30 May 2010

Backyard Fire Pit

While working on cleaning up the yard for renters, Jim found the time to build a little fire pit, which will not only lend some fun memories to our last weeks here, but will also help burn through some of the leftover wood and construction materials (wood scraps) that we have lying around.  Grandmom picked up a bag of marshmallows from the store, we used some wire clothes hangers that are no longer needed after we cleaned out the closet yesterday, and had ourselves a little campfire tonight.

The kids were allowed three marshmallows each, and are already looking forward to tomorrow night's three marshmallows!

Come and join us!  We'll have it going between 6 and 7 most nights until we go... come on over for your three marshmallows!

29 May 2010

The life of an almost-missionary

If the infrequency of our blog posting since the new year has been any indication... we have been busy getting ready for our departure that is now less than two months away.  It's hard to describe, but as soon as we hit May, there was a whole new feeling to this preparation thing.

The second weekend in May, we held a yard sale, which cleared out some clutter and gave us some cash to stock up on items that we'll need to take with us: medicines, bedding, plenty of socks for the kids, and other extra clothing for the four of us.  We haven't gotten everything we need yet... we just keep a growing list!

The following three weeks after the yard sale were fast and furious.  The kids and I had ten play dates or meetings in the mornings, we had nine evening activities between Jim and I, and six dinners with friends and supporters.  We took a trip to help Jim's sister and her husband with the house they are building and had some great cousin time with their new little one.  My mom has been here now for two days, and will stay through Friday the 4th.  We are working hard at packing during this holiday weekend, and then during the week, we'll have some special time at the zoo, Focus on the Family, and the dinosaur museum.

Next, we'll spend some time in Denver June 6th-11th with close friends, and then we'll return to our last week in Woodland Park.  We'll be moving out June 21st from Woodland Park to spend time with Jim's family in Colorado and Oregon until our departure from Denver to New York/Kenya on July 20th.  We'll be in orientation for a few weeks in Kenya, and on August 18th, we will finally see our new home at the Rift Valley Academy.

There's a lot ahead of us, but already...

We are tired.
I can remember only one night of an 8 hour sleep in the last... hmmm... 4 months?

We are weary.
Discouragement has really been eating at me in the last few weeks.  Sometimes I feel lonely, or I feel unequipped, or I feel that the strain and stress might get worse before it gets better. 

We are in over our heads.
We are preparing to rent our house ourselves, we are moving across the world, we are trying to maintain relationships with our supporters and understand God's design for that, and we are raising a three and a five year old... lots of firsts and unknowns.

And by the grace of the Father, we are hanging in there, but this is not an easy time.

Moving is a big thing altogether, but it's only complicated by trying to keep some sense of normalcy for two young children whose world is about to be quite different from the only life they've known, trying to decide what goes in the suitcases that will supply us for the next two years (not much) and what stays behind (most of it), and did I mention this is our first time moving as a married couple, and a family?!  Yep.  Complicated.

As we have packed up Jim's classroom, ended my ministry with MOPS, and are beginning to live in an empty, less-homey home, the more we realize how comfortable our life had become in Woodland Park.  We are so grateful for the Godly foundation the six years here has given our marriage, our parenting, and our call to missions.  But we also realize it will be more than a few months before we have a place that feels like home again.  And more than a year before we feel comfortable in our surroundings again, most likely.

A lot looms before us.  And we're not braver, or more adventurous, or better than others to do this.  We aren't super-human nor are we getting brownie points in heaven for becoming missionaries in Africa.  We are broken, sinful, weak, and never enough.  But God is enough, he uses and will continue to use our emptiness, and happened to prepare a place for us in Kenya that is more than what we ever expected or imagined.

25 May 2010

Captioned Video

Here's a new version of the MOPS video.  I added captions, so if you were interested in what all of the signs said, this should be easier to read!

19 May 2010

MOPS, part 2

Not only was it my last MOPS meeting, but it was the last for a number of other people too.  We have quite a few moms moving away from the area this spring, and quite a few ready for the next stage in life... the school years.  But the meeting really focused on one mom who was moving on, and that was Amy, our coordinator.  She has headed up our MOPS program for the last three years, and served on leadership for many years before being coordinator.  She has been an amazing leader for our program, and through her efforts, many women have been encouraged and experienced the love of Christ.  It was a wonderful meeting that honored Amy and what she has done in our community.  

