Friday, August 27, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Kansas (again)

Pop-Pop and Masami playing cars
Our last week in the States was pretty relaxing with a few minor misfortunes. Being with my in-laws always tends to be the place where we “crash.” Since they pretty much live in the middle of nowhere, it lends itself to being low key. We have developed a few important relationships there, so we always have a few people to see and connect with, but no major schedule to keep.

Our first few days were especially low key because Alethia came down with a mild fever and pretty much just needed to rest it off. That, adding to it the heat, and we were pretty much stuck at home and forced to rest. Another reason it is easy to rest at my in-laws is that they have this big, comfy pit couch. It is like a million years old and Anthony’s mom has considered getting rid of it on numerous occasions, but they continue to convince her otherwise and nurse it along, covering it with blankets and pillows to add to its comfort. Hours have been spent, the whole family late into the night, hanging out on that couch watching movies, playing video games, wrestling, talking about anything and everything. Now, my children are experiencing the magic of the pit couch as Alethia wrestled her Uncle B, got airplane rides from Auntie Non, watched Uncle B playing Donkey Kong, watched old VHS movies, and napped there.

So, besides all the resting, there was the whole “will we or won’t we” of going home which I have already blogged about, so I won’t say anything more about that. And there were the dental appointments…all 6. Yes, I said 6! I’ll be honest, Anthony and I have not done a good job of having regular dental cleanings in our adult life. However, now is the time that our children will start to need it, so we are trying to be more responsible. In that vein, we made appointments for dental check-ups for us and Alethia knowing full well that Anthony and I would probably need a filling or two. In a matter of 4 days, Anthony got 7 fillings, and I got 3. Needless to say, we were in a bit of pain. Alethia, on the other hand, did fantastic for her first visit and got high marks from the dentist. At least we are getting it right for her!

Once we got beyond Alethia’s fever and our dental trauma, we had a little double-date planned with Anthony’s parents. We had saved one of our favorite meals out for this occasion (Mexican food with that yummy white cheese dip!). Anthony had met his mom at work and was walking over while his dad and I drove over from the house, leaving Bryan and Noelle to watch the kids. We sat down, ordered drinks and the cheese dip and guacamole. My stomach was growling with hunger; I had been anticipating this for a week. And then the phone rang. It was Noelle…Masami had shoved peas up his nose and she couldn’t get them out. I could picture it immediately: our little entertainer found that he could get some giggle out of his Auntie and Uncle by sticking peas in his nose. The accusation slipped out immediately: “You laughed at him, didn’t you!” It was all the encouragement he needed to keep at it. I drove home thinking, I’ll just quick get these out with an aspirator or something and be back before dinner is served. When I got there, Noelle had managed to get one of three out. I spent about 5 minutes with an aspirator and tweezers and finally coaxed the second one out. But there was no getting to that third one. I needed a flashlight, at just the right angle, with his little nose smooched in just the right way to even see the pea. I tried, then Anthony came and tried, and finally there was nothing else to do but take him to the ER. Our evening plans drastically changed and off to the hospital we went.

Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Anthony ended up taking Masami himself while I went back to the restaurant to meet his parents. No use in both of us waiting around for who knew how long and I was starving, so I had dinner with his parents and we ordered Anthony’s to-go. At the hospital, they ended-up pushing the pea back further so that Masami sucked it up to the back of his throat and coughed it out. The doctor said “at least it is food and we can do it this way and it’s not a battery or something.” Who knew a kid could fit a battery up there?! Well, we are grateful too…and now we know what to watch out for.

With that behind us, we had one last night in Kansas. Our church there, led by Pastor Micheal Linthicum, gathered its leaders and spent some time praying over us, appointing us, and sending us out again. Such a blessing on the eve of our travels back to the field! This body has prayed over us and supported us and encouraged us since we first began our journey with Cadence. We are incredibly grateful for them and their ministry to our family.

Tearful goodbyes and a (this time packed to fly) full car, and we headed out. We have a very long day of driving to Milwaukee before we fly out tomorrow. But this is it…the last leg of our journey!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We're Going Home!!!!!

