The Home Stretch

Today we are heading from Collins, OH, to Hollow Rock Camp Meeting for the last 10 days of our tour. Instead of getting all sappy and nostalgic about the summer, I’ll just fill you in on how our week has been.

When we arrived Saturday afternoon in Collins, we met at the church with Donna and Pastor Josh to go over the plans for the week before heading to get settled in at our host homes. Cliff and Micah stayed with Jerry and Florence, a very loving elderly couple who had lots of wisdom to share with our guys. Brandon and Conner stayed with Ron and Chicky, a couple whose hospitality goes above and beyond what we could ever have expected. Ron and Chicky made snacks for us every night after VBS and really loved on our whole team. The girls stayed with Brian and Casi, their boys Wesley and Collin, and their dog Scooby. Brian and Casi were incredible hosts, and a lot of fun to talk to and get to know.

On Sunday morning we loaded up and went to the first of three church services. Ariane shared about our team and Acts 20:17-27, Kat talked about the story of Jonah, and Micah gave a bit of his testimony. Then we loaded up and went to West Hartland UMC and did the same thing all over again, this time with Christa giving her testimony. After the second service, we loaded up and went back to Collins to do it all over again — needless to say, it was a long morning.

AfteIMG_0482r lunch at the church and some prep time for VBS, we all went back to our host homes for a power nap before we started VBS that night. The VBS theme this week was G-Force, which focused on God’s love in action. Kat and Ariane helped lead the songs each night, adding a whole new collection of kids’ songs to the team’s repertoire. Micah helped out in the craft room, Cliff helped with games, and Brandon took his puppeteering experience from last week and put it to good use playing the role of Checkers the cheetah puppet. When he wasn’t puppeteering, IMG_0484Brandon was helping with the preschoolers. Christa helped lead the 1st grade group, Conner and Ariane helped with the kindergarten kids, and Kat was a leader in the 3rd and 4th grade group. As usual, we all absolutely loved getting to know the kids, and saying goodbye Wednesday night was really hard.

Our mornings were spent helping with odd jobs for the VBS like mapping a color run and sorting papers, followed by free time swimming, fishing, and even visiting Lake Erie. We got to visit with lots of families from the church and enjoy the wonderful weather this week… That’s sarcasm. The weather was bipolar and annoying all week.

When the church found out we were a band, they asked us to play for them. We ended up setting up a full-band worship night in a barn Wednesday night and playing for an hour or so for the people from the church. They provided snacks and a fire pit, and we provided the music. It was an appropriate send off, and we really enjoyed getting to worship with them.

Looking Ahead

Now we are heading to Hollow Rock Camp meeting to finish out our tour. As we go into our last 10 days, please be praying for supernatural endurance for our team so that we can finish well. Also pray that we would minister well at Hollow Rock. We are really looking forward to reconnecting with people we met at Finley, and to playing music together again.

Thank you for your prayers and support! To those of you at home, we’ll see you soon!

Picture: The barn made for an awesome set up for a worship night.

Welcome to Ireland, Kat.

Let’s just talk about wifi for a minute. Wifi in Ireland is available pretty much everywhere. You can get wifi for free in restaurants, the airport, and even on buses! But do you know where you can’t get wifi? Our hotel room, our tour bus, and the Cliffs of Moher. And do you know where I was when I needed wifi? Our tour bus and the Cliffs of Moher.

You see, our American credit card is extremely helpful to have with us so we can pay for things… unless we can’t pay by card. And then, well, the card isn’t so helpful. So, you know, we needed to call home to get the pin for the card.

So there I am at the Cliffs of Moher, where the free wifi doesn’t work, and the buses are coming and going. I logged onto wifi from some bus and spent probably 2 or 3 minutes filling in the log-in form just to connect. Once I was online, I pulled up Skype, dialed the number, and called. Just as John answered the phone, guess what happened. No, really, guess.

The bus drove away.

I finally get through on the phone and the bus is driving away.

Really?? Continue reading

She’s Here!

Cecilie’s here, and we all love her, and I feel very stupid for ever thinking for even a second that she may not fit in.

When we were “shopping” for students, I was constantly looking through profiles. I read through so many files for foreign exchange students. They all started running together eventually. Cecilie’s profile was the first one I looked at, and it was the one that stood out to me the most. No matter how many other profiles and students I looked into, I couldn’t stop thinking that Cecilie was the one for us. I just didn’t feel right picking anyone but Cecilie.

So we picked her (just like a family would choose a new puppy) and we added her on facebook and we started emailing her and we started getting to know her. And then I started to worry… What if she doesn’t fit in here? What if we have nothing in common? What if she’s… weird!?

Aye, how ridiculous. I mean, seriously? What if she’s weird? I’m weird! Heck, TESS is the weirdest person I know, and she fit in just fine!

If you’re wondering if all of my irrational worries were indeed irrational, the answer is yes. Cecilie fits in perfectly. Alix dropped by tonight to say hi since she missed the airport welcome party, and she just couldn’t get over how well Cecilie fits in here. Everything she does is just so… perfect. She loves photography, she has the cutest laugh ever, she does funny little dances to the music in commercials, she has a MacBook Pro…

I have a feeling this year is gonna be fun.

Binder Rings, Brads, Buttons, and… Popsicle Sticks?

In preparation for Jasper’s arrival (we’re the welcome family for a student from Belgium), my mom and I cleaned out the closet in the office. This is one of those closets that we’re always afraid to open because clothes may spill off the top shelf or a monster may rise from the dead and try to eat you. You know the closet. You all have one.

Well in our closet are cords and electronics that never seem to go together, stuffed animals no one remembered we had, and tons and tons of scrapbooking supplies. And I’m talking “tons” like the measure of weight, not the overly-used adjective. We’ve got paper and distressing kits and stickers and rub-on phrases and quote books and buttons and frames and binder rings and brads and laminators and eyelets and everything else you could ever possibly need to complete any scrapbooking project. Really, everything.

So we started getting picky about what we kept and didn’t keep. Folded over letter stickers? Trash. Multicolored brads? Keep. Cut up cardstock? Trash. Ink pads? Keep.

A couple handfuls of popsicle sticks…? Trash. I mean, when am I ever going to say to myself, “Gee, I could really use some popsicle sticks”?

More cleaning, more sorting, and more scrapbook stuff lead me to a small collection of ribbons. I really liked the ribbons, so I didn’t want to throw them away, but I also didn’t have any way to keep them from getting all tangled up in the box. So I think to myself, “Gee, if only I had something to wrap the ribbon around…”

Gee, I could really use some popsicle sticks… 

Am I excited?

In 7 days we will load up everyone into the van and drive a whole 6 minutes to the airport where we will meet up with at least 3 other families to give an official welcome to our newest member of the family, Cecilie. As Thursday approaches, I get a lot of questions, but the most common is the ever-so-difficult-to-answer “Are you excited?” And I have to think…

Am I excited?

Well, yes. I mean, it’s a brand new sister that I have the privilege of sharing a life with for a year. After such a great experience with Tess last year, how could I not be excited to host a student again?

But wait. That was Tess. This is Cecilie. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don’t really know what to expect any more than Cecilie does. She’s coming into a new country to stay with a family of strangers and go to a brand new school for an entire year. She doesn’t have a past experience to look back to and form expectations from. In the same way, I really can’t form expectations based on Tess’s stay here. This is a new experience for me, too.

So with that in mind, I can give a better answer. Am I excited?

Yah. I am.