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Gary DeVaul Writings

August 2003  |  September 2003
October 2003  |  Nov - Dec 2003
January 2004

Friday, November 7, 2003 0:47 AM CST

Hello all,

Greetings from Pittsburgh, where the temperature is 78 degrees on November 3. 78 degrees! Amazing. We are looking forward to a low of 25 degrees by Friday. Winter, here we come!

Looking back on the many updates about Mark, you may be thinking, "Wow, all he does is eat!" Well, don't we all? It almost seems petty at times, the eating of food. Most of us take it for granted that having food and preparing food is so second nature. Please take a moment to thank God for providing so many, many giving people to Mark. Knowing that someone will be providing a meal or simply driving the both of them to a restaurant makes daily living that much more stress free for Mark.

Here are a few highlights from the past days that Mark would like to share with you. Last Sunday, Paul Bandy had prepared a delicious lunch in his home after church. Mark, Paul's mother, Dorothy Wurtemburg, Neal Norlag, and Julian Revie all enjoyed good fellowship together. The evening's dinner was provided by the Elspas family. They were joined by Mark's ever faithful helper Amy Tan.

On Monday Mark taught organ lessons at Glendale and then spent the evening resting. Tuesday featured a very helpful time of organization and cleaning of Mark's apartment from two friends: Marilyn Austin and Diane Brown. One of their tasks was to rearrange Mark's kitchen cabinets. Ah, but think not of pots and pans, plates and glasses, bowls and silverware. Think Books! Yes, books. The majority of Mark's kitchen cabinets contain information on every facet of worship imaginable! Reaching for the sugar? Be prepared for the history of, "There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place" instead. Is it a melting pot with which to blend all sorts of different ingredients together that you seek? The complete History of Christian Worship, edited by Robert Webber (one of my former Wheaton professors) is what you will find. His kitchen is a library of knowledge, peppered with the occasional box of cookies and tub of salt. Mark is very grateful for these 2 women and the help they gave to him. The evening's dinner was at The Kitchen in Old Town Pasadena his boss from Glendale College, Dr. Peter Green.

Wednesday was a very significant day for many in southern CA. Mark attended the funeral service of Pastor Scott Bauer at The Church on the Way. Thousands of people were there and the service was considerably long. After 2 hours, Mark regretfully had to slip out for his lunch appointment with Professor Melody Rossi from Vanguard University. He also saw his friend Joseph Bille, who works in the music department of Warner Brothers.

And the fun began!

I was fortunate to be able to fly to California and spend a day with Mark. Our terrific webmaster Alicia Steinhaus picked me up from the airport. We proceeded to Mark's home where we were joined by Paul Bandy for a delicious desert of chocolate! 2 different kinds of ice cream and at least 5 different kinds of cookies!

On Thursday, Mark and I spent the morning at Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel. Our thanks go out to them for letting us practice in their sanctuary. We were both so delighted to discover that all of our duet material that we have played together over the past months (both organ/organ and organ/piano) can still be performed. A little improvising here, some organ parts played on the piano there, and everything will work just splendidly. Mark and I were both prepared to encounter some disappointment at some point during our practice. What a blessing that none of our music will suffer! God is clearly not finished ministering to people through the music and talents of Mark Thallander.

Finally, as I am sure you have heard or read above, our thanks go out to Rick Dees of 102.7 KIIS FM in southern CA and his listeners who have contributed to helping Mark. Please take a moment to look at and see yet another way that God works wonders.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003 6:30 PM CST

Hello all,

It has been a very exciting 2 weeks for Mark, culminating with the highly anticipated celebration service of the life of his father Saturday. Mark has been busy, as usual, and here are some of the highlights he would like to share with all of you.

Last Tuesday, Mark was off to see his friend Maria, who gave him his first haircut since being back home in CA. Dinner that evening was with friend Neal Noorlag, a member of the Lake Avenue choir. Afterwards, they met up with some Bible Study friends. Wednesday was a special day of music with lunch and an organ concert at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, a venue in which we both performed a duet recital last summer. Mark spent the day with college friend Les Barnhart, who surprised him by taking him to an old fashioned drug store in Pasadena, where they enjoy an afternoon delight (read: "Staple for Mark") of chocolate ice cream!

