Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From Christmas lights (Koziars)....

... to more Christmas lights (our little tree)!


We had a wonderful day today! Church this morning (fantastic), a quiet afternoon preparing the turkey, side dishes, unwrapping presents, and taking a walk, and then having some family over tonight.

The fun will continue tomorrow night with more family coming over (we can't help but squeeze in as many people as possible into our apartment:D), and then we'll be heading up to New York later this week for a funeral on Nat's side of the family. Our original plans were to leave tomorrow morning for a 11-day trip to Tennessee and Texas, but our plans changed. Instead, we'll get some extra time in with extended family and postpone our southern trip until April.

I hope you all had a precious day as well as we rejoice in celebrating the birth of our dear Savior!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Days (Months?) Just Slip By...

According to my blog, apparently November just didn't happen. At all. :)

Thankfully it did... since it was the month of Thanksgiving! Nat and I have a lot to be thankful for; but then again, doesn't everybody? I recently said to Nat, "I am really content with my life." As soon as I said that I thought to myself, "Wonder what storm is coming up in my life." Yes, a storm came but that doesn't change the fact that God is still in control. And I'm thankful for that...

A few changes have been happening in our lives... like a new baby. As in baby nephew:). This little guy is #12, making the count 3 nieces and 9 nephews. Unfortunately I have begun the habit of looking at a kid and calling him/her by a cousin's name. Twelve is a lot to keep in line:).

Because #12 made his debut the other day, I get to watch his two older siblings for the next several days while his mommy recovers from having him. This is going to be fun and will include adventures like Bounce U, hide-n-seek, and PB&J sandwiches. :)

I recently started working in my church's office again... after a three year break. It was kind of a yay:)/sad:( time because I love working in the office, but it meant leaving the bakery. :( If I ever figure out how to be in two places at once, I'll let you know. I greatly enjoyed working at the bakery for the past two years, but that season came to a close.

I know that my time in the office will be short-lived as well but that's for a great reason: deputation is just around the corner! We have been waiting and praying for a long time and we're thrilled to be getting in position. We're hoping to have some local meetings in the early part of 2012, and then head out full-time in April. Just one step closer to Thailand!

Before we start 2012, we need to finish 2011, which includes a fantastic road trip to the Lone Star State! I love my in-laws (good thing, huh?!) and we're fixin' to spend some time down there practicing our "ya'lls" and "howdys":). I have a feeling my accent is going to be a dead give-away!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Whining.

Our next door neighbor has a dog. Actually, she has a few dogs. Currently one of them is whining which is detestable in a child, but downright annoying in a dog! The whining from the dog next door reminds me of when we were in Africa and of the puppy that lived next door to the missionary and yapped all. day. long. (Incidentally, I just found out the other week that the little puppy in Africa died when it was bit by a poisonous snake. Sad ending.)

Whining. If I can't stand it when a child or animal whines, why do I think it's ok to do it to God, my husband, friends, and so on?

My pastor preached an excellent message on Sunday evening about praise. He used Paul and Silas as his reference point and was pretty dramatic in describing all the horrible things about their situation. A dark, dingy dungeon. Whipped back, feet in the stocks, no snuggle blankets or fuzzy socks (ok, I added those last two in there:D). Pure torture.

Yet Paul and Silas decided to praise God. There was plenty of room for a pity party and some whining. "Oh woe is me!" would also fit, but the choice Paul and Silas made is permanently recorded as praise and prayer.

Wow.

Whining. Leave it with the next door neighbor's dog and praise the Lord!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Come On In!

Nat and I have been married for roughly 15 months, and although the promises were many, I never actually showed my blog readers around our humble home... well that needs to change. :)

We've really enjoyed making our cozy apartment into our home, especially because we know it's not going to last forever. In fact, it's not even going to last more than a couple of years! We can't take our stuff with us to Thailand, so we were determined to do the best with what we had and just enjoy today. Lord willing, someday we will own our own home, but for now we get to enjoy this apartment!

Ok, let's start in the kitchen, shall we? The kitchen is my favorite room (like I have a bunch of rooms to choose from!) and I love making things for Nat since he loves to eat! We also enjoy having people over, which becomes a bit of a challenge when our expectations exceed our space. :) The most we've had was 20 people for a New Year's Day party, which was really fun!

People always ask where the garbage can is and usually can't believe it's tucked away in the corner with the apple label disguising its real purpose!

In case you can't tell, we really like the country theme! We've enjoyed picking up things one at a time for our home and pulling the theme together.

Ok, I'll admit it. The buffet is my favorite piece in the whole kitchen! That's my pantry as well as a really cute decorative piece. :) When we got married, my sister-in-law gave us the towel on the oven which says our names and that we were "established" July 10, 2010. Cute idea!

Now we move into the living room. I love the spaciousness of this room and the fact we can extend the kitchen table into the living room when we have company over. Last Thanksgiving Eve we had my family over which made for a sit-down dinner of 14. It worked!

The coffee table, the trash bin, and kitchen buffet were all hand-made locally. We have really enjoyed using them!

Now don't laugh, but yes we have had our snowmen pictures up since last year! We liked them too much and couldn't find seasonal replacement pictures for them (and didn't want the wall to be bare!) so we just left them there... and now they're just about back in season. ;)

Our little entry way:).

Bathroom... any explanation necessary? :)

We love our bedroom! It is huge (as you'll see) and works nicely as a bedroom and office.



God's been good to us! We're grateful for a place to stay and for the opportunity to use our apartment for God's glory. Stop on by anytime... :D

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Video Clip:).

Recently several different people in my church have had their testimony recorded and so my turn came on Wednesday. Nat and I went with a friend to a local park to record. I was so grateful it only took one try and it was under the time allotted:).



Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Blessings...

#1 ~ I went to the laundromat this morning and noticed two dryers had 13 minutes still left on them! Not quite a big deal to most, but that was one less dollar I had to spend on drying our big bath towels and hubby's jeans:).

#2 ~ Bottom Dollar and Weis were running some amazing deals this week! You can't beat a $10 off of $20 coupon, nor a host of other coupons that came in the paper on Saturday. (Yeah, Sunday's paper now comes on Saturday... hmmm:D). I enjoyed seeing at the bottom of one of the receipts 80% total savings. Yay! Coupons really are worth cutting; they save a lot of $$$!

#3 ~ My husband was asked to drive the girls' volleyball team to their game today (1.5 hours away) and so I got to go along and enjoy the game too:). On the way home I had a wonderful chat with one of the ladies in my church which really encouraged me. God is so good!

How are you doing today? Any recent blessings?

:)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Fall!

