27 December, 2011

Getting Settled!

We have almost hit the 2 week mark in our flat and thought we might reward the curious with some photos! These are just some "before" photos that were on the ad from the real estate agent. I'm waiting to post "after" photos until I feel a little more settled in. We have most of our large pieces of furniture in place except for a dining room table and chairs. We may wait to buy them and see if we can find a deal at the annual garage sale hosted by the International Christian School of Budapest out in Diosd. There is nothing yet hung on the walls, but there is a rug in the living room! I am taking full advantage of Pinterest to come up with frugal ways to creatively decorate the walls.

Toilet paper may be involved ;)

Anyway, you will have to wait until there is a little more color and it feels more homey to see pictures. I have to say, I am really loving the way things are turning out. Our landlord has been wonderfully helpful and understanding.

The floorplan. If you want to know what things are, I recommend Google Translate ;)
Our private front porch.
Standing in the Dining Room looking through the front hall and out to the private front porch.
The bathroom door is on the left.
Standing in the living room looking at the dining room and through to the front hall
Bedroom doors are on the left side.
Standing in the dining room looking into the living room.
Our bedroom

Our kitchen
Thank you so much to everyone that sent me birthday wishes! It was so encouraging to read all your thoughts and prayers for us. My birthday was so wonderful and all of you played such a huge part in that. Ben served me blueberry pancakes in bed (we didn't have any syrup, but they were so good they didn't need it!) and then we took the tram to one of the Christmas markets.

The tram we took to the market.
We love the trams!!!
Ben bought me a necklace and earrings for my birthday. We also bought 4 earthenware mugs. They are so beautiful and colorful it makes me happy just to drink out of them! My last gift was a beautiful copper-colored journal for me to chronicle my thoughts and feelings about this 2-year adventure.

One of the stalls at the Christmas market.
It was fun to run into not one, but two sets of friends while out and about! I find my head quickly snapping around when I hear someone speaking English here. I'm always eager to see if we know them and that day we knew them both! The first were fellow team-members who teach at ICSB and the other was our team-leader and his family. I received warm birthday wishes from all of them!

The afternoon was spent on Skype or on the phone with various family members. The evening was spent at a wonderful dinner with my sweet husband.

A week and a half ago we got the pleasure of attending the last meeting of one of the Alpha Courses in Budapest. Ben was able to play cajon and egg-shakers while our team-mate John Wilson played guitar and led worship. While there we met a number of Hungarians including one photographer! In our making conversation we mentioned that we did not have much with which to decorate our tree. I had brought some antique snowflakes that were made by my great-grandmother and some Christmas lights. One couple there that night heard that and God laid it on their hearts to give us some new ornaments they had bought for their tree this year. Ben and I were incredibly moved by the gesture and are pleased to have them adorning our tree. It's times like that when we cannot help but feel the love of God personified in the Body. This young couple simultaneously welcomed us and cheered our hearts!

One of our beautiful new ornaments from our friends.
A snowflake made by my great-grandmother.
 Christmas Day itself was spent at our team-leader's (Steve) house. We partook of a 35- pound turkey that LITERALLY took up the ENTIRE oven! I don't know how poor Martha (Steve's wife) got the turkey into the oven, but she did say she was terrified she was going to drop it on the oven door and break the oven. Ovens in Europe are smaller than the US and the turkey sat on the bottom of the oven with a piece of tinfoil on the top to protect it from the heating element. It turned out tasty though!

The 35-pound Tom
I made the Naylor family Christmas tea-ring the day before and we enjoyed that as an afternoon snack before the big dinner. Ben was incredibly patient and didn't even sneak a piece (even though I know he really wanted to ;).

Tea Ring is basically a ring of cinnamon rolls.
Thank you all for following our blog and keeping us in your prayers. I love to share our adventures with you and hope you enjoy them!

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year!

04 December, 2011

Our First Day

We have arrived!

Our plane landed a little early last night, just after 5PM GMT+1 (that means 10AM CST), we breezed through customs and got ALL 9 bags we checked just fine.  One of them had been opened and inspected but we're pretty sure nothing was taken.  Megan had typed up an inventory of everything that went into each bag and we have a hard copy of that.  It's really nice since they're currently sitting in a big pile here at our team leader's house and if we want something, we just have to consult the list and we know exactly which suitcase or footlocker to crack in to!  Last night we were troopers and stayed up until 10:30 even though we really hadn't slept since Thursday night.  This morning we forced ourselves out of bed at 8 to go to church with our team leader and his family.

