Monday June 10, 2019

Isaiah 32:18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Our family was not abiding in a peaceful habitation this morning. Our whole morning was fighting, arguing, and yelling. I don’t think there was a single moment of peace in our little apartment this morning. On top of all the fighting and yelling, Anjali was complaining that her ankle was hurting again and that she was not able to walk around. This is quite frustrating because she was totally fine to walk around Malmo yesterday and play laser tag, but now that there is something that Jeff and I want to do, she is magically injured again. I guess I have lost a bit of empathy for her situation, mainly because it seems that she is hurt when it gives her a way out of doing something that doesn’t interest her, but she is totally fine when it is something she deems fun. I want to take the silly crutches and throw them into the Elbe River so she can’t keep using them as a crutch (pun intended)!

I think I had finally had enough of the yelling and screaming, fighting and arguing, complaining, etc. that I told everyone to get in the car and we were driving to Hamburg without seeing any of the sights here in Kolding. I was so angry. We came here to see a few of the highlights of the city, but rather we got to pay a lot of money to sleep in a beautiful apartment and see Kolding by looking out our window. It felt like such a waste, but I eventually calmed down enough to realize that my children were exhausted and that they were just not up for sightseeing. But if you get the chance to explore Kolding, I am sure that you will have a great time. It seems to be a great town with a ton of outdoor activities to do and some really beautiful sights to see.

Our last few trips Jeff has been driving and I have been sitting in the passenger seat helping with navigation when needed, but studying. I have found it to be very difficult to study in the car and today was no different. After about 20-30 minutes of reading in the car, my eyes begin to get heavy and I have a hard time staying awake. I am not even tired, I guess it is just the motion of the car putting me to sleep. But I have powered through and have made significant progress in my studies. My goal is still to take my licensing exam when we get back to Arizona at the end of June.

We arrived in Hamburg, Germany after a fairly uneventful drive. We didn’t do much today as far as sightseeing, but we did manage to stop into an Italian restaurant near our apartment for dinner. Our apartment is in the best possible location, we are right in the middle of everything that we would want to see in Hamburg and I am so excited that we are here for two nights and will actually have time to explore.

One of the many harbors in Hamburg, Germany at night.

After dinner we put the kids to bed and waited until they were mostly asleep before we headed out to find a bar that was showing the Women’s World Cup, which was surprisingly difficult given the fact that almost all the bars/restaurants were closed due to the observance of Pentecost, it is called Weiss Montag. But we did find one and made our way there. As we were walking to the bar, we had to walk past St. Nicholai Church. I had no idea about the history of Hamburg before tonight and it fed my desire to learn more. What I did learn tonight was that St. Nicholai Church was one of the few standing structures remaining after the city of Hamburg was destroyed by a fire that resulted from bombings in WWII. Now I must clarify, the church itself is not fully intact, actually only the spire/tower remains. The knave and sanctuary of the church was completely destroyed by bombs and the subsequent firestorm. As I stood in the remains of what was the sanctuary of this church, I was overcome by a multitude of emotions. I desperately want to come back to the church to learn more and to see this spectacular sight during the day. I am so grateful that the church was never rebuilt and that the history, as terrible as it was, is still intact as a reminder to all of us.

We finally made it to the bar, ordered our beers and settled in to watch the game, only to get several phone calls from the kids about the little one not calming down and going to bed. (she was almost asleep when we left, or so she let us think) After the 3rd or 4th phone call, we decided that we needed to be home and of course when we got home 10 minutes later, they were all awake and we missed watching the second soccer game because our TV was broken in the apartment. UGGHHHHH. I am holding out hope that tomorrow will be better, though I am not that confident since all of the kids didn’t go to sleep until almost 10:30 pm!

 

 

Monday April 15, 2019

Revelations 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

I seriously cannot believe that this is the scripture for today. Jeff gave me this recent list of scripture in February/March, when my grandmother was alive and fighting to get healthy. And now, the day before her funeral service this scripture shows up, one that was selected over a month or two ago. I swear these are not planned and I think that is what makes them so powerful. More times than I can count, these scriptures have brought so much clarity and peace to difficult times. Here I am, the day before my grandmother’s memorial, and this is the scripture; God will wipe every tear and death will be no more. I can’t even begin to describe how much comfort and peace this brought me. I am so thankful for His grace and His wisdom to put these words in front of me today. It is amazing how much comfort printed words can bring after a loss of someone so special to you. I was needing the reminder that my grandmother was not dead, but rather alive with her father in heaven; not in pain, but living the life He intended for her. She is with her loved ones that went before her and while we are left here to mourn and grieve, there is definitely a sense of peace in knowing that the pain and discomfort she felt here on earth is no more. Furthermore, I am reminded that God will wipe the tears from my eyes and comfort me during this time of mourning.

