Thursday, May 31, 2007

Proving It With Pictures:o).

I should have been a little more specific in my last post as to who had the baby! My sister and brother-in-law in Florida became parents again... this time to a little girl:o). Thanks to Briana's other grandma, we have pictures! So without further ado, here she is:o)...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

She's Here!!!

Briana Marie made her grand entrance into this world while her "northern" family had a family reunion:o). Briana weighed in at 7 pounds 9 ounces and is 19 1/2 inches long. You wanna know how to make 30 Hammonds shout??? Tell them that a new baby girl has arrived after a 15 year lull:o). No pictures yet... but the little girlie is only 1 1/2 hours old... so this Auntie will forgive her;o).


Just a quick post to let you know the family - the Midwest family! - is in town right now.... so that means I'm with them:o). I'm trying to snatch some family time before we all head off to wherever it is we're heading off to when we separate. Remember those days of living I wrote about a couple of post ago??? These are the days:o).

Don't forget to pray for our military men and women around the world... serving... giving... protecting. Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's Been Good.

I was happy, yet sad, to see this week finish up. Unofficially, today was the last day of school for EBA. (Officially, we have two students coming in next week to finish up their schoolwork.) The excitement mounted with each passing day, kinda like an orchestra building up to a dramatic part of the music... and then, the ending. Monday the kids were in "school" mode... but by Wednesday the "last" classes were done and the students knew party time was coming! Thursday morning all the students took at least one test and everyone passed ~ with a 85% or higher; mostly higher! A little motivation goes a looooong way;o).

Today we took the whole school on a picnic to a park up the road and they had such a good time... I did too: watching the boys play baseball; hearing the girls cheer them on; seeing the little ones excitedly race to the playground; spending time with some girls playing volleyball while we suffered in the humidity and on a sand court too!

Then, at the end of the day, some of the girls and I took down the Learning Center one last time and set it up for Sunday School. That's the way it's going to stay most of the summer... with the exception of graduation, fellowships, and VBS:o).

I don't know where my brain went, but I was just happily traipsing along, going about my schedule, when I realized that the school year was almost over! Three senior boys will no longer walk down the hallways of the school as students; will no longer run out back to play basketball during break; will no longer be a "Knight" playing on the soccer and basketball teams. Three younger girls will not be back next year as their parents have decided to do something else for their education. There will be no more sitting and chatting with them at break; no more lunchroom laughter and pranks; no more giggles and whispers.

This year has been a good year... one I'm sorry to see end. At the beginning of the year uniforms were issued and it was one of the best choices the school could have made. Suddenly there were no questionable articles of clothing. The choice of "what to wear?" in the morning was made easy with four shirts to chose from and tan and black for a bottom. The first day of school I did a double-take as I said to two boys, "Wow! You guys match!" But I got used to it in a hurry as did everyone else. And the students did look sharp when they went to the nursing home to minister... when they went on a field trip... when they went to Competition in Illinois....everyone wearing the same shirt and bottom. Seeing a sea of maroon and tan every Tuesday was very impressive! Yes, it's been a good year!

I mentioned to a student the other day that by the time I come back from Thailand, it will soon be time to start school again. The student replied, "No don't say that! I want to enjoy my summer!" I think she will, but it won't be too long before the doors are open, the students are back, and the hallways are filled with laughter and talking. But that's 3 months away... a lifetime for a student:o).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just Some Ramblings.

"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul."
Psalm 66:16

My visa for Thailand arrived yesterday... thus enabling me to get into the country:o). Two weeks from today I leave from JFK Int'l Airport in New York City and plan to be in Thailand until August 16th. I would have liked to stay longer, but that's not possible since I work at a Christian school:o). This trip, from beginning to end, has the fingerprints of God all over it. God deserves all the praise and glory!

The first blessing (financially... there were plenty of blessings leading up to this!) came in the form of a Christmas card. My co-worker, Amy, had enclosed a check for $50.00 to go towards the trip. After I thanked her for it, we were talking about the way the Lord provided for Rachel to go and then she said this, "When it's your time to go, God is going to provide."

