Saturday, July 25, 2009

Home after Christ in Youth Conference MOVE 2009

I enjoy very much taking teens to CIY! I like getting to know the teens and sharing Christ with them. There is nothing like watching youth worship their creator and watching them become convicted of how they can grow closer to Him.

This year was especially special. When we first came to Huntsville Christian Church I began teaching the 18 month olds. They were the "little people" in the nursery with Austin. Those children were Austin, Kirsten and others, most of whom are now gone. I continued to teach children (again, Austin's age) even up to the present time. The crazy part is that now...those teens will be moving out into the world on their own.

I enjoyed spending time with Casey, Helen, Kirsten and Austin (along with the other kids). But this year was different. This was my last event with them. I will miss them. That makes me sad. At the same time, I'm bursting with JOY at the choices they've made. Their faith is strong and it will pull them through to making wise choices. They all have plans to stay plugged into Christ. I am proud of them for planning ahead. I will miss them, and I love them.

This is also a turning point. Now I get to start a "new cycle" of students! There are new young teens to get to know. New challenges and exciting times to have! I can't wait to start planning for them and getting to know them! I've already begun praying for them daily.

Along with that goes the joy of watching my other 2 boys growing up and learning to trust God! What greater pleasure is there than to see your children's faith in Christ grow and to watch them making choices they feel God is calling them to make!

There are mixed emotions this year, more-so than most years...but I can't wait to see what Christ will do in the lives of these college students and in the lives of those who will still be here waiting to learn more about HIM.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Graduation Open House...Backtrack!

Well, It's finally real! Austin is officially a High School Graduate! When I look back I can easily remember the days when he was a newborn! It doesn't seem long ago at all! Just like yesterday, in fact!

But here we are! Amazing!

Cari and Alan came with the kids from Tulsa, OK. Andrew and Joy and their kids from Springfield, MO. Austin enjoyed playing games with all the kids! It was so sweet to watch him interact with them!

We had all kinds of excitement getting ready for the open house! We decided to slide the table over by the window...when we did...the light (that's normally over the table) was hanging so low that people were hitting their heads on it. So we removed it!

Another fun opportunity was the heat! It was a quite warm day...and our air conditioner decided to pick this weekend to quit. That's right...the funniest part of that was when the icing started falling off the cupcakes!

Needless to say, we enjoyed the back patio! It was cooler outside than inside, so we spent a good bit of time out there. We enjoyed all of the friends and family that came to visit!

Dad and Sandy came from Minnesota. This trip was actually their first adventure in coming to visit out home in Huntsville. We had a great time taking them around town and showing them the sites. One of my highlights of the whole week was taking them to the Space and Rocket Center!

Mom came from South Dakota-we enjoyed sewing a bag together that I used for our trip to Lithuania. Gene and LouAnne were also here from Springfield, MO. Thanks so much for all the help that everyone gave in decorating and making food!

Tom and Diane were not able to come...but they were here in spirit! Diane volunteered to make the table clothes! They are beautiful and I think of her each time I look at them!

Congratulations Austin! We are proud to call you our son! I consider myself blessed each time I thank God for you! You are truly a wonderful addition to our family! My prayer for you is that you will continue to grow your faith in Christ and that you will allow Him to lead in every decision that you make!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Theresa's Lithuania Trip

So, I guess today is the day I get caught up on some of the blogging that I haven't done in quite some time!!!

Where to begin...

In June (I can't believe it's already been a month since we were there!) my Grandmother took my Mom, Cousin Jenna, and myself to Lithuania with her. We were able to see a good bit of the country. From the Capital, Vilnius, to the coast of the Baltic Sea-Klaipeda & and Palenga, to the south region Druskininkai, and most memorable for me...Taurage, the town Grandma was born in and lived until she was 11 years old. Her family had to flee because of the war efforts between Germany and Russia.

I never realized before that most of the foods we ate growing up were Lithuanian! It was really neat that we could find food that we truly enjoyed. We never went hungry! It was all beautifully presented!

