in the end, I really couldn’t do much about anyway.

 But this aspergillus is nothing to take lightly, which is why they started treating it aggressively as soon as they found out about the positive cultures.

So then I thought to look to see if there were any studies done on the effectiveness of any essential oils against fungus. 

I will quote a few things from a study abstract I found on the web which can be found here:

“The current rise in invasive fungal infections due to the increase in immunosuppressive therapies is a real concern. Moreover, the emergence of resistant strains induces therapeutic failures. In light of these issues, new classes of antifungals are anticipated. Therefore, the plant kingdom represents an immense potential of natural resources to exploit for these purposes. The aim of this review is to provide information about the antifungal effect of some important essential oils,”

One essential oil the study mentions is peppermint oil, among many others. 

“Peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) is already well known for its medicinal applications in the treatment of symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract such as nausea, vomiting or indigestion for example, but also for its pharmaceutical applications as a vasoconstrictor or for its wide use in the food industry [31].

Its antifungal activity has often been proven, for example, a MIC of 500 ppm completely inhibits the growth of Candida albicans [32], and a concentration of this essential oil between 40 and 7000 μg/mL, 800 and 3500 μg/mL and 400 and 3,500 μg/mL, completely inhibits the growth of Candida spp. dermatophytes and Aspergillus spp, respectively [30].”

Sorry to bore you with this type of information, but I guess I’m not forcing anyone to read this either! I just thought it quite interesting, and that if nothing seems to work in “western medicine “ against the aspergillus, then hopefully there would be other avenues of treatment against it. 

The other reason I’m talking so long on this fungal infection, is that Gideon is going in for a big surgery tomorrow. He will be having the front side of his body covered with the cultured epidermal cells skin grafts. It is that skin that was grown in a lab from his own skin. This skin is extremely thin; 5 cells thick.

The procedure to place that skin on Gideon is extremely delicate. As Dr. Bennet described, “You get one shot to place the piece of skin into place.” 56 of these business card sized pieces of skin will be carefully placed and stapled into place. 

After the surgery, this type of skin graft requires open air dry time of 16-20 hours a day for at least a week, probably two, and could even extend into a third week. 

Gideon will be quite sedated during this time so he doesn’t move around much. He won’t be able to receive visitors due to his vulnerable state. 

It feels like I am being a broken record when I say we hope and pray for God’s guiding hand. But scripture does teach us to pray unceasingly.


“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thess. 5:17

It was a comfort to hear Dr. Bennet acknowledge God’s guiding hands when he performs surgeries. 

Friday June 16th, 2023
June 17, 2023
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Thursday we attended a burn survivor support group here at the hospital. 

We discussed the importance of working through feelings. 

We spoke about the importance of choosing to be a survivor instead of a victim. 

It would be easier to be a victim. 

Perhaps that is the path of least resistance, so to speak; the easiest option. 

Then, we could simply blame all our misfortune in life on one or more particular thing(s)/event(s). 

However, there is always someone who has it worse off than us. 

That doesn’t make our own reality less important. Our reality is, after all, our reality. 

We can honor that. We can acknowledge and accept whatever feelings we are feeling. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to not cry. It’s ok to laugh. It’s ok to be worried, scared, frustrated. It’s ok to accept help when offered. I’m reminded of that part in Scripture where it says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;. . . a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” (Ecc. 3: 1-4) 

Many of these seasons of life have manifested themselves during our stay here already.

I can’t help but mentioning the heartbreak we felt when the time to mourn came for a son here at the hospital whose father passed on here in the burn unit. He and his girlfriend had spent 3 weeks along side us living this daily life of peaks and valleys, looking on at his father. . . 

Words are weak and incomplete in these situations. 

We hope that the son and his girlfriend will soon be given a time to heal after their time to mourn. 

And we hope, and look forward to that “time to dance” when Gideon will be able to come home again. 

This hope is tempered by the constant question in the back of my mind; will God grant healing to Gideon? Or will it soon be our turn for the “time to mourn?” Again, I am comforted by scripture where Jesus instructs us to “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:33 ESV)

There is always someone who has it, or has had it worse off. 

Wednesday we spoke with a father whose two girls survived a small plane crash. His wife and brother-in-law died in that crash. That happened 20 years ago in MN, just outside Grand Marais.

He gave us a dose of reality of the challenges for the next couple years: The many surgeries, 2-3 times of lotioning and stretching a day, compression garments, learning to walk again, Gideon having to learn to live in his new skin - which is completely different than his "old skin.”

I looked at pictures for the first time the other day of what Gideon looked like when he arrived at the burn center. It wasn’t easy, but I had to see them. 

And then I looked at the pictures of when all the dead skin was removed and the first layer of "artificial skin" was placed - it reminds me of Saran Wrap - and he reminded me of a skinned deer. I think I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s something that deserves mentioning again: 

85 percent of the skin on Gideon will be grafted skin. This skin does not function like the skin you and I have. It will not grow hair. It will not sweat. It will feel different to Gideon. He will develop feeling in that skin, but it will take years. He will have to stretch and lotion several times a day just so he can move around normally - something you and I take for granted every day. And this struggle to be able to move around normally is being addressed and has been addressed right from the beginning of Gideon’s hospital stay. 

The physical therapists have manually stretched and moved Gideon’s arms and legs. For 3 or 4 days already, they have sat Gideon up on the side of the bed. 

Today Gideon sat without support for about 30 seconds. The mighty struggle just to do that was at the same time heartbreaking and heartwarming. 

It was heartbreaking to see the pain and difficulty of that simple act. 

It was unbelievably heartwarming to see the determination in the young boy’s face to do that which was asked of him. 

This father’s heart felt like it was bubbling over with love and admiration towards his son. 

His son, who alone has to physically face this struggle daily. 

I can not make him physically stronger. 

He has to make that daily decision to fight, so he can get stronger, so he can heal, and so he can then eventually lead a “normal” life. 

