With the busy day yesterday it was hard to wake up this morning to get ready for church. But we were scheduled to share at West Side Church (one of our supporting churches) during both services, so I hit snooze a few times and finally pulled myself out of bed. We had also planned to say a quick goodbye to our friends Blaine and Kelsey from California who had flown in for the wedding. They were at the house around 7:45am and that’s when they told us it had started to snow. We spent a few minutes hanging out with them and said our goodbyes. It’ll most likely be at least another year and a half before we see them again.
The snow didn’t last long (it was too warm to stick), but it was coming down pretty good this morning. By the time we got to church it had subsided. During the second service I took the kids out to get them a snack and it starting snowing again. We walked outside and they were getting really excited so I took a little video (below).
We had another large meal for lunch today with Bethany’s family and the Harpels. It was kind of a time to say goodbye because Bethany’s sister is headed back today towards Seattle and we won’t see them again. There were a couple good football playoff games on so we all enjoyed watching those and even took some photos of Bonnie (Bethany’s sister) and of all our kids. Bonnie is due with their second child in a few weeks so her mother-in-law was hoping for a few shots of her baby bump. I think we got some nice ones of her, but the kids were a much bigger challenge. After a few tries, the moms ended up joining the kids for the photo since we couldn’t get everyone to behave. In the end we got something that will work (I can’t show the photo on the blog because the family hasn’t seen it…sorry!).
For some reason, last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a really bad toothache. Unfortunately, it’s a tooth that was actually damaged when I was a little kid (hit in the face with a baseball), but I haven’t had any issues with it for many years now. Tomorrow we’re going to try and have it checked out at a local dentist in Yakima and hopefully get it resolved, but it’s been painful most of the day and not something I’m excited about dealing with the day before we leave. Lord willing, we can resolve and hopefully it won’t be a huge problem. Please pray for me if you think of it.
There’s other things that happened tonight, but nothing I really feel like writing about tonight. It’s going to be a busy day packing tomorrow and dental work, so I’ll just end this one here. But at dinner tonight I added a little bonus to the chalk walk at the restaurant. Maybe it’s just shameless self promotion (see below)?
Today we had the privilege to worship at one of our supporting churches, Harvest Community Church in Selah, Washington. It was a pretty special morning as we had time to share during the services, but more importantly, to hear from some of the people about how God has been working in their lives this past year. As a church they took some time today to have an open microphone where they could share and we heard incredible testimonies of God’s goodness. One testimony was from a lady who talked about how her brother who was born deaf was able to hear for the first time in his life at age 53 because of medical advances and a surgery he was able to get. Another was from a young man who talked about a friend of his who was contemplating suicide. By God’s grace, the friend called this young man and he was able to talk him out of it and he asked for prayer for his friend to come to Christ. That young man knows what his friend truly needs, a relationship with the One who can save his soul.
Along with the blessing of being at church, we had the chance to video chat with close friends of ours who live in California. Since we’re on the same time zone right now, it made connecting with them a lot easier. It was a sweet time just catching up and seeing each other’s kids. It meant so much just to spend time chatting about life, even though it was over video. I’m thankful for the friendships God has provided us and the technology to keep up with them, even if it’s from a distance.
I got the above photo tonight of Avery trying to get every last drop of her ice cream dessert out of her bowl. After she tried this for a few minutes she said to me, “Daddy, can you help me?” Somehow she wanted me to scrape more out of the bottom of the bowl for her. I did my best and she was happy. It was a cute moment.
We watched more home videos of Bethany and her family tonight and it was a lot of fun. Our kids love watching one in particular of Bethany when she was about 3 years old sledding in their front yard. I’m glad our kids get to see the footage of Bethany as a kid. But it’s also a reminder to me to make memories for our kids. As I watch Bethany’s family react and talk about what’s on the screen, I’m challenged to think about how I can lead my family and make sure we’re just enjoying life together. It’s so easy to get caught up in the work of ministry or even pursuing language learning that I can forget to take time for us to enjoy family and make memories. By God’s grace, we’ll make sweet memories together in the years ahead and one day we can look back and enjoy talking about them (or watching them!) together.
For the first time in six months we attended church in English. I was struck by this reality mostly while we were signing this morning at West Side Church, the church that Bethany grew up in and where here family still serves. I think I’ve talked about this before, but there’s just something about singing worship music in your own language that ministers to your heart. I think that’s especially true for me since I have spent many years ministering in our church through the music ministry. Music is just a big part of my own, Christian heart as I’m sure is true for many others. No doubt it’s been important to Christians since the beginning of the church. I was especially blessed to sing “In Christ Alone” as the closing song today after listening to a message on God’s grace from Hebrews. I haven’t asked her about it, but I thought I saw tears coming down Bethany’s cheeks as we sang. Needless to say, we were blessed.
Although it’s not on the same level, we were also blessed today to do a little shopping at the grocery store. I say this because we secured two kinds of salsa and jalapeno chips! That kind of spice is not readily available in Czech and it was actually fun to have my nose running from all the spice I enjoyed lunch today!