               I have to be real here.  It was a difficult weekend for me.  Thankfully, I’m at my in-laws’ house and can be real with them and I’m free to be in process.  We had yet to be re-released to the field, and I am getting so homesick for Germany.  I’ve been drinking out of the Germany Starbucks mug that I gave my mom-in-law every morning dreaming of my home and routine.  Then, I’ve been lying in bed at night feeling heart-weary.  Unfortunately, my sorrow was beginning to be expressed as bitterness towards anyone who could remotely be blamed for keeping us from home.  So, I had to take a couple walks and do some wrestling with the Lord.  Finally, I came to a place where I could honestly say that although it is not my desire to keep on the support-raising road, I can accept it if that is what seems to be the right thing to do at this time.  The Lord put in my mind the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul.”  I had peace that if He asks us to keep traveling, then He will provide what I need: physically, spiritually, emotionally.  My heart was settled.
               Then, the call came on Tuesday night…We have been released to go back!!!!  I truly cannot express our happiness!  Four days from now, we will be in our own home!  It’s kind of surreal.
               So, I just have a few prayer requests, if you think of us in the next couple of days:
1.       Masami is disaster-central at the moment.  We had to take him to the ER tonight because he pushed a pea too far up his nose.  He has also been falling and tripping all over the place.  Luckily, only a little blood has been shed, but please pray we can get home without further mishaps.
2.      Although we have enough support to allow us to go back to the field, we are still nearly 20% short of our budget.  We need to continue to raise our monthly support even as we jump back into ministry. 
3.      We have about a 12 hour drive up to Wisconsin on Friday to catch our flight on Saturday.  That makes two long travel days in a row.  As you know, we have already traveled a long way and we (all four) are kind of at our wits end with each other.  So, please pray that we hang-in there through this last stretch with an extra measure of patience, understanding, and love for one another. 
4.      Although we are all ready to be home and to have our own space, I have a feeling that we will be detoxing from being with so many people all the time.  So, please pray for us as we get re-settled in our life in Germany and as those feelings of loneliness undoubtedly will come as the reality of being again so far away from dear friends and family sets in. 
Thanks for all your love and support!  This is it until we are back and I can blog from the comfort of my own couch. Cheers!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Springfield, Missouri

We spent a couple days with Anthony’s grandparents in Springfield.  They always do such a great job of filling up our stomachs and loving on the kids.  After the day we spent with them in June, they were more prepared for us.  Armed with a baby gate and having cleared the area of valuable breakables, they were ready for the kids to invade.  I feel incredibly blessed to have in-laws that treat me as just another member of the family and who are so kind and generous towards me.  

We also got to visit with Anthony’s 95 year old Great-grandmother.  She was feisty as ever and so sweet.  

Now we are headed for our last (hopefully) real stop: Anthony’s parents’ house in Kansas.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Somewhere in the middle of Missouri

              We were glad to be able to make a quick stop at Fort Leonard Wood to see our former volunteer staff Chris and Jessica Turner.  We have such fun ministry memories with them from our first two years in K-town.  They were terrific volunteers and friends.  We hope for more volunteers like them.
               It was so fun to see their house, meet their new dog, and get caught-up.  It was such a quick visit, but so good to see that they are doing well.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
St. Louis

               It was so great to spend time with our dear friends that moved from Germany last year, the Tucks.  They were gracious enough to create room for us in their little abode so that we could come be with them for a few days.  The four kids had a blast playing and pretending together. 

 They treated us to one of the best ice cream cones I’ve ever had, Dotties…I was immediately addicted, so I guess it is a good thing that I have no further access to it. 

               They also watched our kids so that Anthony and I could go on a date and celebrate our anniversary a couple days early.  We had an amazing dinner and went to see Inception.  I didn’t really know anything about the movie before, however, it was really good!  Well worth the time!  So, we celebrated 9 years of marriage with a great evening. 
               They also gave me the freedom to hide-out by myself for an afternoon.  It was a fabulous gift to have some time to just be quiet and alone when I was really needing it. 
               I’m so wishing that the Tucks were still living in Germany where we could be a part of each other’s regular lives.  However, I’m so excited for them and what God is doing in their lives.  And I’m so glad we got a little time with them!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Kentucky (again)


               We got to spend another few days with my sister and her family in Kentucky.  We arrived on Griffin’s first day back in school.  It was so fun to get to hear his evaluation of his new class and teacher.  Apparently, she is great at all the teacher stuff.  While Griffin was at school, we got lots of play time with Lucy and Christi.
Auntie teaching Alethia to make Kool-Aid Pie
Play Dough fun with Uncle Bruce

               My sister and brother-in-law are some of the best cooks I know.  So, meals were fantastic.  After the kids were in bed, we talked and laughed over competitive rounds of euchre. 