Tuesday June 13th, 2023
June 16, 2023
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Today was a milestone!
Gideon received his first skin graft. 
The donor site was the top of his head which was spared from burn. That skin was placed onto the parts of his face that were deeply burned: just above his eyes, both cheeks, and below his lower lip on his chin. 
They left the head open with no bandages or other dressings on the grafted skin, so they could keep an eye on it. 
When I first saw him, I had mixed emotions.  
Of course, this beautiful young son of mine was not going to look like he did before the accident. 
I knew that. 
But it was still hard to see him with the grafts in place, because they aren’t completely healed. 
And because he is naturally swollen from the surgery. 
And because of all the stitching. 
He reminded me of a favorite doll that has needed many repairs to keep it from falling apart - to keep the stuffing in. 
His head and face looked like it wasn’t real. 
Before, when he had his bandages on, and I could only see around his eyes and nose, my mind filled in the blanks as to what lay underneath. 
My mind always saw unblemished skin. 
It saw Gideon’s face - pure and unadulterated. 
Now, I was looking at something different - a copy of Gideon by a sculptor that wasn’t able to capture the true features of Gideon. 
The reality of a new looking Gideon began to hit me - the top of his left ear is missing, the right ear lobe is missing - cartilage burned too bad to save, a left eyebrow missing. . . 
Will he ever look “normal” again?
The grafts stopped at his chin. They did not place grafts on his neck yet, so it truly looks as if he has a mask on. 
But while it was startling and hard to look at Gideon’s “new” face, it was also joyous. 
Finally there was some “final product” laid down on his body that could begin to heal in permanently. And when I looked past the stitching in place I could imagine that his face will look amazingly close to his original. 
This made me extremely happy and grateful. I asked God to guide the hand of the surgeons. 
God heard my prayer. 

Monday June 12th, 2023
June 13, 2023
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I had not realized that during the long, 4:30 a.m. night, when Gideon was fevering and shaking, that he was being weaned off of two sedation medications, starting at 2 a.m. By 7:00 a.m. he no longer was getting either sedative. By 8 a.m. his eyes were wide awake! He was alert and looking around! Oh joy of joys! What a profound change! He responded with clear nods and shakes of his head when asked yes or no questions. We spent a lot of time showing Gideon old videos from home on our phones and reading cards sent to him. He was quite awake and alert for almost that whole day and into the night. 

But that was already a lifetime ago, it feels like. 

A few days ago a lab test came back showing he has a fungal infection in his blood. He was put on a pretty strong anti-fungal, according to a nurse. I plan on asking about this infection at our weekly team meeting this afternoon. 

Yesterday, the ever-alert motherly instinct in Miltsu detected how Gideon seemed to be looking pale around his eyes. She mentioned it to Sofia, Gideon’s sweet nurse that night. 

Sofia pondered Miltsu’s comment and thought a hemoglobin test should be completed, even though the last test came back at 8.5 just a day or so prior. I’m not even sure what these numbers actually represent, but it turns out that his hemoglobin was quite low, 5.4.  

That was a surprise. 

He has been having these fluctuations in hemoglobin. They aren’t quite sure what exactly is causing the fluctuations. 

I presume the low hemoglobin is why Gideon was so tired the last couple days. All he has wanted to do is sleep, it seems, which isn’t bad, but then one begins to worry if things are ok. 

And the way I am thinking, if he is losing hemoglobin, then he is losing blood somewhere. 

A friend was just visiting us this afternoon and talking about his brother. He was on blood thinners. Then he had coughed so violently that it caused a rupture of blood vessels in the stomach, I believe. 

I’m hoping that there isn’t anything like that going on with Gideon. 

He has had some pretty good coughs. He is also on blood thinners to make sure no blood clots form. And earlier this evening there was a stretch where he was coughing and coughing. 

His face was turning completely red. Ugh. It’s so hard to watch that! There just isn’t anything you as a parent can do in this situation, other than offer your touch and words of encouragement. 

Which, again, brings me to the topic of human touch. Touch that is loving and caring and reassuring. I feel like the healing power of it is not significantly understood by science. I have seen in many instances Gideon’s heart rate come down by simply patting the top of his head. 

In other significant news, Gideon was able to be taken off the ventilator. He now has a trach dome. It is simply a dome placed over the trach in his neck. The dome has a tube attached to it from which oxygen enriched, humidified air is being pumped. He is completely breathing on his own. Gideon looks much more comfortable with this setup. 

Also, it sounds like that fungal infection is more of a yeast infection, which is less serious. 

This morning (it’s already 1:35 a.m. as I write this) at 7:30, Gideon will receive his first skin graft. They will take skin from the top of his head and graft that onto his face and neck. We pray that God will guide the surgeon’s hands. We also pray that he would keep young Gideon free from infection. 

This we pray in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Saturday June 9, 2023
June 11, 2023
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I had asked the question “Would Gideon ever truly be “out of the woods” during his hospital stay here?”

Recently, one of the surgeons answered. 

In short, no. 

The statistical probability of survival in burn cases, from what I understand, is determined from when a patient is burned to when they leave the hospital. It’s not like, “Ok, the patient has been here for three days or a week, so now the probability is greater that they will survive. ..” There is such a myriad of complications that could arise from an injury this great. 

We were brought to that realization again earlier this week. 

It was stark reminder of Gideon’s delicate state. 

The nurses were changing the absorbent pads under Gideon. There were, mind you, no less than four nurses participating in this procedure. Three nurses were positioning Gideon on his side. One nurse’s duty was to simply secure the airway by holding the trach in position during this procedure. But then Gideon started coughing. The trach was dislodged in such a manner that now his airway was blocked. 

Miltsu happened to be in Gideon’s room during this time. 

I was in the sleeper room. 

Suddenly I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker “Adult Code blue 5400, Adult code blue 5400!”  

“That’s our unit! But there is no room 5400. But I better call Miltsu anyway!”

I dial her. She picks up. 

“Täällä on hätä.” (There’s an emergency here), is all she says, and hangs up. 

I immediately run over to the unit trying to stomp my tied tennies on as I run. 

It looks like all the nurses and doctors are converging on Gideon’s room. My heart is racing a million miles an hour. My mind immediately goes to the problem there had been before with the trach, and even though my heart is racing, I don’t feel hopeless or panicked. I just feel this great adrenaline rush. There are many, many people around Gideon’s door including Mikki the psychotherapist. She suggests I step off into a lounge there by Gideon’s room. I was probably rude, but my mind would have none of that: I wanted to see what was going on. 

I wanted to be right next to Gideon, if these were to be his last moments here in this life. 

Miltsu was just inside the door, standing there. Still. Quiet. A resident doctor was already talking to her, explaining things. Dr. Bennet is by Gideon’s side. The trach has been repositioned. I hear Dr. Bennet tell everyone in the room to cancel the code. Dr. Bennet exudes an air of calm authority to the room where there was otherwise an undertone of muted chaos. 

