Monday March 11, 2019

Mark 11:24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I am reading this scripture and writing this blog on Tuesday and I can’t help but laugh at how applicable it is. I will get to this in a minute, but first I want to give you a little snapshot of our day on Monday.

We all headed to the hospital today, the kids and I spent the first hour creating baby bundles while Jeff and Katie went to the hospital to hand out diapers. They met up with us about an hour later and we all headed outside to unload the shipment of diapers, toys, and clothing from Germany. This was their supply of diapers for the next year and we were privileged to help with this process, there were a lot of diapers! This process took several hours and was a lot of physical work. The kids helped when they could, but honestly a lot of the boxes where just too heavy for them, but I was grateful that they got involved when it was possible.

img_5695
Anjali and Sara in front of “some” boxes of diapers.

We finished about lunch time and we headed home for lunch, but shortly after I got home I got a message from Katie asking if I could help organize and sort some of the boxes with her, so I went back up to the office after lunch and a bit of math with David. I enjoyed this job of sorting and organizing (organizing and sorting is hobby of mine).

We had a nice pizza dinner and the kids went to bed (but before dinner Anjali and Lucia worked nicely together to prepare the dough for some sugar cookies that she will bake tomorrow). Jeff made a comment to me as we were getting ready for bed. He mentioned how much he wanted some weather, preferably some snow, but he would be happy with anything. He has really missed this aspect of life in Madison. I told him he should say a prayer and ask God to make this happen. He looked at me a bit bewildered and replied that he didn’t think he could ask God “to give him weather”. I replied that God cares about what he needs and if he needs weather, God cares.

Since I am writing this blog on Tuesday morning I am able to tell you what happened. This morning we woke up to snow! Granted it wasn’t a ton of snow like they have been getting back home in Madison, it was more like a light dusting that didn’t even stick to the ground, but it was still snow and still weather. Jeff was thrilled! This just proves again to me that God is in control, God cares about what we want, and God will never leave us or forsake us. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24).

Sunday March 10, 2019

Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

Today we attended church here in Brasov. We found this church on the suggestion of Steffi, one of the co-founders of FFR and she assured us that the service was done in both English and Romanian. A funny side note was that according to Steffi I had a twin living right here in Brasov who was from New Zealand that also attended the church with her husband and three kids. I was overwhelmed by the welcome we received at the church. Catherine (my twin) spotted me right as we were walking up the stairs. The service was wonderful and I loved the lesson in the sermon, which was to listen for God’s plan for us, because God’s plan is always perfect. If we choose to follow our own plans, it will eventually come to a head and will never be as rewarding or as fruitful as when we follow His.

The reading for today speaks to that as well. I think God is speaking to me in very clear ways through the sermon today at church and through this scripture (and honestly through the last few scripture readings). I have really struggled with letting go of planning my future after this year in done. I keep going back to this idea that we have 5 months left and I keep stressing over what’s next, what will we do, where will I work, where will Jeff work, where will we live, etc. All these questions that I am trying to answer and I am failing; I don’t have the answer. I don’t know what I want to do or where I want to work or where we will be. Then these scripture readings and lessons keep coming up…listen for God’s path, God’s plans are better than yours, God will provide for you, God will never leave you, God will help you, etc. the list goes on! I am pretty sure that God knows that I need this constant reminder because He keep trying to pound it into my head. I am trying to surrender to this notion, but I tell you it is not easy.

So today our family had a wonderful Sunday afternoon and evening. We enjoyed just being together, the kids enjoyed playing with their new friends, and we all just enjoyed the Sabbath.

I am forever grateful for God’s patience with me as I try really hard to trust in His ways and His path and His plan and His timing (I think this one is the hardest because I want the answer and the plan NOW!). In my heart I know He will provide and that if we can be patient enough to listen and follow His plan, He will have more blessings for us that we could ever imagine!

Thursday March 7, 2019

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Today I had my second shift at the hospital and it was very much the same as yesterday: deliver diapers, change diapers, love and snuggle babies, and then listen to them cry as we walked out of the room–so joyful and yet so heartbreaking.

While I was at the hospital, Jeff and the kids were manning the office adjacent to the hospital making baby bundles (bags of clothing for parents staying with their children at the hospital) and hygiene bags. The plan for now is the kids will be at the office working on the baby bundles and then sorting donations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Jeff said that the kids did really well and were even able to work in some school work into the mix, though they still have more bundles to create.

After we all finished our volunteer work for the day, we walked over to the store for some groceries for dinner. I must say, I really do despise going to the grocery store with all three of my children–they are usually getting in people’s way because they are not paying attention or they are fighting over some mundane reason like pushing the shopping cart. I am sure that every parent has to deal with these same issues, but I still can’t stand it. I don’t understand why as soon as we walk into a grocery store they lose their minds. I have so much trouble minding them and trying to figure out what we still need to get. Well after a bit of time we finished our shopping and made the short trek home. The kids were supposed to do a bit more school, but I needed them outside, so they proceeded to play with their new friends downstairs for the next 2 hours before coming in for dinner. It was a wonderful afternoon (after the debacle at the grocery store). God always has a way of turning a really frustrating afternoon into a wonderful evening.