The next blessing came about two months later. Every year that I've been working (with the exception of one) I've received some money back from doing my taxes. While talking with one of the staff members at church, I mentioned to him I hadn't done my taxes yet, but that I was praying that money would be a help with the trip. I was very surprised, but thankful, when he said he would do my taxes for me. Apparently that is a "hobby" of his, so one Wednesday afternoon, we sat down armed with information. About 1 hour later, he said, "Ok, here's what you should be receiving back." I looked at the number and was completely dumbfounded. God had provided $1800.00! At first I was in a happy-shocked state of mind, but then my joy turned to tears as I thought about what Amy had said and how God did provide!!!! He is so FAITHFUL.

God continued to provide, including opportunities to babysit for several families in my church. One thing I noticed last April and this March-April was that the babysitting jobs came out of "no where" and as suddenly as they started, they stopped! You see, God knew my needs last April and this March-April, and knew the financial side. He has never disappointed me and He constantly reminds me of this: "God's work, done God's way, will never lack supplies."

The next blessing came when I was ready to buy my ticket. I had mentally set $1400.00 as my "limit" for getting a ticket, and I found several that were exactly that or higher. But then I found one that was $1339.00 plus $20.00 shipping and realized, once again, that God is concerned about the little things. This one was just waiting for me:o).

The blessings have continued to pour in, such as receiving $45.00 in gift cards for free ($25.00 from a Rewards Program through my bank and $20.00 from, so that will come in handy when I start to buy things to prepare for the trip. My visa was also a blessing in that I only had to pay $25.00, instead of the $100.00 I was planning to spend on it!

Another blessing was my car had to be inspected at the end of this month (great timing, huh?!?), but that was done on Monday with no mechanical problems! A huge weight came off my mind with that being done:o). My cell phone bill and car insurance still need to be paid during the summer (imagine that... they don't just give me two months of grace:D), but that all should be covered with the last paycheck:o).

All in all, the Lord has been very good to me. I am not going over with much "spending money", but that's ok. God has met my needs, and in a very visible way too! I have no complaints whatsoever, and would gladly re-do the past several months and repeat the lessons learned. I stand in awe of our great God and am amazed that "This poor man (woman) cried, and the LORD heard him." (Psalm 34:6)

If, no, since God has done this much before I have even begun to pack, I know He's got something in store for me to learn in Thailand... God is good!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fifteen Days.

I've entered the "when do you leave?" stage and that question is coming from just about everybody:o). I really don't mind because it shows me that people care enough to know when I leave (hmm, I hope it's not a subtle hint that I need to leave soon!!!) and that they will be praying for me (please do!!!). I think Rachel summed it up the best in a recent e-mail:

I know the days will speed by for me, but at the same time, they will drag. Isn’t that the strangest feeling in the world? I’m sure that you are feeling it too. There is so much going on, SO much to do, that you just feel like your world is spinning out of control. And then there is that thing off in the distance that you are so looking forward to, that the days seem to crawl along, leaving it as an ever-unattainable goal.

It is so true! The days seem to be crawling along at an incredibly slow rate and yet they are also whizzing right by! It's hard to explain. I am thrilled with the opportunity to go to Thailand, but I don't want to get so caught up in "going" that I miss out on "living" the days between now and then. God intends for me to live in the present... remembering the past and the blessings of yesterday...looking forward to future blessings and events... but taking it one day at a time.

This evening Bro. Jack Lancaster preached from 2 Corinthians 3:17 ~ "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." One comment he made was this: "If I'm where He is, He will take care of me." He will take care of me! Whether in Pennsylvania or Thailand, as long as I'm walking in His will, I am guaranteed guidance by His Hand. Oh the thought!

The countdown is now at fifteen days... just in case you were going to ask "when do you leave?":o). I don't mind that question; just don't ask me if I'm ready to go. After all - I don't leave for another fifteen days... plenty of time left to pile, sort, and pack;o).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Way Of Murphy.

Around the office, Murphy's Law (the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will) gets blamed for a lot of things. At least once a day, Amy or I will say "that's Murphy for you!" Amy even saw a billboard the other day that said "Blame Murphy":o).