It takes a bit for mine and Miltsu’s heart to calm down. She later said she was wondering if this is how it’s all going to end: by a trach becoming dislodged from an unfortunately timed cough?

But it did not end that way. 

Everything turned out well. 

Even this was God’s doing. Perhaps it was his way of reminding us who the author and finisher of our lives truly is. 

Then, the other night before before last night (did I get that right?) was not so great either. That night I had stayed with Gideon until 4:30 am. He was shaking a lot and spiking a good fever. I spent most of the time sitting next to his bed, trying to speak in a low, soothing tone, and rubbing the top of his head. Occasionally he would fall asleep and the shaking would get less. It was an exhausting experience. But I reminded Gideon, and myself, how God has promised that he will not give a trial to hard to bear: that this too shall one day pass. I asked Gideon that isn’t it good to know and trust in God’s promises? Gideon nodded his head vigorously in agreement. It’s precious to see the faith of this young boy. It’s not a wonder why Jesus said “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)

I went to the sleeper room finally at 4:30 a.m. after Gideon seemed to be a bit calmer. 

When Miltsu went into his room a bit later that morning, things were vastly different. 

Tuesday June 6th, 2023
June 9, 2023
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For us, the days are flying by. 

I feel I scarcely have time to even write my thoughts and descriptions of events down. 

I hope that when Gideon is finally healthy and able to talk again, that he can reflect on these days and say that they were like they never happened. That they were like a dream.  

It reminds me of this passage: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)

Tuesday was taxing. However, it ended beautifully. 

We had decided to take turns going up to the hospital so one of us could stay with the kids at the apartment. Miltsu was with Gideon. I was with the kids, in the apartment gym. Then she called. 

Gideon was restless. 

Heart rate up. 

Breathing up. 

Trying to move arms. 

When the nurse lifted up his leg Gideon’s eyes shot open and mouth grimaced. 

Miltsu needed support. 

I hurried up to Gideon’s room. 

What words can a father say to his son in this state? He is not fully aware. He responds, sometime, when asking him a yes/no question. Yet when he opens his eyes and I ask if he sees me he shakes his head. The many drugs must be clouding his vision, for when his eyelids open, he is never focusing on any one thing. There is just an empty look to his eyes. Gideon is given an extra dose of sedatives for dressing change. He begins to calm down as a result. We have to leave for dressing changes. It is a welcome respite to an emotionally taxing situation. 

Later, when I return to Gideon’s room his fever has increased. The nurse has put a cooling blanket on him and ice packs under his arms. 

They aren’t exactly sure what is causing the fever. 

5:30 p.m rolls around. Steve and Tracy have dinner. Let’s see, what was it. . .? Oh yeah, now I remember, I think. Was it some kind of chili? Or taco thing?  

Time runs together. 

All the goodness of everyone coming with their delicious meals runs together. 

I do know for sure, however, that Steve and Tracy brought some delicious home-made strawberry shortcake!

What else have dear friends brought that I haven’t mentioned? Turns out, I won’t remember them all. So, I won’t even try to mention them all in this narrative. 

May our Heavenly Father repay each and every one of you for your kindness. 

We’ve been so spoiled. I feel such joy. 

How can one experience such joy among this bitter heartache of a trial where: the anxiety is real, the fear is real, and the sadness is real? 

I guess this joy is only felt through the strength that God gives. 

The joy of visiting old friends. 

The joy the Holy Spirit brings when it calls, gathers, and enlightens on this pathway. The joy of believing. 

More friends have come this evening to sing in the chapel. What a respite! We sing. We sing in unison. We even sing in parts. 

It feels good to sing, as a boy who is wise beyond his years, Kip, a friend of Gideon’s, remarked to his mother. “Did you hear me singing mom? I was just getting tears in my eyes that Gideon isn’t going to camp tomorrow so I looked out at the sky and started to sing. It made everything feel better. Singing does that.”

Sunday June 4th, 2023
June 7, 2023
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More than a few days have transpired since my last update - the flashback to a ride that nobody wants to take with their child. That was already 2 weeks and a 2 days ago.

This morning, Sunday June 4th, 2023, I wanted to record the feelings of utter helplessness I have. This period, after all the surgeries have been complete to remove the burned skin, has been way harder than I would have imagined. 

Gideon is still pretty sedated, but because his body is developing a greater tolerance to the meds, it’s harder to keep him comfortable. He was clearly uncomfortable this morning and it seemed that nothing was working to try calm him. How long can a parent look at their child in pain? We had planned on going to church this morning in Monticello so I couldn’t stay long. Perhaps it was better that way. I went to our sleep room and broke down. After a good little cry, I got our van from the parking garage, went and picked up the kids and Miltsu from the apartment, and headed off to church. Travis and Rebecca stayed back to be with Gideon in the room. They also played a recorded sermon. That seemed to calm Gideon - and Travis. Both snoozed contentedly during the sermon. 

But the other night was a tough one as well.

Somehow the tracheostomy tube worked its way out when the nurses were changing Gideon’s dressings. That was a bit of a scare, more for the nurses than us. Neither I nor Miltsu was in the room at the time. It was fortunate that one of Gideon’s surgeons happened to be in his office that night, and he was able to get to his side immediately to fix the problem. After that little ordeal, Gideon was more restless. His nurse was having a tough time getting him to settle down. His breathing rate was high. His blood pressure was low. Music from the Kuule app was softly playing when I went into the room, but it didn’t seem to be calming him. Then I remembered that I had recorded reading stories from the children’s Bible to Gideon and Aksa at bedtime. Gideon often asked me to read him a story from the children’s Bible, and earlier this year I thought maybe I’ll record some of those moments. I have them on my phone. After I found the files I pushed play, and I held the phone next to Gideon’s ear. Soon, I was amazed to see his breath rate come down! It was in the 40s and even into the 50s. While I played him those recorded bedtime stories it dropped down to 26, the setting on the ventilator, and stayed there. During those bedtime stories Gideon often interacted as I asked him questions. Perhaps the combination of hearing my voice and himself interacting created a comforting salve - the salve of the memory of safety and security there at home. I stayed that night until 3 am. Finally, it seemed that things calmed down, and Gideon was in a good spot again. 

CaringBridge site
June 3, 2023
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I have heard that some people would like to see updates on a CaringBridge site. So I have made one for Gideon and will post updates to this site as well. 