In regards to the scripture, it came at just the right time. I have started to search for new jobs and both Jeff and I are trying to figure out where I am supposed to be after this year is up. I still have a hard time letting go of my desire to control this and leaving it up to Him. I still worry and stress about it. I am so thankful for this scripture today because it is a wonderful reminder to hand over our worries to the one person that actually handle it. I don’t know where we are supposed to be after this year, but I need to be reminded to have faith that He will lead us and guide us, we just have to listen and be open to His call and most importantly we need to be patient. It is just so hard to be patient and to relinquish this control. But what I find most entertaining is my reflections on this very topic. I have such a hard time letting go and allowing Him to be in control (I want to plan my life out so I know what is next), but every time I do that it doesn’t work out–His plans always work out, not mine. I know this in my heart, but it is just sometimes difficult to drag my mind along with it. Scripture passages like this one really help put a different perspective on it and allows me another opportunity to practice giving it all over to Him.

Sunday February 10, 2019

Proverbs 22:6 Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.

We did nothing today. We spent the day at the beach, playing and being silly and then the rest of the day was relaxing at the house or running a few errands to the grocery store. The kids have enjoyed the beach more than I ever thought they would, especially since we got the boogie board. What is even more surprising is that there have been no fights over who gets to use it and they seem to be sharing it better than I have ever seen them share. When they aren’t using the boogie board they are playing in the surf or in the sand, building forts, castles, or burying each other. From what I can tell, they were really needing this vacation and again God’s plan is better than my plan!

img_4592-1

Tonight the kids did really well going to bed, probably because they knew we had to get up really early in the morning to catch the ferry to Rottnest Island. I enjoyed some good Australian wine, while Jeff enjoyed his beer (of all things, he has really missed his craft IPA beer and there is plenty of that here, to which he has had no problem finding).

Saturday December 15, 2018

Luke 21:1-4 He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

Jeff taught music to our kids this morning while I did the laundry. I have been doing all of our laundry by hand in our shower. This takes about an hour or so in total, to wash, rinse, and then hang to dry. The spinner here on the mission works wonders to get the water out of the clothes, but it is currently broken so the clothes take a bit long to dry, usually about 2 days.

After breakfast walked over the school with Uncle John and Lachlan to watch the morning assembly. It was really neat to see how the kids start their school day each morning. The assembly includes prayers, lessons to be found in scripture, and today it included a new song and some physical training. This was really neat.

On the walk home, Lucia attached herself to Uncle John and Lachlan.

As I am sure you have figured out from my previous blog posts, homeschooling our children has been a bit challenging. Actually, it has been the only thing where we feel truly challenged. This journey, while there have been challenges along the way, both Jeff and I feel at peace with the challenges. We don’t find ourselves getting frustrated or irritated with anything other than the homeschooling. We had a realization today (actually Jeff did, but he shared it with me). We have allowed God to plan and led us on this journey of service and we have been at peace with everything, even in the midst of a challenge. Homeschooling, however, we have not let God led the way. We have continually planned this aspect ourselves and it has been a constant struggle, leaving us feeling exhausted, frustrated, and even angry. We have decided that this is where we have gone wrong; we didn’t let God lead the way.

So we are giving homeschooling over to God. Obviously our kids need schooling and education, and so we will continue to teach them. But we have noticed that we have not allowed God to do His work. From this moment forward, we are going to lift every school lesson and day up to God for his guidance. What get’s done, get’s done. Our kids are very good students and we believe that we have put the emphasis on the wrong aspect of their education, completing IXL assignments (this is like an on-line school that aligns with the Common Core Standards). There is going to be a lot more prayer and asking for God’s help and direction from us and the kids. There will be less pressure from us for the kids to complete a certain amount of schooling in a day. We need to encourage more conversation with them and them with each other.

We have been missing so much of where we are and losing sight of what we were called to do. Here we are on a Christian orphanage at the base of the Himalayas and we are sticking ourselves in a cafeteria to teach the children. This is not working and no one is winning with this system! I can already feel a huge stressor being lifted off of our shoulders and I am relieved.

At tea this morning Uncle Rick mentioned that he could use Jeff and I’s help with the roof of the Big Boy’s Hostel to which we were so happy to oblige. Katie was able to enlist our kids with setting up the Christmas tree in the Nursery Hostel while we worked on the roof.

This was a great opportunity for both of us to finally do some hard work here on the mission and it was wonderful. We helped move sheet metal from the ground to the roof and then into place on the roof while Uncle Rick and Sunny bolted them into place. We were able to get about 3/4 of the roof completed until we ran out of sheet metal. This was such a great experience and we both enjoyed it a lot. We are looking forward to helping finish off the roof on Monday.

Monday October 29, 2018

Daniel 6:23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Today we were back to the routine, with a slight change. We are now doing homeschooling in the morning from 7:30 – 9:00 am for our kids and then getting a bit in during our lunch break and an hour or so after we get home from teaching.

