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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Blessings upon Blessings

Last week Alan and I decided to go to the condo up in South Carolina to try and get caught up on all the things we'd been putting off since coming home. That and go fishing (nope, not me... just my crazy husband!). We ended up getting a lot done. I wrote the 40 plus thank you notes to folks that had given support for our mission to Germany or bought a baby gift for us. Alan and I wrote up the summary for the last chapter of Entering Another's World and we wrote summaries for the first two core values of Pioneers. We did a bit of shopping, watched several Christmas movies by the fire and Alan fished while I walked around the lake. Most days were frigidly cold but it was still nice looking out at the lake and thanking God for blessing us with that getaway.

I also spent the first few days looking for places to live in Germany. I found a place on Friday that hadn't been posted before and so I emailed the landlord to find out more details. I was so excited about the property and its price that I also left him a voicemail telling him I'd sent him an email. :) On Saturday before heading home we got an email from him saying he would be willing to rent his apartment to us. I almost cried. The property isn't new by any means and the apartment is small but it has two bedrooms, one bath, a big kitchen, a living room and a balcony off of the living room. It is also only 430EUROS instead of the 700 we budgeted. With costs it will be 590. 360EURO less than budget. Praise God!!

The apartment is situated in a small town called Schönau in the mountains near Heidelberg and even though it's about 25 minutes from our church we are very excited about integrating into the German culture, meeting our neighbors, learning the language and settling in. Our plan right now is to drive down on the 9th or 10th of January but we're still working on those details.

The last few days I've spent getting ready for Christmas - shopping for last minute gifts, wrapping, shipping remaining for sale items on ebay out, etc. When we were in Seneca last week, Alan went shopping and bought my Christmas presents. I finally got something for him today but all in all I'm not thrilled with my givings this Christmas. I need to be more creative next year. We'll see how I do! :)

Tomorrow Alan and I will go for breakfast with Eric and Ellen and then I'm going out to lunch with Mel and the kids and to a movie. Tomorrow night is dads birthday dinner at Christine's. Thursday is our ultrasound. We got some scary news last week from the OBGYN that I had seen. First she said my pap smear came back slightly irregular so they wanted to redo it. Then she said the cystic fibrosis screening I had done came back positive which means that supposedly I am a gene carrier for the disease and as long as Alan isn't as well then there isn't a problem. If he is then there is a 25% chance our baby will have cystic fibrosis. I told mom and dad but they think the test is wrong because there has never been anyone on either side of our family that has had cystic fibrosis but the news was still enough for us to stress a bit and then have to remind ourselves that God is in control and He knows what He's doing. He loves us and He loves our baby and we just have to trust him and put Baby Rathbone into his loving and faithful hands.

Alans hope is that we don't have any bad news on Thursday that will ruin our Christmas but really as long as the baby's heart is still beating I don't care about the rest. It's not like if we found out the baby was 100% proven to have cystic fibrosis that we would ever consider abortion. What right would we EVER have to murder an unborn child? Would it make life more difficult? Absolutely but this child I'm carrying is God's gift to us and we trust that He knows what he's doing far better than we ever could. Anyway, it's something to pray about if you think of it. Pray we will be ok with whatever the outcome. That's my only wish.

Christmas is only four days away and then in one week we'll be on a plane heading back to England and then to Germany. Alan and I give God all the glory for everything He has done in our lives and in our marriage. We are blessed beyond measure. Merry Christmas to all our dear friends and family. We love y'all!!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The middle of December already - whew

Where does time go? Away I guess. It feels like yesterday that we were getting ready for my first baby shower but in reality it was two weeks ago. When I sit back and think of all the things we've accomplished since Alan and I have been home I get tired. So I don't forget, this is a partial list:

• Sent out support letter to about 150 people to try and raise our remaining support for Germany
• Had my aunt Polly and uncle Ron down for about five days from Pennsylvania for a nice visit
• Attended my first baby shower for Baby Rathbone thrown by my sister Christine, my sister LeeAnne and my best friend Melody.
• Spoke at a missions conference at Watkinsville First Baptist Church about our plans for Germany
• Attended bible studies each Sunday and Monday night at my parents house
• Alan worked for a little over a week at my sister Christine's re-tiling her kitchen and bathroom floors due to cracks in some of the tiles, worked on the transformation of the garage into a playroom and helped with putting shelving and making the attic much more useable.
• Had my uncle Ed, cousins Mark and Tammy and their daughter Sierra down from California for about five days
• Attended a fundraiser held by Christine for our mission to Germany at her shop down in Madision with dinner after
• Helped with the annual Christmas dinner party at my parents for about fifty people this year in both their bible studies
• Helped with the International Friends Thanksgiving lunch at Lat and Linda's up in Elberton
• Alan made wonderful handmade gifts for the family for Christmas (can't say what they are cause they may read this before Christmas!)
• Celebrated my 40th birthday with my best friend for lunch out at Rafferty's, lunch the following day and shopping with my sweetheart Alan and dinner with the family
• Celebrated Alan’s 47th birthday
• Went to lunch and out to coffee with several of my sweet college girls
• Alan went to a twice weekly breakfast meeting/book club with dad and friends of his
• Spent time hanging out with my precious two nieces
• Alan got a piece of steel in his eye after hanging a ceiling fan for Christine and had to go to the eye doctor to get it out
• Mary got a chest infection on top of pregnancy sinusitis on top of regular allergy issues and had to go to a specialist to get on antibiotics
• Mary went to an OBGYN to have blood drawn and a scan done to check on baby Rathbone
• Mary got approved for Medicaid for doctor visits in case we decide to have our baby in America
• Alan and I went to the lake twice for a few days to unwind and go fishing
• We ate about 100 meals together as a family which were all delicious
• Alan worked with dad making duck boxes and helping to fix a half dozen things that were broken around my parents house
• Mary helped give computer lessons to mom and Uncle Ed
• Alan helped work on and clean up dads boat to be sold and Mary listed it on boat selling sites
• Mary bought maternity clothes, returned stuff from the shower and bought other things from gift cards given
• AND finally… we sold and packaged about two dozen things on EBay and Craigslist including all my silver and china to raise funds for Germany.

In our last two weeks here we need to:
• write about forty thank you notes
• sort out health insurance for Germany
• sort out a place to live in Germany
• write up summaries for the last chapter in Entering Another's World and the core values for Pioneers
• Alan will finish up the work he started at Christine’s, do work for Lee Anne and help dad replace the front to pillars on the porch that have rotted
• We’ll celebrate dads birthday
• I'll go out for a couple of day trips with Melody and the kids as I haven't been able to see much of them at all
• We'll go to the doctors on the 23rd to find out the sex of our baby and make sure everything is good to go. We will find out the same day, same time as my sister Christine and her husband Russ. We'll reveal on Christmas morning! :)
• AND last but not least we'll celebrate Christmas and the birth of our savior and King, Jesus

It's been a great 6 and 1/2 weeks - only two weeks to go. I'm tired, did I say that already?? hehe :)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Disney, Mission Conferences and a busy week ahead

Well the last week was really special for us. Alan and I were treated to five days down at Disney World over Thanksgiving and I got to take Alan to Epcot, Magic Kingdom and finally Animal Kingdom on Friday. I think we all loved Animal Kingdom the most. It was just amazing. It's like being on a real safari in Africa minus the 25 hour airplane flight. We also loved being with precious Charlotte and Lily Kate who are such amazing little troopers. We walked Charlotte all over the parks and she smiled and laughed and did her best to pose for about one thousand pictures. She especially enjoyed meeting the Disney Characters. We're hilarious as a family all taking pictures on five different cameras of exactly the same shot. It's not like we don't share photos in our family lol.

My birthday the week before was really special. I promise you I don't feel 40 years old so I prefer the 2nd anniversary of my 39th birthday. It's funny how you go your whole life wondering what turning 40 will be like and then it come and goes and it's really not a big deal at all! We drove down to Florida on Monday and drove back on Saturday in time to watch the Georgia/Georgia Tech football game. It was a close game with us scoring and then them scoring and we managed to pull it off in the end thank goodness. At least this gives us a hope of going to a bowl game at the end of the year.

Alan and I also had to prepare for a missions conference that was today at Watkinsville First Baptist. Alan and I spoke during both Sunday school services and other than me coming down with a cold overnight and having a sore throat we thought it went well. Since being home I've just rested and slept and so hopefully I'll feel better soon. I was sad to hear that my best friends grandma died this week. Fortunately she was 91 and has a really good life but I know it was sad for Vivian and for Melody and the family. I hated losing my grandma.

This week is busy with Alans birthday, Christine's christmas party at her shop in Madison and my baby shower on Saturday at the church. I still don't believe I'm pregnant but these constant pains I have remind me that something is definitely different with this body of mine! :) Today we were told by two different couples that we were having a boy. Maybe God will surprise us and it'll be a girl but I'm beginning to think a girl will have to be second :). Me thinking about our second child makes Alan laugh but you never know - God has certainly been good and faithful so far!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The days are packed but filled with fun...