Every Friday (normally around 5ish... right Katie?!?) Amy will print off a copy of the Sunday bulletin for Katie or I to proofread. Yesterday there were tons of people in and out of the office all day so it wasn't until about 5:15 that I proofread the bulletin. I caught a couple of errors here and there, including a line being where it wasn't supposed to be, a space after a dash, a two-colored line, and the phrase "Regular classes resume this week" for Bible Institute even though Pastor Hammett left on a trip Friday morning - no regular classes this week! But all in all, there weren't too many mistakes and I was pleasantly surprised. Amy changed everything, printed it, and then folded the bulletin.

Twenty minutes later the room was as quiet as could be (with the exception of Bev, Amy, and I typing at our computers) when Amy suddenly cried "Oh no!!!!" Bev and I turned around and looked at her, and she had this goofy grin on her face.

"I forgot to change the date!" So with the perfectly lined up announcements, the correct spelling of names, and the correct cleaning schedule tucked in the right hand corner, the date May 13, 2007 boldly sits across the top of the left hand page.

Sometimes, that's just the way it is... and of course we thought of good 'ole Murphy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Few Sighs And An Example.

It has been C-R-A-Z-Y the past few days and the next three weeks do not show any prospects of letting up!! I knew it was going to be bad when during a staff meeting last week, the principal handed out a calendar page of May to us so we could write down everything that was happening in the last two weeks of school! Of course on top of all that loveliness came the postal rate change on Monday (which has caused a few sighs on my part since I am very involved with the mail). And another unpleasantry that I've had to deal with (I say "I've" but I think two of the guys at church had to deal with it even more!) is that the Bible Study database somehow, someway, got corrupted. That has also caused a few more sighs along the way, but we will persevere:o). My motto for today was, "It's a choice to rejoice!":o).

But despite all that, I read this amazing verse in Joshua the other day that I wanted to share (I think it was Saturday and as you can see, I'm just getting to it now!). I've been following the children of Israel across the Jordan River and into the promised land, and this verse hit me:

Joshua 5:12 ~ "And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more."

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, waiting for the last disobedient man of war to die, they saw an end to the manna. From Exodus 16:14 until Joshua 5:12, God met their needs daily with exactly what they needed. But the one thing I thought about was this. Halfway through the 17th year, did the wonder of the manna grow dim for the weary travellers in the wilderness? By the time the 31st year drew to a close, was there some complaining going on over what had been a miracle that very first morning after the dew was gone?

The children of Israel have quite the reputation: stiff-necked, hard-hearted, rebellious, stubborn, and murmurous people. But 1 Corinthians 10:11 puts it all into perspective for me today when it says, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples". I can learn from their example - good or bad.

The weeks before I leave for my trip are packed full of exciting things: picnics, family coming in, GRADUATION (!!!), etc., and I can get caught up in the busyness of it all and forget God's faithfulness, but may I never get to the point where God takes away His miracles and provisions and I don't notice because I got so used to it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

For Mother's Day.

Dear Mom ~

Happy Mother's Day!!! I think Mother's Day got missed in the hustle and bustle last year, and I'm sorry it seems to be that I'm coming or going on a trip around Mother's Day:o), but I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I love you. And since you are quite proficient at getting to the blogs now:o), I figured I would post it here so you would have a nice surprise waiting for you when you check my blog!

You know that verse over in Proverbs 31 that says, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed."? I think I can speak for Mary, Tom, Michelle, and Phil when I say we are indeed blessed by you! The Spang girls sang this song last year and I think it fits you very well:

Stand in the gap; Stand, dear mother!
Stand in the gap, and pray.
Put on your armor, your warrior's armor.
Be ready both night and day.

Many a morning, when I went to EBA, I would go out to the open area and find you praying. Even now, when I'm rushing out the door to get to work, I'll see you in the sitting room, praying. I know that your children are often the subject of your prayers, particularly me. I greatly appreciate the times that you've prayed, asking God to direct my life and even being willing to let me go serve God wherever He calls. You have "stood in the gap" for us and I thank you for it.

