Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dream Trip to Germany

I blogged every day while Mitch was in Ukraine. Once he went to Germany, I didn't blog at all. I knew I would regret He has a lot of stories and memories, and there's no way I can share it all. He was welcomed by Kathi and her family, then by Patrick and his family. Both families were amazing hosts and he had an amazing trip. I will share a small part of it. (This doesn't include any of Kathi's or Patrick's pictures, nor any of the great videos Mitch has to share.)

 {Kathi and Mitch, and a castle way in the background. Castles are so very cool.}

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Last Day in Horol

Today was a sweet time of celebrating and goodbyes. Victoria and Mitch sent me pictures. I have so many, that there's no way I can share them all!

First off, I have the video message they filmed yesterday...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 10 of Ukraine Trip

At about 20 minutes to 4 pm my time, I had nearly given up on getting to talk to Mitch again today. But within a few minutes, he texted me--even though it was nearly midnight his time. He said they had been super busy packing gift bags for all the volunteers (35), and that Heather is awesome at that! (p.s. Calvary family, that's what all the peanut butter and brown sugar was for, plus more items).

They had a quiet morning today. At some point they drove back out to the sunflower field for more pictures and to record a message for our church family. That will play tomorrow, so I'm not going to post it until then. But you can see the great pictures! They also went shopping this morning for food and supplies.

 {Oksana and Heather at breakfast}

Friday, July 14, 2017

Day 9 of trip, Final day of VBS Kids' Camp in Ukraine

I have many beautiful pictures to share tonight from the last day of kids' camp and from the team's trip out to the village. Sorry for the long delay. Today was the first day that I finally was able to make head-way on my to-do list. Once I caught that momentum, I didn't want to stop!

I seriously have so many pictures, I'm not sure where to start. :)

Our team started out the day at VBS and Mitch provided some pre-exercise entertainment by juggling.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day 8 of trip, Day 4 of VBS Kids' Camp in Ukraine

Today was a rainy day! Mitch said that they got lots of hard rain. Because of the rain, some campers didn't come today. But 15 new children came, and a total of 150 children were there. You are going to want to read all the way to the bottom for a great compilation video Mitch just sent me.

{Vica helping lead exercises, I tried following along the hand motions they are doing and, well, I'm just not that talented. ;)}

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 7 of trip, Day 3 of VBS Kids' Camp in Ukraine

Today was a great day!!

First off, someone made sure I got these photos from the American meal. They love me. :)
 {This plate of corn dogs Victoria is holding looks so good that now I want to try this recipe here when Mitch gets home. Great job, team!}

{Gathered for the American meal.}

Now on to today. Thank you for your prayers for the weather. Storms were forecast for today, but they didn't hit until after camp was done. Pastor Grigorii said that it was good to get rain for the farmers. Then Mitch said, "God kept the storm from our harvest, and brought the storm for the farmer's harvest." Pastor added, "Our harvest is more important though." Even more children came today, for a total of 170!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Day 6 of trip, Day 2 of VBS Kids Camp in Ukraine

The team had another great day in Ukraine!

I'm having some technical difficulties on my end with photos, but I'll start writing and in the meantime I'm hoping that everything I need will finish uploading. Maybe I already used my daily allowance of WiFi data? LOL It's finally working. Can I get a "Hallelujah"?

Today I talked with Mitch a few times. He had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, so he was awake when we were going to bed (4 a.m. his time). I did send some unisom with him, so if he doesn't sleep well tonight (or right now, actually), I hope that tomorrow night he will take it. It was sweet though because he got to say good night to the kids. We had a little fun with the Facebook Messenger app.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Day 5 of trip, Day 1 of VBS Kids Camp in Ukraine

Today I got many great pictures and videos of the first day of kids' camp/VBS. I enjoyed a quiet phone call with Mitch too, which was a blessing.

 {Heading to camp}

Today took a lot of organization and orientation. Kids arrived at all different times, so some got to play longer while others didn't really get a chance to play. When kids arrived, they got registered, then received a hat and a t-shirt. The backdrop I had a picture of yesterday makes a great photo booth, and kids had cameras or cell phones and were taking pictures by it. Mitch said that the kids rotate through 3 stations--crafts, Bible time, and sports. They spend an hour in each, except the last 15 min of sports is actually snack time. It actually got quite hot today and they were all feeling it! After the snack, they have a closing time with songs and a skit.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The 1st Sunday in Ukraine

I got a lot of pictures and a video today!

{Nightly devotions with Pastor Grigorii}

I know this is a precious time for the team. One of my favorite things about being on a short-term missions trip is the focused time for devotions and time in the Word. While I have a personal time each day where I read the Bible and pray, it is special to be in a small group--sometimes of people that I don't know very well--and to share together. I hope these are times of renewal and refreshment for the team, that they are fruitful and unifying. Our team members are taking turns leading each night. 