Leave it to the Abney clan to have something scheduled almost every single minute of every single day while we're here. Ok it's not that bad but it's pretty crazy nevertheless! :)

Today for example I need to do about ten things for Pioneers, go to Kohl's to buy some Christmas presents with my 30% off coupon and my Kohl's cash, meet Melody for lunch, play with my nieces this afternoon then make dinner for the family tonight. Yesterday I met Patti for breakfast, had language study for two hours with Brita, made lunch for dad and Alan back at the house, worked out with mom, watched Charlotte and Lily so Christine could catch up and then went to bible study. This weekend we are going to go to Elberton to help with the International Friends Thanksgiving meal at Lat and Linda's, teaching Sunday school on Sunday then driving to Walt Disney World for the Thanksgiving week.

Tomorrow I turn the big 4 0. It's so weird as you grow up thinking, what's it gonna be like when I turn 40 and now I know. It's absolutely no different from turning 39 or 38 or 37 or 36. You feel old in some ways but young at heart. You feel like you haven't even started your life yet. I'm going to be 40 and 13 weeks pregnant. Ahh - craziness! Although I've wanted to have a family for many years the whole idea of being pregnant kind'of freaked me out. Similar to turning 40 I guess but really being pregnant hasn't been that big of a deal. I've been tired and a bit sick, probably more emotional than normal although you'd have to ask Alan about that and I've gained about 3 pounds. My clothes fit differently but it's been fun picking out maternity clothes and not beating myself up when I'm actually starving at meals. Well starving is really a strong word so I'll say really, really hungry. When I play with Charlotte and Lily I think, hey I can do this but then I get to go home after only a few hours so probably it's going to be completely exhausting but totally rewarding but I'm looking forward to it.

Germany is something else. It's hard to get excited when you haven't found a place to live, you don't have all the support needed to go, you have so many logistics to work out you're not sure where to begin and oh yeah, you need to learn a completely different language in order to communicate. German lessons yesterday were hard. Brita kept saying, it's pronounced like this - not like how you're saying it and to be honest I couldn't hear any difference! Ah well, hopefully it will come with time. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever going to feel settled in a place again. My whole life has felt like one big preparation for something else. I'm ready to plant some roots and maybe we can do that in Germany although being back home sure is nice!

Please keep us in your prayers over the next few weeks that things will come together. We are having a great time and the days are packed with fun but it's also a bit overwhelming just how many things are coming up. God has blessed us beyond words with loving family and friends, a great church and hope for the future. That's more than I can say for so many people so really we have nothing to complain about - only things to be thankful for.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Eight weeks home sweet home

It's only 8:34 and I'm exhausted. I blame it almost entirely on the baby. It really is true that you can't sleep through the night without getting up to pee at least three times. I'm hoping I can learn to do the whole process while staying completely asleep. My husband can do it so why can't I?? Yes, Alan sleepwalks. Did I mention that? He talks in his sleep and he sleepwalks. This is especially true when he's in a new environment or when he's really, really tired.

The first night we arrived in Georgia he was at my bedside asking me where the cake was. I told him there was no cake and to go back to bed. I don't think I woke up but I can't be sure. When we first got married it absolutely terrified me that Alan walked in his sleep. I thought, I'm going to have to keep this guy from jumping off the roof in the middle of the night or walking out into the middle of the street. I gave serious thought to whether I could live with a sleep walker. :) Fortunately for us both it didn't happen that often and the more it did happen the more I got used to it. Christine says Russ walks and talks and even sings in his sleep. It was rumored that he was found fully clothed singing Elvis tunes in the shower one night. :)

Anyway, the first few days in Georgia I was just worn out, tired. I think it was a combination of the last month catching up with me, jet lag and being 11 weeks pregnant. I couldn't do much of anything Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. I felt a bit better Friday and so was out most of the day running errands and then today we got the special treat of being able to go to see the Georgia Bulldogs play football. Happy and Lynn Dicks treated us along with me dad and uncle Ron from Pennsylvania. Aunt Polly, LeeAnne and Christine and Russ stayed home because we were only playing Idaho State and I don't think they were too interested.

After the game we went over to LeeAnnes for homemade chili and to watch more football. Sometimes I think Americans are obsessed with football. I like the bulldogs but no other team even slightly interests me. Ah well, it was fun playing with Lily Kate and Charlotte. They are soooooo precious and are growing up entirely too fast!

Tomorrow is Lily Kate's baby dedication following church and we'll have lunch after that together. Mom and Christine have put everything together and it sounds like it's gonna be nice. I think Alan and I will try a new Sunday school class tomorrow as well. Time goes back tonight for Daylight Savings time. Alan and I already experienced it once last weekend in England so technically we save "two" hours this year. Gotta love extra sleep!!

Well, I'll try to post about once a week while we're home if I can. We have lots to do for our mission to Pioneers while home but I'm enjoying the regroup, re-coop time that we've had here thus far. The baby is only 11 1/2 weeks old but he or she has really knocked me for a loop this last week. Hopefully things will improve soon. No matter what we are grateful for Gods gift and His provision in our lives. We are blessed.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A wonderful week in Germany

Yesterday we finished our drive back from Germany. We started our drive on Thursday morning, leaving our hosts home at 10:30. I drove most of the way from Germany up to the ferry in Calais and was surprised that I wasn't tired at all except for the very end of the trip. Fortunately we made good time that we made the earlier ferry that left at 6:30 instead of our reserved ferry at 7:55. That made a lot of difference. We got into the hotel and just relaxed there for the night as we were shattered.

Today is the 10 year anniversary of Alans brothers death. His brother David killed himself and his parents have gone every year to the location where he took his life. They've also visited his grave every week for the past ten years. Unbearable grief that we so wish they didn't still feel. Taking your own life is so selfish and cruel but having been severely depressed before I can understand how you don't really think about those things - you just think it would be much nicer for the pain to go away. It's not as much about ending your life as it is going to sleep with the hope of never waking up. For those of you that have never experienced severe depression I wouldn't expect you to understand but David's brother experienced it. That and he was very, very ill which was causing him to lose the use of his legs. I don't want to excuse his suicide but say this only because I'm trying to wrap my head around this day as best I can.

Tonight we are heading back to Birkenhead for a church gathering and quiz night. My stomach is a bit uneasy today so I think I'll rest a bit before we go. Tomorrow after church we leave for orientation with Pioneers over in Yorkshire. We return next Friday, have two days here with Alans family and then fly to Georgia on November 1st. We're then in Georgia until the end of December.

Alan asked me today what I was most looking forward to in the next two months and I immediately said taking Charlotte and Lily to Disneyworld. It'll be just like being a kid again being able to enjoy it with them. Charlotte will absolutely love it I know.

Our trip to Germany really couldn't have been any better. It had Gods hand all over it from our wonderful hosts, the Hunt's and their beautiful apartment they allowed us to use for free to meeting Danine in person and so many great people from Victory International and just really enjoying some sweet fellowship. They also did everything they could have possibly done to help us in all the logistics for our move. We felt so blessed by it all and give God all the praise for how He looks after and cares for His children.

Our nomad journey continues. Please pray God will raise up the remaining support we need to move and that he will help us settle on a place to live, nail down visa and health insurance logistics and sort things out for the move. He told me in Germany to take everything one day at a time and allow him to give us the strength for only that day because that's what he promises. I'm still working on it but it's getting easier as He comes through for us time and time again.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Our life as nomads...

Well, Alan and I have spent the last ten days with his mom and dad in Chester now that Simona and Mihai have returned from Romania to rent our house. We were so pleased they could use the house and are able to enjoy it. I feel more comfortable for them there than I did when they were in Birkenhead. Birkenhead is a scary place sometimes and Moreton seems just so much safer. I think they are pleased too that they no longer have the police visiting their apartment every night due to their neighbor downstairs that had many issues. Scary!

Anyway, as I was saying we've been staying with Margaret and Alan and they've taken excellent care of us, catering to our every need. It's sort of strange giving up a lot of your independence to move in with your in-laws but we just kept reminding ourselves how blessed we were to be saving the money on the mortgage while still having a place to stay and be fed.

On Friday morning we leave for a week in Germany. I haven't really allowed myself to get too excited about the trip because of everything going on in our lives. Support raising and the new pregnancy, health insurance, visas and living as nomads. At least life isn't boring! Fortunately we serve a big God who has never let us down before and as David says in Psalms, he has never seen the righteous go hungry or beg so we should be ok :).

One thing that has been a bit depressing this week is watching the EURO rise against the dollar. We thought we only had $12,000 remaining to raise so that Pioneers would give us the green light to move in Germany but instead we now have $22,000 to raise due to just a weaker dollar. UGH! We remain optimistic though that God has a stronger currency than even the EURO and that He will provide for us. We did have some good news about the health insurance although my confidence level is still only about 75% about it. Supposedly we will qualify for the public insurance but it will more than likely still cost around 200GBP per month for us both and the baby. This is something we would still appreciate your prayers for.

Speaking about the baby... if I weren't pregnant I'd think there was something really wrong with me. I only have about 6 hours of energy a day now compared to pre-pregnancy 12-14 hours. After that I just have to lay down I'm just so incredibly tired. People have been asking me if I've gained any weight or if I've had any cravings and the answers are no (thank God for that!) and yes. I've discovered a craving for popsickles and literally could probably polish off a box right now. Just ice and juice though - no ice cream. The thought of ice cream makes me cringe lol. Weird.