Here is the link.

Flashback to Saturday May 20th, 2023
June 3, 2023
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Gideon is sitting on the bench at the table when Rafi asks him if he is able to walk outside. Gideon admits he is not able. The pain must be too great. His feet are so badly burned. Rafael very gingerly but deftly picks up his youngest brother in a cradle carry and brings him outside just as the ambulance pulls up. The crew jumps out and opens the back doors. The volunteer crew is comprised all of neighbors from our tiny town. Everyone is a neighbor in our town. 

As Rafael places him lovingly unto the stretcher, again Gideon asks to hear the words that has brought his little heart and soul peace. Rafael blesses his little brother. I am still on the phone with 911 until this point and now I finally hang up. Their job is over.  

Miltsu and I step up into the ambulance to sit next to Gideon for the ride down to the hospital.  Gideon, looking up to his left at our neighbor, the EMT, offers that which has brought him peace, “Do you wanna have your sins forgiven?” he asks in his high, boy-tone. “What honey?” She asks. “Do you wanna have your sins forgiven?” repeats the boy in earnest. The EMT leans into Miltsu. “What is he asking?” she asks Miltsu, confused. “He is asking if you want to have your sins forgiven” my wife explains. It is a simple but profound offering. One given by Christ to his followers.  “. . .whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:18) “Yes honey, I do!” She answers. Gideon’s words clearly ring out in the small confines of the ambulance “Believe all sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and precious blood!”  

We hear a crew member call out for a helicopter. The decision is made to begin  driving towards Williston and meet the helicopter en route. 

We are asked questions. How old is Gideon?  “Nine,” I say. “ No I’m eight!” corrects Gideon.  When is his birthday? “June 29th” I answer. “My birthday is June 27th!” corrects Gideon. “When is the helicopter coming?” asks Gideon. “It will be soon. We are going to meet it!” we explain. 

The EMTs in the ambulance switch spots. One begins trying to find a suitable vein in the little lad’s arm through which to begin an IV. It is essential that burn victims with large burns like this begin to receive fluids immediately.  Fluid shift, as it’s called, begins rapidly and soon the patient would become dehydrated if not administered fluids in short order. After a couple attempts the IV is successfully placed. 

Gideon is talking. “ I decided I don’t want to be an oil worker when I get older,” he states definitively. “Oh? What do you want to be?” we ask. “Maybe you want to be a doctor or a nurse?” I ask. “No,” says Gideon, “I just wanna be a regular worker!” 

“Where’s Aksa?” asks Gideon. He is worried about his little sister and playmate. “She is at home,” we answer.  I decide to FaceTime with those at home so Gideon can see Aksa and his brothers. Gideon is given morphine. He starts shaking uncontrollably. “Why am I shaking so much?” He asks.  “Your body is in shock,” answers the EMT. The FaceTime call connects. All the kids at home are gathered around. Aksa is in front of the camera. We explain how we are going to the hospital with Gideon so he can get better. Aksa or one of the other kids asks why Gideon is shaking so much. “It’s because I am in shock!” answers Gideon.  We speak a bit more with the kids and assure them Gideon will be getting more help. Then I end the call. 

Gideon is in pain. He keeps asking when the helicopter will be there. Soon, we promise. We stop at some point along the road where there would be a suitable landing spot for the helicopter. This is North Dakota. Shouldn’t just about any spot be suitable? We wait for the helicopter. A minute goes by. Then another.  And another. A call is made. Apparently the helicopter hasn’t even lifted off from the hospital. Mixed communications. We continue on. 

Gideon asks how long it will be. He is waiting for more help. He knows he is in rough shape. Miltsu tells Gideon to focus on something nice. Focus on summer services and playing with his cousins. “Yeah, playing with Gavin. . .” Gideon’s voice trails off. “Should dad tell you some stories,” Miltsu asks? “Tell me some grandpa stories!” replies Gideon. I rack my brain for a story that my dad had told us boys from when he was a kid. My dad had a knack for storytelling, and I have told my children how I wished I remembered all those stories their grandpa used to tell us. I was surprised that Gideon even asked for Grandpa stories. I really haven’t told them many! I think of short grandpa story to tell Gideon. 

There are no less than 3 police cars driving in front of us clearing the way.  Gideon asks again when we will get there. 

Finally, we arrive at the hospital. He is rushed into the emergency room. They give Gideon a sedative. Then, because they have trouble getting another IV into him, I hear them say they have to perform an IO. “What is an IO?” I ask a girl standing near me. She says she is a student and not 100 percent sure but thinks it is where they drill into the bone so they can then administer fluids that way. The procedure takes a bit of time. 

During that time we are pulled aside. Detectives want to talk to us. They want the story of what happened. They apologize for having to ask, but believe it or not, there are those who have done these types of things to their own children. My stomach churns at that thought. The detective listens to what happened. The story is told and now the IO procedure is also complete. They are ready to bring Miltsu and Gideon to the airport to then be transported by plane directly to St. Paul, MN. 

Wednesday May 31st , 2023
June 2, 2023
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The slight knock on the door to our sleep room caused Miltsu to nearly jump through the roof, it seemed. 

She had set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. in anticipation of getting up in plenty of time before Gideon’s surgery. But as one is wont to do when exhausted, the snooze button was readily employed. So when the slight knock on the door a bit later amidst a light and restless sleep came, it caused a reaction in my wife that seemed a bit excessive, at least in my sleepy mind. 

“Gideon will be going down soon!” The nurse cheerfully informed. 

“We’ll be right over!” Miltsu promised. 

Of course, hospital time kicked in again, and it wasn’t until around 8 am that Gideon finally rolled out of the burn unit in his bed, smoothly cruising through the open doors. 

Gideon spent all day in the operating room. The work was tedious as the surgeons carefully removed each layer of burned and dead skin down to the fascia on his upper chest, neck and face. Some of the top of his left ear had to be removed, as the burn was through the cartilage. A bit of his right earlobe also had to be removed. There was some deeply burnt skin on his forehead and cheeks. Only around his eyes, his nose , his lips, and around his mouth was some skin spared. 

The surgery was finally complete. One of the surgeons, Dr. Lacy, came up to speak with us. Everything went really well. Gideon even held his temperature throughout the surgery, so that they were able to drop the temperature of the operating room down. During the surgery they removed some good skin from each side of his thigh. They sent that off to a lab in Boston where they will be able to hopefully grow more skin from those samples - providing everything goes well. Then, because I was curious, I asked Dr. Lacy what were the odds of Gideon surviving all this. She said “Yeah I would say definitely better than 50/50.” She went on to say that even someone in their 20s would have significantly lower odds of surviving burns as widespread and deep as Gideon’s. It truly is a miracle that he is yet with us today. 

