Sunday, February 16, 2014

NTC – first week

Close neighbors here. The Wallabies.
We see them most every day.
We could only imagine what a relief the warm, sub-tropical climate of Australia would feel like after the 2014 winter in the Midwest in the States– and it’s wonderful!  Bruce and Jacquie Allder picked us up early on Saturday, February 8, at the international airport in Brisbane after a long (but not uncomfortable) flight from Los Angeles.  Bruce is the Principal of Nazarene Theological College where we’ll be working. Getting acquainted, we all enjoyed our ride to the college.  After lugging our suitcases up to our second floor dorm suite, we began unpacking into the closets and drawers. We found that our kitchen was stocked with plenty for a few days’ “brekkies” (breakfasts). We were showered and almost completely unpacked 2 hours later, so we walked to the Allders’ home for a drive to lunch and around this part of Brisbane’s suburbs. Not unlike the States, there are numerous shopping areas with lots of restaurants.  Unlike the States, there are lots of round-abouts at intersections; those will take some practice, especially negotiating from the left side of the road!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

October experiences...

The second week of October, I had a unique experience!  Usually Dan does all the driving when we visit another country, mainly because I’ve never learned to drive a stick shift!  But there were guests arriving soon and there was no one else available to go to the grocery store in the next town.  So I was given a list of a few things to stock the fridge AND the keys to the only automatic vehicle and, a little nervously, I drove the few kilometers and accomplished the task.  I delivered the groceries, returned the key, and went back to work, nervous for nothing!

All the missionaries have been very friendly and very kind to us; they’re a great group of people!  Heidi Bowes invited us and 2 other volunteers, Matt and Zarah, over on Saturday to experience her favorite Swiss dish – raclette!  Having a raclette dinner is a very social occasion, a little like a fondue party!  Heidi spent a good deal of time cutting and chopping lots of foods and setting them out in bowls on the table, around a raclette maker. Some machines are electric and some use something like Sterno to heat up the ingredients you choose to put in your individual tray (like a small shovel), topping it with a slice of special raclette cheese. While the cheese melts, it’s time to choose a small baked potato and mash it on your plate. And after the cheese is melted, the tray contents are scraped off onto the potato – VERY delicious! We all tried different combination of food (pears, pickles, olives, slices of salami, mushrooms, olives, cashews) until we had no more room. Then she brought out cookies and lemon gelato for dessert! We talked and laughed and shared; what a great evening spent with friends!  Here’s a link to the history behind it – this used to be done by shepherds over a fire!
While Nancy and Brad were away for a week, some things were added to my regular office duties – cleaning an apartment for the new Regional Director. No problem - we’re here to serve!  I know they didn’t mind missing all the roadwork being done on the main street in Büsingen, just feet from our office building!

Saturday, we borrowed a car and drove further into Switzerland to experience the Alps up close. I think there are permanent indentations in the passenger seat from me clutching it (as I leaned away from the edges of the road), but we made it to Gotthard Pass, took photos of the snow, and enjoyed a lunch of spaëtzle – small, boiled-then-fried dumplings with ham and cheese – a heavenly German version of mac ‘n cheese! Here’s the recipe I’m going to try when we return to the States:

These are only a few of the unique, interesting and (mostly) enjoyable benefits of being available to serve where ever God leads. Even the challenging moments are treasured memories.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thanksgiving Season

When October arrived, we were surprised at how quickly the time seemed to pass “when we’re having fun” and enjoying our assignment! We’ve been blessed with so many rich experiences!  I think everyone should visit another country and enjoy the cultural diversity of our world and of our church’s servants.

Fall colors beginning
One Sunday, one of the ladies approached me during coffee time after church, asking if I’d help her with decorating the church for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in Germany is in early October but, since many folks in this international church are from the States, Thanksgiving here will be a season (October 6 – November 28), rather than one day or a weekend.  After discussing the things that would represent harvest and thankfulness on the altar table, Dorothea agreed to pick me up near the end of the day Monday from work and we’d go shopping!  We started at a bäckerei (a bakery), where Dorothea ordered several loaves of sunflower-shaped bread, with extra rolls, so everyone can have some.  She also recommended the Zweibel Küchen (literally, onion cake), so I got 2 slices of the delicious quiche that Dan and I each enjoyed for dinner that night.  Next on our list was a stop at a farm along the road where a farmer had presented for sale, on farm wagons, his harvest of squashes and gourds of every shape and color! We picked out some for the display, then each bought a couple to take home – every section had a designated price and there was a place to leave your euros, honor-system purchasing!

After that, she drove to a farm on the other end of Büsingen where we bought apples and pears for the display and for ourselves, again with an honor system for payment after you weighed what you wanted.  From there, we went to the church (which is right across the grassy area in front of our apartment building). I’m sure it was a sight, two gray-haired ladies carrying the side handles of a basket full of colorful fall produce!  We made plans to carry out the decorating later in the week!
Thursday was a German holiday, so Dan and I drove to Liechtenstein for the day.  Dan always “does his homework” before we go somewhere new, so we had a map and we had a GPS to get us to Vaduz, the capitol city. It’s a charming town, famous for postage stamps and for its castle, where Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein, currently lives.  Lunch was delicious at a outdoor cafe and we took lots of photos.  I think it’s impossible to take too many photos of charming stone castles and streets in Europe!