I'll be looking forward to updating my blog if at all possible during my trip as we interact and fellowship with the members of Victory. We're staying with a lovely couple that are from Georgia that were introduced to us via Facebook by the pastor and his wife at Victory. We feel very blessed to be able to stay with them and learn as much as possible about Heidelberg and the German culture. When we get back we have about a day and a half before we go to orientation with Pioneers at Bawtry. We're both looking forward to that and to getting some much needed encouragement to keep going toward our mission.

Surely other missionaries have felt discouraged as the recession and falling dollar have affected their support raising. Sometimes I wish every person I knew that really considered themselves our friends would pick up the phone and send $5 or $10 a month to help us make this move. I feel like saying, it's the same as a cup of coffee at Starbucks or Jittery Joe's so that two people can go and share the gospel with people that really need to hear about Jesus. I feel like saying that but I don't. I just pray God will say it for us and not just for us but for countless other missionaries out there that need to worry less about finances and more about reaching people for the kingdom of God.

I know personally I have not given enough to support others in the past and I look at myself now and I wonder why. I think my primary excuse is just plain laziness and apathy and I honestly don't think I'm being too harsh on myself when I say that. I saw people that were doing good work that needed support and I just left it to the next guy to give and then I wondered why I wasn't being blessed as much as others. I'm ashamed of that now and think God has taught us a lot through the fundraising we have to do. I've learned not to underestimate people. I've learned not to overestimate too.

I think the bottom line is that we're working for Jesus here. Not Microsoft or Save the Family or any other organization. And Jesus likes surprising us and showing us that we are so off the mark sometimes when we plan things out and try to figure things and people out on our own. I keep wondering where I drop off and Christ picks up and I think the answer is... when I have done everything I can think of to do and utilized all the resources and friends at my disposal and still I come up short, that is when Christ takes over. IF we are in his will and IF we are trusting Him for it.

May everything we do and say be only for the glory of Him who has called us to this work and may you be blessed as you serve Him wherever you are around the world. For my friends that don't know Jesus... I pray the blinders that have been placed on your eyes for so long by the enemy of your soul that wants nothing more than to destroy you and keep you from your purpose and lasting joy and happiness will be removed so that you can finally see truth. We love y'all and are praying for y'all!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Family of three :)

Yes finally I can announce that Alan and I are expecting our first child next May! I've been wanting to write in here for a while but I didn't want to say anything until the news was broadcast to all our family and friends. We've known for about 3 weeks now. We told my parents when they were over for a visit celebrating (in part) their 45th wedding anniversary. I racked my brain as to the best way to tell them and still have it be a surprise. For Charlotte, Christine did the whole surprise thing where she bought everyone a present and inside the presents we had little handpainted baby bottles and pacifiers with Baby Mills on them which I thought was adorable but I really wanted to do something different that represented me.

Roaming through Tesco's I decided that what defines me the most is probably my love for entertaining and given I was making dinner for my parents and their friends the Dicks as well as Alans parents that night I decided to serve the grandparents to be their desserts in winnie the pooh bowls with matching spoons and hopefully they would catch on. Well Alan and I were giggling in the kitchen as they were expounding on one subject over another at the dinner table and Alan went into the dining room and asked for everyone's attention where he then thanked them all for coming and said he just wanted to congratulate mom and dad on their anniversary. He said Mary's going to serve the dessert now and so I started handing out the bowls with the homemade triffle Alans dad had made and I only had to set the bowl down in front of Alans mom when Lynn Dicks (who was sitting next to Margaret) started screaming "NO WAY!!" I just smiled and handed out the rest of the bowls to mom and dad and Alans dad. Mom got up immediately to hug me and she kept saying she knew I was pregnant. She was crying. Margaret was also crying and just shaking her head that she couldn't believe it. Alans dad and my dad just sat there, in complete shock I guess. Finally someone had to explain it to to them I guess because my dad just burst into laughter like jolly old st. nicholas or something. At least that's what he reminded me of! lol

After dinner we skyped Christine and Russ and the kids and also Lee Anne to tell them the good news and we called Linda and Christine (Alans sisters) and they were all really pleased. We wanted to wait to make it more public though until we went for an appointment with the fertility doctor that next Wednesday and also for a scan which happened yesterday. The fertility doctor was very pleased for us because we wouldn't be needing his services after all (it was a God thing we know) and the scan went great with us able to see the baby in the ultrasound and see the little heartbeat going like crazy. He or she measured to be 6 weeks and 3 days so that puts me around May 26th I think for a due date but that will be confirmed when we go to the antenatal clinic.

Alan and I are truly amazed at Gods faithfulness to us. We were praying for a child and Alan said God promised him a child but I wasn't too sure that I had the ability to have one given I'd never been pregnant before. Apparently the hycosy procedure used on me may have helped to unstick my fallopian tubes so that I could conceive because we did only two days after the procedure was completed.

Now the exciting part. As of yesterday we're effectively nomads. Mihai and Simona returned from vacation to take over renting our house here in England so we've moved in with Alans parents for a week and a half. We then go to Germany where we'll be hosted by a sweet family from Georgia for a week before heading to orientation in Yorkshire. We then are back for two days before flying to Georgia on the 1st of November until December 30th. Our plans were to go home, raise our remaining support, see family, celebrate my 40th birthday, Alans 47th, my dads birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then when we returned stay about one more week in England before moving to Germany on mission.

Being pregnant "may" change things however. At this point we're leaving it all in Gods hands but so far we have been unable to qualify to get health insurance in Germany and it is a requirement that you have it before you are authorized to settle there. We're trusting God knows completely what he is doing so we're not stressing, we're just believing that He's either going to provide a way or He's going to give us another option until He does provide a way.

No matter what we're focusing on Jesus and we're so excited about our future. Homeless, broke and some uncertainty in sight - but what we do know is Jesus loves us, has always been faithful to us, has proven himself over and over and over again and he can be trusted with it all.

God is good and we are blessed!

Friday, 24 September 2010

When it rains it pours

I was just speaking to my sister Christine about this. Ever feel like the old saying is really true that when it rains it really does pour? They are in the process of refinancing their house, selling their car, buying a new one and taking care of two kids plus work, family, etc. Alan and I are in the process of moving out of our house, moving in with his parents, getting ready to move to Germany in January, visit Germany in October, go to orientation with Pioneers and then go home for two months to raise our remaining support, celebrate both our birthdays, go to Disney World with the family and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also need to figure things out like where we're going to live come January and where we're going to get our health insurance from, etc. There's more going on but those are a few of the highlights.

Still God remains so faithful to us. Always watching over us, caring for us. Alan and I have been reading a bit of I and II Kings and I Chronicles and I'm like Alan when we start reading the Old Testament it's hard to put it down. Story after story of Gods amazing grace and his heart being so good to his chosen people. We read about Elijah and the cave and God not being in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but in the quiet whisper. We read about King Josiah and how when he read from the book of the law how his heart was responsive and how he humbled himself and how he renewed the covenant to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul and how God was good to Him as a result. God wants our hearts to be responsive and he wants a relationship with us where we follow his commands not because God is trying to limit or control us but because the commands are for our good.

The last few weeks have been very busy. Mom and dad visited Wales with their good friends Happy and Lynn Dicks. They wanted it to be a missions oriented trip so they spent a great deal of time visiting Young lifers around Wales and seeing the work they were up to. They also spent about four or five days with us touring around and also playing golf up on the wirral. Alan and I had them over at our house the last two nights they were here for dinner and everyone seemed to have a good time. On the Sunday we celebrated Mom and Dads 45th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe they've been married that long or that we as their children are that old!!

Alan is still working every day at the church and the amazing work they've done on the guttering is really going to be great for the church long term. I'm down here today primarily because I was bored out of my mind at home. I've been busy packing and taking care of details for our move to Germany but with all the rain I've felt like I was going stir crazy and just had to get out of the house. This weekend we hope to pull the boat out of the water and fix it up so it can be sold. We have a guy really interested but it may just be messing us about too. He's called about a dozen times on the boat, gone to see it half a dozen times, etc. I told him we weren't going to take less than what it was worth but still he keeps calling. We'll see.

Only a week and a half to go before we move out of our home and move into Alans parents house. We spend ten days there and then we go to Germany for five days, then two days back then five days at orientation then two days back and finally eight weeks in Georgia. If you're reading this we would really appreciate your prayers for the following: 1) selling our boat 2) getting health insurance for Germany 3)finding a place to live in Germany 4) raising our remaining support 5)doctors appointments in the next few weeks 6) stress in moving and really good organizational skills.

We are so thankful for all our friends and family. I am also so grateful for my wonderful husband and for a God that I can have a relationship with on a daily basis. A God that created me for a purpose and that makes every day worth living.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Hillside Christian Centre

Two weeks ago Alan and I began his full-time and my part-time work at our church, Hillside Christian Centre. I'll try and take some pictures and post them so you can see the work we've done thus far. Basically it's a huge brick church built in 1860 that is falling apart. The guttering was never done properly so the walls in the big hall (which is currently used for storage and a one day a week charity shop) is infested with dry rot and was falling down in multiple locations. On the outside of the building there are large bushes growing out from the brick where water has dripped for the last decade without attention. There are also at least a dozen pigeons that have taken up roost in the tower of the church due to windows being broken from vandals in the area. In the past two weeks we've managed to knock down about 75% of the affected plastered walls and bag the rubble into last count 75 rubble bags. Those we've then lugged to the tip in small loads as we couldn't afford to rent a tip for a week. So our work continues but basically, it's a mess.