I am learning in steps just how bad Gideon’s burns are. I knew they were bad. I really didn’t have a clue as to just how grave the situation was - probably because Gideon was talking so much after the fire was extinguished and during the trip to the hospital. . . 

Tuesday May 30th, 2023
June 2, 2023
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I will probably end up posting things out of order. I haven’t been able to write everything down immediately, and as they come to mind I will try get pen to paper, as it were. So here is what else happened on Tuesday. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was Tuesday.

Gideon was resting today. So Miltsu and I went for a walk down to the Capitol and then to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It felt good to get out and move the legs and to get sun on the face.

The golden horses on the roof of the Capitol gleamed brilliantly in the sunshine. as we walked by. My thoughts turn toward the temple of the Lord built by Solomon. With all its gold and splendor, it would have been an awesome sight. But even that building, which must have seemed to be indestructible to the children of Israel, one day was razed. I am reminded that here we have no continuing city. One day the heavens and Earth shall pass away, but God’s Word shall remain forever. 

After walking through St Paul’s cathedral Miltsu received a FaceTime call from Finland from her brother and his wife. They along with their kids sang to us. It was a beautiful melody, but I was too busy videoing it to be able to concentrate on the words. Based on my wife’s reaction I could tell that the words were touching. 

Tim and Debbie brought supper to us. French dip roast beef. We wolfed it down like we hadn’t seen food before. It was that delicious! 

May 31st, 2023 3:20 a.m.
May 31, 2023
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Time is a peculiar thing.

One moment it crawls. The next moment it sprints.

During this whole situation, I've experienced both extremes.


The time it took to find my phone to dial 911 was an eternity.

When I finally found it, the time it took to actually dial 911 was just as long.

I had picked it up and the passcode screen came up. Why wouldn’t it go past my lock screen with facial recognition? It does every other time! I remember that either my hands were wet or the screen on the phone was wet. I had hit "Emergency" and - nothing. I pressed it again, harder, as if that would have made a difference. Nothing. “Why won't this dumb thing work?” I think. I wipe either my hand on my clothes, or the screen, or both. My hands are shaking. All I can hear are the hysterical cries of my wife, "Call 911, Call 911! 911,911,911!”

Finally, I manually punch the passcode into my lock screen. I’m in. I bring up the phone keypad to dial 9-1-1.

“9-1-1 what is your emergency?” I proceed to tell the dispatcher as clearly as I think is possible how my son was burned at the firepit. She asks where I am located. I give her our address in an unmistakable, clear manner – at least in my mind. “Will he need medical attention?” I believe she asks. Meanwhile Rafael is cutting the clothes off of Gideon. “I think he will,” I respond. Then I see the clothes fall away, and how his skin looks as if it is dripping off his body in places. “Oh, its bad,” I say, wincing. “We’ll need someone here right away.”

“What is your address?” she asks again. Again, in my mind, I tell her our address in painstakingly clear and well-enunciated syllables. I remember how it has been said in various first-aid trainings how important it is to remain calm and to speak clearly. Time is at a stand-still. We need to get help for Gideon fast.

Meanwhile, Miltsu has also dialed 911, not knowing I had already called and was on the phone with them. I had stepped outside where it was quieter. The smoke alarm in the house, the cries from Miltsu to dial 911, and cries from Gideon created a cacophony that was hard to hear or speak over.

The dispatcher again asks for our address. I don’t understand why it is so hard to understand our simple address. Our town is tiny. But the dispatcher also hears Miltsu on the other line. She tells me to ask my wife to hang up – that she is already speaking with me. Finally, our address is made clear to her.

Time truly feels like it is standing still. I ask when the ambulance will be here. I don’t remember the response. Time stands still yet careens recklessly forward. I remember the operator saying that the ambulance that is stationed in our town has not responded yet. I ask her if I should get my child in a vehicle and bring him myself. She says she can not tell me what to do - that I know what’s best for my child. A moment later, the ambulance pulls up to our house. Later, here at the hospital, I checked the duration of my phone call. 7 minutes. A 7 minute eternity. Which reminds me of how the number 7 often represents perfection in the Bible.

And now we are already on day 12 from when this event took place. 12 days that have gone by in a flash. 12 days that have felt like the blink of an eye, but 12 days that represent a lifetime ago. A life that is bygone. A life that had a normal to which we probably will never completely return.


Day 12. Much has happened. Yet, it feels like nothing has happened. Gideon is still fighting for his life. He is still sedated – even more sedated now than before as he does not respond to our voices. But this is keeping him comfortable. Resting. Healing. All his vitals have been solid. As each day passes it feels like he is closer to being “out of the woods,” if there even is such a thing.

Over the long Memorial Day weekend he has rested. Later this morning he will go in for the last surgery to remove the dead, burnt skin from his face, neck and upper chest. They will place cadaver skin temporarily on top. Then he will go to the ear, nose, and throat specialists to receive a tracheostomy. This will be done so that there will be a safer, more secure airway for the surgeries - the many skin grafts that he will need to undergo. He will not have to be as sedated anymore after the surgeries when he has the trach in place because the irritating breathing tube will no longer be there. The risk for pneumonia will also go way down, and he will still be able to get as much or more pain medication depending on his needs. All in all, the surgeons feel that a tracheostomy will have far more benefits than risks. Again, we pray that God will guide the surgeon’s hands and protect our dear Gideon, as he has unto this day.

When we were in his room earlier to say goodnight, to recite evening prayers, and to bless him, I had placed my hand on top of his head. I could feel the beating of his heart. The thought crept into my consciousness of the miracle before my eyes - how God continues to give strength to this little boy’s heart to sustain his temporal life. I also recognize how He could also allow any myriad of things to happen that would cause Gideon’s heart to fail. This delicate balance of life and death held in check by our Creator gives reason to pause - reason to consider the question, “What is the most important matter in our lives?” Is it that which pertains to this temporal life? Or is it that which pertains to eternal life? And now, as I write this, I hear over the intercom the announcement of an “adult code blue.” It is in the same unit Gideon is in, but not his room. It means that a patient’s heart has more than likely stopped beating. I am clearly shaking at this announcement.