We are also looking forward to celebrating Halloween at the schools on Wednesday and sharing this fun holiday with these wonderful kids. It should be a lot of fun. Jeff had a wonderful idea to make pumpkins out of paper that we could staple candy to, so the kids could go trick or treating. When we realized that there were 135 kids at the preschool we teach we were already 40-50 pumpkins in and it was too late to change our minds. These were going to be a lot of work, but they were going to be so cute. The kids even helped us out, though a bit reluctantly. As awesome as these were going to be, I will admit that I was a bit overwhelmed at the quantity of pumpkins we were going to have to make in such a short period of time; these all needed to be done by Tuesday night. We needed to trace the pumpkins, color and decorate them, cut them out and then staple candy to each of them. We were able to finish a fair amount tonight, leaving us with only 40 to do tomorrow.

I again have my husband to thank for pulling me back to ground as my anxiety and stress started to take over my joy in making these pumpkins for the kids. He gently reminded me that we will finish them and that these are going to make the kids so happy, which makes all this work worth it. This quality in him makes me a better person and I am so grateful that God brought us together through a persistent friend! This scripture passage is just what I needed to read today, as I could feel my stress melting away when Jeff reminded me that we will complete this project as a family and that all the work is worth it to bring Halloween to these wonderful kids here in Thailand.

We have some really fun plans for the kids on Wednesday for Halloween, including Trick or Treating, Halloween songs, showing them decorated houses, and bringing in a Jack-O-Lantern! Today was quite tiring, but it will be all worth it.

As for the homeschooling aspect of the day, the kids all agreed that they really liked the schedule for spreading the work out over the day, and Jeff and I agreed. It was a lot less stressful for us to not have to be doing so much work so late into the evening. This process is really about trial and error and thankfully we are also showing our children the importance and benefit of flexibility.

Thursday October 25, 2018

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

My toil and struggle today has to do mainly with my children, specifically with the girls. While David did cause a bit of frustration today, that is not a regular occurrence so it is easier to handle, but the girls are continuing to test both my patience and Jeff’s with their fighting and bickering and rudeness to one another. Today was no different, I just felt drained and seemed to lack the energy to deal with all that came. On top of my children’s behaviors, we had haircuts for the girls to get and a 5 person birthday party this evening to celebrate birthdays in October and November.

Thank goodness the Lord had my back today, just as He always does and I was able to muster up some patience while dealing with my children. It is just so frustrating that they battle the homeschooling aspect of this trip. They embrace the fun and the play and the teaching beautifully, but as soon as we ask them to do their schoolwork they change their tune and no longer want to do this trip. Now this is not every day, but it happens enough to be extremely irritating. For the most part we are able to get done with their actual school work pretty efficiently, when they actually put their energy into it.

Additionally, the older kids at the primary school can make teaching quite difficult, they can be very loud and disruptive during lessons. We are trying to make it fun by playing games and such, but it just seems that there are 8-10 kids that really want to learn and that are fully engaged in the games and lessons, while the other 30+ students are just there to be there. This doesn’t both me nearly as much as it does Jeff, but it really makes teaching a bit more challenging. I think that there are just too many kids in this class, but this is basically school during break for them and beginning again in November they will go back to their normal classrooms and I assume (hope) things will be different.

The birthday party was a lot of fun with wonderful food, lots of laughter, and a bit of dancing! But for us that quickly ended when David and Lucia were showering and they proceeded to play with the shower wand like it was a hose and they were in our backyard back in Madison. According to Jeff there was about 1 inch of standing water in the bathroom because of their antics. In hindsight (I am writing this Friday morning), it is pretty funny and it is great that they were having so much fun playing together (I mean they were not fighting), but the way the went about playing was just not okay/acceptable. And then to fire Jeff up even more their bedroom was a complete and utter disaster. So all electronics were taken away from the children (except for school work) until they demonstrated a respect for the belongings of others. Now this did not go over well and we had sad/angry children until they fell asleep around 10:30 pm.

I really needed God’s patience and understanding tonight. I was hot, tired, and truly not wanting to deal with children until 10:30 pm–I wanted to be an adult for a little bit today, but I guess that is where this scripture lesson comes into play. We sometimes have really challenging days, days where frustration and aggravation seems to be more prevalent, and it is in these days/moments that we really need to relish God’s path for each one of us, especially the difficult ones. He has His reasons for making this day so challenging, and while I would prefer days where my children are respectful and loving towards one another, we also need to learn to embrace and be joyous in the moments that make us want to snap. We need to dig deep to find His energy inside of us because it is that energy that will bring us through even the most difficult of situations with grace, peace, and patience.

Here are some pictures of teaching today. The younger kids were great and totally engaged; it was a true pleasure to spend the morning with them. Here we are playing Duck, Duck, Goose (and practicing those difficult “d” and “g” sounds).

And our Crazy Train (practicing left, right, stop, go, fast, slow, hop, walk, etc.).

It was a fun birthday party too.