Friday, January 21, 2011

About Joy

To tell you about my friendship with Joy is to tell you about the Lord's faithfulness and provision in my life.  I met Joy about two months after we moved to K-town when I was about 6 weeks pregnant with Alethia. I was nauseous 24 hrs. a day and so lonely from being new to town and too sick to go out and get to know people.  I remember coming to the Lord in tears and praying for a friend.  "Lord, please bring me at least one good friend for encouragement and support.  I don't know how you will do this considering that I won't leave my house, so please just drop a friend on my doorstep."

I was surprised and excited when He answered my prayer so literally.  One afternoon in May my doorbell rang.  I was still in my PJ's and glasses and feeling sick as usual.  I quickly brushed out my hair as I curiously answered the door.  And there stood Joy carrying her baby boy and her toddler son peeking out from behind her.  "Is this the Hospitality House?"  Of all things...she had gotten lost looking for a ministry house and found me, another American and someone who actually knew what she was talking about.  I praise God for our big white Transit van (identical to the Hospitality House's) that made her stop at my house.

I ended-up driving her over to the House on the other side of our village and stayed for a "Hair & Tea" time for women.  While Joy got her hair done, I held her baby and watched her son down a bag of lime Tortilla chips.  We chatted and hit it off immediately.

Joy quickly became a good friend and important part of my emotional/spiritual support system here in Germany.  It was through her that I met several other incredible ladies that have been significant in their support and friendship.  And later, it was through Joy and her husband, that Anthony and I got connected to other families in community that have encouraged, supported, and loved us.

It has been 4 1/2 years since that day in May that I met Joy, and I can't emphasize enough how much her friendship has meant to me.  I could spend hours sharing great memories and telling you ways that she went out of her way to love on me and my family.  She has walked through both of my pregnancies with me, sat with me at the hospital through the night when Masami was sick, made us meals, listened as I walked through struggles, shared her own heart, struggles, passions with me.  We walked together through her husband's deployments, our ministry challenges, and learning to parent well.  She is a beautiful person and I am honored to call her my friend.

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Joy and her family last month.  The military called them on to a new place.  I have adapted somewhat to the reality of the rotating community of military life, however, this goodbye has been one of the hardest I've had to experience.  Because Joy's friendship has been a constant presence the entire time I've lived in K-town and because of how much life we have shared, I feel a great loss at her departure.  I am so grateful to God for the gift that her friendship has been to me.  For through her, the Lord blessed my soul.  I know our friendship will continue through the distance and time, though it will change now.  And just as the Lord was faithful to provide over 4 years ago, I know He will be faithful to provide for me now in other ways and through other friendships. I am also certain that He will bless many others through Joy's presence somewhere else. 

So, thank you Joy for your friendship, support, and love!  You are greatly missed!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

36 Hours in the Netherlands

My sister and her boyfriend flew into Amsterdam for a week of vacation.  We were able to get away for two days to drive out and visit them.  We got up early on Thurs with the intention to be in Haarlem by 12:30.

Unfortunately Jay came down with a 24hr flu, so we had Alexis to ourselves the first day.  She met us at our hotel in Haarlem.  Our innkeepers were quite hospitable, serving us coffee, tea, and oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts) upon our arrival. 

We headed out to grab lunch and hit the Corrie Ten Boom house/museum.  It was pretty cool to hear Corrie's story while standing in the house where she saved so many.  Now I want to go read "The Hiding Place"'s been years.

We spent the rest of the day getting settled and Alexis and I got some sister time.  When we ventured out for dinner, many restaurants were already packed.  We found a snug Italian restaurant that seemed kid-friendly, though busy.  Alethia had fallen asleep in the stroller on the way over...exhaustion from a long day with no nap.  So, upon waking, she wasn't the most pleasant child on earth.  Even so, both kids did pretty good waiting for their meal the first hour or so.  Then, Alethia started asking every few minutes where her food was.  And Masami was trying to climb out of the highchair.  When we finally tracked down our server, we found out that he hadn't put our order in yet.  Anthony walked the kids around a bit, we let them play games on our phones...trying to keep them happy a while longer.  The entire dinner experience took nearly 4 hours.  My sister was worried that she would miss the last train, it had gotten so late!  We walked Alexis to her train and Masami was asleep by the time we got back to the hotel.  The rest of us rapidly followed. 

The next morning, we got up and drove into Amsterdam and met Jay and Alexis to celebrate Alethia's birthday.  They were really great playing with the kids and giving-up a whole day of their vacation to do the kid thing.  Our kids felt very loved-on by them!

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.  It was a great way to spend the last two days of the year.  We are so grateful to have gotten that special time with Alexis and Jay!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Alethia Turns 4 in Amsterdam and a Happy New Year!

Alethia turned 4 on the first!  Hard to believe that it has already been 4 years since we first saw that angelic little face.  She has certainly been one of our biggest challenges and one of our biggest joys in life!  And this has been a big year for her as she was potty-trained this year, started German Kindergarten, started ballet, traveled to Greece and spent 3 months traveling in the States.  She is passionate, social, talkative, and loving.  So, how did we celebrate her 4th birthday?....

A few days before, we attended a Cadence Christmas party.  We took advantage of a group of her friends being in one place and brought cupcakes with birthday candles.  We all sang to her and she got to do the traditional blowing out of candles.  This was the first year that she actually blew them out!

The next day we left for Amsterdam to see my sister and her boyfriend who had flown in for a week of vacation.  (I'll blog more later about the great time we had with them.)  We were only there for two days, but we spent one of the days celebrating Alethia's birthday together.  We all went to TunFun, a big indoor play park, in Amsterdam.  It had tons of stuff for the kids to do including trampolines, slides, climbing structures, a bounce house, ball pit and giant legos.  We were there for a few hours exploring and playing.

Alethia willingly got ready to go at the mention of presents.  We walked further into downtown Amsterdam and found a corner in a restaurant to have dinner and open presents.  I think the highlights for Alethia were a set of play cupcakes complete with frosting and candles to decorate with (from Auntie Lexi) and a "pink sewer" (sewing machine) that she had been asking for. 

We sang to her again and this time she blew out the wooden candles on her new cupcake set. 

After dinner, we hit the road to try to make the 5 1/2 hour drive home before midnight.  The fireworks in the local German villages are amazing on New Years Eve, so we were hoping to make it home to see the ones in our village.  As we got closer, it was clear that we were going to be cutting it close, and as the clock struck midnight, we were still 15 minutes out.  However, we inadvertently stumbled upon an amazing view!  It was quite a foggy night, so at first, all we could see from the car windows were flashes of light reflecting off the clouds.  Then, as we passed a village, we could see a few fireworks going off in between trees and hills blocking our view.  But the last 5 minutes of our trip took us right past K-town and I teared-up at the incredible display of fireworks.  There were bursts of light exploding in the sky above the city in every direction.  The skyline was lit up with what seemed like hundreds of splashes of color.  A whole panorama of nonstop fireworks going off in the distance.  I wish we could have pulled-over and watched for longer.  It was a beautiful start to 2011 for us!

Unfortunately, Alethia (and Masami) slept through the entire thing and she completely missed this grand celebration on her birthday.  We rolled into our drive with time to still enjoy the fireworks in our own village and then fall into bed with exhaustion.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!