I do fervently pray that God will grant many days and years of life to Gideon, not as my will, but as God’s will.

Saturday May 27th, 2023 10:30 p.m.
May 28, 2023
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Today is a rest day for Gideon after his surgery yesterday. His next surgery is scheduled for Wednesday when they will remove the burned, dead skin from the neck down to collarbone area. At that point the surgeons will assess his face.  

It seems Gideon is already developing a tolerance to the pain meds. He has been “waking up” more often, apparently. When the nurses have had to move his limbs he has made facial expressions, as if feeling some pain. Indeed, a couple times lately when the nurse has asked if he is in pain, Gideon has nodded his head. As I was looking down at him just a moment ago, my mind began again to be overwhelmed at the enormity of his wounds. It began to doubt at the possibility of his recovery. This is going to be such a long road. How will he be given the strength to endure? The frailty of human life, yet the resiliency of it as well is such a juxtaposition that the feeble human mind cannot seem to comprehend nor explain it. I am left to the conclusion that it is better to “Cast all your care and sorrow / on Him who cares for you; / the Lord who knows tomorrow / has helped you hitherto.” (SHZ 391)

Yesterday, the hope was to wean him off the vent over this long weekend. This morning the ICU doctor said the pneumonia will prevent them from doing this. 

During the day today we were able to wander outside the hospital and eat again at, you guessed it, The buttered Tin. :) We we’re spoiled to a gift card there, as we have been spoiled by so, so many of you dear friends. We took a tour of a building called Creators Space, where members can create pieces of art in a variety of mediums. Miltsu has such a powerful idea for a painting because of this accident that she couldn’t even sleep last night. She had to get up and start immediately sketching her idea to paper. I can’t wait to see what she will eventually create! 

We were then spoiled to supper again this evening by Stan and Briana, and Tina. I just wanna put it out there right now that when I gain weight while here, it’s not my fault!

Now, as I write this short update tonight, music plays softly and soothingly in the background. Miltsu is taping the many cards Gideon has received on the window and walls of his room. His vitals are strong and stable. He continues to fight. The will to live lives strong within the young lad. 

Saturday May 27th, 2023 2:05 a.m.
May 27, 2023
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Gideon’s rest day went well yesterday, although for us, it didn’t feel the greatest because of his sedation. He wasn’t awake as often to respond to us with shakes and nods of his head. However, all his vitals looked good throughout the day. 

The meal brought to us by Mark and Ruth was, in a word, mouthwatering, which, just as I come to the word “water,” I feel triggered. . .

Water. . . Water was what Gideon would have needed right next to him, before he caught on fire. Then perhaps his older brother might have been able to douse him out and his injuries would be less severe. But there was no water, so he did what he knew best. . .


Gideon runs through the patio doors into the kitchen to seek help. Mom has just been there, but not now. Not finding her and terrified he runs to the next most logical place, into the living room, possibly on his way to our bedroom. Fortunately, Rafael has just come home and is sitting at the counter eating lunch. He jumps up and is able to escort his burning little brother back to the kitchen where there is a tiled floor - material less flammable. At this moment, Miltsu, running from the bathroom having heard his cries of distress, sees Gideon burning, and tries to push him to the floor to smother the flames. Gideon doubles over, not understanding mother’s intent, thwarting her attempts. In addition, Miltsu has to jerk her arms away to prevent them from starting on fire. Gideon jumps up, now in a greater panic and runs in another little circle in his distress. 

In that moment, Miltsu sees the 5 gallon jug of drinking water on the counter next to her. Fortunately, we had just placed a newly filled jug there, and as luck would have it, these jugs have a very wide-mouth lid on the top. I had recently purchased these jugs from the newly opened, Creekside Water and Ice in Williston. They sell purified, alkaline water and so we have been drinking that for health benefits. 

Adrenaline coursing through her body, mother was able to lift the full jug and tip it upside down over her burning son. 

Meanwhile Rafael, after seeing that mother had come running, runs outside around the corner of the house, turns the spigot on, runs back around with the garden hose, and arrives just as the fire is squelched. Rafael continues to drench Gideon with the garden hose. 

During this, I had been in front of the house and had heard the commotion. I arrive on the scene just in time to see the last flames being quenched. Gideon is now sitting on the bench at the table, speaking rapidly in a high, pleading voice. “Is this a nightmare?” He asks mother. Mother painfully tells her son, “No Gideon, this is not a nightmare.” “I thought I was gonna die!” exclaims Gideon. And now, young Gideon, after finding relief from temporal water, asks for that spiritual water he has known his whole life. “Can I have my sins forgiven?” pleads the innocent, young lad from his brothers and mother surrounding him. “Believe all your sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and precious blood!” they reassure the boy. But even an innocent boy is human, and asks for reassurance that his matters are in order before his Father in Heaven. “Rafi, can I have my sins forgiven?” He again pleads earnestly. Rafael reassures his younger brother. Martha and Aabel just have come home to get bug spray. The mosquitoes have been awful while mowing neighbors’ lawns. “Gideon’s been badly burned I inform them before they go inside. Gideon sees them when they come in. He wants to hear a blessing from them as well. The children bless their younger brother. The song “The Grace of God abundant flows as a river free.” aptly comes to mind. . . 



Yesterday evening we recounted the events that took place again with other friends that came to visit. It is good therapy to speak about what happened. Then, we went down to the chapel to sing. The acoustics are awesome and we thoroughly enjoyed our time down there. 

This morning Gideon was restless when we went into his room. He was over breathing his ventilator by quite a bit - The highest I’ve seen yet. Sarah his nurse - another beautiful, caring human - couldn’t figure out why. She had given the most meds she was allowed to give, yet he continued to be restless. His doctor was called in. The ventilator specialist was called in. After tweaking this and that and Miltsu and I talking in his ear and stroking his brow, Gideon seemed to calm down. Perhaps he was anxious about having to go down to surgery again. 

Today was the first day we have seen Gideon seem to cry. There were tears at the corner of his eyes and his facial muscles looked as if he was starting to cry. How can seeing your son cry bring joy? But it did - for this is also a sign of life and a healthy boy. 

Gideon went down to surgery after noon at some point. I don’t remember the exact time. During this surgery time, we took the opportunity to check out the apartment my brothers have set us up to live in for the next month at least. It is just a short distance from the hospital. The kids were pretty excited to check out their new abode. Then after a delicious dinner at Keys Cafe and lounging in the apartment for a spell, we trekked back to the hospital. No sooner had we arrived when the surgeon called to tell us they were done operating. 