Alan started work right away on the guttering on the sides of the church and also in the alleyway that runs between the two buildings of the church that has been overgrown with more plants, more pigeons, more grime and more muck. Fortunately he's cleared all that out now and cleared all the guttering and has started the big job of replacing what needs replacing as well as putting up steel panels to protect the gutters from kids trying to climb them. Unfortunately this area of Birkenhead is prone to a lot of vandalism and destruction. The garden area the church worked so hard on was at least partially wrecked by a kid in the neighborhood only a couple of days after it was completed. Sad.

In addition to the work at the church I've been busy working on stuff for Germany. Sometimes it's hard to believe how much there is to do before we go but on a good note, our good friends Simona and Mihai from Romania are going to rent our house starting October 5th. Great, in that it's rented so we can feel free to move... not so great in that we have to be gone in a month and I've got a to do list a mile long! Anyway, it'll get done eventually I know :).

This morning we drove to the Manchester airport to see my mom and dad and Dr. and Mrs. Dicks at the Manchester airport. They are off to Welshpool for a few nights to stay at the young life castle for a prayer week before going to south wales and then back up along the coast. We'll meet them in about 9 days in Conwy in North Wales where we'll tour around with them for 2 days before they'll come here for 2 days. Should be fun :). Tomorrow we think we'll drive to Welshpool to see them and spend the day.

Right now we're gearing up for moving out, moving in briefly with Alans parents, going to Germany for about a week then orientation and then Georgia. Support raising is going well. My latest inspiration was to try and find 100 people who will give $10 a month and 100 people who will pledge $5 a month so that we can raise the remainder of what we need. In any case we're trusting the Lord that He'll give us the right number of prayer and financial supporters so we can do our work in Germany without too much stress over finances.

God is good and we are blessed!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Alans last day at Save the Family

Today is Alans last day at Save the Family.

Romans 12:19 comes to mind whenever I think of Save the Family. "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord."

God commands us to forgive. God commands us to love our enemies. God tells us we are blessed when we join Jesus in his sufferings.

Still... I'm glad he's leaving. I'm glad that we can with confidence leave the people that work there that misrepresent the gospel in Gods hands. I'm sorry that their misrepresentation of church and of Jesus and how he would act has probably kept a large number of non-christians that lived and worked there from wanting a relationship with Christ. I'm sorry that I had to leave the precious girls entrusted to me five months ago because I was not willing to compromise my faith and stop sharing the gospel. I'm sorry that in a supposedly christian organization, other christians were warned and targeted for dismissal because they shared their faith.

I'm glad Alan gave his heart and his time to people like the Darren's and the Jaime's and to fellow workers like the Pat's and the Jacki's. I'm glad he represented Christ by working hard for his non-christian bosses and by volunteering to work extra hours when no one else would. I'm glad he showed a picture of true Christianity even when all the things he loved about his job were taken away from him and he was given the most tedious and demeaning of tasks to complete.

No matter what situation God puts us in, we're there because he wants to teach us something. I pray the lessons learned from Save the Family will continue to grow us both as christians. I am so glad I can still have relationships with so many of the girls with which I worked. I pray that God will invade their lives and their futures and give them a step up into a world where they can live with confidence and purpose.

I hope to congratulate Alan with a nice dinner out and a movie before he takes the day tomorrow to go sailing. I'm sure during his time alone with the sea, the fish and with God he'll think back over his almost 10 years of service with the company and I pray that he'll focus only on the good memories and the difference he was able to make. He is my hero and without Save the Family we would never have met so for that at the very least, I will eternally be grateful to them.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Blogs, Sheds, Friends and Anticipated Finishings

So what exactly is a blog? What is its purpose? I thought about that today as I sat down to write our latest entry. This is what I came up with...

A blog is a journal that you willingly allow everyone to see.

A blog is a way of keeping up with your hectice life... how you were feeling when you did this... what was on your heart when you did that.

A blog is a way of writing one hundred letters simultaneously because whoever you send it to gets an update on your life, what they can pray for and in some way maybe it also serves to encourage others who have the same ups and downs, joys and struggles.

I don't think Alan has ever written a blog. Actually I think I can safely say he has not. He checked his facebook last night for the first time in six months only to see he had 24 friend requests and numerous messages and notifications gone unread.

My husband is to technology what I am to his shed. He asked me the other day whether I wanted to organize it for him (again) and I said, "absolutely and without a doubt, no". You see I've begun to see the shed only for what it holds that is useful to me if and when I desperately need it. For example, somewhere in the abyss I found the Miracle Grow to put on some flowers that were looking a little sad in my flower pot out front yesterday. Also about once a week I brave the shed to find the lawn mower and trimmer to mow the lawn as I took over house and yard maintenance when I stopped working. But really, the shed can just stay a disaster. There may be great treasures in there lurking that I would be really glad to find but for now I'm ok with just keeping the door shut. Alan is the same about computers. He likes ebay and looking at the tide predictions and weather forecast for the weekend for his sailing but that's about it.

Still, I love staying in touch with people. I looked at my friend list on Facebook yesterday and I was determined to de-friend some folks that added me as a friend but have never said a word to me since. The "I knew you or heard of you at sometime in my past" thinking as to why you add someone as a friend on Facebook just doesn't cut it for me any more. I still want meaningful relationships in the age of social computing. I use Facebook to stay in touch with dear friends that I love, that God has put into my life for a reason and that I want to encourage. I don't use it as a competition tool to see how many friends I can rack up versus someone else. Wasn't there a study done once on how many friends any one person can ever manage to have at any one time? I'm quite sure the number is under 355 - my current number of "Facebook" friends.

Anyway, blogs are also a great place to just randomly say anything you're thinking. Why in the world anyone would be interested in reading all the junk that goes on in my head is a mystery to me...

So - this week. Well, I guess I can say I've learned a lot about others and a lot about myself this week. At the church, many came to work with the family of one of the leaders in our church on the back garden. The before and after transformation is amazing. I felt very blessed by the Lord for working the one day that I did. God just kept reminding me to work for him and so that's what I tried to do - work with all my might so that He would be pleased. When Alan and I finally got home I was sooo exhausted but I also felt so blessed inside. Only God can do that.

Alan and I have also had some really good discussions and we've tried as much as possible to stop getting offended or upset when we debate about things where we have different opinions. I'm amazed at how different we are and yet how alike we are in our thinking. Culturally I feel like I have much more in common with the Romanians I've met since being here than with the Brits I've met. I'm re-reading a book called Foreign to Familiar and it says this should be expected because Romanians and Southerners from the US are "hot", relationship oriented cultures and most of northern Europe is classified as very "cold", individually oriented cultures. Still - God was so gracious and good to bring us together. We've been married now nearly one and a half years and we are more giddy together now than ever. We laugh and kiss and hug nearly all the time when we're alone. I think we'll be newlyweds for several more years if not forever and I love that! Only God could have taken me from what I had before to what I have now.

One of the best parts of my week was definitely getting to know Julia better. I call her my long lost twin. Julia is from Romania and is very good friends with Mihai and Simona in our church and housegroup. Mihai and Simona are two people that Alan and I think the world of so it wasn't surprising that we took to Julia so quickly. A lot of the things that had troubled my spirit about our church and about England, she also has picked up on and now I don't feel as crazy as I did before.

Having her come to minister to us at our housegroup on the 5th was amazing. I think we all felt the Holy Spirit really minister to us through her singing and her words of encouragement. She also came and led worship the following Wednesday for Influence and then Thursday for housegroup again. Wednesday was amazing. I just felt God came down and ministered to the youth and adults alike. Mere Christianity continues to blow all our minds I think. How God used C.S. Lewis to write the books he wrote that speak to the hearts of both christian and non-christian alike amazes me.

Our housegroup on Thursday was also good but it was more relaxed and I couldn't tell if it was because we were all just so tired or what exactly but there was definitely a different spirit in the room. Still we encouraged and loved on eachother and had a few laughs and it was good. Julia also led worship yesterday at church and I promise you it just couldn't have gotten any better. Please join with us in praying that she will raise the money she needs to continue to minister in Romania. She has a love for her people that is so wonderful and both Alan and I are praying Gods perfect choice for her for a husband will be found so that they can minister together in Romania. She deserves someone that will cherish her and someone that was hand-picked for her from the beginning of time and I believe God knows who that is and is waiting to bring him into her life at just the perfect time... just like he did for me with Alan.

Speaking of Alan, this is his last week of work at Save the Family. He's worked on and off for them for ten years and we're so grateful that God is going to provide for us so he can leave. We look forward to working for the Lord at the church starting next week until we go to Germany in mid October. Please pray Gods will would be done in every decision we and our church makes and in every step we take and please pray our house will sell. We love you all so very much.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Fighting with Demons

Last night neither Alan nor I could sleep. Alan described how he had to go downstairs to pray and he kept praying until he felt Gods peace sweep over him. He said it was like he was fighting with demons. Spiritual warfare - that's what we've been experiencing for the past few months. Just one attack after the other. Maybe sometimes you feel that way but instead of seeing it from the way scripture describes it, you take it personally. You feel like your battle is with that guy at your job or the fellow christian at your church. Well the bible says it's not. The bible in Ephesians chapter 6 says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Woah! Do we ever really sit to think about that?