The Gast Family
Again, tears were shed at our goodbye.  Alethia was not happy to have to move on again. 

               We have now hit the two week mark: two weeks until our fly date to Germany, however, we still have to be released by Cadence to go back.  Please pray that enough monthly commitments come in to allow us to go back.  We are anxious to be home!

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Progress!

As of today we have reached 80% of our monthly support needed!  We learned today that our military contract for next year has been renewed which includes approximately 25% of our monthly support.  In addition, we continue to add new support partners each month and have raised over $800 in monthly support through generous individuals who are excited about what God is doing in the lives of military students in Germany.  We feel humbled and encouraged given the current economic state of the country that we have been able to raise this much in just a few short months.
              It has not yet been decided whether we will be able to return to Germany at the end of the month.  Please pray with us that God will make the way possible to head home on the 28th!  Our family desperately needs the comfort and stability of home and we are anxious to be back to students by the start of the school year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Tennessee (again)

view from our room
               As missionaries, we get two nights free a year at this great place called the Whitestone Country Inn in Tennessee.  This was the only two days that we have had alone as a family the entire summer.  It was beautiful!  We really enjoyed being focused on our kids and just being mellow.  We wanted to spend more time outside on the gorgeous grounds, but it was so stinking hot that we did not last long.  However, we did manage to create a little Dora-style adventure for the kids.  I marked a little map and made-up objectives for Alethia to complete at each marker. 

We went out on a paddle boat, but we were not out more than a few minutes when Alethia complained of being hot and we were all wilting, so we turned around and went back to shore. 

Then, we went “searching” for the fish food that “Swiper had taken” and fed the fish in the pond.  It was a fun little excursion.  However, I think the kids enjoyed playing in their room uninterrupted even more.  Anthony and I were playing a game in the main room of our suite and noticed that the kids had gotten awfully quiet.  When I found them, they were laying in the closet and Alethia was “reading” a story to Masami.  So sweet!

We had a relaxing time, but it really made us long for home and our own space, time, and privacy. 
               We managed to meet my dad and step-mom for a brief breakfast date.  It was nice to visit with them and say goodbye before heading west again. 
               We stayed one night outside of Knoxville at a little B&B called Majestic Mansion.  We had meant to stay there a few years ago when we were in the area because of the owners’ connection with Cadence, but did not get the chance.  Anyhow, we figured-out earlier this summer that Anthony actually knew them from his childhood days in Japan.  Now we couldn’t just drive on by without stopping!  It is a very cool old house with tons of character and fabulous hosts.  Their daughter was even there who just happens to be one of Anthony’s best friends from the early 90’s.  She even pulled out her old My Little Ponies for Alethia to play with.  Masami got to push around a play lawn mower, and I had some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.  So, it was a fun stop for all of us. 
               Now we head west until we get to Kansas, then hope to turn north to catch our flight out of Milwaukee at the end of the month.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?
Maryland & Virginia

             We were in Maryland for 5 days visiting families that were a part of our ministry the first year that we were in Germany.  Some of you may remember that our first year of ministry in Germany was in Wiesbaden.  We filled-in during a transitional time for the youth group there.  We have fantastic memories from that year and are very fond of our students from then.  It was great to get to catch-up with them, now 4 to 5 years later, as they are in or graduating from college.

Rebecca & Zach
Anthony & Ben

Owen, Joanna, & Carol
               We got to stay with our former volunteer staff from that year, Doug and Joanna.  They were such an important support to us that year before we all had kids.  Now it is fun to be together and watch our kids play together.  (Their two are just a month older than our two.)

Doug & Anthony

Gwynn, Alethia & Sara

             Next we stopped in Virginia for a couple of days for my cousin’s wedding.  We happened to be in the same town that another former Malachi worker lives in now.  So, it was fun to catch-up and see her and her sister.

               I did not manage to get a photo of the bride and groom as I was a bit distracted from taking photos by keeping Alethia and Masami out of trouble.  However, it was a lovely wedding and it was wonderful to get to see family.  We were disappointed that my grandparents were unable to make it due to health issues.  They were definitely missed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Our Comedian

               We have gotten many comments this summer about how expressive Masami is.  His facial expressions can be so entertaining and dramatic.  So, he has sort of developed this little comedian side to him when he has the attention of a few adults.  He uses facial expressions, hand gestures, and sound effects to entertain.  

Also, his little dance moves are quite amusing.  He loves music and loves to get a groove on.  This we will have to try to get on video when we get home. 