One special event of the morning was the cardboard testimonies that many moms participated in.  They describe who they were before and after MOPS, or before and after of being a mother.  Many of them are rather powerful, and I believe it's worth the six minutes to watch.  It was really awesome to see the incredible stories God knitted for each and every one of these women.  

If the resolution is too small to read the signs, you can also view the video here.  Make sure you load it in HD.

I am so thankful for MOPS and it is bittersweet to say goodbye to this part of my life, but I am so grateful for how it has prepared me for this next part!  Thank you Amy!

18 May 2010

"Goodbye MOPS"

Today the kids (and I, but we'll get to that later...) had to say goodbye to something very special that we have been a part of for four years.  MOPS.  That first year, Joel grew inside my belly while I was encouraged and Faith and I made wonderful friends.  The next three years, it was an even larger part of our family life as I joined the leadership team and took part in caring for moms in our community.  The part that made it so easy was the wonderful care the kids always received in 'moppets'.  So I snuck back today and got some pictures of the kids and those important people in their lives.  

Miss Darla has loved Joel for the last two years... what a blessing to have a teacher invested for so long in his life.  She is a mom of two spunky boys, so it is fun to have someone who really knows boys to spend time with Joel.
Miss Eve has also been wonderful in loving Joel this year.  It is a blessing to never have a hard time dropping the kids off in their classes.  And I believe so much of that has to do with the wonderful women running these classrooms.
Joel and his best buddy, Kaeden. (aka. Spiderman!)  These guys will miss each other a lot in a few months, but in twenty years, they'll probably be traveling the globe together!  (Kaeden was born in Malaysia and will go back in a few years.)
Miss Beth and Miss Jen were Faith's wonderful teachers.  She spent quite a long time making them both thank-you cards, which shows how much she loved the class and loved them.
Faith and some friends from this year.  It has been really neat to watch this crop of four-year-olds turn into Kindergarten-ready five year olds.  Seriously.  This was the girls table and behind them is the boys table!  That starts already?!
As we left the church today, I had the kids say "goodbye MOPS".  It's tough to watch them start to go through these goodbyes, and to leave the familiar here that they have known their whole lives, and we know the next few months will be not at all easy, but we do look forward to some hellos and new friends after we close this chapter of our lives.

12 May 2010

She's ready!

For the rainy season, at least!

Also, if you are interested, there is a nice article about us in the local paper, you can view it here.  It is written by a friend of ours, Kate Kettler, who I (Heather) first met at MOPS.  Before her four great kids came along, she and her husband, Caleb, taught in India for two years, in a situation much like ours will be.  We have enjoyed listening to their stories and insight!

02 May 2010

A night for cherry pie...

Why did Faith decorate the table on Saturday night with mangoes, avocados, African violets, and various plastic lions, snakes, and lizards (as well as a random assortment of play food thrown in the mix)?
Why did we celebrate with crab cakes and the ultimate Frazier celebratory treat, cherry pie?
We are [unofficially] 100% supported for both financial accounts!
We never expected to reach our support goals for both accounts before May, but we have.  God knows what our hearts need (a little extra security!) and has blessed us.  While we will continue to raise funds, (maybe for a vehicle, a special community project, or when support drops off a little down the road), we expect to soon be cleared for departure.  (We won't change the graph on the sidebar until AIM officially declares we are at 100%.)

We have learned so much during this process.  At times it was very humbling when support came from unlikely places.  It was also confusing when we thought it should have been done a certain way, yet those opportunities never came.  And it was comforting when little by little, the numbers added up, and it felt like God was continually saying "This is my way for you, and it is blessed."  

It's hard to describe what raising ALL our living expenses for the next two years has been like.  We have learned a lot about giving and about depending upon and trusting others.  We have learned about allowing ourselves to be receivers from those around us and receiving with open arms the support, financial and otherwise, of mere acquaintances and good friends alike.  We have learned about God's love for the nations and the importance of His work all over the globe, and about having the boldness to share that with others.  

So we celebrated with our own little "Kenya night",  Faith delighted in decorating our table with all things African from around the house.  We cooked up some special food, listened to African music, and we celebrated His goodness.

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.  In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.  2 Cor 9:10