Saturday, December 20, 2014

Arriving Passengers

When Dave and I arrived at the Krakow airport tonight, things were quiet.

A little too quiet, considering we were there to pick up much anticipated passengers.

After a few minutes of wondering why it was all dark behind the arrival doors, we asked what was going on. Due to construction, all arrivals, international and domestic, are coming into the domestic terminal right now.

So off we went, back to the parking garage, into the car, and over to Terminal 1, hoping we weren't late for our arriving passengers.

I love this terminal. Do you see how close you can get when you park?? I am literally standing at our car taking that photo!

Somebody really wanted to go inside the terminal with us, but instead had to be patient and wait to see who it was that was arriving.

The waiting area in this terminal is small, so we were packed in there to wait along with everyone else. Thankfully we'd gotten there before our arriving passengers came out.

Just five minutes later, these people came through the sliding doors.

After nearly twenty four hours of travel, Caleb, Haley and Claire made it safely to Europe!

This is Caleb's first time home in two years, Caleb and Haley's first time here as a married couple, and Claire's first time to come home for Christmas as a college student (we were in the States last year during her first year of college and spent Christmas in Colorado).

So it's a very special time of "firsts" having these three back here on European soil!

And a happy reunion with a certain little somebody who's been waiting for her kids to come back for a long time!

My mama heart is all filled up having these three here at home tonight! I'm looking forward to church with them in the morning, and some gift giving with Caleb and Haley afterward. Then they'll head to Bratislava in the afternoon to be with Haley's family for the coming week. We'll get more time with them over the New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Getting Ready, Thanks To Tesco

It's the night before some of our children come home to Czech from college in the States, and we were sorely lacking in one thing before they get here.

So off we went in search of something that was just right.

Yes, we were looking for a tree! Normally we would've had one much earlier, but due to Dave's travels and my sickness this month, it was something that just hadn't been done yet. But we knew it had to be up before they got home!

I remember the search for a Christmas tree when I was a child. It seemed so enchanting, heading to a Christmas tree farm and searching for the perfect one, or even going to the lot in town where they sold them. I have such good memories of those magical days with my family.

But what do you do when your kids are gone and it's just you and your husband searching for a tree? Enchantment is not high on the list. Expediting the process of getting a tree is!

So off to Tesco we went: our "Target" or "Walmart" if you will.

Of course it's kind of enchanting to see the huge vats of carp outside waiting to go home with many Czechs for their Christmas dinner! We didn't get one, but seeing them is always a sign that Christmas is near.

We walked into the fenced off area out front of Tesco and spotted "the one" immediately. The friendly tree man put netting around it for us, we paid, and we were done in less than five minutes. Mission accomplished!

I seriously was giggling as I was taking this photo in front of the big Tesco sign! Who would've thought we'd find the perfect tree here?!

After a few more stops, we finally made it home by 9 and tree trimming commenced. With a little help, of course!

And a little company from these three who were texting as they headed to the airport in Chicago, on their way here for Christmas!! They'll arrive tomorrow evening.

It's the first time in nearly 25 years that I've decorated the tree without the kids. I wasn't sad, just thoughtful and thankful for all those years past, and for sweet memories as I hung meaningful ornaments on the tree like this one: from Caleb and Claire in 2009 after they'd been on a school trip to the Christmas market in Vienna.

By 11 it was done, the living room was clean, and I now feel ready for our kids to come home!

Tyler and Lara won't be with us this year as they're staying in the States, but I'm sure thankful that Caleb, Haley and Claire will be here soon!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Letters and Post Offices

These past few days I've sat for hours thinking about the dear people in our lives who encourage, pray, give and stand with us in the vision God called to us here in the Czech Republic, and throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

As I've written dozens of Christmas letters, I've prayed and thanked the Lord for every single person, and felt such emotion over all those beloved people. If you're one of them, THANK YOU! We treasure and value your friendship and partnership so much.

Our post office was a little chaotic today - imagine being a postal worker at Christmas time! Their workload must increase significantly at this time of year.

After waiting in one line for fifteen minutes I was told I had too many things to mail and was sent off to another line.

After waiting there another fifteen minutes, and the line had only moved by one person at each window, I decided to leave and go somewhere else to mail those precious letters.

(Oh, and what you can't see is the line of 8 people still in front of me - I could've been there a while!)

Instead I headed over to a small town that's a ten minute drive away.

There I went into a quiet little post office where I was in and out in five minutes. Glad I remembered it was there! It was a much more peaceful experience for mailing off my bundle.

I left with a feeling of gratefulness knowing our letters are on the way to homes of people we are so thankful for, and who make it possible for us to be here doing what God called us to: bringing the Gospel to a lot of people who need Jesus.

By the way, Dave is sharing the Gospel with someone tomorrow afternoon so please pray for that meeting!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Party Fun

Start out with a pretty tree and wrapped gifts.

Add in a cute little baby...

And some really fun people (and meat carving by a fierce looking man).

Serve up some good food...

And have a hilarious white elephant gift exchange...

And what do you get??

A very enjoyable, fun and happy JV iTeam Christmas party!!

So fun to be up at Selah, our JV guesthouse, to celebrate together tonight!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Missing Persons

Back in the fall I wrote HERE about our JV iTeam: who we are and what we do to serve the JV family across Central and Eastern Europe.

At our first meeting last September, after summer break, there were twenty one people gathered together on Tuesday morning for our weekly gathering.

But this morning, we were a bit smaller (and one of those people was a guest!).

The team has not diminished, we're just missing people who are gone for a variety of reasons: in the States for Christmas, sick children, celebrating anniversaries, new babies...all very good reasons!

While most will be back within the next few weeks, there is one couple who will be gone for a while: Mel and Amy Ellenwood.

Like we did last year, they are on home assignment/sabbatical until July 2015. So you won't be seeing much of them here and there on my blog until this summer.

We all miss them, but are glad that after seventeen years of service with JV, they're able to reconnect with their support team, spend time with family in the States, and be refreshed and renewed.