Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wonderful weekend

Last summer Pete and I came up to Hendersonville for a weekend and I thought it was the best getaway we'd ever had (documented here, here, and here!). This weekend we had the opportunity to come back to the exact same spot, and I have now pronounced this time even better than last year's!  (Thank you, Mom and Dad, for watching our kids again!)
In keeping with our "small-world" theme this year, we have loved seeing how God has introduced us to people on one continent, and brought us back together with them on another.  While we were in Moldova, we met three American men who were visiting, and we toured the tuberculosis children's center together.  Now, Pete and I got to spend the whole weekend in Hendersonville  (the place we already loved) with those men, their wives, and some of their colleagues!

The men are all on the board of the organization called Moldova World Children's Fund, which is the organization who has since agreed to help me get funding for the TB center's new doors and windows.  Their annual meeting of the board of directors was this weekend, and Pete and I were invited to come to several of the events.

In addition, three Moldovans have come over for the meetings as well.  I knew one of the women I had met, Irina, would be here and I was excited to see her.  But I didn't know that we actually knew one of the other men as well:  Boris, who taught Strider at the after-school sports program, was also there!  We all thought that was pretty cool (and Strider wishes he had come here to Hendersonville with us. :)  )    Love this small world.

Pete and I are now incredibly impressed with the MWCF group.  After spending all weekend with these folks and seeing their hearts of compassion and generosity, we are thrilled that God saw fit to match us up.  We've been so amazed by how the timing of our initial meeting worked out so well, and the fact that the organization was not only able to take on the TB center project, but even make it their top initiative of this year -- it's so cool!  (The details behind how that all worked out clearly show it was all God.)

We've had some unique experiences this weekend...  presenting at a Lion's Club luncheon (and receiving a $1000 check from them!), being wined and dined at an elegant country club dinner, sitting in on some of the board meeting, and attending a very lovely garden party at one of the other board members' home, during which we told about the need of the TB children's center.
Boris and Julius -- from Moldova
Getting ready to show the MWCF DVD
Joanie, our hostess, with Boris
I'm so thrilled that many people are hearing about Liuba and the children at the TB kindergarten!  We've already raised enough money for the new doors, and they are being installed right now.  (Thank you friends and family who donated!!)  Now we're working on getting money for the windows, and I can't wait to hear what the latest total is, once Ray gets a chance to open all his mail, etc., after this busy week.  We're really hoping to get the building in good shape before it starts to get cold this winter.

In between all of the meetings and events this weekend, Pete and I have had some chances to just enjoy being together.   Yesterday we went hiking for a few miles through Dupont State Forest and got to see some huge waterfalls.  It was a perfect day for it!

 So it's been a delightful, relaxing, and exciting weekend.  I just think it's so amazing that we got to come back to one of our favorite places for such a specific and awesome reason.  And I'm enjoying the time with my handsome husband -- the last few days in his thirties!  Big milestone birthday coming up later this week....

Sunday, July 22, 2012


We give thanks to you, O God;
 We give thanks for your Name is near.We recount your wondrous deeds.  -- Psalm 75: 1

One of my biggest anxieties concerning our trip abroad was the fear/dread that our kids would get sick while we were there.  When I mentioned this to someone who was already living in Moldova, before we went, she responded, "Of COURSE your kids are going to get sick!  There are all kinds of new bacteria here, not to mention the stress of traveling, etc."  The general advice from everyone was to come very prepared with as many medicines as possible, since not only was it likely they would be sick, but the medical facilities there would be lacking.  

When Rayna got so sick right before we left, causing us to need both paramedics and the emergency room at the hospital at different points, and then not having time to get the recommended neurological tests done before we left, I was even more worried that she would have more issues while we were gone.

Once we arrived and I saw the black mold all over the walls and ceilings in our house, and the dog hair and dirt tracked in by those creatures all over the place, and the weather got increasingly colder and colder, and we moved deeper and deeper into cold-and-flu season...  my dread increased.

I fervently prayed that God would protect us from harm, and tried not to worry...  We knew we were supposed to be in Moldova for this season, and had to trust that God would provide whatever medical attention we needed....

Well, here is something wondrous:  for the entire time we were there, not one person got sick!  Not a single cold or cough or anything!  This has never happened for six months in the life of our family.

And then, we came home, I breathed huge sighs of relief... and 2 days later, the kids got sick.  In fact, we've had a couple of different viruses in the house this week, all at the same time.

Normally that would be very upsetting to me, but this week it has made me thankful.  God's timing could not be more obvious in all this!  The week before we were to leave on our trip, Rayna was the sickest she's ever been, and the week after we got home, the kids were sick again, but for the 6 and a half months that it mattered most to me, God kept them all healthy! 

So, like the Psalmist quoted above, I write this down because I want to record His wondrous deeds!  Not only did we never need any of the medicines we brought, but we never had to visit any sort of medical facility at all (other than for administrative purposes). No one fell out of a tree, or down the ceramic tile stairs, or into a well, or in a pothole, or electrocuted themselves....  or well, anything.  "We give thanks to you, O God..."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another small world story

Ok, I have to interrupt my regularly scheduled unpacking and three-ring-circus running because I just had to write this down!  I just love stories like this....

