Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas gatherings

**I wrote this earlier today**

I hope you've had a great time as the weeks have been approaching to this wonderful time of celebrating Christ's birth. I know sometimes we feel overwhelmed, but I guess I just view it that we're so blessed to have people to celebrate this time of year.

Sunday morning we had our Christmas Service. We had 13 in attendance with one family coming for the first time! Two other families were already out of town for the holidays and are looking forward to having them back with us. Danny read about the events surrounding and leading up to the birth of Christ and we sang songs that went with the Scripture readings. It was just a great morning.

Every year Danny & I host a Christmas party at our house with friends God has placed in our lives since moving to Austria. I think every year a new family has joined us, except this year there were 2 new families and what fun we had! Our house was nice and cozy with 19 people in it :) We usually divvy up the menu and for some reason we always have too much food! The kids draw names (usually the moms have gotten together a few weeks before and have drawn the names) and get a little something to open and while they play with their new gifts the adults play "white elephant"/"chinese christmas" exchange. There are a few hot items that re-appear every year and it's soooo funny watching everyone try and exchange their gift for something less tacky or useless. haha! I think it's so great to have traditions already with friends who have become like family to us.

We also have a friend who is very gifted musically and he brought along his guitar. It was so nice to sing carols in English and German with those families sitting around our living room enjoying time together. There are a few pictures below from Sunday night. There is one of Nate and 2 little girls and they are 2 of his best buds. They were trying to do actions to 'Away in a Manger'.

Sunday also marked a week since we lost our Baby. Our friends were all concerned that the weekend would be too much for us, but we assured them it was going to be needed as a distraction for us. Emotionally, Saturday night was rough-- to be brutally honest with you all. I was trying to get the songs in order for our service, get all our clothes clean and laid out for an easy morning and I just didn't want to do it. But after a good cry, some prayer, and a good night's rest... Sunday was just a breath of fresh air. To be surrounded by friends and worshipping our Heavenly Father was just what our hearts needed.

Monday we headed to Slovenia to the Brinlee's home and our kids just really had lots of fun playing together. I'll have to post those pictures another day. I've not downloaded them yet. Also that morning when we went to pick up Nate from Kindergarten I was surprised that a party had been planned for me by Nate's teachers. The kids that I have been teaching English wanted to sing me some songs they had worked so hard on (in English) and give me a poster they made with a list of things I had taught them! How absolutely precious.

Tuesday was Nate's last day of school and his party. It was also his last day to see his teacher, Andrea. Before we left he made sure we got her address, phone number, and the color of her house. He has been so worried we'd lose touch with her. She made it very clear that she would love to hear from us and meet up sometime. She really made Nate's first experience with school here and learning German so much easier... I truly believe it. Andrea was a God-send. I personally will miss her very much. She had a way of working with Nathan. Also on Tuesday I helped the Browns empty some boxes in their newly rented house. Danny made us all a big pot of his homemade chili and homemade cornbread-- oh my goodness it was soooo yummy! He's such a good cook!

We've had a very busy week already and I am in between baking cookies and apple bread for our neighbors. I try to deliver them every year fresh from the oven. Last year I wasn't able to since we had just arrived back from our mini furlough. Micah is napping while Danny & Nate help the Brown family move some more things.

Every night this month we've read Scripture and sang songs with the boys about Jesus and his birth. They've really absorbed it. Today while running some errands I had a Christmas CD playing in the car and a song about 'Emmanuel' and Nate says, "Hey, they're singing about Emmanuel and that means God is with us!" I was so proud!

Ok, I think I've bored you all enough, but for those that were interested in how we are... there you have it.

Frohe Weihnachten--Merry Christmas--Maligayang Pasko!


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