Today my mom highlighted my hair, which I haven’t had done in over 3-4 years. I love having the little bits of color in my hair and what’s even better was spending all that time with her. I loved every minute of this time. After hair we did some more shopping and then headed home where we realized that the slideshow remembrance video of grandma was not done very well by the mortuary, so I started from the beginning and made a new one. I spent quite a bit of time working on this and then headed to the airport to pick up my brother. I thought for sure I would be tired by the time we got home at 12:00, but that was not the case, so I worked on finishing up the video. I think I finally fell asleep at 2 am, but hopefully I will actually get some good sleep tonight.

Sunday April 14, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I enjoyed a really nice day with my mom and dad, but the jet lag is just cruel. I woke up this morning after about 4 hours of sleep and headed for a hike with my mom. I really miss the mountains and the hikes here in Arizona, it is a great way to start your day.

We then spent part of the afternoon running some errands to gather some things requested by kids to bring back for them (ie: sour candy, mac and cheese, and books). This evening we met with Jesse, Tessa, and Annecy for some really good Mexican food where I had a margarita and some spicy food to go along with the fabulous company of family.

I am so glad I was able to make the journey back to my family for my grandmother’s service; it would have been extremely difficult to not be here. I really am trying to take full advantage of my family and the very short time I have with them before heading back to Romania. Being with my parents and siblings has brought me so much peace as we celebrate the life of my grandmother. It was a beautiful time of stories and reflection that I am so grateful to be a part. 

I read this scripture and am reminded that God has provided me with this opportunity to be with my family and to celebrate the life of my grandmother, a woman who was an example of the kind of faith in God that I want to have. But God is also reminding me to enjoy every moment I have with my family. They have supported us so much during this journey and even from across the world, we feel their love. It is not hard to follow the advice of Paul to keep on doing the things that bring us joy and peace because I know God is with me, guiding me through this journey of grief and loss.

I was also able to talk with my kids and my wonderful husband, who is holding down the fort in Romania. I miss them so much it hurts. We have been together non-stop over the last 9 months and not being with them leaves a empty void in my heart. Thankfully Jeff said the kids are doing well and stepping up to help dad as he works through being a single parent to 3 in a foreign country.

Friday March 29, 2019

Philippians 1:6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

Today’s scripture is a terrific reminder of how God isn’t finished with us yet. He will always finish His work in us and it is yet another way He is affirming to me that I need to be patient. The recent themes of patience, God’s timing, and His plan has been redundant over the last few weeks, but I am pretty confident that is because I have needed the reminders and the affirmation that He does have a plan for me and my family. I do like this idea that He is not done working in me yet, probably because it is so simple. With all of the possibilities that we tossed up in the air recently He has a plan for every piece of it and when He does reveal it, it will be awesome and wonderful and full of blessings.

I stayed back with the kids today to teach while Jeff headed to the hospital for some baby time. Our kids have had a marked change in their efforts with school recently and I have a feeling being around so many other kids that are homeschooled gave them a new perspective and a new energy to finish out this school year strong. They have had their moments, don’t get me wrong, but overall they are doing great and are all set to finish their grade level (well, Lucia actually will be finishing 1st grade since she has already completed Kindergarten) by the end of May, if not sooner. I am so thankful for the homeschooling families around us here because their impact on our kids has been so powerful and positive.

Jeff came home after the morning shift and had lunch with us and then we both headed back up to the hospital to feed the newborns. This was the first time we have worked together and it was so much fun. I love spending time with him, especially when it is just the two of us because I am always laughing and having a great time. We made it home to find all three children buried in their screens, but they were quickly shooed outside to play which led to the screams and laughter of many children until everyone returned home for dinner.

I feel rejuvenated despite the loss of my grandmother, which at first seems very odd, but as I reflect on this scripture I think it is because I know He is not done yet. This is definitely a difficult curve in our path, but there is a comfort in knowing that this is all part of His plan. I also think I am comforted in knowing that His plan for my grandmother was to bring her home to be with Him. Her time here with us was done and He finished His work within her, so she went home. God only fulfilled His promise to her. This a very comforting scripture when I am able to apply it to my life, but it is even more so when I put it in the context of my grandmother’s life. God will never leave us and He will always care for us, until His work in us is done and we go home to be with Him.

Thursday March 28, 2019

Romans 12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Today was a difficult day. We got a phone call from my mom early this morning to let us know that my grandmother passed away yesterday. While I knew this was a possibility it is still very difficult to be so far from family when things like this happen. My grandmother was a wonderful person and always made me laugh. She was strong, funny, caring, and giving (just to name a few), and as I read this verse I feel very close to her because this is who she was. She cared for everyone the best she could and would do anything for you. She always made you feel welcome and for me, she was always there to encourage me and to pray for me. She will be very missed, not just by me and my family, but by all those who had the blessing of knowing her.