Amor Email Update

Hello family and friends!

We have now been on the road for 70 days!  We have traveled over 8,000 miles!  And we have stayed in nearly 20 different homes!  Needless to say, we are a bit travel weary.  However, it has been an incredible trip!  We have been so blessed with each place that we have been to.  We have caught-up with many old friends and made lots of new friends.  We have reminded many of the needs and value of military students and we have brought others to a new understanding of the importance of military youth ministry.  Our monthly support has gone up by over $600 with additional partners beginning to support us this month.  Praise the Lord for His continuous provision! 

We still have 3 1/2 weeks at least to go and we have several more opportunities to share about the ministry that we are doing.  Please be praying with us!  I have listed several specific prayer requests below.  Please read them and pray specifically with us over these ares.

Prayer Requests:
  • For our military contract to be renewed for this year including nearly 20% of our monthly support
  • For a substantial amount of monthly support to begin coming in this month thereby releasing us back to Germany
  • For wisdom in deciding when to fly back to Germany, and how to best meet the needs of our ministry and our family come September.

Much will need to be decided in the next 10 days as we see things unfold.  We will let you know when and what decisions have been made.  If you wish to track us a little more closely, please visit our blog:  Thank you, once again, for all of your love, prayer, and support!  We carry-on because of your encouragement and commitment to us.  The Lord strengthens us through you.

love and blessings,
Anthony & Jessica

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Where in the States are the Amors?

Today we met Anthony’s dad (Doug) in downtown Baltimore to spend the afternoon at the National Aquarium.  Along with Doug came Anthony’s half-sister Alexis, and step-brother Camren.  First we met for lunch where Doug’s girlfriend Cheryl joined us.  It has been a very long time since we have seen them, so it was nice to get a little caught-up and reacquainted with each other.  Then we headed off to the aquarium.  We had a built-in babysitter for Alethia in Alexis.  


Alexis kept close tabs on Alethia and soon Alethia was holding her hand and making sure to follow her.  It was quite sweet to watch the two of them together.   

 All four kids had a great time exploring the exhibits.  We saw a 4d movie about the planet.  It is one of those 3d movies with the added bonus of wind, water, and jolts in your seat.  Alethia and Masami were a little freaked-out by it, but we made it through.  Alexis was especially anxious to see the dolphins, so we also went to the dolphin show.

Masami fell asleep while we were waiting for it to start, but woke-up half-way through and looked on in wonder as the dolphins jumped out of the water.  It was so cute to watch his face and see him clapping on cue.  Alethia was especially excited to see the Jellies exhibit (as well as any other sea creature from Finding Nemo!)  She raced to each tank with her face pressed-up against the glass to view the different colored jelly-fish.  It is so fun to see our kids light-up when they see and experience new things and to watch their little faces as they process the new information. 

  All-in-all it was a great way to spend the day.  We really enjoyed the aquarium and enjoyed the company even more.  Alexis is such a sweet girl and I really wish we had more opportunities to see her.  And it was great to see Anthony’s Dad again and for the kids to get to know their grandpa for the first time.  Both kids fell asleep on the ride back, exhausted from another fun day.  Now Anthony and I just need to work in a few naps.

Where in the States are the Amors?
Cape Cod: Last Day

Auntie Lexi & Alethia

It is our last day at the Cape!  It has been really nice to be “settled” for a whole week.  I was actually pulling clothes from out of a closet instead of a suitcase.  It has been even nicer to be with my family.  We made lots of great memories.  It is good to know that my kids know their relatives now. 
We spent our last morning at the beach.  Alethia was a little reluctant to go since her cousins left this morning and she wouldn’t have other kids to play with.  However, once we got settled on the beach, she quickly found another little girl her age.  They came skipping over with their buckets and shovels and Alethia proudly declared, “I found a friend!” 
I asked, “Alethia, what’s your friend’s name?” to which the little girl answered “Charlotte.”  And Alethia turned and looked at me and said, “Her name’s Chocolate!”
They played for awhile and, when Charlotte left, Anthony took turns burying her and Masami in the sand to their delight.  I got to quietly lay in the sand and read for a bit which was just lovely. 
The afternoon was spent packing our car up again and gearing-up for another month on the road.  Lots of hugs and kisses and sniffles saying goodbye.  Not sure when we will all see each other again. 

Here are a few last pictures from our week at the Cape:

Alexis & Jay
Griffin & Christi
Lucy & Alethia
My first Lobster Dinner!