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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Rathbone family update and a final update on our Shoebox campaign

It's been three months since my last confessional (I mean blog post). :)  Either I am so busy I can't think straight or I am a slacker or maybe a bit of both.  Ahhhh - where to start...

Alan and I said one thing to eachother a few months back when we decided we were going to move back to the states to adopt next summer.  We said we really wanted to make our last months in Germany count and not waste a moment if we could help it doing ministry here.  Well, God held us to our pledge and these last few months we have seen blessings flow in abundance - from three new team members to 1300 Christmas shoeboxes delivered to our new neighbors.  We've built friendships with refugees, enjoyed great times together as a house group and as a team and worked to deepen networking relationships with MOPS mother's and our church family.  It has been a deeply rewarding but also exhausting three and a half months since I last wrote to you.  

Our family is all doing well.  Chloe is half way through her second year in German Kindergarten.  Her German is coming along great except she still refuses to use it at school.  Not sure why but we have heard it is quite common with bi-lingual families.  If you are wondering, no she doesn't speak English at school either - she just smiles, occassionally sings, laughs and points.  Her teacher's don't seem worried and enjoy having her in the class.  She's made lots of good friends who she goes to play with or they come here.  She corrects both her mom's and dad's German.  She's smart as a whip and so full of personality.  What a precious gift.

Our plans for adoption are only beginning as we agreed not to think about it too much until after we made it through the Christmas shoebox campaign and got to Georgia for Christmas.  So many of our friends are fostering or adopting and this encourages us.  Please pray God would lead us to the child or children He has in mind for our family.

Alan has really enjoyed going to the largest refugee camp two - three nights a week and helping with the children's program.  He goes with two of our team members and they do various things from playing basketball and soccer to helping teach German and play games.  He has also made a new friend from Iraq and last week we took his family to lunch in Heidelberg for Indian food and then to the Christmas market.  They are a delightful family.  They walked for days to get to Germany with their youngest child who is Chloe's age (on their backs for a good portion of the time).   Every day they were in Iraq the oldest son would tell his dad, "dad we have to go.  ISIS is going to come and kill us."  We, living in Germany can simply not understand the terror they withstood and now we are glad to welcome them to a place where they can hopefully have a better life.  Alan's friend has helped us distribute shoeboxes every night this week and serves as our interpretor.

Shoeboxes have been my life for the past three months but yesterday after 8 hours on my feet with maybe a 10 minute break, we finished all the sorting, wrapping and organizing by camp.  It was so exhilarating to see the boxes leave the building and head to the various camps and although there have been a few small hiccups with delivery, the delight in the children and parents faces when they receive the boxes has been worth any difficulty.

The day after tomorrow we head back to Georgia for a month of vacation and home assignment where we hope to catch up with as many of our supporters as possible.  If you would like us to come and speak at your Sunday school or bible study about our experiences this last year in Germany, please contact us.  We are looking forward to some downtime with family (although my family rarely enjoys downtime if I'm honest.  I come from a long line of workaholics!!) and just the chance to look back at all God has done these last few months as we plan and prepare to return in Germany in mid January.

Here are some pictures of our last few months:

Our Team - Tyler from Alabama, Bex from southwest English and Nicole from Maryland

Sweet kids at the children's program at Patrick Henry Village Refugee Camp
The prayer room before with toys and empty boxes underneath
The last 150 shoeboxes to sort and organize by camp

Delivering to the camps - happy faces all around

And we're done... :)

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