C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, "Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from your friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snoberry. I know someone will ask me, 'Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil - hoofs and horns and all?' Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is 'Yes, I do.' I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person. 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'"

At Audacious last week one of the speakers was talking about how his best friend when he was little nearly drowned, in fact he did drown and was dead for some period of time. He relayed the story of how when he was dying everything went dark. It was so dark in fact that he couldn't see his hand waving directly in front of his face. He also was falling. As he was falling he heard screams. Screams that were horrible but also screams that were so bad they made your blood go cold. He said he got to a gate and there was the most hideous creature he'd ever seen covered with scales. The demon reached through the gate and grabbed hold of his shoulder to pull him into hell and when he did the boy screamed so loud! "STOP!" said a voice behind him. The demon cried, "He's MINE". The voice said, "NO, HE'S MINE - LET HIM GO!" to which the demon let go of the boy and shrunk back in fear. The boy said he remembered waking up in the hospital bed and seeing the doctors working on him. His father knelt beside the bed praying. He told his son he had prayed to God that if he would save him he would give him to God in service for the rest of his life. That boy has now grown up and is the pastor of a thriving, Christ-centered church. He believed because he experienced it first hand.

Hearing him tell the story made the hairs on my arms stand up. You see when I was a teenager I had an encounter with a demon as well. It may have been with more than one but this encounter didn't last only one night, it was multiple nights in a row and also during the day. I heard voices and saw things that to this day I will never forget. It's why I don't watch horror films of any kind. I know from personal experience that there is a spiritual battle going on around us at all times. I know that prayer, the blood of Jesus and the word of God are three pieces of armor God gives us to hold the enemy at bay and to defeat him in the lives of the people we love and in our own lives. This is a war where we are being attacked by things we can't see and if we're being honest, usually it feels like these attacks are from people who really aren't our enemies at all.

We need to recognize, like how Paul writes in Ephesians, that we must put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves from the evil one. We need to fight against our flesh which acts so worldly at times. In our churches, we need to come against the spirit of division and disunity and pray for our brothers and sister in Christ who are undergoing the same kinds of suffering we are. God has made us for eachother and we must love and support eachother while not compromising for Jesus while we're doing it.

Christians can act very unchristianlike. I know because I group myself in that category. I also know because I watch the behavior, the power struggles, the pride and the anger of people that should know better. However, praise be to God who's not finished with us yet. May we sharpen eachother as iron sharpens iron.

Friday, 30 July 2010

For at the proper time...

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galations 6:9-10.

Not becoming weary, getting down or frustrated but continuing to do good to all people, especially to the family of believers. If we do that the bible promises we will reap of harvest - IF we do not give up. Please pray for staying power for Alan and me with our work in the church - despite the discouragements and the lack of leadership we've experienced. Right now the church is in a sort'of transition time and we really need God to step in and speak as to how He wants us to proceed. Also please pray that God would have his hand on our house here in Moreton and that it would sell or rent, according to His purpose and His timing for us to move to Germany.

Last Friday Alan put in his notice at Save the Family - H A L L E L U J A H ! ! !
We've decided we're going to put the bulk of both our time into the church until we leave for Germany, orientation with Pioneers and Georgia. In actuality it's a little less than 2 months but we're hoping to get a lot of work done in that time. Dates so far are visting and volunteering in Germany for a week in the middle of October, orientation the week of October 24th -29th and Georgia from November 1st until December 29th. God willing then we'll move to Germany in January.

We appreciate each of you so much and covet your prayers...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Mere Christianity

By far, Mere Christianity has to be one of the best books ever written. My dad read it 30 plus years ago and it in part led to his becoming a christian. I read it for the first time in a C.S. Lewis devotional study where it and about 5 of his other books were broken apart, one page at a time so you could digest this mans intellect and the power with which God spoke through him a little bit at a time.

Lately I've been re-reading the book and I can't seem to get enough. So much so that I decided the youth at our church would really benefit from reading it as well but instead of giving them all a copy and wishing them luck I decided to teach on the book during our Wednesday night Influence meetings. We've had two so far and we haven't even touched on christianity yet. The first week we talked about the Moral Law, or Law of Human Nature, Law of Decency or Fair play. We talked and came to agreement that there was such a law pressing on each of us and we talked about how it describes not the behavior that we do exhibit as humans but the behavior we "ought" to exhibit.

So point one in lesson one was there is a moral law. Point two was we break it.

Simple enough, the group seemed to enjoy the interaction and the excuse to use their brains during their summer holidays.

Lesson two started last night and I got so pumped up in preparing that my notes alone were 13 pages long. As the night approached I got more and more intimidated by the study and the power of the words of the book and its implications and really had to give it all over to the Holy Spirit to say what he wanted me to say. We started with instincts and impulses and how the Moral Law is not one of our insticts but instead is the voice you hear that helps you to judge between two competing insticts (Millo saving Josh who is currently drowning in the Mersey (instinct to help someone) versus his instict not to drown (instinct for self-preservation). The moral law says it really doesn't care how difficult or how dangerous something is to do, if it's the right thing to do then we should do it all the same.

We discussed about whether the moral law was simply something passed down to us and taught to us by our parents and our teachers and we discussed that yes it probably is but we also discussed how there are two classes of things that are taught to us, 1) the class of things which could be different depending on where you live or the time you live in (driving on the right hand side of the road in America versus the left hand side (in England)


2) pure truths (multiplication table 2x2 = 4 everywhere you go).

Our goal was to determine which one the moral law belonged to.

As the moral law is the standard by which we judge two moralities or two impulses, we concluded that it was pure truth (the real right). This moral law is something we haven't made but nevertheless seems to be pressing on us and it's something that is above and beyond the ordinary facts of mens behavior.

We asked what this tells us about the universe. We looked at science and what the goal of science must be and we discussed how science works by experiment but how science can not say if there is anything behind the things science observes or "why" that something is there or why the universe is there or why it goes on and on, etc. However we do have one thing that we know more about than we could learn from external observation and that thing is man.

Because we are men, we have inside information so to speak and we do find that men are under this moral law. We then talked about how if the moral law showed how we "ought" to behave rather than how we "do" in fact behave (unlike the stone who obeys the law of gravitation, we're showing what the stone in fact "does") then that something else is above the facts and can not itself be one of the facts. We used the illustration C.S. Lewis uses about the architect of a house can not also be one of the walls or doors in the house and just like there is one behind the design of a house there is a mind or power behind the universe. This mind or power must be a great artist (because the universe is very beautiful) but he must also be very merciless to humans (because the universe is also a very dangerous and terrifying place).

Since this mind or power could not make himself any of the facts inside the universe then the only way it could show itself to us would be inside us as an influence trying to get us to behave in a certain way and this is exactly what we do find. This bit of evidence about a "somebody" behind the universe shows he's intensely interested in right conduct, in fair play, in unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness. C.S. Lewis talks about this power behind the moral law being tough as nails and there was no pointing in asking it to let you off any more than it would make sense to ask the multiplication table to let 2x2 = 7 in your case. It's also no use in saying you are not going to bother with him because at least a part of you agrees with him. You disapprove of human exploitation, greed, treachery. You may want him to make an exception in your case but in your heart of hearts you know that unless the power behind the universe really and unalterably detests that sort of behavior, he cannot be good.

BUT if there is an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do and this is the terrible fix we are in.

We read the passage about how we have made ourselves enemies to God and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow. Here is the passage because I think it's one of the most powerful passages I've ever read. "If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the last likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we must need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger - according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way."

Powerful stuff.

The last point for the evening was the fact that Christianity does not make any sense without facing the facts C.S. Lewis has described thus far. Christianity tells people to repent and promises forgiveness. It has nothing to say to those who think they've got nothing to repent of. It is only when you realise there is a moral law and a power behind the law and that you have broken the law and put yourself wrong with that power - it is only then that Christianity begins to speak. When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor. When you realise your position is desperate you will begin to understand what Christians are talking about.

Christianity offers an explanation of how we got into our present state and how God can be this impersonal mind at the back of the moral law and yet also a person. They say how the demands of the law that we cannot meet, have been met on our behalf. How God himself became a man to save man from the disapproval of God.

We must all face the facts and if we are honest they are, as C.S. Lewis describes them, terrifying facts.

We have set ourselves up against the God of the Universe. The one that made the sun that would pelvarize you in an instant if you came too close.

Christianity is a religion of unspeakable comfort but it does not start that way. It begins in dismay.

Thank you God for C.S. Lewis and for his brain and for his willingness to allow you to speak through Him and thank you for a youth group that is at least willing to challenge everything they think they know about Christianity...

Next week we discuss Christianity and "the invasion" :))

Saturday, 3 July 2010

My Georgia trip thus far...

Well, all I can say is I'M TIRED!!!

So why am I deciding to update my blog instead of go to sleep? I have no idea. Probably because I'll forget to do it if I don't do it while it's on my mind.

Let's see... today is July the 3rd (Saturday). I got here on June the 22nd (Tuesday) so I need about a week and a half update. Ok wait for it... here it is... YARD SALE>>> CRAIGSLIST>>>EBAY!! These three little words (well four if you count yard sale as two) have absolutely consumed my first week and a half here at home.