My candles are burning, there's cooler weather outside, yummy pies in the fridge for later with friends... and a delinquent blogger finally blogging. Yeah, that would be me. :)

A friend recently asked me about my blog (with the subtle hint of hey, are you going to blog again in your lifetime?!?) and I realized that my blog has been neglected because of an answer to prayer. Wow, that sounds like I don't like blogging, but I do! About a month ago I began to ask the Lord to fill my time because I was fast slipping into the boredom stage. Working one day a week, no children to take care of, and a small apartment to maintain wasn't quite filling all those hours in a week. :).

The Lord really answered that prayer as opportunities began exploding out of everywhere (so it seemed) and like I told a friend this morning, I feel like I'm on a roller coaster!

So the one thing that did get neglected is this poor blog of mine. Oops.

~~~~~~~~

I'm attempting to stretch myself in a few areas, including learning new things. Nat and I are eventually heading back to Thailand, so I've tried to start learning Thai. My friend Pookie would probably fall over laughing at my pathetic attempts at writing the Thai alphabet, but I needed to start somewhere!

I also started piano lessons, which is a b-i-g stretch for me! I played the cello for four years in middle school, but that was a looong time ago. Thankfully I have a really nice teacher... so now it's practice, practice, practice!

Recently I've been trying lots of new recipes, thanks to Taste of Home! I really missed cooking while in Africa, so now I'm making up for it. :) Last night I made an apple pie from a recent ToH magazine, but tweaked it a bit. One of the ladies at church gave my husband and I a bag of organic apples so into the pie they went! Mmm, mmm.

So that's life in a nutshell. Our days are busy and long, and we're tired at the end of each day, but it's a good tired:).

And now it's time to get ready for the Christmas cantata practice. Nat and I have some lines to memorize. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reflection.

As I was walking home from church last evening, two of my neighbors were walking just ahead of me, chatting and laughing. I glanced over to the parking lot and saw small clusters of people talking ("dark and dreary night" is an apt description for last night!), parents getting their children into cars, and people driving away to home.

I thought about the message my pastor had just preached on holiness and the priority of having God's desires first. At the end of the service we also watched a quick video from one of our missionaries overseas and then heard a bunch of prayer updates on missionaries, Bible Studies, and those with health problems.

I had a chance to catch up with a friend who had been traveling out west and then came back just in time to start school again. Little snippets of conversation here and there, waving across the foyer to a friend, and hearing about the flooding some friends are having in their basement from all this rain.

As I walked home, I reflected on my church and just how much I love LVBC! My dearest friends are at this church. I really consider my church family as my family. As a church we have weathered storms, and I'm not just talking about all the rain we've been getting:). I love the camaraderie with my church family. I always look around the auditorium during the offering and just see who's there and who's missing. I love to see people I love serving the Lord - what a joy!

God's been so good to me and I am so grateful for Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet Seasons.

Summer is coming to a close.

We joined some friends in playing volleyball this evening, but I know summer is just about done because we could only play until 8:10. That included straining our eyes to see the ball fly through the air and counting every ball that went over our heads as out.

Yep, summer is ending.

After church was over last night, I walked home (in the dark of course) and felt the slight chill in the air. We don't run our air conditioners anymore; just open windows and the occasional fan. I have lived in Pennsylvania my entire life so I know that we'll get one more hot spell before summer slips away for good.

I enjoy the fact that here in Pennsylvania, we actually get all four seasons. Just about the time I tire of the current season, the winds of change blow. I'm not tired of summer yet, but the kids are back in school, the fair is going on this week, the weather is changing - it's time to move on.

Besides, autumn brings joys of its own: sweaters, candles, tree leaves changing colors, and hot apple cider. Mmm, mmm!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Family Gathering.

We had a great weekend in New York with Nat's family... I'm only a week late in posting:).

(Nat's immediate family)

Our big reason for heading up was to celebrate Nat's grandparents 60th anniversary. Since all my grandparents have been gone for years, I think it's pretty neat Nat still has three grandparents alive, let alone celebrating 60 years of marriage!

We also got to spend time with Nat's immediate family for two days. Swimming in Grandma's pond, playing Dutch Blitz, Spoons (a dangerous game!) and a picnic or two made for two very fun days. The sad part was leaving (of course).

Next weekend is a family reunion on my mom's side (glad it's not this weekend!!) and then I think we have to say good-bye to summer.

*Sniff.*

I actually do like autumn though and in order to get in the spirit of things, Nat and I went on a date to a cute store nearby (Cottage Crafters) in hunt of something to hang on our door. Cottage Crafters is unique in that there are 50+ vendors who bring their stuff in, price it, and then leave. So it's so nice to browse and look around without someone pressuring you to buy something or having to say for the umpteenth time, "I'm just looking." Nat and I spent a delightful hour oohing and ahhing over cutesy items before settling on an item. We also went second-hand shopping and we both found something, so I would say it was a very profitable date:).

It's been a good week:).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Full Steam Ahead!

We're not ones to sit back and let the grass grow under our feet so in keeping with tradition, Nat and I plunged head long into projects immediately after returning from Africa. We did give ourselves a day to recover... naturally:).

Thankfully jet lag worked in our favor and we really only had it for a day, which was absolutely lovely. My first Sunday back at church was mostly spent with little kids. They really grow up on ya when you leave for two months! I also got to hold Jackie's little guy - finally:). He was born right before we left for Africa so between getting ready for a big trip and the teen girls, there was no chance to say howdy to him:).

Nat started back to work right away too which was a good thing since two of the guys on staff took a group of teens on a missions trip to West Virginia and another man joined staff that day. Of course Nat had a pile of stuff to sort through; two months was a long time for accumulation to take place!

We did break away last Thursday for a quick anniversary trip to Washington, DC. We had a rather short list of things we wanted to see, bu ended up only going through 2.5 museums. Yes, we are those people who read every. little. thing! It was so nice to get away, even though we were just "away" in Africa. The big difference was the lack of seven other people on this little trip:).

Saturday morning we left DC bright and early in order to come home for a very sweet friend's wedding. Traffic had other ideas though:). Thankfully we made it home just in time to change and go over to church. I wish I had a picture of Jen's wedding but they are all on my husband's phone and he's currently on the phone:). It really was a blessing to see though since my friend waited for God to bring the right man into her life. Most girls get discouraged waiting after the age of 25; Jen patiently waited several years past that age and it was well worth it!

Another very dear friend of mine traveled from Tennessee to Pennsylvania for the wedding, so we had her over for lunch on Sunday afternoon. That was priceless. Our friendship has endured over the miles, but it sure is good to have a 5-hour-face-to-face chat every now and then too:).

Today we had yet another couple over for lunch. They too are from Tennessee and were up for a brief visit, so we were quick to jump on having them over. There are too many friends I have said, "see ya later!" to in the past month that it makes me long for Heaven when there will be no more goodbyes.