I was trying to get myself motivated this morning for the hospital shift, but it was just not happening. Jeff gently mentioned that spending the day as a family would be good for all of us. Thankfully we had another volunteer helping Calah this morning, so when I called she assured me that they would be fine without me. We all showered up and went for a walk through Brasov, up to the cable car and then took a short hike to the Brasov sign overlooking the city. It was so peaceful up on top of the hill, above the noise of the city and among God’s creation. The kids wanted to walk to the summit, but I decided to stay back and enjoy some time with God. I found a nice rock where I was able to have a wonderful conversation with God, thanking Him for the time I had with my grandmother. I know she is enjoying heaven and happy to be reunited again with her loved ones who went before her.

Here are some pictures of our day today:

From the top of Tampa Mountain

Lucia took a great picture of Jeff from the summit of Tampa Mountain.

Jeff and I were talking during our walk about how many things we have up in the air right now. It is like we just took our lives, threw up a bunch of possibilities for the future and now we are waiting to see how everything falls. While I was sitting atop Tampa Mountain I asked God for just a little glimpse into our future, just for one of our items to come back down where it belongs. I have written about patience and how difficult it is for me to wait for God’s timing, and I guess with everything going on I just needed a little something, the dust from just one of our many possibilities to settle. As I watched my family walk back down from the summit I was so grateful that Jeff suggested this. I really needed to be with my family today.

We walked through town and found a quiet little restaurant for lunch and I was a bit shocked that God came through so quickly with an answer to my prayer. The answer doesn’t matter as much as God’s quick response to what I needed. He is always there for me when I need Him and is even there when I don’t. He is the perfect example of what it means to care for others and take care of those we love. I felt His love and comfort today when I needed it the most and for that I am very thankful.

Thursday February 28, 2019

Romans 12:11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord

Be strong, serve.  It seems a rather redundant reading considering the fact that we are on this trip with that sole purpose in mind.  But I find myself thinking about this notion as we wrap up our last day of turtle tank cleaning.  This has been by no means my favorite task since we set out in July last year.  I have not been particularly fond of getting covered in green algal goo, turtle excrement, and leftover frozen fish bits.  But as we conclude our service time here in Sri Lanka I am also acutely aware of how fun I truly have had.  I will carry with me the memory of a sea turtle who in only a few days has recognized me and my family and will surface in order that she might get her daily dose of shell scratches.  I will always remember the feeling of turtle hatchlings wrapping their tiny flippers around my fingers as I picked them up out of their temporary home to set them free on an sandy beach as they headed out into the world.  I will never forget my hope that each and every one would defy nature and grow old and come back again to make new nests.  As I scrub away at the algal growth and try to avert my senses from the overpowering waft of turtle, sea, and fish, I am reminded of that zeal.

It is hard to serve to be sure but it is harder I think to sit by and do nothing.  When you see a need and do nothing I think you realize that you have missed an opportunity and your heart aches to get that chance back.  Deep down I wonder if that is why so many people are disheartened, depressed, or feel so much less worth than they deserve.  The solution is not a life changing hiatus from work and a year abroad, though that has done me a world of good.  It is simply recognizing that the opportunity to serve is always there and that working in the service of God is the most fulfilling task you can do.  The worries of tomorrow are for tomorrow; for today, put your faith, your love, and your work in the hands of the Lord.

 

Tuesday November 20, 2018

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater...

Jeff and I taught half of the preschool classes today while the new volunteers, Jonas and Emma, taught the other half. It made me realize how much I am going to miss teaching these kids and how much fun I have when I am with them. I am so grateful for the last two months here. At the primary school, both Jeff and I taught as we normally have, and Emma and Jonas taught their own class. This is wonderful because instead of just being able to teach 2 classes in the time we are there, we are actually able to teach 3! I’m so glad we are able to provide more opportunities for these kids to learn English and I realize how nice it is to teach fewer classes–my voice is very grateful for the break.

After school today, we got home to find that Na Na acquired all the necessary materials for us to make our own Krathongs for the Loy (Loi) Krathong festival on Thursday. It is a Siamese festival that pays respects to the water spirits. People make the Krathongs (or floats) made from banana trunks, wrapped in folded banana leaves, and decorated with flowers, candles, and incense. The floats are launched on the local rivers after making a wish. I am so excited to experience this festival and we were talking with Wat trying to decide whether to go to Nan or stay in Wiang Sa. The initial making of the float was a bit tricky, but we quickly got the hang of it, and things went a bit faster. We were able to finish 2 of them and will work on the others after school tomorrow. Lucia took off with Yumi after school, so we ended up working on hers too.

Here are some pictures of our afternoon creating the Krathongs.

Banana Trunks
Anjali and David with Grandma
Na Na showing us how to trim the banana trunks!