On Thursday, another big step was taken in the healing journey of our friend. Mark directed his first Festival Choir rehearsal at Glendale Presbyterian Church. (see the top of the home page for more info). He had prayed for 60 singers to sign up. And guess what? Jan Bush, the music director, called to inform Mark he had 56 singers attending that evening. When he arrived, 4 extras showed up and Mark had his specifically prayed for 60! What a terrific blessing, a specific answer to a specific request. That evening, he celebrated with his friends and fellow ministry musicians at Conrad's in Pasadena. Julian, the organist at Lake Avenue, spent some time with Mark searching his music files for material to play for the upcoming Advent/Christmas noon concert on Thursday, December 4.

On Friday, Mark was joined by another friend from Lake, Mark McBryde. After lunch, they attended a recital at a Lutheran Church in La Ca–ada featuring one of Mark's organ students, Grace. That evening, Mark enjoyed dinner with Marilyn Gabriel, a friend met during his time playing at The Church on the Way. Afterwards, they attended the Doctoral recital of Saewan, organist at Glendale Presbyterian Church. Our friend and ever giving helper Amy Tan joined them at the recital, where they sat with Ladd Thomas and Cherry Rhodes, 2 of Mark's professors from USC.

A very special event took place last Saturday. Bill & Barbara Fariss along with Dorothy Wurtemberg coordinated an open house so the Lake Avenue Church choir could spend some time with Mark. The Cornelison family in San Marino was very generous in hosting the event. Mark had a great time eating Barbara's chocolate brownies and renewing friendships with about 70 people. Stan Ramsey, a former Revivaltime pianist, and Mark (also a former pianist) played two three hand impromptu duets, both Revivaltime themes: All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name and Room at the Cross. Mark and Stan had just played together prior to Mark's accident at the General Council of the Assemblies of God in session at Washington, D.C. Mark is so pleased that a video is available of the Revivaltime reenactment presentation from D.C.

On Sunday, Mark worshipped at Shepherd's Community Church in Canoga Park, where he also spoke briefly in the service. See the photo page for some pics of Pastor and Mrs. Paul Brown, the Grose family and guest worship leader Josh, all friends of Mark's! The evening's dinner was with friends John and Steve. Unknown to Mark, an organist's after concert dinner was being held at the same restaurant, affording Mark the chance to see even more friends, including former roommate William Wells! A small world, indeed.

On Monday, Mark was a guest at an organ workshop at Azusa Pacific University, where Dr. Janet Harms had assigned one of Mark's arrangements for each of her students to play for him. As you probably know, Mark taught organ and piano for four years at Vanguard University...and loves this age group! He then went and taught his own student at Glendale College. The rest of the day was spend getting ready for his trip to Stockton. Look forward to a special journal from John West later this week about the wonderful service of celebration for the life of Mark's father that was held on Saturday, November 15.


Friday, December 5, 2003 2:04 AM CST

It was an early morning rising - 5:00 A.M. On Sunday, on Easter, once a year..that's one thing. On an overcast Saturday in November...all I can say is it took the love of a good friend to get me to do that.

I arrived at the airport bleary eyed thinking I was late. But typical of my 'not' favorite airline [United], they were late so I was fine. Minding my own business and chomping on a scone from Storybooks, I was approached from behind and tapped on the shoulder. There was Bill and Craig who were also going to the celebratory event, with Bill actually participating. So I immediately woke up as the joy of good conversation will do to one. Finally we departed 20 minutes late and having to change gates [ahh, typical] but had an uneventful trip to "The Terminator's" new home city, Sacramento.

We were met by our host for the day Steve Brenizer who drove us to Stockton. Steve is principal at one of the largest elementary schools in Sacramento, a friend of Mark's from Vanguard and an all around good person. He packed all of us over 6 foot guys into his car and we headed to Stockton.

Upon our arrival at the church I immediately set to practicing, since it was an unfamiliar organ and I was the final performer on the program. A lot of activity as preparations were made for the service. Choir slowly drifting in, the director warming up, sound and video cues going over and Mark moving around easily, already dressed in his familiar suit and tie. Finally the appointed time came and the service began.