Friday after work, Dorothea and I met to begin the fall decorating in the church, promising to finish up on Sunday morning while the worship team was practicing before worship. Continuing this domestic theme (decorating and cooking, etc.), I spend most of Saturday cooking and baking to get a little ahead for the next few days – squash soup, potato soup, banana bread and cookie dough!

Sunday was quite a treat! Our European Thanksgiving worship service was great and the display was beautiful with so many pretty fruits and vegetables, bread, fall leaves, and chrysanthemums. Afterward, several of us piled into Nancy’s car to go to a nearby town, Gottmadingen, to their semi-annual fair. The Gottmadingen Nazarene Church always has a booth where they sell Thai food (they cook for 2 days ahead, just to have enough, and they always sell out!) to make money for missions. We helped them out, of course, by purchasing our lunch there and spent a couple of hours wandering all the vendors’ booths. There was a real variety of stuff – from traditional clothing to modern clothing, biergartens to cake shops, spices and music CDs. Dan bought a leather hat; he’s been looking for something European for the cold weather, especially since he didn’t even bring any baseball caps with him for this trip.

Between the people and the food, we're being blessed every day! Thanks, God, for giving us another opportunity to be useful while experiencing these benefits!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Regional meetings and Ludwigsburg palace tour

Work in the Regional Office was quite different this week! There were meetings mid-week; the Field Strategy Coordinators were in for meetings, convening for the last time with out-going Regional Director, Gustavo Crocker.  Dr. Crocker was recently elected as one of our newest Nazarene General Superintendents!

I was drafted to help with the breaks and lunch on Wednesday; it was great to meet Dr. Crocker and the other fellows who I’d only communicated with by email.  It was actually fun to be part of the “catering team” that made their schedule work efficiently.

Our off-time was busy too; three evenings this week, we had scheduled Skype sessions with 2 of the missions candidates that we’re coaching and one with our coaching leader.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Medieval Rothenburg and South Africa Sunday.

What a week this was!  Dan changed our return-trip airline tickets so that we can stay a few days longer, to be available to help with the Eurasia Region’s retreat at the end of November. We’ll be 2 more “sets of hands” available to help with all the details of the retreat with over 150 adults and over 20 teens and more than 50 children!

The previous week, we had a reprieve from the autumn weather and we got to wear sandals! But this week, it’s cooler again. The leaves on the trees are still green but we’re excited about enjoying the fall colors here this year! We’ve missed fall for the last couple of years!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Busingen Honeymoon

As soon as I viewed the quaint villages of Switzerland and Germany, I knew I would take lots of photos of windows, shutters, doors, shingles, and flower boxes!  (Dan says that he will soon add a slideshow here in the blog to show some of these.) Being from North America, I’m easily charmed by the age of things in this part of the world; almost everything is so much older than similar things in the US. (Even in the US, I remember the first time I traveled to the East Coast, as a teenager, and noticed how much older were the city buildings than in the Midwest.)  Many buildings still have rolladen (the rolling, metal, black-out shades on the outside of windows), our apartment building included. (Here’s a video from that shows how they work:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

All about food…

Jesus said "I AM the bread of life, Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."  As we continue to have these opportunities to work in places that enable this message to be delivered to those that have not heard it, we also benefit from a wide variety of daily bread.  Our first weeks here in at the Eurasia Regional Office, while busy getting oriented to the life and work, has also been filled with lots of food and fellowship.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Eurasia week 1 - adjusting to life in Busingen

We arrived at the Zurich airport on Monday, August 26, and were amazed at how quickly we were able to get through Customs! Brad and Nancy Firestone were waiting for us on this gray day and the 45 minutes to Büsingen passed quickly as we enjoyed the countryside on our way. It took very little time for us to unpack our things in our nice apartment. We took a look at the groceries already stocked in our kitchen(!) and made a list of additional things we’d like to have on hand.  After walking back down the main street past the Eurasia Regional Office building and about another block, we arrived where Dan will work with Brad. The back of that building is the Firestones’ apartment.  Piling into their car, we crossed the border (as we’ll do many times each week) to shop at a store called Lidl (similar to Aldi, lots of those here too!) to get additional groceries. Then, the Firestones treated us to dinner out at a German/Italian restaurant.  We rode around through several small towns – in both Germany and Switzerland; all these towns are close together but with beautiful, rolling, farmland between.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The consistency of change...

continues in our lives. We had our plans for this summer and God has once again shown that His plans are always better.  He is continuing to open doors of useful service for us.

Our plans…

It’s been fun being back in the States for May – August, although some of it wasn’t at home! (And hasn’t this summer’s weather been strange?!  It surely doesn’t feel like August here in the Midwest!). Our daughter, Erica, had enjoyed having the house to herself and she adopted 2 beautiful kittens that have already grown up! Soon after arriving home, we had physicals, eye exams, and dental appointments; so far, we’re disgustingly healthy! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Autumn in April, 2013

This month has absolutely flown by, just as we knew it would! Just like in the States, autumn fluctuates; some days are quite chilly and some days are warm again. In the States, we’d call it Indian Summer. Here, it’s veranito, (little summer).