Saturday, May 10, 2014

Amor Ministry Update

Amor Prayer Letter/April 2014

Dear Friends and Family,
     I cannot tell you how dear our volunteer staff team has become to us.  We have never had a team so well-connected to and supportive of one another, so passionate about student ministry and so good at seeing and loving students.  This year we have had the pleasure of hosting this fabulous group monthly at our home for connection and training.  I (Jessica) have really enjoyed getting to minister to our volunteers by feeding them a good meal and giving them a comfortable environment to relax in for an evening. 
     Last month at our most recent of these gatherings, we spent most of our time reflecting on middle school camp (Escape) which happened in February.  I was so blessed to see how each of our staff saw the hearts of our students and was moved by their experiences.  We shared stories about students that made us laugh like how Matt volunteered to go on stage and do the hand motions to a song in front of everyone with such enthusiasm.  Oh the days when we were less self-conscious and more free like Matt!  Or how several students found themselves stuck behind a gate on a hike one afternoon and decided to squeeze under it, sliding through the dirt, to get through only for Anthony to lift the gate and open it to get through cleanly behind them.  We shared stories about students that made us smile with joy, like how Lindsey was the first to volunteer to go reach out to two other girls who were not feeling as connected to the group.  Her generous heart is so sweet.  Or how Katie, one of the nicest kids we know, was in tears about the sin in the world and how much it hurts people.  How does she have such a tender, sensitive heart and yet is so aware of the harshness of the world we live in?  And how can we help her (and others) not grow callous?  And we shared stories about students that made us cry (or at least tear up), like how Vince admitted that he is unkind with his words because that is how he sees his parents interact.  How do we help him learn that there is another way?  And how some of our students blossomed under the warmth of our consistent and loving attention, knowing it is something they are not getting at home.  How do we continue to offer that to them and how do we help support parents in their relationships with their teens?  I love that we have a team of volunteers that want to wade deep into these questions and who feel the depth of the weight that some of these kids carry.  And, although we were able to consider some possible answers, I love that we have a team that is willing to acknowledge that we don’t know all the answers and that realizes that where our strength and wisdom and abilities end is where God’s begins. 
     Towards the end of our time together, Shaun, began to talk about how he should go about starting the process of saying goodbye to the boys in his small group. Shaun is a big guy and a tough career airman who has been volunteering with us for over 3 years now. Big tears rolled down his face as he talked about what it will look like to end strong with these guys and about how hard it is to  fight the urge to close his heart off in these last weeks because saying goodbye is so painful.  I love that we have volunteers who choose to invest generously into the hearts and lives of these students knowing full-well the pain of loss through military transitions.  Volunteers who model what it looks like to end strong and say goodbye well in a community that often does not know how to do that. 
     As we hit our 8th anniversary of coming to Kaiserslautern, Germany, I can say that we have experienced many, many goodbyes.  No matter how many we experience, they are never easy.  Often it is an ever dripping trickle of people…friends, colleagues, students, families.  But I have noticed that every few years there comes a tidal wave of goodbyes that rolls over us and threatens to drown us in the feelings of loss and loneliness.  These next several months is one of those waves…key students, long-time friends, most of our volunteer staff, chaplains, our close-knit community and local support system.  And we are fully in the throes of fighting to keep our hearts open and invested knowing full-well the pain of loss that is coming.  Sometimes it feels as though we have moved across the world, relationally speaking, and we have to start all over building community when we have not moved at all. 
Being a part of a community that is in constant transition gives us incredible ministry opportunities to model saying goodbye well, to connect with and invest in a lot of students and families, to show the value of building relationships even in a short period of time…  However, it also has its difficulties.  One of those difficulties is keeping our financial support strong.  That is why we rely on your support.  We could not be here without you.  Thank you for the ways that you give to invest in these military students and families.  Continue to pray with us that our support level would go up so that we can continue in ministry here.
     We are ever so grateful for your faithful support and love!  Thank you for fighting the good fight with us!
Love & blessings,
Jessica, for all 4 Amors

*Students’ names were changed for their anonymity

Shaun with his small group

Some of our students at Escape

Geocaching at Escape

Our volunteers

One of our new students at Escape

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Masami's First Week of Kindergarten

Last week Masami started German kindergarten. When did my baby get to be so big?! We were worried that it would take awhile for him to get used to it and enjoy it because he can be timid in new situations, but he warmed-up in no time.

This is their temporary kindergarten while they rebuild the permanent one.

We were able to find out which group (classroom) he would be in weeks before. That was nice because then everyday when we picked Alethia up from school, Masami was able to peek in and look around. He started to get familiar with the faces of other kids and of his teachers and started picking out toys that looked fun to play with. So, when his first day arrived, he was excited and ready to go.

Masami is in the Schlumpfe (Smurf) Group and Alethia is in the Gespenster (Ghost) Group.

On his first day we met with his teacher while he started playing. She is a wonderful lady with a lot of energy and speaks very little English. Thankfully, Anthony was with me to help me catch all the information we were getting in German. (He catches on so much more quickly than I do with the language stuff). When it was time to go, Masami did not want to leave and was happy for us to leave him for an hour. On his second day, he ran right to his teacher and gave her a big hug then went straight into his classroom without hesitation. He went every day for a few hours last week with no worries.

While we are allowed to send him 5 days a week, our intention is to send him only 3 because he is still so young. However, yesterday when I kept him home and Alethia left for school he got upset. He asked several times why he couldn't go to school too.

We are relieved that it is going so well and that he is enjoying it so much.

Hanging-up his backpack in his cubby.

New house shoes for school

Asleep on day three when I came to pick him up. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from Jess' iPhone

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Just a little family mini-golf

Oh, I have so much I want to post about our trip to Asia, but that will have to come in many parts over the next few weeks.  For now, just a quick little update on our family...

We are very happy to be back with our kids!  It was difficult to leave them for more than two weeks and be on a completely different continent.  However, we left them in the very capable and loving hands of our chaplain and his family.  Our kids had a great time with them.

Now, we are getting settled back into life in Germany and enjoying our family time when we get it. We already got our season passes to the Dinosaur park/Gartenshau for this year, so that is where we often head on Anthony's day off.  Last week, we attempted mini-golf  there for the first time with our kids.  They really had fun with it.

As we waited to get our clubs and balls, I told Masami to go over and watch someone else playing and come tell me how you play.  He is a clever kid and after just a few minutes of watching he told me, "you use your club to shoot the ball and try to get in the hole.  They aren't very good at it!"  He cracks me up!

Alethia was her usual independent self and wouldn't be told how to hold her club nor take any tips.  So, she spent a lot of time circling the hole, but was very proud when she finally made it in.

Of course, we got ice cream afterwards and hit the playground for awhile before heading home...