The sweetest news to reach a parents ears is that things have gone well. The surgery went extremely well. Little Gideon has continued to surprise them, she said. He did need some blood but that was because they operated on his hands where there is a lot of blood flow. His vitals remained rock solid throughout. They were able to clean up his arms completely. It looks like he should retain all his digits. Gideon is going to rest over the weekend, and they are going to try to slowly wean him off of the ventilator during this time. 

So, we fly high. Our spirits soar on the hope of a better tomorrow. We know there will be setbacks. There are bound to be. But until this day God has protected. He has guided. He has healed. We give all thanks, all honor, and all glory to Him who was, who is, and who is forevermore. Amen. 


Friday May 26th, 2023 1:21 a.m.
May 26, 2023
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We received this message from a friend in Finland. I wanted to pass it along first in Finnish, then in English. 

Jumala aikeineen on salattu. Kristinoppi opettaa, että Jumala ilmoittaa itsensä omassatunnossa, luonnossa ja ihmiskohtaloista. 

Minua puhuttelee itkuun asti, että nyt Jumala osoittaa pienen Gideonin kautta voimansa. Tämän piti tapahtua, jotta me epäilevät Tuomaat voisimme uskon kautta huutaa: ”Minun Jumalani, minun Herrani!” 

Niin, Jumala näyttää voimansa ihmiskohtaloissa. Ja silti me epäilemme hänen suuruutta, että kaikki on häneltä, kaikki hyvyys, joka meitä ympäröi. 

”Minun Herrani, minun Jumalani!” Tässä Hän on taluttamassa meitä Taivaan kotiin. Viitoittamassa tietä Gideonin kohtalossa.

Gideon pieni puhuttelee suuria ihmismassoja.

"God's intentions are concealed. Christian doctrine teaches that God reveals Himself in one's conscience, in nature, and in human destinies. What moves me to tears is that now God is demonstrating His power through little Gideon. This had to happen so that we doubting Thomases could cry out in faith: 'My God, my Lord!'"

Indeed, God shows His power in human destinies. And yet, we doubt His greatness, that everything comes from Him, all the goodness that surrounds us.

"My Lord, my God!" Here He is leading us towards our Heavenly home. Charting the path in Gideon's destiny.

Little Gideon speaks to the masses.

Visiting with Burn Survivor Tiffany
May 26, 2023
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Here is a picture of us yesterday visiting with burn survivor Tiffany. 

May 25th, 2023 4:34 p.m.
May 25, 2023
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Well, what can I say? After spending quite a bit of time re-counting the days events, only to have my narrative disappear before my eyes, I’m inclined to wonder at the wisdom of embarking on such a journey of prose. Nevertheless, I shall try, in brief, to spell out that which transpired the rest of Wednesday.

Miltsu, Maijastiina, and I were facetiming with their sister Mirka while enjoying the beautiful weather sitting on a park bench in Mears Park when she received a call from the hospital. It seems we quite thoroughly forgot the meeting with the psychotherapists Mikki and Abby! Fortunately, they were gracious enough to push off our meeting an hour.

Mikki and Abby are beautiful humans, and it is evident why they are in this line of work. They have been given the gift of listening, understanding, sympathy, empathy, and the list goes on. We learned that this burn survivorship is a journey. We are on day 6 already, but when Gideon is healed enough to be brought out of his sedated state, he will just be starting. He will have many of those questions that we will have already hopefully worked through. So, hopefully we can help him process everything faster. While we were visiting with Mikki and Abby, the phone rang. It was Dr. Bennet, one of the surgeons. He said the surgery went very well. They were able clean up his legs and a bit of his torso as well. The are using the BTM to overlay everything they cleaned up. 

After visiting with the Mikki and Abby, we settled down in the waiting room to visit with my brother’s wife Ruthanne. Shortly, Grandma, Rebecca and Rafael appeared. Then another head popped around the corner, and a lady tells us quite confidently, “You must be Gideon’s family!” It was Tiffany, a burn survivor peer support advocate. I probably messed her title up, but she spends time a couple times a week visiting with burn survivors and their families. She showed us her burn spots and let us touch those spots to see what the difference is between that and “regular” skin. It was comforting to hear that she eventually did develop the sense of feel again in those areas that were burned. For her, it took 8 years.

We then went to see Gideon. Predictably, he was not laying as comfortably now as before surgery. Even though we know, in part, what to expect, it is still a roller coaster of emotions. It’s just hard seeing your child laying there all hooked up to machines, fighting for his life. I couldn’t help but marvel at how God has allowed technology to progress so that these modern miracles are a normal, everyday occurrence. Not many years ago, Gideon would not have survived his injuries. But then I thought, these miracles are not new -- just the form in which they happen. We remember how a couple thousand years ago the blind saw, the dumb spoke, the lame leapt. And so we have to simply admit that everything happens according to God’s will. This is much easier said than done. We doubt. We wonder. We fear. But God’s Word has even given us permission to put those behind us and live in faith and hope looking towards a bright future. Trials are designed to bring us closer to Him. We can either accept this or reject it. When one can accept this, the path forward feels so much brighter and firmer!! I have said that I can see why I would need this trial. But it is hard for me to understand why it should have to be through my innocent, young son. I don’t have to understand. Maybe I never will. But I know it is for a higher purpose, as scripture says, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28)

Having to live in this part of the hospital for now, one’s eyes are opened to the trauma that happens all the time in the world around us. We learned today that there was a tragic accident involving a family where some didn’t survive and two were admitted to the burn unit. I immediately began to have feelings of guilt wash over me. We only have one here, and he is stable. Others are dealing with the pain of loss, in addition to the pain of watching their children suffer. I hope as time goes on we are able to converse with those survivors and heal together.

Gideon is doing quite well today. Earlier, when I was in his room, it felt like he was a bit uncomfortable. His breathing rate had gone up. The nurse gave an extra shot of pain meds, and I also began to stroke the top of his head and talk into his ear. Gideon, by nature, is a very “touchy feely” type of kid who loves to be held, loves hugs, and loves to feel his brow being stroked, even at the ripe, old age of almost-9! His breathing rate immediately went down. His heart rate also lowered. I feel that one cannot underestimate the healing power of touch.