Last week John, Keiko and Sammy (my brother, sis-in-law and nephew) moved to San Diego.  I have exactly one friend who lives there, Lisa, so I thought I would contact her to see if they happened to live anywhere nearby and could maybe give them some church recommendations, etc.  I'm sure San Diego is a big place, but I thought I would try anyway.

WELL, Lisa told me she didn't live far from John and Keiko's new home, and she gave me some contact info for her church if they wanted to try her it out sometime.  I forwarded the info to Keiko, and she responded that they had actually already visited that church last Sunday!  Then she told me they had actually met a very nice woman named Lisa at the visitors' tent --  and guess who that turned out to be!  YES!  My friend Lisa had met them and showed them around, not knowing they were related to me!  (Even the fact that they both happened to be there at the same time is kind of crazy since the church has 4 services.)  As it turns out they didn't need my help getting connected with one another at all -- it had already happened!

So, to sum up, I know exactly 2 families in the San Diego area, and within 1 week, they "randomly" met each other!!  (Calculate the statistical odds on that one, Dan!)

I love how God likes to have fun with us.

(Sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points, Pete-- and everyone else.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Family Circus is HOME again

At long last, we are happy to be back in sunny (and steamy) NC!

Our trip across the Atlantic was surprisingly ok... the time "flew."  And the restrooms on the plane were downstairs which we all thought was pretty cool.  We had plenty of time to contemplate this since Pete and I took about 25 child-attending trips down there throughout the flight (no exaggeration).
We flew over Boston -- just like this!
What seemed almost as long as the 10-hour flight was the standing in line at the Charlotte airport after we landed.  Eventually, though (90 minutes after we arrived), we were free to join the general public and were happily greeted by family members with signs and flags!  Definitely a highlight of the whole last 7 months.  :)  They even sang a couple of songs, which I certainly captured on video.  I'm not sure they'd be thrilled to have me post said videos here, though, so I will keep the footage in the archives until a day when I may need it for blackmail.

We've been the blessed beneficiaries of welcome-home food from thoughtful friends and neighbors, and thanks to my mom's dinners-to-go, I haven't had to cook a hot meal since we got home.  What a blessing it is to be surrounded again by people who are so kind to us!!

So now we're busily settling back in... unpacking, putting the kitchen back together, moving everything back into our bedroom and closets, unloading boxes... and wondering for the umpteenth time why we have so much stuff.  And we're learning to adjust to the taller beds and shorter toilets.

The kids are happy to have toys to play with again, and, most exciting, BIKES.  Even though they're drenched with sweat the whole time, they insist on playing outside much of the day.

 I drove a car for the first time in 2012, and went grocery shopping in a place where I could actually read all of the labels and signs.  And I even understood every word the check-out guys said -- even with his thick Southern accent.  

This writing is feeling very choppy... but that accurately reflects my state of mind at the moment.  We're still not sleeping well -- getting up each morning any time between 3:30 and 5:00 am -- and we feel like we're hitting the ground running, with things like jobs and school decisions facing us.  Hopefully we can get this house in some semblance of order soon, so we can move on to the rest of life!

And sometime soon I want to reflect on our trip overall.... but right now it's still overwhelming.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


After some deliberation about how to spend our final day in Germany, we "landed" on visiting Landshut.  And it was the quintessential way to end our trip -- touring a lovely town with a gorgeous church and amazing castle.

I'm a little weary after all of our walking today... and after 2 weeks of travel... and after 6 months of living in a foreign country....... so, I'm just going to post pictures.  I'll let the "thousand words" each pic is worth tell the story.  :)


Loving Bavaria

We just spent 3 nights in a town we sort of randomly picked, called Inzell.  Not knowing much about it, other than it was in Southern Germany, we were very pleasantly surprised to see how wonderful it was!  It was exactly what we wanted:  a walk-able town which was beautiful.  We loved our time there exploring, browsing and hiking -- and eating a lot of ice cream.  :)

Within walking distance from our apartment, were:
Great views of the mountains -- from our front door
A mini-golf place

A soccer-golf course (this was actually 4 km away -- we drove)

Beautiful houses everywhere in the town!

Our favorite ice cream shop (a daily destination)

Fun little shops

A swimming lake

This waterpark also had an indoor pool!
Also close by were some great hiking spots, including this one:

Good thing my husband is strong!

We saw several folks in full alpine gear, like this man

Along the trail there were a few fun things, like this instrument

Hoping the nuns don't think I'm too improper for hiking!

And there were a couple adorable other towns nearby, like Ruhpolding and Traunstein:

 So, it's been a wonderful time!  Inzell has become one of our favorite vacation destinations ever. We'll miss it!
 We are now spending 2 nights closer to Munich, and then finally, we'll be heading HOME!