Today we held what I consider to have been an incredibly successful yard sale to support Alans and my ministry to Germany. We had it at Christine's. I was up at 5:30 after not getting to bed until midnight and there were people coming TO the yard sale at 6:30. There are actually people in this world that I believe do nothing except anticipate yard sales, wait for them, get up SUPER early for them and then run around to as many as possible BEFORE any of them officially open. These people are what I call "NUTS!!" One lady who visited me today I am now lovingly referring to as the whirlwind. She was a PRO. That's all I can say. She came, she conquered, she took a ton of stuff and she got a GREAT deal for it all. She said it was because she was a very good shopper. Either that or I was a very BAD saleswoman! Ah well, she was taking it to Africa to folks that needed it and I figured God would be happy with me giving her all sorts of bargains so I did.

It's Monday night now - I was too tired to finish the other night so I'll finish now.

I just completed a rough draft of our support letter that I need to print, address and mail before I head back to England. Mom and Dad are looking at it now and Alan still has to look at it but it would be great if I could get them off before leaving. This by far has been the busiest "vacation" I've ever had. The stuff I listed on ebay sold last night so now I have to get it all packed up and mailed tomorrow. Once I get that done, I'll get the support letters off and see about half a dozen people for coffee or lunch plus get a few more supplies to take back and pack and then and only then I'll be ready to go :). Today was a great relaxing day though. It started with swimming at Russ' and Christine's house, then a great barbeque grill out followed by pedicures and eyebrow waxes for the sisters. My eyebrows looked like a bush and my feet - well let's just not talk about my feet. When I worked at Microsoft and made a bunch of money I went to get my nails done every two weeks like clockwork. Now I go when I come home to Georgia - so about every 3-4 months :)). Ah well, it was great fun being with my sisters. Mom made spaghetti for dinner and I was able to skype Alan and other than being very tired himself, he was well.

Pastor Carlos has been preaching on the minor prophets this summer so I've been able to hear him preach on Nahum and Habakuk so far. Both good messages. Last Sunday college class was on and I enjoyed hearing Vic speak as well. We always get into some good debates. Unfortunately Vic decided to be a slacker and take a mini-vacation to Alabama last week over the 4th of July so college class was cancelled this week. Too bad.

Alan and I could use your prayers to find a renter for our home here in Athens. The girls that have been renting are moving out at the end of July and having the house sit without renters will cost us a fortune. Please pray God brings the right people and if He's willing, by August :).

Being home is always wonderful because I love seeing family and friends but I have really missed Alan. It'll be great getting back to him and back to our church. I was sorry I missed Julian speak and I always hate missing our housegroup and youth but I've needed to be here and so far we've made close to $1500 from the yard sale and ebay/craigslist stuff selling and I've cleared out everything in the attic so we're pleased.

God is good.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Keeping track of the days...

Have you ever noticed how busy you are and how you wish you kept up with everything you do on a daily basis so that when you are really tired and you wonder why you could look back at the list and say - oh yeah!! that's why!!

Since I last wrote, Alan and I have had our days absolutely chopped full. Last Tuesday and Wednesday we had a series of tests at the hospital to try to figure out why we can't seem to have children - FUN :Z. Thursday we drove with our pastor to Bawtry in Yorkshire for a final interview with Pioneers. The meeting went well and we were happy to be asked to come on board with Pioneers full-time serving in Germany starting in January of 2011. Now the fun part begins with fund raising and support gathering. Alan and I are both learning to trust God fully to meet all our needs. I guess in some ways I'm a bit further along in the trust department because I remember how God miraculously provided for me while I was with Teen Missions but Alans never been dependent on anyone other than his parents and so he is understandably a bit more apprehensive.

In any case, we are prepared to go and we're excited to go. We know there is a ton of work God is calling us to do and hopefully others will want to be a part of our team as we reach out to German nationals, University of Heidelberg students and US Army Base soldiers and their families. In addition to this we hope to work very closely with the local church God led us to on our Easter trip to Germany, with their youth group, deaf and homeless ministries as well as eventually lead a small group out of our home. Other thoughts we've had are to open a missions training house where christians can come to be encouraged, discipled and eventually trained for outreach and evangelism locally and also around the globe. We've also talked about a charity, cake & coffee shop to use for outreach into the community. Growing our team in Germany will be a focus too as we hope to host Pioneers Edge Summer teams and other individuals looking to serve God in Germany like us.

After returning from Bawtry, Friday's focus went to selling my car and listing our house for sale. In fact I spent the majority of the day cleaning the house so that estate agents could come to evaluate it and the rest of my day cleaning out the car to sell it. I didn't want to sell my car but with us moving to Germany and with the cost of running it being so expensive both Alan and I decided one car would suffice for us both. My driving of manual cars has improved although I've not yet psyched myself up for the driving test. Maybe after Georgia :). In the end I did sell my car for the asking price so I was happy.

On Saturday Alan and I worked at the church for several hours clearing out the back garden to make way for new landscaping and a barbeque area for the church. I love gardening :) I think I got it from my dad. After that Alan really wanted to go sailing so I went with him and took webster and we took pictures from the shore and then walked the about 4 miles back home while Alan sailed.

Sunday was a good prayer meeting at church followed by the church service. Iain spoke on the Walls of Jerusalem and on Nehemiah getting the whole town to chip in to make it happen. He likened it to our work at Hillside and how if each person just did a little bit we could make it happen which was exactly what Alan and I were saying to eachother the day before. After church we tidied up a bit before going sailing together. It was the first time the Mary Belle had been out to sea (rather just staying in the bay) and we just had a blast sailing her. She handled really well and Alan is a great sailor. He'll be sad when he sells the boat to help raise funds for Germany but it's good he's gettin this time now to sail her after the amount of work he put into the boat to make her sea-worthy.

Today I had to run around like a crazy woman to get the house cleaned so the estate agent could come and take pictures for our brochure and board. I also had to check-in for my flight, pack, mail the stuff sold on ebay and run errands (literally as I have no car now! :)). Tonight we have a leadership meeting at the church and then I'll finish packing and we'll try to get to bed early as we need to leave for the airport no later than 7am for Alan to make it to work on time.

If you're reading this and you're in prayer this week... please pray for us. Pray specifically that we won't miss each other too much while I'm in Georgia and while Alan stays here in England. Pray that we'll begin to raise funds for our mission to Germany and that I'll be able to sort out and sell lots of my stuff stored in the attic at home. Pray that God will watch over us as we spend the last few months here in England and that we'll keep focused on our end goal. Pray that if God is willing for us to have children that He'll give the doctors wisdom as to what could be wrong and that we'll be blessed with a child (or two!). Finally pray that the love between us will continue to grow and that we'll cling closer and closer to Jesus and to eachother as we step out in faith to serve Him. We're so thankful for each of you and for all the prayers you've prayed for us already. :)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Last minute trip to Georgia planned

Well last week Alan and I decided it would be a good idea for me to try to get to Georgia to see my family and to begin generating prayer and financial support for our mission to Germany. Also I'll be going through my attic and doing another major clear-out to raise funds to pay for our plane tickets home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My plan was to go in July or August but the plane tickets jumped several hundred quid between June and July so I made a last minute decision to go this month.

Given that this week has suddenly turned nuts - sooooo much to do! First priority is our interview with Pioneers on Thursday in Bawtry. Then we're listing our house for sale and are also selling my Clio and about a dozen things on ebay to raise some funds. Doctors appointments to try and figure out why we haven't been able to have children yet and driving lessos. In addition to that we have the regular youth on Wednesday and Friday and Housegroup on Thursday.

Next week it's Georgia, time with the family, my precious nieces and sell, sell, sell! Looking forward to seeing great friends and enjoying the time away but I will miss my husband and sweet dog Webster to bits. God is starting to carve our path to Germany and we couldn't be more excited!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Watching God move in the lives of Teenagers

Sorry it's been a while again since I've posted but I've found being out of work has left me more consumed with things to do than ever before. Currently what consumes my time the most is work with my church which is fantastic because it's what I want to do for the rest of my life. Working for God has got to be the coolest job ever because it really doesn't feel like work and it brings so much joy and such a feeling of purpose and accomplishment. Nothing I ever received at Microsoft or Expedia or any other job even came close to what I feel as a full-time missionary.

Even though we haven't had our final interviews with Pioneers and received our appointment letter for Germany both Alan and I feel like I'm already in full-time christian service. I have been blessed to join up as a leader in our youth group and am also serving one day a week for a charity out of our church called the Ministry of Food. What I've enjoyed doing the most for them is building a database of manufacturers who could provide excess or unwanted food and charities who would want to come and get it. It's been nearly ten years since I was a database developer at LaserDirect and I just love working with data. Strange I know but I do love it! Probably because of the organization it creates and you all know how I love to be organized! lol

The other day I was cleaning out my house, throwing stuff away, finding stuff to sell on ebay to supplement our finances and I thought - wow I really love doing this kind of thing lol. I'm sure God thought it was funny to stick someone who absolutely loves being organized with a husband who really couldn't be bothered to organize anything if his life depended on it! I reference his car, boat and wardrobe as evidence to this claim lol. Alan is a fix-it man and fortunately for him today I made a list of fix-it tasks around the house that need to be done before we move to Germany. It's two pages, single-spaced. Haha he laughed when he saw it. I'm not sure how to take that exactly!! :)

Tonight we had a leadership meeting at the church where we talked primarily about the youth group and everything Hannah and I have been working on and planning for the next few months ahead. I absolutely love watching God move in the lives of teenagers. Just in the last few days I've had half a dozen of the teens we're working with ask me to get them bibles. One girl that I like a lot who is very shy asked Jesus into her heart on Sunday and I look forward to taking her through an aalpha course so she can fully understand the implications of her decision and also help disciple her for a few months before we go. God has been so faithful to continue to put people in my path that I can work with, minister to and challenge. About a month ago I started a scripture memory challenge with our Wednesday night Influence group and the teens have really taken to it. They moan and groan a bit when I stop them on the street and make them quote the verses but as long as scripture gets engrained in their heads I can put up with the moaning :)).