Tomorrow I'm connecting with two more friends; Wednesday is my normal babysitting day (gives my dear sis-in-law a break!); Thursday I hope to see another sister and her two kids; Friday and Saturday we'll be seeing Tierany (Nat's sister) and the rest of Nat's family up in New York; Sunday it's back to church and then.... Monday. I'll start back to work after three months and I'm looking forward to it!

So in the midst of keeping up with people in real life, you'll have to forgive me for not being as faithful to this blog as I would like:).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Home Sweet Home.

Nat and I were often asked on Sunday at church, "are you glad you're back home?" and of course the answer was a big yes! As much fun as living out of a suitcase is, there really is no place like home! One of the joys of coming home was finding fresh fruit at the store. Plums, peaches, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, and mango made our weekend:).

We have been using jet lag to our advantage and we're trying to be more disciplined with our morning routine. Easy for Nat; not as easy for me! One perk is getting more accomplished and still having the whole day ahead of me:).

Yup, it feels good to be home!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

From Africa To America.

Well, we're home! And my rising time of 4:45 AM this morning proves that jet lag is no respecter of persons:). I slept very well on the flight from Jo-burg to Amsterdam and managed to stay awake all day yesterday (yeah!), so going to bed at 9:30 was a welcome treat. Actually, being back in our own home was a welcome treat!

We greatly enjoyed our 7-week trip to Africa. Of course most of our time was spent in Botswana, but the remaining week was spent in South Africa. As my husband and I left Botswana, we were asking the Lord to continue to teach us through the other two missionary families we were going to be staying with and He really answered our prayer!

Tuesday night gave us a great opportunity to listen to some sage deputation advice. We had a 5.5 hour ride home (as in the missionary's home!) so we took the time to ask one question and that got the missionary going:). He talked fast and Nat typed fast. So many practical tips for deputation that we just didn't think of and the Lord knew we wouldn't ~ so He let us hear it from someone who had "been there, done that." Why reinvent the wheel when we don't have to?

All in all, Africa was a great experience for us. Now to go apply it all.... :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kindle Reading And Other Sundry News.

I'm pretty sure I'm leaving my current internet connection tomorrow ~ that is, I know I'm leaving the current house I'm in and I'm pretty sure the next house I go to won't have internet. :)

Nat and I left Botswana on Tuesday and headed for the border with two of our friends kindly driving us there. It's a good thing we were reading "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" from somebody's kindle along the way because the scenery was that boring.

We went from one missionary (in Botswana) to another to another (in South Africa)... all from our home church! It's so nice to be able to visit with these families and they have been very hospitable in opening up their homes to us. We are just finishing up a visit with one of the missionary families and are heading over to the other family tomorrow afternoon. That's the place I'm (pretty sure) will not have internet access, which is fine. :)

Nat and I are returning to America this next week, although we're going about it the long way! Johannesburg to Amsterdam to Detroit to Allentown... yikes, I'm tired just thinking about it.

See some of you soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jumbled Lodging.

I feel I must give an honorable mention to the place we stayed at in Kasane last week, mainly because the pictures speak volumes!

The facility just opened in May, although it was supposed to be open in October (TIA - this is Africa). Apparently there were chalets on the property but since we were going to be staying in tents, that's where our focus was. The lady was very nice in setting us up and even arranging for the three girls to sleep in one tent, rather than having one of the girls stay in a tent by herself. Besides the dirt everywhere, lack of pathway, and the promise of landscaping sometime in the future, the place was great. Running (hot!) water and electricity have a way of convincing you that yes, this place really is luxurious!

Nat and I had to chuckle when we looked up to the right of our tent and saw this:


And we laughed even harder when we saw all the metal debris conveniently stored across the way from our tent:

This was the only picture I have to accurately show how the tents really looked:


The tents were quite cozy and the woolen blanket was a plus! The days were warm, but the nights were downright cold and I was thankful my husband forked over his blanket one night so I could get my feet warm:). What a great guy I have!


With campfires every night and the wind flapping at our door, we felt like we were kind of camping, but Krista did inform us it wasn't real camping because of the lack of an outhouse. Right.

Nevertheless, Nat and I are now looking forward to our first real camping trip... maybe this fall??? That would be fun:).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Impressed!

We woke up early Thursday morning with high hopes of catching the sun rise on the Chobe River and we were not disappointed. Chobe National Park was packed full of game, beautiful scenery along the river (looks are deceiving though!), and evidence of the elephants -- both to the eyes and the nose. :) While we didn't see any lions or leopards, I was completely happy just seeing giraffes, zebras, a crocodile, and more. I try to keep my expectations low. :)

One highlight of our safari ride was driving by the same hippo and asking him to yawn for us which he so nicely did - twice:). It was most likely a sign of aggression, but I'll stay in my happy, safe world and just think he was tired;).

The whole day was absolutely amazing and one that was completely worth the money! If I could, I would go on another ride through Chobe in a heartbeat - I would just have to drive the 6 hours north to return to the area:).






We actually did get out of the car to watch the sunset and take pictures. Call me paranoid, but I was definitely looking over my shoulder for lions to come down the hill and at the water for crocodiles to quickly jump out. I figured most accidents involving wild animals and people are never planned and I didn't want our group to be added to a statistic!

Pictures just don't do justice. Taking a safari through Chobe was one of the best, if not the best, experience I have ever had overseas. It was that good!!! At the end of the day, when we were snuggled into our tent (I'll have to share that in another post) I thought again of what a great God I serve. His creativity was on full display in Chobe!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happiness:).

~And it has been one very sweet year filled with much happiness~

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grace.

Every afternoon around 1 PM I meander over to a little orange stand. Waiting for me there is Grace, along with her adorable 5 month old son David. We usually chit chat about the day and in the course of conversation I find some cultural tidbit to tuck away into my ever growing African knowledge. As we start the study, the distractions never totally die down around us since Grace does run an orange stand! But I've been pleased with how attentive Grace has been each and every day.



Please pray for Grace. She understands she needs a relationship with Christ and is very close to taking that step. What a joy it would be to see her come to know my sweet Saviour!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friends.

One of the things I love about traveling is meeting new or new-ish people. There are always the native people in the country I'm visiting (obviously!) and then there are Americans to be met too. This trip to Botswana is no different. Of course I knew Rachel already, but there are three more people in this group that fall in the new-ish category. :)

Rebekah, Tobi, and Krista are from Alaska (now we have an excellent reason to visit!) . Their family came to my church a few years ago and it was a classic case of "everyone in the church knows who you are but you don't know who they are." :)

Nat and I have enjoyed getting to know them better (here's a link to their blog). Rebekah and I both have Bible Studies every week day in the market/taxi rank area (compared to everyone else who are a couple of streets over). It's been very encouraging to compare notes about our Bible Studies and see where are ladies are at (or not at!) spiritually.