I know that it's going to be hard for you to see me go to Thailand for 2 1/2 months. I am so thankful that you've had an ear to hear as I've recounted the blessings of just what God has done to get me on this trip! Despite how hard it is going to be on you, you have encouraged me throughout this whole time of preparation. Thank you for being so concerned about the financial aspect of it. I believe you have prayed about that very matter, and it is evident in the way God has so clearly provided!

Your grandchildren bring you such delight and you remember them with little things so often; particularly when Tiana, Tyler, and Trevor lived here. One day, these dear ones are going to learn what we know: you are a special lady!

So Mom, Happy Mother's Day. Enjoy this day for you are very much loved!

I love you,


Just A Year Ago.

One year ago today I came home from the Czech Republic. This trip was different than my last trip; this trip took me into the countryside of the Czech Republic, far and away from the busyness of the capital city of Prague. The days were long, but full of blessings and the timing was just right, like it always is:o).

(Waiting at Dulles International Airport)

(Welcome to Prague!)

(Can you see the jet lag on my face?!?)

(Spillberk Castle... just one of many in this quaint country)

(At the beautiful castle and flower gardens of Lednice)

(Bosov ~ yet another castle)

(My friend Gina and I in front of Bosov... during this trip, Gina entered a courtship with a young man and got married at the beginning of this year. Now she and her husband are expecting their first child!)

(Towards the end of the trip, we quick drove across the border into Austria; a little dream of mine since a lot of my dad's family comes from this part of the world!)

(The beautifl Deye River)

(The Prague Castle... this city is so magnificent, but still lives in spiritual darkness)

This missions trip was blessed in several different ways. For one thing, I didn't go over with my church, but rather with a sister church in MD. That they had only one opening left 5 weeks before the trip was only God and that I was able to earn all the money in those 5 short weeks was nothing short of a miracle from God! I also learned a lot about being flexible on that trip and working with people that I really didn't know (except the missionary family, the team leader and his wife; that changed after the trip:o).

Each missions trip is another opportunity to learn something new. With 24 days until I leave, I have a feeling my next missions trip won't lack in the "teaching" department... I only pray that I have a teachable spirit!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making A Difference.

Twice a week I can be found at the post office that has long ago outgrown its property tucked away in a residential area of town. Parking is always fun since the only options are, well, the street, street, or (you guessed it!) street:o). Once you get inside, the other fun challenge is the line. So this small town post office has cramped quarters and poses quite the little challenge. But, as I said, I go twice a week to pick up the Bible Studies that are sent in from (quite literally!) all around the world. I thank the Lord for the opportunity He has given me to work with these studies and it has turned out to be a ministry by which our whole church has been blessed.

Usually the mail is good for a laugh or two that I share with the main church secretary, Amy, and my pastor's wife, Bev. I don't know how it started, but a looooong time ago, ERBSI's name worked it's way over to the African continent, and since that time, I've received so many requests from there, specifically Ghana and Nigeria. One time I had a person write and ask me to hand-deliver a bike, a computer, CDs, a Bible, DVDs, a CD player and anything else I could get for this person to spread God's Word to his neighbors. Since hand-delivering it was out of the question, I opted out of sending him all that stuff and just mailed him a Bible Study:o).

Another time someone wrote from Ghana and asked me to please be their personal pen pal so that they could get to know me better, and oh! by the way, can you please send a laptop, a camera, and other electronic equipment. Again, I didn't become his personal pen pal or send him the laptop. He too received a Bible Study:o).

So yesterday, I checked the mail and came back with a huge stack of Bible Studies. Not realizing that I had signed for a certified lettter (I was a little out of it!), I opened up the envelope after laughing at the return address: ___________ Law Offices. I shared that with Amy and one of the High School girls who was helping me in the office: "Listen to this! This law office in __________ sent ERBSI a letter. Isn't that funny?!?!?!" After both of them started laughing, I opened the letter and began to read. Confusion crossed my face I'm sure, for Amy asked me what the letter said.

"I don't quite get it; something about this lady died and this law office wants to let us know that we'll be receiving something in 6-9 months. It almost looks like a copy of a will.... but, nah! This is a big joke!!!" I replied.

