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Friday, 3 January 2014

Full steam ahead into 2014

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 12-16

Alan and I returned from a wonderful vacation in Georgia last week.  We had to leave on Christmas day because we were anticipating the arrival of a group of teens from Teen Missions in Australia on the 27th.  We thought we'd have a day to recover but the last mail we received from the head office said the flights had been moved up and they would now arrive the same day as we would only about 10 hours later. 

A family of angels picked us up from the Frankfurt airport at 7:30 in the morning.  Frank and his wife Christina and their son graciously came and got us in their van which was a good thing because we each brought back an extra suitcase and wouldn't have had any room otherwise.  I guess we got home around 9:30 or 10 and we didn't do much except crash until around 3pm.  It was sooo hard waking up to return to the airport but Alan did.  I dropped him off at the CVJM where I stayed to help get the rooms and dinner ready for the team.  Frank once again came with Alan in his van and Alan took our pastors van and they got the team back about 9pm. 

I was assisted by an old teammate of mine from my 2008 Wales and Iceland team, Travis.  He was one of my favorites the whole summer because I was fortunate enough to have his brother Joe on my team in 2007.  We kept in touch with me watching keenly his adventures as a BMW student with TMI and his internship in Africa.  His love for Jesus and for others was so evident.  He kept telling me he wanted to visit and work alongside us when he was finished with his time there but honestly I didn't count on it until a few months ago when he wrote me to make plans.  It was great catching up with him.  What a blessing!  Travis was to serve alongside the Australian team as another male leader and that was terrific for us because we know what a hard worker he is and what an infectious spirit he has. 

The team was justifiably exhausted when they landed and unfortunately all the grocery stores were shut in Germany due to it being a holiday so I ordered some pizzas and made chocolate chip pancakes for them when they arrived.  We gave just a few words of welcome and instruction to them to keep them safe and warm and then let them sleep.  We would see them in only a few hours with breakfast.  At first glance the team was great.  We were excited to get to know each of them.

The last week we spent doing lots of work days, taking the team sightseeing, to church in Heidelberg and ice skating to do some evangelism.  Tuesday night they participated in the New Year's Eve church service at the CVJM singing as a group and sharing.  Tomorrow they'll sightsee again in Heidelberg and then Sunday we'll go to Calvary chapel in the morning and then help run the evening CVJM service.  Monday Klaus doesn't want the team to work as it's a "ruhig" Tag (holiday) and it might disturb the neighbors with all our banging.  We'll probably spend part of the day resting and getting caught up and also work on some programs for the schools later in the week.

I have so much respect for Teen Missions and the work they do with teenagers.  Alan loves the organization too.  We owe them quite a bit as that's how we found each other but also just the way they use loving and godly discipline with teens seems to answer what is so desperately needed in our world today.  My next door neighbor has a 15 year old daughter who I hear screaming, cursing and fighting with her mom several times each week.  Tonight she's having a boy/girl party and they are loud and throwing things around without a care in the world.  Today's teens need the discipline and love and respect that organizations like Teen Missions drills into them.  I experienced it when I was 14 and it was the best summer of my life.  What God teaches in the bible (love and respect for your parents, others, yourself) isn't meant to spoil your fun but to do the very opposite.  It gives LIFE!  These teens from Australia with TMI here working with us reflect that.  They are hard working, kind and really trying to seek God for their lives.  So far Alan and I have been really impressed.

Still, coming back to wet and dreary Germany was hard.  We had such a wonderful but also such a crazy, at times hectic and overwhelming visit to Georgia/Disney World/South Carolina that when I think back it's kind'of a big blur.  Did we REALLY do all that in just five weeks?!  My husband managed to work most of the trip helping my parents rebuild 3 porches, repairing an old train set from my father's childhood and putting up guttering on a 100+ year old house.  I took care of Chloe mostly, got all the supplies we'd need for the next year, made contact with supporters, bought all the Christmas gifts and organized a talk at our church about our work here.  I also had fun co-hosting a German afternoon tea with my good friend Brita Barry at her beautiful home in Athens.   Together we went to Walt Disney world for a week with the whole family, celebrated my birthday, Alan's 50th birthday, my dad's 70th birthday, went to see Santa, the Watkinsville Christmas parade, helped host the 30th plus annual Monday night bible study Christmas party at my parents house and the list goes on and on.  It was a tremendously blessed visit but I'm not kidding when I say we needed a vacation from our vacation! :)

A few days ago I came down with a cold and this morning on our way into the CVJM Chloe starting vomiting in the car.  So this afternoon I was in a feel sorry for myself, I can't be bothered type of mood.  I decided to just bite the bullet and try to get caught up with MOPS stuff I've been putting off and once I did I felt a bit better.  Then Alan came home and really helped with Chloe, made homemade bread, cleaned her car seat and put her down to bed.  Poor thing I think has fallen asleep in her room.  He's been in there for hours!

Well the teens in the apartment next door don't seem like they are going to sleep any time soon.  I'm seriously considering sliding a TMI brochure under the door to the apartment before I go to sleep.  Pray for them and us and pray for the team that they would be greatly blessed and encouraged as they serve God and others here in Germany.

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