The Celebration of Life opened with Joy Baer playing for half hour prior to the hour of Wilfred's favorite hymns. That's right, a full 30 minutes of hymns and gospel songs he loved. As all of us organists know, sometimes 10 minutes can be very long! :-) This was seamlessly woven into the Call To Worship in which the congregation stood and sang the powerful refrain to "How Great Thou Art". Senior Pastor Jim Dunn welcomed everyone with gusto and let it be known from the beginning this was a celebration and not a mournful event. And all the music represented that. The next hymn, "Joyful, Joyful" was sung with power and energy, followed by the Responsive Reading led by long time Crystal Cathedral friend Nadine Breneman. Next the congregation sang the Hymn of Praise "All Hail The Power" which lifted everyone in the room followed by the Prayer of Praise powerfully delivered by Rosemary Jackson, Alumni Relations from Vanguard.

Without missing a beat the First Baptist Church Choir under the direction of Stephen Olson launched into the glorious anthem, "The Majesty and Glory Of Your Name" and sang it with gusto. This was followed by a lovely more peaceful time as Christy Pryor [(daughter of Joyce, niece of Uncle 'Lasse'] spoke to the memories she had with a video presentation behind her created by Wayne, Mark's brother. Long time friend Linda Rust from Century Assembly Church in Lodi, accompanied by one of Mark's first musical influences, Linda Hauger, then led the congregation through the old time gospel hour with the songs "Children of the Heavenly Father", "He The Pearly Gates Will Open" and "Day By Day" with the congregation joining in on the last verse. Thought I was back at one of the prayer meetings of 1st Baptist Church Van Nuys!! Memory lane, ahh, memory lane.

Coming all the way from Newport Beach, William Wells, Minister of Music at Newport Harbor Lutheran Church then led us in a stirring Prayer of Thanksgiving. This wonderfully led into the organ Duet of Mark Thallander and Inez Pope, Organist of Central United Methodist Church in Stockton. They were assisted by Brenda Martins Organist/Choirmaster of St. John's Episcopal Church in Stockton. This has to be the high point of the service. The applause went on and on and had it been a concert, surely a standing ovation would have spontaneously happened. It was the first time Mark had performed in public and it was a fitting tribute to his father and mother. To welcome the pastor for the Words of Hope, the choir did a new arrangement of Psalm 23 which was filled with eclectic rhythms and energy.

Senior Pastor Jim Dunn, delivered his message eloquently. as he began he commented on the fact that he probably would not stay in the time limit that had been assigned, but untrue to his comment, his words were brief and true to his spirit, very meaningful. This was followed by a violin solo of "The Holy City" played very emotionally and beautifully by the Pastor of Worship and Arts, Stephen Olson. The choir joined in the last refrain and made it another celebratory, uplifting moment. This was followed by the congregation singing the glorious hymn "For All The Saints" and David Leestma, Executive Pastor & Minister of Worship at the First Covenant Church of Oakland, farewell benediction. And finally with very cold fingers I ended the service with the Postlude "Fanfare on 'SINE NOMINE'", which Mark requested I play. This is an arrangement I have recorded, is published by Augsburg Fortress Publishers and has been one of Mark's favorites. I was honored to be asked and oblige.

Following the service we all adjourned to the Fellowship hall for the reception which went on for a couple of hours and was organized by cousins Diane and Karen. Finally around 6:00 we headed back to Sacramento to catch our flight home, so that both Bill and I could get up at the crack of dawn the next day to get to our respective church positions.

It was a gloomy day weather wise with light rain in the San Joaquin valley, but it was a sunny day experience we had. All were blessed by the event and all were witness to the life that brought together many peoples from differing denominations. Mae was in her glory and filled with a loving energy I finally had the opportunity to experience. Wayne and Mark were both joyful and tearful and never without a kind word for every person in attendance from near and far. Family pictures were taken and glorious deserts were consumed.

All I can say is it was a Love filled day and "You should've been there"!!

John West

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