Long-time friends Mark and Ruth just showed up with supper. We have had no temporal worries here. Again, I have had feelings of guilt over this, but, oh, how it feels so good to be remembered by so many. The song "The voice of praise ne'er ceases" comes to mind. How can we possibly re-pay everyone who has helped us? 

But supper is getting cold! I better eat! :) 

May 25th, 2023 2:07 a.m.
May 25, 2023
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I literally just spent large portions of the last few hours writing an update, only to have it vanish before my eyes when my computer disconnected from the internet. I hit "submit", and "page not found" appears. I hit the back button. Same message. No matter what I did, alas the content I wrote is no longer to be found. 

For some reason, I don't see any humor in this.

Wednesday, May 24th, morning
May 24, 2023
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This is Gideon’s dad, Aaron, now at the keyboard. 🙂  This morning the head nurse came and woke us up a little after 7 am. We are sleeping in a sleep room that is on the same floor as the burn unit, where Gideon resides currently. The nurse woke us up so we could see Gideon before he went down to his surgery. Gideon’s body temperature was brought up last night starting at around 4 am to prepare him for surgery. It’s going to be a long one today, provided everything goes well. They hope that by bringing his temperature up then he can last longer during surgery. When we went into the room by his bedside and said his name, Gideon opened his eyelids a bit. His face looked even better today as swelling has gone down even more. It’s hard to think about all he is going through. Imagine all your layers of skin having to be ripped off and new skin laid on over your fascia and fat layers. Most everywhere he is burned it is to the 3rd degree which means through all the layers of skin. So, over most of Gideon’s body is needed a whole new covering. If a person is burned to a lesser degree, the bottom layer of skin is still intact and so a person can heal much quicker. His skin from the skin grafts is not his “normal” skin so he will not be able to sweat through it, for example. He will not have the same sense of feel through it and it will not grow with him like his regular skin would. Gideon will have to adjust to a new normal in his life. It remains to be seen just how much his movement and mobility is affected. His feet are badly burned so hopefully all his toes and everything will be preserved. But every minute is fighting minute for Gideon. Just think, simply laying there, Gideon is “fighting” for his life. That’s how important your skin is as an organ. Again, we hope and pray that he does well in the surgery. They are removing all dead and burned skin and placing a temporary skin over those spots they clean. I have strongly felt that we are in world class care here at the St. Paul Regions Burn Center. But I believe and understand that everything is in God’s hands, who is the creator and author of our lives. I have had a strong feeling and firmly believe that our Heavenly Father and all his angels have been guiding the surgeon’s hands and protecting our precious little Gideon according to His will.

While we are waiting for Gideon’s surgery to be over today, we had the chance to eat breakfast at The Buttered Tin, a short distance from the hospital. Oh my goodness, what deliciousness awaits the lucky person who has the good fortune of eating there! The food was absolutely ah-mazing! It was just what the doctor ordered! 😄 and now we sit in Mears Park as I update this. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t help but be thankful to our Heavenly Father for His great goodness! And my thankfulness for each and every person who has remembered us can not possibly be quantified. I wish I could hug each and every person who has had even a fleeting thought of us in their mind. It truly has been tangibly felt by us. 

But I’ll write my thoughts more later as my phone is almost dead! 😄

P.S. Pictured with my wife is her sister Maijastiina, who flew up from Phoenix to be with us. 

May 23, 2023
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Update Tuesday afternoon
May 23, 2023
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Gideon got ankle foot orthotics put on and is getting a resting splint put on, so his hands and feet don't start to contract. The PT was there doing that and moving limbs around, etc.

He is scheduled for another surgery tomorrow morning to remove dead tissue from the back of his legs and feet. The doctor said the burns on his feet are deep. But we will see just how bad they are once they operate. Today is a rest day. 

Update #11
May 23, 2023
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The surgeons weren’t able to clean up as much of the dead skin today as they would have liked. Gideon’s body cooled too quickly, despite the room temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, all of his other vitals were good. They plan to do another surgery on Wednesday. 

There was a meeting with the team that is taking care of Gideon. It went really well and Gideon and the family are in good hands. 

Thank you to everyone for all the love and prayers! We are overwhelmed with all of the support. 

From this morning
May 22, 2023
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From Aaron

We went into his room and said good morning Gideon and he was actually trying to sit up and put his arms out like he wanted to hug us! The nurse said that we should probably try not stimulate him so much cuz the tubes can irritate the his throat and maybe cause swelling. But he knows when we are in the room and can tell that he is super happy to have familiar voices around.

May 22, 2023
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Rebecca and Gideon 

Update Monday morning
May 22, 2023
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Gideon is scheduled to have a surgery sometime this morning. They will be taking off old skin and putting a temporary skin on his backside, most likely from a cadaver. 

We can pray that the Heavenly Father and all of Gideon’s angels are guiding the surgeons hands and maybe even doing the work themselves to help him heal.

May 22, 2023
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All the kids have made it to Minneapolis yesterday. Gabriel flew in from Finland and Rebecca who was in Washington for a trip. 

Only 18+ can see Gideon. They are hoping the younger siblings can see him today. They are required to see a trauma counselor first. 

May 22, 2023
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Miltsu and Gideon

May 22, 2023
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Saturday, being transported.

May 22, 2023
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This was from Saturday when we had flown to the Burn center.

May 21, 2023
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Gideon is responding with shakes/nods of the head. His vitals are stable and good. The physical therapists have been working with him by manually moving his limbs. 

Late Saturday night update
May 21, 2023
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The next 48-72 hours are very crucial. Gideon is in stable but very serious condition. Only 3 small spots on his body are not burned. The top of his head, a small spot below his stomach and one on his butt area. 80% of his body has deep burns which will require many, many surgeries. 
The surgeries would be cleaning up deep burned tissue and then starting skin grafts. 

Miltsu was treated for 1st and 2nd degree burns on her arms. 

Thank you for the amazing support and many prayers. We cannot even begin to comprehend. Please continue to keep Gideon, Aaron, Miltsu and family in your prayers. 

May 21, 2023
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Miltsu is with Gideon at the hospital. Aaron and kids are on their way. Currently they are working on cleaning up Gideon's burns. He is still intubated but stable.

Thank you for the many prayers and thoughts. Many have reached out, asking where Aaron and Miltsu will be staying, wanting to bring stuff and help out. They will be at the hospital for now. We ask people to hold off for the next 48 hours as they are the most critical. 


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