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We're taking a little break tomorrow with all of our Bible Studies in the afternoon since it is a holiday here in Botswana. We have plans to do a game drive in the morning, so I'm sure we'll be the typical tourists with our eyes glued to the window;).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Experiences.

Wow, what a week!

I honestly did not expect the week to be as busy as it was, but at the end of the week I was very glad it was busy:). My last post was Sunday, so that should tell you a little bit about the lack of time to post. ;)

Our morning teaching time started at 8, which meant this gal was actually out of bed by 6:50 every morning (but one... Wednesday was 7 AM). That is quite a feat and that also meant an adjusted bedtime to 9:30 at night. There is so much I want to share and now I wished I had blogged every day, but we were pretty exhausted in the evenings. Here's an overview of what our days looked like:

  • 6:50 AM-8 AM: shower, devotions, breakfast, etc.
  • 8 AM - Noon: teaching time (group devotions, phonetics, missions strategy, etc.)
  • Noon: lunch
  • 1 PM - 4:30 PM: Bible Studies in town
  • 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM: get back from town and unwind
  • 5:30 PM: supper
  • 6:30 PM: debrief from the day
  • 7:00 PM: watch culture videos or a preaching video
  • 7:45 PM: done for the day:)
I tried to use my spare time wisely, since we are writing out the book of Acts while we're here. Acts is my favorite New Testament book and there are a lot of good gems in there!

Last Saturday at the market I met 13 ladies who agreed to study the Bible with me. Out of those 13 I've connected with 4 this week, had 1 tell me a definite no, and passed along 2 to another girl on our team to follow up on. The rest just didn't show up. I did get to start a Bible Study with another lady though, so five ladies are studying the Bible with me... what a blessing!

Nat and I have had a lot of experiences during our short time in Africa. We have learned much and were quite tired at the end of each day. But we are so grateful that our pastor encouraged us to come to Botswana to learn from the missionary and work here. So much of what we learn here will be very useful in our future ministry!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Distracted.

Since the missionary said all of us girls are going to be taking turns teaching the junior church class during the Sunday morning service, I dutifully followed Rachel and the three African children outside to the classroom (the far end of the porch of the building we were meeting in).

The oldest boy - 14 years old - participated fully: songs, verse, Bible story, songs, verse, Bible story, etc:). The little girl made a valiant attempt at the hand motions for songs like, "Deep and Wide" and "Peter, James, & John."

But the little guy - not older than 8 - was the one who intrigued me. He sat there rather listlessly, and stared at the road as the traffic went by. He actually did perk up with one of the action songs, but that was short-lived:).

As Rachel started in on part 2 of the Bible story, the little guy got up from his seat to go get a drink of water. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him saunter the 6 or so steps to a nearby tree with a bird cage hanging on a branch... such a convenient distraction! He glanced over at Rachel before he started swinging the cage: back and forth, back and forth.

Soon the sway of the cage brought him to boredom. Not to worry though! Three dogs were in the next yard over, providing the perfect opportunity to tease the dogs into barking. Little guy began to put on a show: stand on one foot, put both hands out, and stick out a very, very pink tongue at the neighbor dogs. Of course no self-respecting dog is going to let antics like those get by and so they kindly reciprocated by barking.

The little guy enjoyed provoking the dogs and continued on for 30 seconds or so until Rachel reminded him our small little group was this way:). Little guy slowly rejoined the group, much to his chagrin I'm sure!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Contacts.

We went out this morning to do some tract distribution with the primary focus of setting up studies. I'll admit I was a little intimidated but that was mainly because I've never done it here before:). I was really surprised at the response! Even if all the contacts don't pan out, the response was a lot better than what I would usually get in the States:).

Lord willing, I will have a study with these two ladies on Thursday. Please pray they show up!

Nat was able to chat with several men and set studies up too!

What's a trip without ice cream??? Well, this is probably the last ice cream cone we'll have in Botswana - made with vegetable oil and milk solids. I saw Bro. Hammett mixing up some homemade ice cream earlier today, so I think we'll stick to that instead:).

We climbed up (and up... and up) a hill today to look out over the city.

All in all it was a very good day. One blessing we found today was an ionic straightener. The straightener is of good quality and best of all I can take it back to Thailand when we return! So I feel like we fixed a problem (can you imagine bad hair for the next 6 weeks?? DISTRACTING!:D) as well as made a future investment.

Oh, and the bank did return Nat's debit card! We were relieved they did because the lady said they normally shred the card when the ATM "eats" it. God is so good!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blessings And The Baobab Tree.

I've unintentionally started a trend: yesterday's post was represented by the letter A and today's post is represented by the letter B! Let's see how long this little trend lasts:).

Blessings:

In all reality, at first glance some of these were not instant blessings, but the Lord changes perspective! We've had more interesting experiences happen on this trip than any other trip (well, except that one time a group of 25 people -myself included- had to run 30 minutes through the city of Prague on buses, trams, and subways to catch a train!)

Wow, what a rabbit trail...

So in three days' time we've had:
  • a hair straightener die
  • leftover salad dressing spill in my carry-on and drench my mp3 player, slippers, and glasses (but not an iPad 2 or my computer!)
  • a bank card eaten by an ATM (we have low hopes of getting that back tomorrow)
  • two nights of no sleep from 1:30-3:30 AM
  • a shaver that snapped in half -too much pressure in those suitcases, I suppose!
But for each discouragement, we've had a blessing:
  • the straightener is under warranty
  • the salad dressing was cleaned up
  • we called our bank in America and no transaction surfaced on our account, so at least we know the problem is on this end, not stateside
  • we took something to help us sleep tonight
  • duct tape easily fixed the shaver (even if it does look funny!)

Before we came to Africa, we were asking the Lord to stretch us and grow us. I know, I know, don't ever ask the Lord for something unless you're ready to receive it! I really feel like the Lord is using all these little things to see how we'll react.

We took a little trip today to see a unique tree: the baobab tree. The tree grows on both the inside and the outside, so even if the inside dies the outside keeps growing. These trees can be several hundred years old and look a little intimidating!

I was thinking about this tree and the thought hit me that I could keep growing on the outside even if I "die" on the inside. No one would necessarily know and yet I want to be growing on the inside, not just look tough and alive on the outside!

All these little issues that have come up on this trip are to test us, to try us. Nat and I are both excited to see what the Lord is going to teach us on this trip. We've had too many obstacles leading up to this trip and so we know God is up to something. We just need to stay open and available to Him. Spilled salad dressing and all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Airports.

We arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa Wednesday afternoon and spent the night at a lodge. The lodge was actually very nice, but it is cold here in Africa! Tile floors and concrete walls manage to keep the cool air in quite nicely:).


After a nice warm shower, we slipped into bed and fell asleep for what we thought was the whole night... it was actually just 4 hours:). Waking up at 1:30 AM and falling back to sleep around 4 AM did actually produce a good night's rest because it's almost 10 PM and we're still awake:).

