Sunday September 23, 2018

James 4:13-16 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin.

This may sound a bit ridiculous, but I put all my faith in God today. I have struggled for several years now with running. Though I really enjoy doing it, my body doesn’t seem to feel the same way. Specifically, my feet seem to have undergone too much damage over the years and after about 2 miles my feet start hurting. It will usually start with a dull pain and if I keep going it will usually start to be really painful; to the point that I rarely, if ever run more than 3 miles. Usually by this point it feels like someone is jamming needles into my toes and the bottom of my feet begin to hurt so bad that they go almost numb. Needless to say, that I try to listen to my body and so don’t do much running. Today was a run here in Schönebeck that we signed up to do with René. René and Jeff did the long run (13.26 km or 8.24 miles) while I signed up for the shorter run (6.63 km or 4.12 miles). I have been running about 3 days a week to prepare for this race and only tried one really long run at 5 miles, to which I had to stop at least 3-4 times to give my feet a rest. So here we are at race day and my only hope for today was complete the run without stopping; I didn’t even care how fast I was. The run felt really good, though I started to feel my feet screaming at me with about 2 km to go. As I was running, I said a quick prayer asking for help. I really wanted to finish this race and prove to myself that I could still run. Much to my amazement, my feet never actually hurt (though they did start feeling numb, especially with about 1 km to go), but it was never so much pain that required me to stop and take a break. I was able to finish strong and again, said a prayer of thanksgiving—without Him I would never have been able to do this. This is the longest run I have completed, without stopping, for a very long time. I was absolutely blown away that I ran much faster than I have EVER run before—and I mean ever!!! I completed this 6.63 km (4.12 miles) in 39:35, which is 5:58 per km (9:37 per mile) and placed 9th in my age class and 53rd overall. This is beyond what I ever though I could accomplish and I am so grateful for His help.

Here are pictures of Anjali and Lucia’s kids run. Anjali finished 3rd overall and she was the 1st girl to cross the finish line! Way to go Anjali!

 

 

We met with the Hoffman’s for dinner at a small restaurant near their house for some amazing German food. We ate schnitzel, drank beer, and made some more memories with these people who will forever be apart of our lives. Saying goodbye is going to be much harder than I expected.

On a different note, today marks our last week here in Germany and I am beginning to feel how much I am going to miss these amazing people that we have met and gotten to know over the last 2 months. I am so grateful that Jeff and I agreed to follow God’s call to do this. We have gained so much during this time here and we would have never done this on our own. We owe all this to God, who continues to guide our path and plan our steps.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday September 22, 2018

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, it is dead.

We were invited by René and Susi to join them with some friends for a picnic and fishing on the Elbe River today, but this morning was not going as we had hoped. We had to deal with a very large tantrum this morning and Anjali was saying that she didn’t want to go anymore, but David and Lucia did. So as a family we were all over the place. It went from no one going, to my going with David and Lucia (while Jeff and Anjali stayed back—Jeff was totally fine by this because he has not been feeling all that well), to Anjali deciding at the last minute that she wanted to go, which meant that Jeff now wanted to go. René was amazing and picked us up in his car.

This ended up being such an amazing day—God really outdid himself today! We visited with friends of René and Susi, who welcomed us with open arms; they fed us and allowed all of us to join in on their fishing, and crash their party. We all tossed the football around, talked and just enjoyed the wonderful company—and to think that we were not going to go!!! Thank you Lord for pushing us all through this day.

 

Friday September 21, 2018

Jeremiah 15:19-21 Therefore these says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you”, declares the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

We had a very exciting (actually probably more scary than exciting) situation today. I got done volunteering at the school a few minutes early today and Lucia wasn’t quite done, so I walked home, knowing that we live about 300 M from the school and she has regularly walked home with no problem. However, Lucia never made it home. It was 15 minutes past when she got out of school and I took a walk over to the school expecting her to be at the playground with her friend Louise, but there was no one there. My heart instantly sank. So I went inside the school, maybe I had the times wrong (sometimes she gets done after I do), but alas, no Lucia. However, one of the kids said that she was walking home with her friend Louise, which made me feel quite a bit better (Louise has been playing at our house the last few days and Lucia had mentioned that she wanted to play over at her house.). The secretary at the school gave me Louise’s mom’s number and her address, but there was no answer by phone or at their door (the door bell was broken). But after about 30-40 minutes of looking for Lucia she comes out and I know that she is safe and has been all along. Relief overwhelmed me, but Lucia was extremely upset because I ended her play date and she refused to talk with me, which means that I was not able to convey to her the dangers of what she did today. So when we got home, she went upstairs to pout and be angry while I went outside to cut out the wooden fish that Johannes asked us to do before we leave. Thankfully Jeff got home shortly thereafter and agreed to talk with Lucia about what she had done and to get through to her that she can’t do that again—she always needs to tell us where she is going. It was surprising how cathartic cutting wood with a jigsaw is!! I came in about an hour later and Lucia quickly apologized and we were able to move on with our evening.