This afternoon we have all taken naps and spent time watching the Seattle Seahawks play on TV. It’s funny to watch a live sports event since we don’t have this kind of television in Czech, and of course no American football. I’m not a huge football fan, but Bethany likes it, along with the rest of the state of Washington. As I write, the Seahawks have just won the game so I’m sure the good people of Washington are breathing a sigh of relief as they look for a postseason run.
Things continue to be restful here in the States which is nice. We’re happy to be spending time with family and just enjoying a little break from life overseas. I’m excited for what God has in store for us when we return, but we’ll enjoy the rest while it lasts.
We spent this morning at church in Titus and Avery’s class. We weren’t exactly sure why there wasn’t a class for Avery’s age today, but a lot of her class were combined with Titus’ class so we all ended up just staying together. They did a little activity (photo above) where they had to put gifts on their colored fabric. Tamara, today’s teacher, told us in English that they were supposed to give their gifts to another person in the class the same way God gave his gift to us, Jesus Christ. She followed that by saying, “But none of the kids want to do it.” I guess they’re all still learning how to give gifts.
Here’s a couple more photos from class today. The little gifts they chose from were wooden ornaments, plastic gold stars, and metal bells.
This afternoon I spent a good two hours trying to replace the driver’s side headlight on our car. Outside it was around 28 degrees, but my phone said “feels like 20” because there was a wind chill. I had purchased what I thought was the correct light bulb a few days ago and figured I would be able to quickly replace it. Our owner’s manual is all written in German, so it was no help, and I tried searching online and that didn’t help much either. After removing the entire headlight because I really couldn’t find another way to do it, I replaced the light, turned the lights on and…I had fixed the wrong one. Back to the store for another bulb and to try again.
Since I had already taken it apart once, getting to the light again was a cinch, but the lowbeam bulb was more challenging to replace. On our cars in the States, this process was always very simple and usually didn’t take a lot of time (and often I didn’t even need tools!). Today I had to remove about five different screws and the entire headlight. The cold was hurting my hands outside, so I brought everything inside where could let my fingers thaw out and try to see how to get the bulb replaced. It proved much more difficult than I thought and thankfully my dad head given me a metric star shaped screw driver which was a life saver today since I don’t have any of those kinds of tools. Finally, I got the lowbeam replaced and in, took it outside, and put it all back in place. Amazingly, it came right on and we have two working headlights again!
I really only share that story because it’s another example of what usually is simple is just harder here. Learning the stuff of life here is on the same level of difficulty as learning the language and apparently I don’t speak headlight. But with a little more work and some extra time I was able to get it fixed and get everything working again. Now maybe with a little more work and a little more time the lightbulb of the Czech language will turn on too!
We’ve been sharing how hard Sundays have been for us the past few weeks. I’m happy to write tonight that today seemed like we made some progress, especially as it relates to Titus. It was just he and I at church this morning because Avery has had a horrible cough causing her to throw up in the middle of the night. Bethany stayed home with her today in hopes of not getting any other kids sick. I ended up staying again with Titus in his class, only this time I just tried to be more of a fly on the wall and observe him than be actively involved in the class. We are really trying to see how he does on his own, with just the teachers and kids talking to him in Czech.
By God’s grace, I really feel like Titus did a lot better at obeying and listening today. I know this is really hard for him, as it is for us parents in all of life here, but I’m excited to see him progressing and adjusting. I’m not sure if it helped, but all of his classmates today were girls and at one point they were dancing and playing with streamers. Honestly, I have no idea what was going on but I got the video below.
Sickness continues to plague us. Both Avery and I have had bad coughs for weeks now and I probably should’ve seen a doctor a while ago. This is definitely not something I want to last much longer. Tonight was the first night that Avery hasn’t had a bad coughing fit while trying to fall asleep, so we’re thankful for that. Unfortunately, Titus has been sneezing and coughing today which is a sure sign that he may be coming down with something. This has been a challenge for our family. Please pray with us for our health and for the proper care in the days ahead.
On a whim tonight we made an IKEA run. We were still in need of some storage items and so we took an evening drive and headed out there. For our kids, IKEA is not their favorite place because we spend a lot of time walking through it so I brought the iPad along to give them something to play with and I got the photo above of them holding hands and laughing at a little game that they thought was absolutely hilarious. It’s always a joy to see the kids loving each other and having fun.
Lastly, we had heard that IKEA sells Christmas trees a while ago. This is something I have been thinking about since we landed (not kidding). I’ve been curious as to how we would be buying a Christmas tree and if we could even get a real Christmas tree. As we were leaving IKEA tonight there was a sign right as you exited (photo above) advertising Christmas trees. Apparently they will be selling trees on December 3! For those of you who have followed our family over the years, you know we have a little tradition of shooting a Christmas tree video of us getting our tree (click here to see the last five years). We’re just getting excited about Christmas and it’s nice to have a little tradition that we can continue here in Czech!