{The Horol Church}

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Day 3 in Ukraine

It's so strange that when I am going to bed, Mitch is almost waking up, and he is headed to bed when it is still afternoon here. Anyway, it gives me lots of daylight to write a blog post!

Last night Mitch woke up around 3 a.m. his time and struggled to get back to sleep. Finally, around 4:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. my time) he gave up trying to get back to sleep and texted me instead. We texted back and forth a little while, but eventually he decided to just get up and get started with sermon prep for Sunday morning. I decided it was time to wrangle the kids and send them to bed.

As I headed to bed I looked outside and was surprised to see a full moon rising in the pink of the setting sun.

I asked him if he could see the moon setting, since it was rising here. By that point, it was already blocked by hills, but instead he sent me the sunrise over Zhenya's hothouse...

Friday, July 07, 2017

Day 2 in Ukraine

I was able to talk with Mitch via Facebook Messenger app today. The kids were all excited to say hi and "see" their daddy. We also got to say hi to their host family and the rest of the team, and received a blessing from Pastor Grigorii.

Last night after arriving in Horol, our team got out some of the sports equipment they brought and taught the family how to play 4-Square. Mitch said they played for hours (which is funny considering how long they had been awake). Victoria made a time-lapse video, so I hope to see that. :) One of the translators whom we've been friends with for nearly a decade, AJ, said that he is very competitive and he loves the new game now. Mitch is really competitive too...I'd like to see those two have a game after Mitch is rested up. Haha. I wish I had sent Mitch's knee braces now. :)

{Here is an old picture of Mitch and AJ from 9 years ago on Mitch's first trip to Ukraine. I bet they both think they are still this young.}

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Made it to Ukraine!

We said our goodbyes to Mitch yesterday morning, after a crazy morning of finishing up packing and getting ready for the trip. I took him to church, where a group of people gathered to pray over the team (Mitch and two others from our church). After the time of prayer (we were running late), we shuffled and weighed the checked bags again. They could each bring 3 large suitcases, but they had to be under 50 lbs each. This one was over, that one was get the idea. Mitch took quite a bit of heavy stuff in his carry-on bag. And we even took out a few pounds of less-needed items and put them back into storage for the next trip. Someone snapped pictures of the contents in each bag (in case they were lost). Then it was really time for me to say goodbye. I could have easily been crying all morning, so at this point, when Mitch leaned over and gave me a kiss on the head, I had to make a run for the car where I felt I could cry and get it over with. ;) 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Return to Ukraine

Now that the official arrangements have been made, I can announce that Mitch will be returning to Ukraine in July to offer support to the ministry of our sister church in Khorol. He will be travelling with two other people from our church, and they will be in Ukraine for 12 days.

On the way back, Mitch will return through Frankfurt and stay in Germany for an extra week to visit Kathi and Patrick and their families. He is so excited for a reunion with them! I'm so thankful that it worked out for Mitch to go there this year. We have dreamed about it and hoped it would work out.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Whoo! Malachi is 10!

Last week we celebrated Chi guy's 10th birthday! It's hard to believe he is TEN years old. That's so big! On the other hand, Malachi can do so many things now, that it feels good to finally be able to say he is 10 years old.

{All that remained of his cookie Mrs. E brought over...I failed to get a picture before he enjoyed it.}

Malachi's birthday fell on the first Friday of June this year, which is National Donut Day. We also got a dozen donuts to share. And we figured out when the next time his birthday will be on National Donut Day again, since this is the first time it's ever been on his will be when he's 16. I think it's so appropriate, since he is my boy who loves sweets the most.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Obadiah just turned 6!

I miss my blogging days, but at least these birthdays rolling through are keeping me a little bit accountable. ;)  This time our Obi Wan Kenobi took a turn in the birthday seat.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Eden has reached adulthood!

Somehow, unbelievably, Eden went from this:

to this:

And I just don't even know how that happened!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mercy's 4th birthday

I'm not sure why, but I felt a particular excitement for Mercy to turn 4 years old. Maybe it was because I know that she's old enough to understand what a birthday is and look forward to it. It's her last year as a preschooler!

{Licking the cake batter}

{She didn't want to share with Genna, but Mommy knows what's best!}

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Genesis Grace is 2 years old!

We celebrated Genna's birthday a week ago. It's so fun to have a 2 year old. Genna is full of personality, and I've got pictures to show a little of it.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

One month with Eevee

Eevee (as we finally decided to call her) has been with us for one month now, and we are so blessed! Taking Eevee on a walk is one of my favorite things to do. I feel so proud to have such a beautiful girl walking beside me. But I encourage Zeke to walk her as much as possible, since this is a great way to build a relationship.

Keep reading for more pictures from the past month!

20 years!

I'm kind of going in reverse order for January...our anniversary happened before Caleb's birthday...but this is how it is today. 