We had a wonderful evening with some friends—Steffi and Steve and Saskia (who rides to school with Anjali) came over for dinner, as well as René (Susi wasn’t feeling well and Emma was at a friend’s house for a sleepover). We had a lot of fun visiting and laughing and the evening ended with René, Jeff and I playing poker, using the fish I just cut out as chips—it was hysterical but effective!

Thursday September 20, 2018

Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.”

Helping out at the school has been an interesting and sometime very challenging endeavor. It is one thing to help a child with special needs, but it’s an entirely new ball game to do this when you don’t speak his language. I can only assume that he gets frustrated with me pretty quickly because he is saying something to me that I don’t understand or I am saying something to him (to help) that he doesn’t understand. All in all, it can be frustrating all around. But I have to admit, while it is difficult I am finding that my presence there is very helpful and that there will be a gap in that class when I leave. It’s not that I am doing something amazing, but by merely being present I am able to help (albeit in very small ways) and that makes a difference. So while this experience can be very humbling and challenging for me, I continue to “open wide (my) hand” because that is what is needed right now.

Amongst a frustrating day today (not being understood and getting slapped in the hand countless times, we finished the day outside playing soccer with the kids. This was so much fun and seemed to be language we all spoke. There was no more frustrated slaps and glaring looks, it was just fun. The kids had fun and I had fun.

I pray that I will continue to see opportunities where I can do just this, open my hands to my brothers and sisters.

 

Wednesday September 19, 2018

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whose he justified he also glorified.

It was really fun at school today, at the end of the day there was a school-wide concert. This concert included a small philharmonic orchestra that played music that went along with a traditional German story called Max and Moritz. Max and Moritz is about 2 boys who play 7 different tricks/pranks on people and what happens as a result of it. David and Lucia got to watch the play though they had no idea what was happening (the only reason I did was because I read the story). I want to read the story to our kids in English!

Today also marks the third day of our homeschooling with the kids. We have waited to start because they were all so drained after going to school here in Germany (as was I!). We are only doing about 1 hours worth of work after they get home from school, but this was a good lead into what we are going to be doing the rest of the journey. There will be quite an adjustment period to this new routine I am sure. So far, in three days we have had three tantrums (one from each kid). I really look forward to the day where we can all work together with no tantrums, bust through the school work in a few hours and have the rest of the day to ourselves. But that is not where we are right now; so we must battle.

René came over for “after dinner drinks” tonight which is always a treat. We just sit outside and talk about anything from politics, to religion, to sports. It really is interesting to get the perspective of the USA from someone who isn’t from there and also an opportunity to learn about another’s government, culture, life, etc. These “after dinner drinks” have been a lot of fun and I am going to be sad when we are gone. I am learning so much about Germany and the country, but also recognizing that while we are different, the problems and concerns are the same as the US. It just reaffirms that we are just people, dealing with the same problems and frustrations in life. Of course there are differences and the situations are not exact, but in the general concept they are very similar.

Tuesday September 18, 2018

Isaiah 38:16-17 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh restore me to health and make me live! Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

Today was pretty routine, though it is pretty crazy that we can have a routine after only 1 ½ months of being here. Also, I have started to think about how much change in routine we are going to be having over the next year. Here we have already gotten settled into a routine, but that routine will be uprooted again in about 2 weeks when we leave for Thailand. There is part of me that has to remind myself that this is God’s plan and that he will always provide for us, especially during these times of change. But even with all this change that we have already had and that we will continue to face, I have never felt so alive! I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and am where I am supposed to be. The Lord will continue to care for us and guide us on this path. We just need to trust in Him and His ways.

Monday September 17, 2018

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Today was a difficult day. Lucia was sick all night with Croup. She coughed all night and subsequently stayed home from school because she was exhausted. However, this sparked Anjali’s “need” to stay home too. So both girls stayed home, which meant that Jeff stayed home too. Though I guess by noon, neither girl actually needed to stay home.

Today also marked the “official” start of homeschooling for our kids, not much work (an hour or so a day) but we need to get them into the routine and habit of doing work for us. Our plan for the rest of our time in Germany is 1 hour of school work per day; however today did not go according to plan and we had tantrums from two kids about doing the work, saying it was too much or they didn’t want to do because they already did school. Sigh…..well after what had to have been 3 hours, we finally finished what should’ve taken 1 hour, at most.

We had a conversation with the kids about the necessity of doing things without a fit because the tantrums only waste time and are going to hinder our ability to do the fun stuff over this next year. We have a great opportunity to do fun things in new places, but the fun will always come after the work. This is new and will take some getting used to.

