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November 2009
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January 2010

Coffee Date

We have been taking this week off, trying to stay away from work-related items!  Life gets slow around the end of the year in Moldova and we are taking advantage of it.  It is a perfect time to read a pile of books, hang out with the kids, and relax.

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Nancy and I even had a day to get away from the house.  We had a dozen errands to do, but also found a new sandwich/coffee shop in town.

I like this photo of Nancy, even if the focus point is the coffee cup!  First of all, it is typical Nancy, talking with her hands.  (If kidnapped, no one would need to gag her if her hands were tied.  Without hand motion, she would be speechless)! 

But it is a great photo of the wonderful wife with which I've been blessed.  She has grown into leadership and ministry with the Home of Hope, not just talking about doing ministry but by leading.  There have been a lot of tough decisions in ministry, and not everyone has responded well.  But she has been a great person of integrity, caring for each person even if she has to confront.

I hope we have many more visits to the coffee shop, just enjoying life as a couple.  She is quite the blessing!


Day out with Natalie

I had to brave the Chisinau roads today, out to do some errands.  Natalie came along with me since one of the errands was for her.  We plowed our way to center, wandered around, bought her earrings, picked up a gift for Elissa, and then headed to the mall for two more errands.

We had a fun time together, and had our daddy/daughter lunch at Seasons.  We split a couple dishes and talked about nothing important.  But I did get some beautiful shots of her today!  Natalie is a TCK, a Third Culture Kid.  She is very comfortable in two worlds, but never fits totally into either world.  All the more reason to make sure we have lunch, just sitting and chatting about life and what is important to her.  (Of course, Christmas morning is the most important thing right NOW!)

I am sure a blessed father.

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Home of Hope Needs

My mind is pretty much always humming, usually with at least two continuous streams of thought.  That is not a boastful statement, because it is the pits.  Wrestling my mind into a state of concentration is not easy, thus my life is strewn with unfinished tasks, begging for a moment of focus.

But one thing that has been on my mind of late is the Home of Hope, and with January looming, a large portion of my thoughts have been on the financial pressures. 

Speaking straight--we have no committed income to the ministry, but a lot of committed expense.  We have 8-10 staff, from house mom to counselor, social worker to 24/7 presence.  It costs about $3500 per month to keep the door opens; give the girls medical assistance, feed and clothe them, pay for electricity and heat, help for the kids.  We run a lean work, but the girls come in with nothing.  They enter without any life showing in their faces, but we normally see the miracle of joy start emerging within a few days.  They are coming not just for a week or two, but for a year or so, with our commitment to them being until they are whole.

If I had one Christmas wish--it would be to see the 2010 support raised in one miraculous swoop.  I know I am to be a man of faith, but wouldn't it be nice to see a pile of people take a portion of that faith too?

If you want to give to next year's Home of Hope support, just click here and mark 6976 (Home of Hope) in the memo.  It will all go toward these girls--not to us! 

That's the straight truth.

PS:  Interesting thing happened as I wrote the last line.  An email came in that just told me of a gift from a friend--enough for one month at the Home of Hope.  Wow.  Why do I ever worry about how God works?


Family Time

DSC_5535-EditThere are no normal schedules in our lives.  People have often asked me, "What is a normal day for your work?"  That is VERY hard to say!  Our lives tend to go through spurts.

In September, October, and November, we were inundated with guests and teams, with two to three teams working at the same time.  I was dealing with construction projects, an intern team, and some leadership issues.  It was quite tiring at times, very rewarding, and always with something to do.

But the joy of Moldova is that from December 24 through January 7, life just stops.  You can't get anything done in the city, so you might as well relax.  Offices are closed, people leave the city for the villages, and the phones stop ringing.

And I am going to do the same.

I am going to spend time with the family: eating Christmas baking, reading a book a day, sleeping in until 7:30 am, and playing games with the girls.  It is family time!


Where Has Our Beautiful Fall Gone?

I have yet to shoot a pile of photos of our current weather situation...SNOW.  But as I was looking through my photos today, I ran across this photo, taken in October at a village near Mihaileni Noi, in the north part of Moldova.  I was standing on the road in front of the pastor's house, the same road where the church is located. 

The villages of Moldova are always busy in the summer and fall, harvesting crops and working the fields.  Yet I keep trying to stop and notice the sights that I've seen so many times.  I want things to stay fresh and new.  (Good question to ask--what am I NOT noticing that is walking right by me?)

So here is another photo, bringing in the harvest.

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Our first ever International Fellowship Christmas kids program. I have a pile of photos on Facebook, but thought this one photo of Natalie looked special. She was Mary for the play, did a wonderful song and looked beautiful.

The greatest lesson these girls are learning is that Jesus cares for them personally, and that relationship is the most important of all. I'm proud of my girls!

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Memories

My girls are all upstairs, watching old VHS movies of themselves.  Of course, like most parents, there is a lot more footage of the oldest child!  Many reasons, part of which is that our video camera wasn't working for Lauren's life!

I find some parts of the video disturbing:

  1. How fat I was when Elissa was born.  Either that or I was on some serious medication.
  2. How much hair I had.  And how life is a very cruel master.
  3. How much styles have changed in even 14 years.  And how I will never be in style.
  4. How some youth from our youth group look; Matt Nelson as a 7th grader does not look much like Matt at 26!  Same goes for Sara Martin, Jeb Bubb, and Lisa Wallace.
  5. How much fun we had in ministry, and how many of our kids are in ministry today.
  6. How time has flown.  I still think I am 29, handsome, wise, strong, and energetic.  Oh how I am deceived.
Now if there is just some way I can get those videos onto my harddrive!

A Lucky Father of 3 Girls, but with many additional "daughters."

God blessed Nancy and I with three beautiful girls.  We are incredibly proud of each of them, their uniqueness.  But now our family gets to be "parents" or uncle, aunt, and sisters to a bunch of other kids.  This is Veronica, the daughter of one of the gals at the the Home of Hope.  She is almost two, a total stinker with a cute smile.  Not bad at all, just inquisitive.  I can't leave anything within her reach!

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I'm a pretty lucky uncle.


Christmas Program

It is going to be fun tomorrow night! Our girls are a part of the Christmas program.

It is one of the strange factors of living overseas, missing simple things like Christmas kids programs.  But with the new International Fellowship, AND incredible creative people like Wesley and Donna Buck, we are having our first ever English kids program.  And our girls are excited!

They done Moldovan programs before, but only with a few words in Romanian.  They never wanted to do long monologues in Romanian, content to just sing with the kids.  And over the last 3 years, the church we call home has suffered with kids ministry, thus there isn't much going there as of late.

But together with a pile of other international kids, they are pulling off a simple Christmas program tomorrow.  Can't wait to see how it will turn out.  All I know is that I'll be there with camera and video.