This month we marked our 20th anniversary. 
The celebration will have to come later.
I am so deeply thankful to God for 20 years of marriage to my love.
It's not easy but God's grace has made it possible.

Caleb's Sweet Sixteen

The calendar flipped to a new year and didn't slow down a beat! We have been sick since the beginning of January and I thought I would blog when I felt better. With no end in sight, I am resolved to blog without feeling better.

The first order of business is Caleb's birthday! It seems that he should still be a small fry, but...sigh...that's not how it works. I can't believe he's 16. Really.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

How about a ton of Christmas photos?

We were once again overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas season. Our parents are so generous and set an example for how I hope to be as our children grow up and move out. I tease the kids and say that we had so many kids so they will take care of us when we get older...but in reality I hope that we can be a blessing to them for many decades to come. Our holiday has been mostly quiet and relaxing.

As I approached gift-giving this year, I tried to follow the same theme that we did last year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. It was a helpful guide, though I didn't really get something for everyone in the "something you need" category. Some kids (like Josh) had a bag full of clothes, while other kids (like Micah) only had a couple things...I guess that was based more on what they needed or what they asked for. I am pleased that we were able to get something for each kid that they really wanted.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Dog's Tale

To find out how we got here,we have to go back a ways...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fall Semester Winding Down

As the fall semester winds down, I find myself looking forward to a break. Our break is shorter this year than normal, but since we had a longer-than-expected Thanksgiving break, it evens out.

Some fun things happening here:

~Obi is now in All About Reading Level 1, and is reading his first words. I made a lot of hoopla about it, and he is so proud.
~Eden just finished her last final today. Only one more semester of high school to go--and she will graduate with her AA degree from the community college.
~Micah was accepted to St. Cloud State University for the spring semester and is waiting for his advising day so he can sign up for classes.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Thanksgiving, etc.

I didn't forget I have a blog, but it sure feels like I forgot. I have been doing relatively well keep school on schedule through the morning and after lunch. By the time Genna is down for a nap and school is done for the day, the kids are often begging for "screen time" and I am more inclined to give it to them at that point. Unfortunately, that leaves me with no computer time. It does, however, leave me time for other things. I have enjoyed reaching one of my goals for the school year--spending regular time in prayer and quiet time (for journaling) each afternoon. I love using the app PrayerMate (android or itunes) to organize and keep me on track. It has been a sweet time for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Zeke is 13

I can't believe I almost forgot to blog about this! There's another "teenager" in our house...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Papaw Jim and Lydia

I was thrilled when I received a text from my dad that he had the opportunity to come to Minnesota for a visit. I hadn't seen him for 3 years (when Mercy was 1 month old), and the kids hadn't seen him for 6 years (when we went on a huge trip with Patrick). Obi and Genna had never met him! And he hadn't been to Minnesota in almost 13 years (it's mostly too cold here...hehe).

My dad's wife Lydia had a training to attend in Duluth the first week of October, so they made a big trip of it all. I'm so thankful she dragged my dad along.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Family Pictures part pics

We got out Friday afternoon and took the kids' individual pictures. I am still sorting through the mess. I need to wait a few more days before I decide on my final favorites to print. I'm sure the older kids would like to give their input too. But here are some quick collages I picked out.

Minus Micah...I didn't put a collage together of him. I think I'll print his cap and gown photo for the wall.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Good Deal

My grandmothers taught me to be a thrifty shopper. This skill was invaluable when I got married, though I don't claim to be the best. I often miss good deals or spend too much money and realize it later. I rarely clip coupons, though I do grab what I can at the grocery store and stock up on sales of items that we use frequently. Early in our marriage Mitch and I made mistakes and within a few years found ourselves under a burden of debt that we didn't have the means to escape. We took Dave Ramsey's course, Mitch changed jobs to increase our income, but we were still unable to fix the mess ourselves. I tell people, "We flunked Financial Peace University."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Family Pictures 2016 edition!

Micah warned us a couple months ago that come September, he was leaving. He has changed his direction a few times since then, but the date of departure has only varied by a few days. I finally got serious about trying to find a time to take family pictures before he left, but it seemed to elude us. He was planning to leave today, so my time was pretty much up. Last night we got it done. I didn't take individual shots, but I got the family ones. Here they are, along with some extras!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Bee Keeping

Mitch has been bee-keeping with his dad this summer. It has been quite a journey! It has been something that he has taken the kids along to do. He has read books, watched videos, and gone to meetings. He has been through a range of emotions too--giddy in love with his bees, to having terrifying nightmares of being attacked. :) He has spent many, many hours this summer taking care of them, and he is sure that he has been in trouble with me because of it. (There may be a little bit of truth to that.)

Here are some incredibly beautiful pictures Kathi took when she was here this summer...

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Genna at 19 months

Genna is 19 months old today and I thought I would write a little update.