On a side note, Johannes also gave us passes to a concert by the Gregorian Chants, which I was super excited about seeing. Unfortunately, the kids were not being very cooperative, so I sent Jeff because he was very frustrated with the kids. I stayed back, but was able to see the second half of the show, which included cover songs—not what I was expecting. However, Jeff commented that the first half of the concert was all in Latin and was beautiful. At least he got to enjoy it. I think he really needed this break and chance to hit the reset button.

Sunday September 16, 2018

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.

We had a wonderful opportunity to meet with up with one of David’s classmates from Madison who recently moved to Berlin for a year. So David and I caught a train from Schönebeck to Potsdam to spend the day with Ren and his family, but this required us to get up quite early in order for it to be worthwhile since it was a 2 hour train ride each way. We were planning on meeting them at the tourist information center, but it turned out that they had just gotten off their train and we ran into them at the train station. David seemed to really enjoy seeing Ren and playing and being silly with a friend from home. It really was a great opportunity and the bonus was that Potsdam is such a beautiful city. We had lunch and then did a tour of Sanssouci, a palace from the 1800’s. We were able to do the audio tour of the palace and it was amazing, though when we were done I asked David and Ren if they would like to live there and they both said no and both responded that “it was too big”. I love my minimalist boy.

David seemed to really enjoy himself though he also tired out quickly. After we did the tour of the palace we asked the boys if they wanted to do something else and they both replied they wanted to sit and relax and visit. So we did just that, we found a spot to sit down and eat some ice cream. Then David wanted to head home. I think he knew that we had a long train ride ahead of us and that he wanted to get home early to rest before school. I am so glad that we were able to meet up with Ren and his family and that David had the chance to see a friend during our travels.

Here are pictures around Potsdam and outside the Sans Souci Palace.

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Pictures from inside the Sanssouci Palace.

Saturday September 15, 2018

Psalm 73:1-17 A Psalm of Asaph. 1 Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pain; their bodies are sound and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not plagued like other people. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes swell out with fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues range over the earth. Therefore the people turn and praise them, and find no fault in them.

We had grand plans today. Go to Magdeburg for the German national karate sparring tournament and then catch another train to Eisenach for a fair (rides, games, food, etc). We bought the train tickets for both trains, but alas we stumbled.

We started the morning late and didn’t leave at the planned 9:00, instead we least at 11:00. The train to Magdeburg stopped one stop short of where needed to be and we all had to disembark. So we walked to the the arena for the tournament (2 miles), but not without a stop to play at the Elbe River (skipping rocks, playing with sticks, and bouncing of rocks).

David really enjoyed watching the tournament and we stayed to about an hour.

We then found out that the Ernterndankfest in Magdeburg was happening about a 15 minute walk from where we were. We had a quick conversation with the kids and learned that René, Susi, and Emma were also heading to Magdeburg for the day. The kids agreed that they would like to skip the fair in Eisenach and stay in Magdeburg for the afternoon and then have dinner with the Hoffman’s.

So off to the Erterndankfest we went and were surprised to find a Fall Festival happening. There were animals to see, food carts, beer, flowers, gourds, live music, etc. We stayed for a couple of hours and then headed by tram to meet up with the Hoffman’s for dinner. We had so much fun, as usual, with these amazing people. Anjali ended up going home with them after dinner to spend some extra time with Emma. René brought her home when he came over for some beers later that evening to watch (aka: listen to) the Michigan football game with Jeff.

Again, I got frustrated that our plans didn’t work, but His plans were better. When am I going to learn?

Friday September 14, 2018

Psalm 19-1-5 To the choirmaster, a Psalm of David The heavens declare, the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, life a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Homeschool begins…we have waited to start homeschool for them, outside of some math practice and reading, since they have been going to school here in Germany (and all of their classes are in German). The kids have been so tired when they get home from school, so we have been allowing them to just soak in the schooling they are getting here.

We gave Anjali and David a project to complete together. They are to research and create a vacation for the 20 days that we have after India and before Sri Lanka. This is quite a tricky project, as there are a very few places around India that we can visit, and much to our regret, we are not able to extend our Visa to stay in India past 60 days. Furthermore we can’t go too far away because we have to be back to Sri Lanka and we don’t want crazy long flights, mainly because that will be extremely expensive. We had planned on taking some time for a vacation (though not this long), but we need to be able to roll with the changes as they come. Now we gave them a budget of $10,000 and they will need to pick a place to visit, budget flights, lodging, transportation, food, activities, etc. and they have to do it all together and then present the information to us in a slide show. I loved their first reaction, “WOW, that’s a lot of money, we can go wherever we want!”. Jeff and I talked with them a bit about how costs can add up and different ways to research ideas. We have a lot of hopes for this project: that the kids learn to work together, that they begin to understand how a trip is planned and all that goes into making a vacation or trip actually come together, how fast money goes, how expense any trip actually is, and the list goes on. They seemed really excited about this opportunity. We shall see how it goes, as it is their first official homework assignment.