We went back to the airport this morning, met up with the man to give him the box of award ribbons, and cleared customs for our next flight to Botswana. I was a little surprised to see 15 terminals all lined up next to each other with buses outside the corresponding numbers. I thought that was kinda neat to see we were going to be bused out to our plane.

Our plane was one of those teeny, tiny ones with the small overhead compartment to fit the part. We were both surprised to be served a meal on this flight: chicken meatballs and some kind of rice dish resembling the taste of Suddenly Salad:). As we approached Francistown, I kept waiting for the "city" to pop out of the vast, brown land, but it wasn't until we were about two minutes from the airport that we finally saw houses.

Once we deplaned, we were staring at what had to be the world's smallest international airport, although I'm sure there might be some competition for that title from a place like Papua New Guinea or something like that:).


Just inside that door to the right is baggage claim and customs, all within the space of about ten feet. Not to be outdone, the exit to the other side is a mere 6 or 7 steps. :) Definitely an experience!

We were very glad to have all of our luggage come through without any problems or fees, although the guy behind the Air Botswana desk did gasp when we said we were both checking two bags:). No worries though since we were traveling international! And so the adventure continues... !

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

African Adventures - Here We Come!

Well, we're off. :)

We're dutifully sitting in Atlanta waiting for our next flight in 3.5 hours. Between now and then, I want to: (1) people watch. Airports are a great place to do this! (2) Eat Mexican food. With a name like "On The Border" it's got a chance at being half good. We'll see. (3) More people watching. Like I said, the airport is a great place to do this.

Our local airport in PA had to be doing some extra security training or something, because I have never seen the security dude spend so much time taking a detailed look at every single person's identification and boarding pass. Thankfully we passed the test, and stood in what felt like one of the longest security lines in the world. There were actually only 20 or so people ahead of us, but it was a s-l-o-w process:).

Also, just an alert for all you gals out there who travel in long skirts: get ready for the pat down. I'm not even kidding you with that statement. Twice now I've been patted down because (and I quote) "extra security measures need to be taken since you're wearing a skirt." At least this lady was nice about it. The last one in the Philly airport was rather abrupt and rude. So next time I travel, I think I'll go with a knee-length skirt or culottes. It's all a part of traveling, I suppose:).

I will say though that my water bottle got through security with more than 3 ounces in it! Too bad the poor lady in front of me didn't have that same bonus. Her eyeliner was confiscated and a bag check was required. Airports are amusing and that's half the fun of flying:).

This next flight is only 15 hours with no more layovers (yay!). We get to spend Wednesday evening at a bed and breakfast in Johannesburg before flying up to Botswana on Thursday afternoon.

We didn't need to take any extra bags with us, although we do know two of our bags are overweight for the Air Botswana flight. We're only allowed to have 44 lbs. for that flight (we can travel 50 lbs. for international flights). Thankfully we are getting rid of an 8 lb. box to a native pastor in Jo-burg (it's full of award ribbons... long story!) and then we plan on shuffling stuff around so that we do NOT have to pay! God has been faithful in answering our prayer of being able to take everything with us and not have to have an extra bag:). We did have to leave behind two bags of Bath & Body Works that was graciously given by a lady in our church, but I'm sure she'll understand it just wasn't going with us:).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Graduation...

Boy, I'm so grateful for friends who got a good shot of my husband graduating! The picture I got shows Nat's head sticking up above the cross:).


My sweetie completed all the required courses (and more!) to graduate Sunday night from Lehigh Valley Baptist Bible Institute! I am so happy for my husband and all the hard work he put into his classes. We (yes we!) feel like a big load has been lifted from our shoulders and we're greatly looking forward to the future and what the Lord has in store for us.

The next step will be taken next Tuesday ~ we're heading to Botswana and South Africa! The majority of our time will be spent with our former pastor and his family and the remaining couple of weeks will be spent with two other missionary families from our church.

Once we return home from our African adventures, we look forward to seeing when the Lord will work out the timing of being sent by our church as missionaries and hitting the deputation trail. We are both very excited that we are one step closer to where the Lord has called us to minister and are very grateful for the way our church family has let us know they are completely behind us! God has been so good...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

*25 Cents*

"I have something for you," my husband said as he was getting ready to leave for work this morning.

"Oooh, what is it?" I replied.

He grinned as he handed me a quarter, knowing what my response would be.

I smiled. "Alright! Thanks, honey!!"

Quarters are a high value commodity around here and every time my husband gives me one, he's communicating his love for me. Forget the flowers, exotic vacations, and chocolate. Wait, I take back that last one... chocolate's good too! But quarters tell me "I was thinking of you" or "I appreciate you."

You see, we live in an apartment without a washer or dryer. That means I trek to the laundromat once a week (in fact, I'm going this morning) to get the laundry done. My husband shows me he values me by being aware of my "needs" - in this case having enough quarters to do our laundry!

It's kind of a little game I play... see how far I can stretch the quarters and my tip money without dipping into our family cash. We won't always be without a washer and dryer, so I know this isn't a permanent thing for the rest of my life! I will be doing it for the next few years though, including deputation:).

My husband does a good job speaking love to me every time he hands me a quarter. I'm constantly telling him he speaks my love language:). He also carries his hamper down to my car... and I try to time it with lunch time so he gets to carry it up when I'm done;).

Just another reason why I love that man!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching My Breath!

I feel like so much has happened in the past couple of weeks and I'm just now getting a chance to stop and catch my breath:). Two trips = 12 states and 4300 miles and our little Saturn held up to the beating! We saw so much in two weeks, ranging from the flat cornfields of Iowa to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Nat and I travel a lot, but many of our trips are ministry-related. This trip out West was no exception, although we did turn it into a mini-vacation too:).

We started out the trip with a stop in Cleveland, Ohio to check out the USS Cod, a submarine that was in use during World War II. The cool thing about the submarine is that it is 75% operable. It hasn't been turned into a "user-friendly" museum like most others are, so we actually climbed down into the sub and saw what it was like when it was in use.

We did spend the weekend with my brother and his family, which included helping with a birthday party for my nephew. 3 hour birthday party + 18 active boys = 4 very tired adults. We were exhausted after the party and Nat, my brother, sister-in-law, and I just crashed when we got to my brother's house. I made lots of mental notes about boys and birthday parties:).

We left Monday morning to head out for the great state of South Dakota and chose the flat plains of Iowa as our choice state to drive through. Every now and then a little hill would pop up, but I'm from a state that has actual mountains, so Iowa was pretty flat to us:).

The second we entered South Dakota, we began seeing signs for Wall Drug which made us laugh! Never mind the fact that Wall Drug is 7+ hours from the southeastern tip of South Dakota. You really need to take a moment and go to the website just to, um, take it all in... :).