Whether here in the UK or in Germany I know Alans and my missions focus will be on teenagers - evangelizing to them, discipling them, training them up in all areas of their lives and getting them onto the missions field. There's nothing better in all the world than seeing young people on fire for God and spreading that fire to their friends, their families and their schools. The great thing about the 15-23 age is most haven't become callous,hard or hurt yet, they all love a good challenge and they are dreamers. They believe they can do anything and with someone believing in them and loving them I honestly believe they can too.

Desperate for love, desperate for attention and desperate for Jesus - what better mission field could there be?!?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Not so great surprises

The Lord is teaching me to be on my guard for the little things which if not handled well can easily develop into something big and ugly.

Little things like this...

Alan is addicted to boats. I tried to choose my wording there carefully but addicted was the only thing close enough to describe this mans passion about sailing. He had his first sailboat when I met him but because he was very poor, no - not just regular poor but VERY poor, he decided to sell his boat to buy my engagement ring so we could be married. From the moment he told me what he'd done I've been trying to find a way to get him a replacement. Last Christmas I scraped together our pennies and bought a very run-down, needs a LOT of work but has potential sailing boat that he could fix up and use.

Fast forward to yesterday...

Alan has been rushing to get the boat finished these last few weeks so he could put it in the water this weekend. Functionally the boat was pretty sound and sea worthy but asthetically it was in need of a huge makeover. Alan had talked extensively about needing to paint it and had said to me several times, "want to paint my boat?" to which I always replied, "no thanks - that's your baby to do with as you'd like". When he took my inside for the first time he commented, don't worry I'm going to paint this white and you'll love it. He even surprised me by telling me he was going to name it "Mary Belle" for Beautiful Mary.

awwwwwww :)

Well, seeing that I had done nothing to help him and that he only had a couple of days remaining before his planned launch I decided to surprise him by cleaning his boat up really well. I'm pretty terrified of heights and so getting on the boat was a challenge but once I did I set to work and scrubbed and scrubbed to try to get it clean. Unfortunately there was no denying it needed a paint job so I decided to go to the boat paint store to buy what I needed to touch up the red sides and then paint the inside white like he had asked.

£46 pounds later I left the boat store and headed home. By 4:00pm I had finished the red and painted about 1/2 of the white and was running out of both paint and time. I so desperately wanted the whole boat painted before Alan got home but in the end decided he'd be happy with what I'd done so far and I'd tell him I'd finish it on Friday in time for him to take it out on the weekend.

I went inside and showered and waited for him to get home. In fact I waited upstairs by the window to see the expression on his face when he saw his new, clean painted boat. Unfortunately when he arrived he didn't notice anything and came straight inside, then there was a pause and I heard, "Mary - what have you done to my boat?" But it wasn't in a good way. It was in horror. I waited and watched him go back outside and when I saw the look on his face knew I had done something terribly, terribly wrong. It was as if I'd murdered his first born.

I told him I wanted to surprise him and that I had painted it just as he said he wanted it - white inside and out and touching up the red but he just looked at me like I'd stabbed him through the heart and then he said "oh I'm surprised but it's not in a good way... it's a terrible surpise!"

Well I was crushed. Apparently when he said he wanted the boat white he didn't really mean white - he meant he wanted to touch up the ugly cream that was already there and when he said he wanted me to paint the boat, he was only joking. I was so sorry I had spent my entire day going up and down the ladder, to the boat store twice, to the hardware store for paint thinner and more brushes and in the end only made a complete mess of it. Ha - I even took things to spruce up the inside like a little survival kit, family pictures, books on sailing, etc. He hated it - everything - hated.

Why is it the little things in life have such a big impact whereas the big stuff we seem to handle in stride? I promise you that the boat situation was far worse then most of the things we've had to face as a couple together. In reality though - it's nothing~! I tried to surpise my husband because I loved him doing what I thought he wanted and he hated it. So what!? It wasn't as if I intentionally tried to hurt or harm him.

He got upset because something I did wasn't perfect. So what!? Isn't he allowed to dislike some of the things I do? At least he was honest - brutally is probably not saying it strongly enough but hey, he didn't just tell me he didn't love me any more, was leaving and was having an affair with a married woman!

Why is it so hard for us to put things into perspective? Why do the little things rattle us so much? Please God sort out the little things so that we don't blow them up to be big things.

In the end our housegroup made us laugh as we retold the story last night. Mercifully we also got to hear stories of other funny husband/wife disagreements and differences. We're so grateful for our church and the love of the people there. God is good - though the big things yes but even more so through the little.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lots going on - God is good

I've been busier than anticipated and haven't written for a couple of weeks so lots of updating to do.

First I'll say that my appeal against my dismissal was denied on the basis of being able to fire any one for any reason within their first year of employment. What is the most tragic thing is that everyone involved knows I was fired because I was extremely vocal about my faith and because I challenged the leadership of the organization to behave in a Christ-like way. Sometimes it's much easier just to silence your critics than repent and behave as you know you should. The CEO, who is not a christian, has made a lot of bad choices and has struggled. Most we've talked to believe it won't be long before he is forced out. Our lawyers told us we could fight the decision at an employment tribunal and that it was a clear case of unfair and wrongful termination but that given the laws in England we could not anticipate damage awards beyond what STF has already given so we told them we thought it was a waste of their time. We're grieved for the entire organization but we will wipe the dust off our feet and move on to bigger and better things ahead.

Speaking of ahead... Pioneers. Today I am working on our anticipated budget for Germany which is difficult given we will be the first team to locate there. Still, we have to put something together so we can begin raising funds so I'll base it on our budget here in England which will be about right from the comparisons we've seen. Within the next month we hope to get a final interview with Pioneers to get our appointment letter and then God willing raise our funds within 3-6 months so we can go to Germany by the first of the year.

In the meantime I believe God has been telling me to start helping out more in our local church and in one of the ministries out of the church called the Ministry of Food led by the same man who started Pater Noster, a ministry to the people of Romania. This week I have worked two days doing admin stuff for his charity and I will go down all day tomorrow as well. Right now the warehouse is in Liverpool so that's where we operate out of although it's a Wirral based charity. The goal of the ministry is to take unwanted but still good food from food manufacturers that would otherwise end up in landfills and distribute that food to the poor by means of dozens of charities in the Merseyside, Cheshire and Flintshire areas. It's a good ministry that deserves support and I hope that by helping them 1-2 days a week I can alleviate some of their workload.

Alan has decided to stay at STF until we move to Germany but he changes his mind occassionally and would like nothing more than to hand in his notice and be gone in a month. Still I think he can have a ministry there representing true christianity but will support any decision he decides to make. Alans freetime has been consumed with getting his sailboat sea-worthy so he can sail it this summer before he has to sell it when we move to Germany. The boat has cleaned up well and I think it'll be in the water before the end of the month. We got a used outboard for it at a steal of a deal and he was happy about that.

The other big development for us both is our continued involvement with the church. I've started getting more and more involved with the youth through helping with the band practice, the Wednesday night core group and the Friday night activities. They are a great group of students that could turn Birkenhead on its head in the months and years ahead. It'll be exciting to watch them grow in their faith and become the leaders I know they can be. Alan and I also started a prayer group on Sunday morning before church that we hope will grow. We continue to lead our housegroup out of our house on Thursday nights although we never know from week to week how many we'll have. My hope is that God will really move in our church and that more people will come to know the Lord and those that do know Him will be renewed in their walks and feel more joy and peace and relief from suffering. England is a dark place but God still loves this country and wants revival to begin with His church.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Appeals and Gods provision

Alan and I have been completely blown away this past week watching God provide for us. On Monday, the 19th Alan and I drove to London to meet with the legal team at the Christian Legal Centre - the legal organization behind Christian Concern for our Nation. We were referred to them by Fiona Bruce's husband, a christian solicitor in Alans old church at the Foundry. We were working with a case manager there, Mr. Onn Sein Kon and he has been wonderful to us. They dedicated Monday for us to come and talk about our case against my employer and fortunately Alan was able to get the day off to go with me.

Our meeting lasted almost four hours with us both giving testimony as to how things are run at STF and how we've been treated as well as speaking directly to the complaint filed against me. Co-founder of Concern for our Nation and Director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams was able to join us for the better part of the meeting and it was her opinion that we should try and go and resolve our dispute directly with the directors with the hope that the unfair dismissal could be squashed and I be reinstated. If not, she seemed to think we should fight hard against the company and not allow how I and so many others have been treated to continue. Alan and I were incredibly humbled by the interest our case has received and by the intelligent and highly capable christians God has brought alongside to help us. We left the meeting overwhelmed by His provision.

