Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Decade

Ten years ago this week (May 2002) Danny & I were approved to be church planters in Austria. We were a couple of months away from celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and were expecting our first child. I was finishing up teaching and Danny his internship at our home church. We were ready!

Looking over the last 10 years.... 

-we experienced heart-breaking sorrow as we were not able to meet our first baby.

-we saw a lot of the United States and were able to connect with lots of prayer and financial supporters.

-we were blessed with a healthy pregnancy and welcomed Nathaniel to our family May 20, 2004... nearly 2 years to the day of our first approval and first pregnancy.

-we made it to Austria 2 years after our approval with a 9 week old baby!

-we studied and can interact in, yet will be ever-learning, German.

-we integrated into our new culture and have made some wonderful friends.  *This is special because in 2002 I wrote down my requests to God in a notebook and my first was to hold a child of my own in my arms and that was answered before we left for Austria... then the next one was a good friend in Austria. God didn't give me just one good friend.... He blessed my life with many here. Not to mention the ones I left behind in the States that haven't forgotten me and are precious to me.

-we were able to be a part of our siblings weddings over the years.

-we were again blessed with a healthy pregnancy and welcomed Micah into our family October 12, 2006.

-we held many Bible studies in our homes and other locations thru out our city.

-we had our families visit a few times over these years.

-we learned how to deal with having a sick child (twice) in the hospital for a long time with no family close by to help.

-we watched God work on us and in spite of us so many times....

-we experienced the sorrow of losing grandparents while being overseas.

-we watched the friends God gave us start their own families and now are some of our kids' best friends.

-we experienced yet another pregnancy that would result in not holding our baby.  This was a very bitter sweet time.... we handled the loss this time better than the first one. We had thankfully, grown and matured in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  So accepting His will, though painful, was something I knew He would see us thru and was using this for His glory... which is the only reason any of us are here anyway.  But the time I spent alone  in my hospital room after surgery so that Danny could go home and care for our sons was tough.  That was a long night. Yet... this was a huge start to seeing some friends of ours open up to the Gospel.... all because they were watching us and how we responded (their words. not mine).

-we've assisted other churches in the area.

-we've been able to start 2 church plants on complete opposite sides of our city.

-we were surprised and blessed by the birth of our first daughter, Grace on February 15, 2010.

-we have received those sad and heart breaking phone calls telling us of a loved one that has passed away..... some that were complete shocks or friends going thru heart ache and the desire to be there and just hug their necks.

-we have (and will be in a few weeks again) hosted a Christian Football Camp and seen encouraging and amazing results from all the hard work put into such an outreach. Thank you to those coaches, players, and a former NFL player who took time out of their schedules to help us.

-we have only been away from Austria over the course of the last 8 years for only 8 months (broken up into 6-7 week visits during summers and a 3 month furlough in '07). We have mixed feelings about this furlough.... first, we must leave for a certain amount of time because of some regulations between Austria and the U.S. and second, to raise our financial support. We moved here with 1 baby and no real ministry costs while we learned the language.... now we have 3 kids, 2 church plants, and hosting football camps.... not to mention the exchange rate and the roller coaster ride it has taken us on over these 10 years. The other mixed feelings have to do with leaving behind the people we have come to call friends and family in Christ.

Please be in prayer for us as we prepare for this furlough. We are aware of how much we need this time to see family, connect with them and let our kids be loved on as well. We have some nieces and nephews that have joined the family and this Aunt is itching to kiss and cuddle some babies!

Pray for our boys especially... they are nervous about leaving their home. The only one they know... Austria. They are nervous about going to an English speaking school (which I don't know why... we only use English at home and they get plenty of German at their school)... must be the "unknown" that gets them concerned. I remind them I grew up doing this too and I turned out just fine... right?!?!



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