We spent three days in South Dakota (for my husband's graduation ~ our whole reason for the trip!) and met up with a friend from our church who was also graduating. Nat and I spent Tuesday morning wandering in and out of an old courthouse-turned-museum and found an interesting group of displays: hot air balloons, the history of under garments, and Vietnam. We were scratching our heads over how those three got grouped together:).

In the afternoon, we had a fun time riding go-karts and playing mini-golf. We really wanted to play laser tag, but apparently our group of 3 was not large enough:). The next two days were filled with graduation things and then we started the long drive back to Indiana. This time we chose to go through Minnesota and Wisconsin, but don't ask me what Minnesota was like since I slept the first three hours of our trip:). Waking up at 4 AM will do that to you! We were very motivated to get past Chicago before rush hour traffic hit and our plan worked, which made waking up that early worthwhile:).

I forget to bring my camera with me on our trip out West, but Nat's iPhone takes really nice pictures, so that's what we used:).

Nat and I at the falls in Sioux Falls, SD

The falls... obviously

We made a second trip down to North Carolina for my uncle's funeral. It was a quick 3-day trip, 9 hours each way, but it was good to see family.

Friday afternoon I knocked on my sister's hotel door to ask her something and when she opened the door, I couldn't believe we were matching. Then I saw my brother-in-law and noticed he chose the same colors my husband was wearing:).

I flew down to Florida in January hoping for this little guy to arrive while I was there, but he waited until I was in Thailand to be born... so I finally met my latest nephew ~ 3.5 months later! He's such a chunky monkey and looks exactly like his older brother:).

It's pretty rare to get all my siblings in one place at the same time and we're still missing one sibling here! My older sister is 9 months pregnant and her doctor wouldn't let her make the trip from Philadelphia to Charlotte. 6 out of 7 is still pretty good!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Time To Weep.

After fighting a year-long battle with leukemia, my uncle passed away on Sunday morning. On Saturday morning, his daughter-in-law gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It's a time to rejoice and a time to weep.

Nat and I were talking last night about how few family members we have lost. My Grammie died while I was in Thailand and that was one of the hardest things I ever experienced. Within the past few weeks my uncle's condition got worse, so I began to pray that he would pass away before Nat and I left for Africa or after we came home from Africa. It is hard being overseas when a loved one dies, and my merciful Heavenly Father kept me from going through that twice.

I don't know if my uncle ever got saved or not. Last I heard, he did not and that just breaks my heart. Please pray for witnessing opportunities with my extended family as we travel down to North Carolina for the funeral at the end of the week. It's going to be sweet seeing a lot of family members, but so sad because it's happening at a funeral.

God makes no mistakes though, and I'm glad I can rest in that.


"God On The Mountain"

Life is easy when you're up on the mountain
And you've got peace of mind like you've never known.
But then things change and you're down in the valley.
Don't lose faith for you're never alone.

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He'll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

You talk of faith when you're up on the mountain.
Oh but the talk comes easy when life's at its best.
But it's down in the valley of trials and temptation
That's when faith is really put to the test.

For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He'll make it right.
And the God of the good times
is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shocked!

I am quite pleased with myself this evening........

I am actually packed for a trip Nat and I are taking and we aren't even leaving until tomorrow!

(*insert round of applause here*)

We are leaving early in the morning, so I decided to pack things tonight and stick 'em by the door so they can be easily grabbed in the morning as we stumble about. (Whose idea was it to leave in the AM again??? :D)

My sweetheart is graduating way out in South Dakota, so we're about to put some miles on our car! Of course we're stopping to visit with some family members in Indiana, just in time to participate in my nephew's 9th birthday. I'm hoping this trip also includes a racquetball rematch against my brother:).

So, I'm going on another trip (no surprise) and I may or may not be blogging during this trip (no surprise).

Ready or not, here we go on a 2800 mile trip!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hurrah For Spring!

Spring has sprung, much to my great joy! The trees are blooming, the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, a few walks have been taken at a gorgeous park nearby, and the glorious sight of a volleyball in the air has returned (twice this week)!

My darling husband bought two pairs of sandals for me while we were away a few weekends ago, and the timing couldn't have been better! There was enough dew on the grass Sunday morning to make for a wet walk to church, but that's a small price to pay in exchange for this weather:).

We leave in a week for our road trip and will be going all the way to South Dakota.... I just hope the weather is as gorgeous out there as it is here!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Trips, Trips, Trips.

One of the guys at church is mowing the grass right now and it smells so springish! I looked out my kitchen window earlier today and saw buds on the tree branches so I'm hopeful that spring is going to make a permanent move. I did notice that it's supposed to be raining off and on over the next several days, but April showers bring May flowers, right?

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My husband and I were recently talking about how much we have traveled (and will travel!) within our first year of marriage. No less then two international trips, two bus rides with teens from church, one airplane ride to Texas, and several car rides - most of them out to the mid-west. :) We traveled with our teens (by bus) two weeks ago, went to a couples' retreat in Lancaster last weekend and are getting ready to take yet another trip (by car) in two weeks! This trip (out to the mid-west again:D) will be our last trip before our BIG trip this summer!

The trip we're taking in two weeks is for a very, very special occasion: my husband is graduating!!! The graduation is taking place 24 hours away (helloooooo Sioux Falls, SD!!), so we're stopping over at our favorite town in northwest Indiana to visit my brother and his family. It just so happens they are the perfect half-way point, but that has nothing to do with our decision of stopping there.... absolutely nothing. :D

My sister-in-law and I started planning what we could do while we're there for the weekend, so I think we might train in to Chicago and eat popcorn. Oh yeah, there are a few other things we're going to do, but my brother absolutely loves a certain popcorn shop in Chicago and so we'll go eat popcorn. :D

Yep, we live exciting lives. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Packing My Bags!

Soon!

I'm never one to be too ahead of the game when it comes to packing bags - mainly because I don't have enough stuff to pack into bags and still use while waiting to take off on a trip with little packed bags:).

For the past three months, I've been helping organize a trip for the teens of my church and Christian school and it has been a lot of fun! I did jokingly tell a friend recently that I spent more time planning for this trip than I did for my wedding, but that was (mostly!) tongue in cheek:).

My husband and I, along with several other chaperons, are taking 24 teens to a competition in the middle of nowhere 18 hours away from PA:


The teens are competing in everything from music to photography to one-act plays, and I think they have done a FANTASTIC job letting their talents shine for the Lord!

I'm waiting on one more student to turn in a sketch (nothing like waiting 'til the last minute!), but for the most part the projects are packed, the paperwork filled in, and the candy ready to go! Nat and I are thrilled to be going along on the trip and are looking forward to a great week of preaching, competition, and spending time with the teens.... as long as my bags get packed:).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

*Achoo*

Hubby has written on his blog again, and has even made it official by putting his blog onto a new site: Williams Witness. Not to be outdone by him (who's supposed to be the blogger around here anyway?), I'm scraping together a poor excuse of a post. :)