On Tuesday I took the train to meet Alan after he got off work so we could go and see the directors. They did not look happy to see us but did agree after Alan told them we were there because God told us to come. It was our goal not to take my dismissal through the courts but to resolve it in a christian way but after our talk with the chairman it was clear there was nothing we were going to say or do that was going to change her mind about us. We had betrayed her when we stopped attending and volunteering at her chapel service in favor of attending a local church and in her mind it was unimaginable and unforgiveable. I think we both just felt sorry for her and all of the unforgiveness that she holds so dear to her heart. We told her we forgave her and all those that had tried to slander my name and that we loved them very much but in the end we left and awaited my appeal.

Wednesday night we went to housegroup and asked everyone to pray for us. Not only did they pray but they also agreed to meet and pray during the exact hours of my appeal the following morning. We are so grateful for christian brothers and sisters who stand by you through difficult times.

The appeal was held on Thursday morning. I was glad when it was just the member of the board of trustees and us because if Helen had been there she would have more than likely continued her deceit. We had prayed that lying tongues be shut and for me this was an answer to prayer. She was made available to us if we needed her but I didn't think it would be necessary. It was important for me that the member of the board hear our story and then we were simply going to trust the situation to God and to the board. If they wanted to change the organization then they could do it. I was not foolish enough to think anything I did would effect much change.

Our legal team at Christian Legal Centre helped us write a ten page statement that I was to read. About half way through the board member just said to me, "what is it that you want?" He said he had the power to squash the CEO's decision to fire me, overturn it and impose some other penalty like a warning or uphold the decision. I told him I wanted my name cleared and I did not want to return to the company. I told him Alan wanted to leave as well and would accept a redundancy if offered. It's Monday now and we haven't heard anything yet. I anticipate hearing in the next couple of days and their response will determine whether we go to tribunal or not. If the decision is upheld then we will definitely go because it's clear I've done nothing that warrants being dismissed.

Other than my appeal, we enjoyed two housegroups in a row - the one Wednesday night at Sam and Mercy's and the one at our house Thursday night. Alan encouraged me to teach part of the study and I really enjoyed doing it. Alan complimented me about how well I did which made me feel good. It was a good group that came out - Hannah was able to join us and she brought her mom and Ashley as well. Mihai and Simona, Karen and Alan and Michael and us rounded out the group. Only one more study in J.Jon's The Lord's Prayer and then we're going to shift to doing a book of the bible we think.

Friday night I told Hannah I would come and help out at youth. Alan had to work late on Friday so I went by myself and it was such a great time. I just love our youth group and how they are living for Jesus. Friday nights are the times when lost kids all over Birkenhead can also join in and so there must have been around 40 that came that night. The church has a pool table and a couple of WII's, plenty of board games, a play station, ping pong table, etc. The youth leaders sort'of monitor everything and then lead big group games starting around 9:30. I didn't end up leaving til 11 and I was exhausted!

Saturday we just relaxed here (Alan worked on his boat) and then we went for date night to Pizza Express at Cheshire Oaks. Only cost us .75p with my £30 of Tesco voucher coupons so we were happy about that! :) Yesterday Simona and Mihai joined us for lunch here after church. We had mexican fajitas and then went to the beach to fly our kite. It was a fun day and we are grateful to know both of them. We love how much they love Jesus!

Today I started considering part-time jobs. Well actually I'd been considering them for a while but today I started re-doing my resume in preparation for actually searching for some. Alan wants me to get a job in Liverpool but I'd rather do almost anything than work in Liverpool! He asked me what I wanted to do and I said work in a bakery or at the medical office here in Moreton! :P He laughed and suggested I work at Tesco which I actually might consider if we can get discounts on groceries by doing so! :))

Well clothes to fold and dinner to prepare so I better run. More later...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pioneering to the heart of Europe

Last night Alan and I, along with Bob and Joan from Hillside, met with Steve Ludwig and Paul Lowe from the UK office of Pioneers for dinner in Manchester. It was a discovery meeting for both sides. Did we think Pioneers was a good fit for us? Did they think we were a good fit for Pioneers?

We came away after a nice dinner still asking those questions but maybe not as strongly as before we met. I for one, came away more firmly knowing that God has called Alan and I to Germany (we believe to Heidelberg specifically) and to helping train, encourage and mobilize Germans to become missionaries to wherever God is calling them. We want to play hosts for those seeking short-term exposure to missions in Germany - whether that be a Teen Missions team, a church group from the states or the UK or individuals and teams sent through Pioneers. We also want to evangelize and disciple Germans, US Army Soldiers and the students that attend University there. At our foundation though is getting heavily involved in a local church. We liked the one we visited over Easter - Victory International and as such have sent email to the pastor there today trying to find out more and seek out His heart for the church and the people of Heidelberg.

Known as the "heart of Europe", Heidelberg lies approximately 80km south of Frankfurt which is in central Germany. The population is nearly 140,000 which is big in comparison to Athens. 1/5 of these are students - nearly 30,000 of them attend Heidelberg University and of this, roughly 5,000 are international students. 1/7 of the entire population are non-German nationals. There are at least two US army bases there and a NATO branch - one of which we saw on our way to church, the Mark Twain Army base. These bases give us great opportunity for reaching out to those that have had to relocate and are experiencing a combination of excitement for living in Europe with an anxiety for missing home, learning the language and culture and fitting in.

Heidelberg is gorgeous. It sits in the mountains and it's old town (altstadt) runs along the Rhine where there are a series of locks that let boats and barges go up and down the river. Above the town sits the Heidelberg Schloss (castle) which Alan says reminds him of the tower of Babel. Mark Twain describes it best though I think when he says, "Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it." In 1976 the streets in the old town were pedestrianized and the beautiful cobblestones stretch out against some of the most fantastic shops I've ever seen.

There are some exciting possibilities and so we continue to push doors in this direction and wait on God for more answers. He is good and faithful and we feel confident that we are on a path that could easily utilize both of our backgrounds, interests and gifts for His glory if He so chooses.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Christ is risen... He is risen indeed! Easter, Our First Wedding Anniversary and a Discovery trip to Germany

Alan and I were very fotunate to be able to go to Germany last weekend to celebrate Easter and our first wedding anniversary. We also wanted to use the time to investigate the country as somewhere we might like to relocate for missions work. Originally we had planned to go to Aachen, right over the border from Belgium but as we got closer to time I started really wishing we could visit Heidelberg. Even for just a day as it was the town I visited in college that I fell in love with and remains my favorite city in the world after nearly 20 years time. Unfortunately Heidelberg is in the center of the country and would mean another three hours of driving on top of the 11 Alan would have already had to drive to reach Aachen.

Of course being the loving and sweet husband that he is, he suggested we skip Aachen and go straight to Heidelberg and spend the entire weekend there checking things out. We didn't have a hotel lined up so when we got there we spent the better part of two hours trying to find something special and romantic yet CHEAP! :) We prayed a lot and eventually God led us to a wonderful little hotel in the center of Altstadt (old town) Heidelberg where we stayed two nights. They even had a fantastic restaurant next door which we tried our first night with traditional German food and drink. Alan had bratwurst and I had a mushroom linguini but Alans bratwurst was the best I've ever eaten. It didn't even taste like sausage!

Saturday we got up early and went for a long walk along the Rhine river and through town. We stopped at a bakery and got fresh bread and coffee/juice for breakfast and then found an internet cafe where we could locate a great English speaking church to celebrate Easter the next morning. We found one on the outskirts of town called Victory International and we took time to listen to the pastors online sermons and read his blog before getting directions and deciding that was the place we would go.

Saturday night we celebrated our anniversary, courtesy of Alans parents at a wonderful little restaurant where the people sitting next to us were Americans visiting from Virginia. We got to talking to them and they were very nice. Their trip reminded me of the trip dad and mom took LeeAnne and I on when we were young to Europe and dad said he'd never take us back again because we weren't that thrilled on seeing all the museums and stuff he had lined up. We wanted to do kid stuff instead and he was none too pleased with that! lol

Sunday we went to church and met tons of folks stationed in Heidelberg with the US army. There were far more americans there than I've seen since being in England. There was also a man who ran a homeless ministry, named Joe there and an English man who said God called him to Germany 30 years ago and he was excited to meet another Brit. Trey, the worship leader, spoke as the pastor and his wife were in America that week and the sermon was fantastic. He is very gifted but who equally impressed me Katrine who stood beside Trey and translated the entire sermon into German. She was fantastic.

After church we decided to drive part of the way back and in the end drove all the way to Calais and took an earlier ferry. It was a good thing we did as SeaFrance (competitors ferry) went on strike the next day and we may not have been able to get home. We stayed near Dover that night at a Holiday Inn Express and drove the rest of the way on Monday.

The last couple of days I've been washing all the clothes, cleaning the house, taking up running (lol), working in the garden, shopping, ironing, etc. Last night Alan and I went to Sam and Merci's for housegroup and it was fantastic. Merci shared her testimony of how the Lord saw her through her recent almost fatal illness in the hospital and then we had a great prayer time together. We are so excited about everything the Lord is doing at Hillside. We expect many more great things ahead.

Next Tuesday Ian, Bob, Alan and I go and meet Steve and another associate of his from Pioneers in Manchester for dinner to see if God may be calling us to join that ministry and possibly move to Germany as missionaries. We're excited and praying every day for His direction and guidance as we move forward.

Christ is risen... He is risen indeed! :)