Amy urged me to look for ERBSI's name in the stack of papers that came in the envelope, and sure enough! Letter "I" (out of "Q") was where it said that ERBSI was left $_, _ _ _.00!!!! Wow! And I thought it was all a joke:o). Eliza (the high school girl) didn't quite get it and was still laughing because I was laughing... but sure enough! This lady (whom we believe was saved) had included ERBSI, as well as a whole slew of other correspondence ministries, in her will. She passed away back in March and the will was written back in 2005! After looking her name up in the database, we realized that she did all the studies we offer in less than a year, from 2004-2005.

That one letter encouraged us so much, not just because of the money she left us (although that will come in handy since we are a ministry; think of all the postage!!). But we wonder, did she get saved as a result of the studies??? Did those four Bible courses encourage her to keep on keeping on in the Master's work??? I marvel at the souls the Bible Studies can reach where I personally cannot; with thousands of students who have gone through our courses, perhaps, just perhaps, some have benefited from them.

Often I get a letter from a country in Africa asking me for material possessions to be sent. While ERBSI cannot fulfill the material needs, we are thankful we can send the Gospel and maybe fulfill a spiritual need... perhaps by practicing Jude 22 ~ "And of some have compassion, making a difference."

It will be worth it all if we can just make a difference!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Worth A Chuckle Or Two...

If you don't read Girl Talk , you at least need to go take a look at Friday Funnies for this past week:o). That ought to bring a smile to your face!

Happy Sunday rejoicing in the Lord!

Friday, May 4, 2007

An Ending.

So much has changed since that warm October night when I made the first of many weekly treks down to Philadelphia. Not quite a year old, Andrew had already captured my heart (that little fact most of you already knew!). Having watched him every Friday (and some Friday nights and Saturdays as well!) for the past 7 months has made me more aware of the simple things in life that kids are just learning about and want to share... with me!!!

(Andrew in September 2006 ~ how much he has changed!)

Today Andrew and I went on a long walk (well, I went on a long walk; Andrew went for a ride!) and as we walked by a yard, I heard Andrew say, "A-rah" which is Andrewese for "dog":o). We stood there and just watched the little dog gaze back at us; something I would have normally walked by and not have given a second thought.

I'm going to miss the interaction with Andrew, although I question whether he is! This morning I was holding him and said, "Auntie Anne is going to miss you while she goes bye-bye to Thailand for 3 months!" Out of that whole statement, the only thing he heard was "bye-bye" and so he began to wave "bye-bye" to me... hmmm!

The one thing I am not going to miss is the extensive travel on the PA Turnpike and filling up my gas tank each Thursday night! How does that saying go? "There's a silver lining in every cloud":o).

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Three Simple Words.

I heard three simple words today and they thrilled my heart! I was working with a student who has a very difficult time in grasping information (particularly when it comes to school work... I haven't quite figured that one out yet:D), so I patiently explained to her the subject that most students love: History. I had already heard about her great dislike for English ("why do they think we need to know how to write a paragraph?") and also about the not-so-fond-feeling she had for Science ("There are too many constellations to remember."), so I was expecting some sort of comment about her history. As I got out the globe to explain why the Korean Peninsula is called that very thing, she exclaimed, "This is interesting!"

I was so shocked that you could have pushed me right over, and yet I felt gratified that my efforts were not in vain and this is the reason why I love working with the students and especially teaching them History. Today I felt like I went in and did my job right. Today I felt like I connected with a student. Today was a good day.

Now that doesn't mean that all the other students were terrific. That doesn't mean that there were no problems. That doesn't mean that at the front of the room there isn't a whiteboard with the words "18 days left!" written across the top. That doesn't mean that the kids haven't already started shutting down mentally for summer vacation.

But today I knew I made the right choice in working at EBA... in pouring countless hours into the students... in getting involved in their lives... in praying for them... instructing them... laughing with them... remembering them with special treats... these are the teens with whom I am privileged to work.

One question I have yet to figure out an answer to is the one at the bottom of the yearbook survey I had to fill out: "What was your favorite memory from the school year?" How do you sum up 183 days in a sentence or two? I've been able to interact with these students and "it's been a great year" just doesn't cut it.

But today the student who said, "this is interesting!" showed me what my favorite memory from the school year was: getting an opportunity to work with these students each and every day.