Ever trying to live up to the vows we made last July 10th, Nat and I have shared a cold. *achoo* NyQuil, tissues, cough syrup, and lots of water have been my faithful friends between yesterday and today. Cough drops made their appearance too, although they have failed in bringing about the soothing relief the package boldly proclaimed they would. Rather than take up my grievances with the cough drop company, I chose to fight this sickness from the coziness of the recliner. My husband came home for lunch and was sweet enough to go to the bakery to pick up some chicken pastina soup for me. I must be sick if I'm willing to eat soup!

I was feeling decent enough to make dinner and even had some energy after dinner to go do the laundry. Now I'm debating between taking NyQuil or not, since it knocked me out for twelve solid hours last night! I have things to do tomorrow, but I'm weighing that out with the option of getting better. :)

Since I did spend most of my day sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing, I decided to do some research. I figured I needed to be useful in some way! We have a very exciting trip coming up in May that involves my dear husband graduating (yay!) and so we're turning it into a min-vacation since we'll be in the great state of South Dakota. My research included searching hotel prices, but then I was drawn to national park websites - namely the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. I've been to both of these places before, but I am a lover of history and so I spent some time absorbing as much information as I possibly could. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's some random news: the weatherman said we were supposed to get snow, but now the weather channel is saying, "no significant snow accumulation" which is a happy thought indeed. I for one would like to think spring is here. :)

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In other random news, have I mentioned my growing affection for a place called Swagbucks? I recently had enough swag bucks to redeem them for (2) five dollar gift cards to Amazon.com. Using the gift cards, I only paid shipping for a book I've been wanting to give as a gift to a friend. I'm just about ready to redeem my swag bucks for (3) five dollar gift cards to Amazon.com and I already have my eye on what I want to get. :)

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By the way, I've decided against the NyQuil. Maybe tomorrow night. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Timely messages.

In light of the last post on prayer, I thought I would share the points from a three-week series my pastor just finished preaching (tonight!) on praying for our missionaries. You know that "God bless all the missionaries" prayer? We actually do pray like that, but I've been so encouraged and challenged by these prayer points:
  • Pray for contacts
    (Colossians 4:2-3 ~ "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:")

  • Pray for clarity
    (Colossians 4:4 ~ "That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.")

  • Pray for free course
    (2 Thessalonians 3:1 ~ "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course,")

  • Pray for conversion
    (2 Thessalonians 3:1 ~ "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified,")

  • Pray for care
    (2 Thessalonians 3:2 ~ "And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.")

  • Pray for courage
    (Ephesians 6:19 ~ "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make know the mystery of the gospel,")

  • Pray for Christ-like character
    (Philippians 1:20 ~"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.")
This list was specifically put together to better pray for our missionaries around the world, but the truth is this list can be used in praying for dear brothers and sisters in Christ too!

The Ministry Of...

... Prayer. I believe prayer is the most effective tool I have as a believer to be an encouragement to another believer. Can you imagine if every person who ever said those words, "I'll pray for you" actually did? Convicting thought.

I've uttered those words countless times before, but within the last 1.5 years, Nat and I have earnestly tried to pray for someone or something when we've said we'll pray. We've failed, I'll admit. But it's an encouragement to me at the end of each day when my husband says, "do you have any prayer requests from today?" That reminds me of the people and situations I said I would pray about during the day, and then we do so at night before we go to bed.

I heard a missionary years ago who said one of the biggest encouragements he received on the field was when people would respond to an e-mail he sent saying something like, "praying for you, brother" or "prayed." It takes all of 15-30 seconds to write a quick note back and to hit the send button. What a good habit to get into!

Another tool I have found helpful is to pray as soon as I receive an e-mail asking for prayer. The prayer request is fresh in my mind and again only takes a couple of minutes. Of course then I send a quick reply: "prayed for you!"

Last week I sent an e-mail to my church's e-mail list asking for prayer for my uncle ~ the one who has cancer. What a pleasant surprise it was to open my e-mail the next morning and have ten responses! Most of them were a simple "prayed!" while some told me exactly what they were praying for. All of the responses were a huge blessing to me, because these dear friends expressed (1) they read the e-mail :D (2) they took enough time out of their day to stop and pray.

Just this morning I saw a prayer request on facebook. I don't know the situation (other than what was posted on facebook) but I jotted out a quick note in response and prayed for God's will to be done in the situation, for peace to prevail within the family, and for souls to be brought to Christ as a result of this situation.

Oh believers, we can't afford to drop this weapon of prayer! Let's make it a priority to pray today... and to let people know we're praying for them. Too much is at stake to think we'll have time to pray later. Sometimes later doesn't come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update #3.

I'm waiting to hear the ding dong of my doorbell signaling that my nephew and niece are here to play with Auntie Anne, but for now I'm going to take these couple of moments to squeeze in a third update:).

One of the first questions we are usually asked when talking about Thailand is what's the next step? That's a logical question! I think I have a sensible answer:).

The very next step on our agenda is graduation. Nat is going through the same Bible Institute I went through and graduated from in 2007 and he is soooo close to being done! He plans on graduating in June of this year from Lehigh Valley Baptist Bible Institute and also plans on graduating from the same Bible college in South Dakota that I graduate from - and that's supposed to happen in May!

His day pretty much goes like this: 8:30-4:30 (work), 4:30-5:30 (rest and dinner), 5:30-? (Bible Institute). He has been very diligent in getting his courses done and I'm am extremely thrilled (can I say proud in a good way?!?) over how much he is getting accomplished! On top of all of this, he has been experiencing severe neck pain and yet has endured through all the pain. Long story short, a van door was closed on his head while we were in Thailand and it did some hefty damage to his neck, so on top of everything else, he is trying to get his neck adjusted and back to normal. If you think of him, please pray for the pain to be relieved!

So when people ask what's the next step?, we say graduation - rock #1!

There are two more "rocks" that need to be moved into place. Rock #2 is Botswana and rock #3 is being sent as missionaries from our home church - Lehigh Valley Baptist Church.

Let me explain in a little more detail.

Botswana is a country in Africa where my church recently sent our latest missionary family to begin a work there. My good friend Rachel blogs often about her experiences and adventures while living in Botswana:).

Both our current pastor and our missionary to Botswana would like Nat and I to take a trip sometime to Botswana to get some more hands-on experience working with people. We're not sure when the timing of this all is going to work out, but we are "planning" for August or September. As I mentioned above, my husband has been doing a Bible Institute marathon (full-speed!) for the past few months and will continue on that course until he graduates, so I think we're going to need to catch our breath for a little bit before plunging into this new project:). Plus my uncle has severe cancer and we're not sure how long he has, so we really, really want to take some time to visit with him in North Carolina (after Bible Institute is done!). So that's rock #2!