We also, had opportunity to meet one of Grandma's distant cousins and his family. I think that could have been one of the most memorable parts of the trip for me. Her cousin's name was Juozas. He is a historian and knew many of the people in Grandma's extended family. He was able to tell us stories (all recorded and in Lithuanian). His Granddaughter, Gabriele (17) was able to translate for those of us who speak English.

We were also able to get some information reguarding some of Grandma's Mother's family and we found out that she has a first cousin still living in Chicago. Grandma is anxious to reunite with him.

We also had a lot of fun touring the country! The rural countryside is beautiful, breath-taking really! It was very green and plush, there was a lot of flowers begining to bloom. Most families have vegetable gardens growing and taking up their whole yards. It was interesting to see the difference between American's who simply like to have "pretty yards" and Lithuanian's who use every square inch of their yards to produce their food for the upcoming year.

We visited the Hill of the Crosses. This hill was the site where the Lithuanian people-against their government rule-made the statement that they would believe in their God reguardless of what the government was forcing. People would cross the river secretly at night to place a cross there on that hill. It became a ritual for many to make at least a yearly trek to come and place a cross here. The Russian Army many times attempted to burn it down in order to stop the Lithuanian people from coming here. As you will see, it was to no avail. This site was incredible! To see Crosses that had been placed there...some a long time ago, some with names and dedications to people who had died...some, from people remembering the times of Russian Rule. It was very cannot express.

At one museum we visited Grandma found a swing like one her neighbor friend had. Grandma allowed me take many pictures of her as she reminisced about those days long ago. This was a moment I will not EVER forget!

Driving there was also something I will not soon forget! Translating all of the road signs was difficult...thankfully the tour guide drove the first couple days so that we could ask her a lot of questions about what signs meant. But the drivers there were pretty aggressive and some of the roads were very narrow! I actually got 3 driving violations in one! Thanks to Grandma who was able to speak to them in Lithuanian and "smooth things over"!!!

Violation #1...Speeding in a construction zone (right at the beginning of it...I was going 110 km/hr (the regular speed limit) in a 90 km/hr zone (because of construction). One thing I learned...Lithuanian drivers pretty much SLAM on their brakes ALL the time!

Violation #2...Who knew you were supposed to have your headlights one from September through June. -A new law, they have to be one because School is in Session-through June!

Violation #3...OK...So...The police officers carry a little white wand with a red dot on it...who would've guessed that when they pull it down and then up again in front of your vehicle it pull later!

What I learned...When a Police car flies up beside you and cuts you off, should stop! Hahaha! At least I got that one right! :-)

Thankfully Grandma convinced them that I didn't do it on purpose but that I simply didn't understand. One of the officer wanted to charge me 1,000 Litas (about $500), but the man writing my ticket said he would charge me only 100 Litas...then when I went to pay...he only accepted 50 Litas (about $25)-which Grandma felt bad, and paid for. Needless to say...I wasn't too excited about driving after that! (For the full story...ask me later!)

All in all, it was a trip I will never forget! I enjoyed spending time with my Mom and my Grandmother and Jenna, too! I thank the Lord for allowing me to share Grandma's homeland with her!

Here are a few of the nearly 2500 pictures that we took. Enjoy!

Alex's Haiti Mission Trip

While I was in Lithuania, Alex headed his way south to Haiti for a mission trip with Huntsville Christian Church. Some of the things they did there were...ran a youth conference...ran a VBS for elementary age kids...they built 2 benches for one of the churches there...hosted a party for the "grand moun"-the older generation of Haitian people.

The group crossing the river.

During Worship Alex's provided a little drum beat with a couple of rocks and his hands.

The Grand Moun (pronounced "Moon") party was thrown for the "elder" Haitian people! They loved singing and dancing and even playing "limbo"!

Soccer is a popular sport among the Haitian people. This was one of Alex's favorite times spent with the children. The Haitian kids wanted to play against the white kids! Needless to say...according to Alex...the Haitians won!

Alex really enjoyed participating in the youth conference because of the passion and excitement they showed for learning about God.

The Worship Team asked me to put together a video to show in church during the sermon the following week. Here is a link so that you can view it as well.

Yes, that's right...I now have a youtube account!