Rock #3 is our church members voting on sending us out as missionaries. From the beginning, we have always wanted to be under our church/pastor's authority and wouldn't even think of putting a baby toe out from under that authority! So we wait for the right timing of that to take place. Our church members and pastor have done a wonderful job communicating to us that that will take place, it's just a matter of when:).

These three rocks will take us through to the end of this year, and that's fine with us:). For now, my husband continues working on staff as an assistant to our pastor and I'm still working at the bakery as well as volunteering at church/school wherever help is needed!

There is plenty keeping us busy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

8 Months!


Eight wonderful months that have been filled with tons of laughs:).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Update #2.

I've been doing some research on a website called everyculture.com and have been learning tons of information about various ethnic groups around the world. I read a couple of interesting paragraphs tonight that I thought I would share with you since it give a good summary of what Buddhism teaches. 93% of Thai people are Buddhists, so it's a good to know a little about what Thai people believe!

Buddhism is divided into two schools of thought. The "Northern School," known as Mahayana Buddhism, is found most often in China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, and Vietnam. The "Southern School," called Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism, predominates in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and Sri Lanka. Theravada Buddhists stress the importance of becoming a monk and achieving Nirvana, a state in which there is no self or rebirth, through one's own efforts. Mahayana Buddhists lay more emphasis on help from Bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who have delayed achieving Nirvana in order to help others become enlightened.

Fundamental to the Buddhist doctrine are the Four Noble Truths: (1) Existence inevitably leads to unhappiness which follows from the impermanence and disintegration of all living elements; (2) Unhappiness is caused by desire inherent in human nature; desire causes man to become attached to the impermanent; (3) Unhappiness can be avoided by the crushing of desire; and (4) Desire can be crushed by strict adherence to a prescribed moral path. In Buddhism all worldly things are considered changing and impermanent. Those who are not aware of the impermanent nature of the world become attached to worldly things, and this leads to suffering. The suffering will continue as the soul goes through a cycle of rebirths, continually drawn back to worldly desires. Meditation and a moral, disciplined life can enable a believer to overcome desires. The soul that successfully overcomes all desires may reach Nirvana.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Update #1.

Here are some quick facts about our trip to Thailand or just about Thailand as a country:).

  • We were gone for three weeks (including travel time)
  • Thailand is 12 hours ahead of EST
  • We flew from Philadelphia ---> Chicago ---> Seoul, South Korea ---> Bangkok, Thailand = 28.5 hours from doorstep to doorstep
  • Spent one night in Bangkok at a really nice hotel (Asian standards here!) and then flew 1.5 hours to Chiang Mai, Thailand the next day
  • Bangkok is in the middle of Thailand while Chiang Mai is in the northwest part of Thailand
  • Largest city in Thailand: Bangkok
  • Second largest city: Chiang Mai
  • Temperature in January/February in Thailand: during the day - high 80s at night - mid 60s (Fahrenheit)
  • Currency: Thai baht (1 baht = .03 cents; $1.00 = 30.48 baht)
  • My favorite currency exchange website: XE (threw that in for fun!)
  • Language spoken: Thai, although many people can speak English in the big cities
  • Hello in Thai: Sa-wat-dee-ka (female speaker); Sa-wat-dee-kraup (male speaker)
More to come later!

Pre-Update.

Hubby is diligently working on Bible Institute right now (3.3 classes and a thesis to go!) so it's my turn to be diligent and pay some attention to my blog!

There are so many updates swirling through my head but I suppose they don't really come out (coherently anyway!) if I just do a brain dump:). So my goal over the next few posts is to give a little update to our Thailand trip as well as where we're headed in the future!

Nat was able to give a report at our church on Wednesday night and only wished he had a lot more time to clearly communicate things.... like:

  • all the stories from our trip (there are plenty!)
  • the history of Burma
  • explain why we want to work with people groups that live in Thailand but aren't originally from Thailand
  • share the many answers to prayer (there were many!)
  • express how deeply grateful we are to have so many people pray for us and let us know they're praying
  • key connections that were made
  • specific prayer points for the future
Our Pastor was very gracious in asking Nat to give an update, but we both could tell ya (and anyone who has ever taken a missions trip could tell ya!) that time is always just a little bit too short when reporting:).

We do have other tools that we can use though, such as one-on-one conversations, phone calls, e-mail, and BLOGS:). So I'm hoping to help fill in some gaps and maybe answer some questions that just might be mentally asked but never verbalized;).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Linkage.

I just read an excellent post by my friend Rachel ~ Post Valentines Day. If you have a minute, scoot on over and read this gem of a post... a good post to glean from regardless of whether you are single or married!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recap.

It's a good thing my husband did such a tremendous job on communicating with the rest of the world about our Thailand trip -- go here to read all 44 entries-- because if all was resting on me, we would have a grand total of two posts.

Two.

My lack of posting is not a good indication of all that took place on this trip either. The days were packed with activities, laughter, and sitting in the presence of some great missionaries who have done things for the Lord and yet have the sweetest spirit of humility. I just never got around to telling ya'll about it:).

Being back in my beloved Thailand with my husband was so incredibly sweet! But the even sweeter thing was watching the Lord work in our hearts and open doors. I walked away (actually flew away!) from Thailand with one thought firmly etched into my mind: God's people prayed and He answered prayer!

Here's a quick recap:
  • visited two border towns and received an increased understanding of these towns
  • met with missionaries, printing ministries, and Bible schools who were all very knowledgeable about the region, people, and gave helpful insights into future ministry
  • spent two solid weeks with a missionary and his wife who are friends, role models, heroes of the faith, and mentors to Nat and I
  • had two weeks to ask non-stop questions of this missionary who very willingly answered our questions and directed our attention on things we didn't even think to focus on
  • reconnected with several dear friends, including April, who are all currently working with this missionary and his wife
  • read through a thesis on an unreached people group that really stirred Nat and I
  • received great, quality dental care for a fraction of what we would pay in the States
  • laughed, laughed, and laughed some more with our friends, including the two below:
(Me, Pookie, and April at the zoo in Chiang Mai)

  • visited the Golden Triangle (the place where Thailand, Laos, and Burma all come together):
  • and so much more....
We flew home on Wednesday, just in time to make it for services that night. While not at our best, we did manage to stay awake through the message:). It's been a joy to us to see how our church family has expressed interest in what the Lord is doing and will continue to do.

Of course, the question we're being asked the most is what the Lord showed us! We're excited about sharing that with everyone, but I must say our pastor is at the top of that list:). Nat's got a whole slew of things to talk with Pastor Roland about and as we individually talk with people, we'll try to share too.

For now, we're still battling jet lag and looking forward to having that done! It's 7:15 now and we're both about to collapse. The morning started for us at 5:30 which is a wee bit early, especially for a Saturday:).

Come on 9 PM!