This morning was the second week of advent which is a traditional ceremony that a lot of churches perform to celebrate the Christmas holiday season.  My favorite part of advent is getting to sing the Christmas hymns!  I love hymns in general for two reasons: the words are incredibly rich and I like to sing the bass harmony.  One thing about the hymns we usually wait 11 months to sing is that in my opinion, they are by far the most worshipful.  Thinking about the miracle that is every child inspires us, but that a little over 2,000 years ago God Himself was one of those babies is just incomprehensible.  Faith is what bridges the gap.  29 nations are represented at International Baptist Church of Budapest and I saw many of them with eyes closed, singing those hymns and worshiping the same God.

The sun went down at 3:53 this afternoon.  Yeah, I know.  Budapest makes up for it, though, because at night the entire city is a work of art.  After a team welcome/farewell party out in √Črd (suburb of Budapest) we rode along to drop off some team members back in the city.  The bridges, the buildings, the statues on the hills, the castle, ALL of them are lit and combine to make Budapest absolutely gorgeous.  Back to explain that party (if my sentence left you confused) Megan and I and another girl who arrived back in August were officially welcomed by the UWM team here in Hungary.  Our good friends from A&M who have been here the last two years are heading back to Texas on Saturday, so it was a farewell party for them too.

We just wanted to say thank you.  Being here after preparing this last year is a dream come true.  I'm doing my best here to tell you how WONDERFUL it is to have finally arrived.  Our heads are still spinning, we're still a little jet-lagged and it hasn't really sunk in yet that we're here for 24 months.  If you're supporting us in any way, thank you for sending us here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Here's a couple prayer requests if you're interested.  If not, thanks for reading and have a great day :D

-  Megan's sick and dealing with back pain, this morning an eye infection was added to the list.
-  We're staying with our team leader and his family and will transition to a place called Eden House soon for a couple weeks.  During that time, we'll be searching for a flat once we've figured out what part of town we want to live in.  We're ready to have a home that we can truly make our own.
-  Keeping our mouths shut.  Kind of a weird thing to ask for, but it's really important.  There's so much going on and so much that we just don't understand it would be really easy to speak in ignorance.  I've already caught myself a couple times and have been able to silence my opinions, but there have also been a couple times that I've made a comment I regretted.  I do that a lot.  At least, more times than I'd like to.

Okay, I'll stop rambling.  Go Broncos, Go Packers

28 November, 2011

Saying Goodbye

This has to be my least favorite part of leaving. I actually enjoy packing and organizing. I can look ahead to the exciting adventure and new experiences, but it is so hard to get past the good byes. My mom never says  "goodbye." After being a missionary kid and then following my dad all over the country, she refuses to say it anymore. She instead says "see you later."

There is a sorrow in goodbye that cannot be expressed in words. Knowing that, while you may come back to this place, you are leaving this part of your life permanently. I will never again get to hold my nieces as I currently know them. Thinking, as they put their sweet, little hands on mine, that the next time they do the difference in size will not be so great. I suppose this is a lesson that every person must learn. Children do not stay the same and every moment must be cherished, because in the next their foreheads will no longer be their "two-heads" and they will no longer ask God to bless the food to the "nursery" of our bodies.

As hard as this is for us, we know that it is equally hard for our families. To ease the transition for our nieces, we bought 2 identical sets of a Mickey & Minnie. The first set we sprayed with our colognes and gave to the girls. The second set we are taking to Hungary. We told them, if they ever wanted to give us a hug, to hug Mickey or Minnie and they would send the other Mickey & Minnie the hug for us. We can also hold them while we are Skyping. I think this helps us as much as them. I've definitely stolen some hugs from Minnie.


Megan, her grandma, and her dad

Megan, Ben, the girls, and the Mickeys & Minnies

L reading to Minnie

Friday is coming very quickly and I continue to thank God that He delayed us a little bit longer and we are not leaving Wednesday as we originally hoped to do.

Do you want to know why else I am thanking God that he is not having us fly into Heathrow on Wednesday?

On November 30th more than 2 million British workers are planning a strike to advocate pension reforms. Public officials say that this could jam up airports and cause as much as 12 hour flight delays in Heathrow. They are even looking at bringing in the army to help move passengers through customs and fill in for some of the unionized workers!

This was the exact day Ben and I had hoped to leave DFW and fly to Heathrow! At the time we were booking our tickets, it was actually more expensive to fly on Wednesday than on Friday. How often does that happen? I actually toyed with the idea of paying more to get there earlier, but we finally decided that it would be best just to wait. What an amazing God! Events we could have never dreamed of take place and he STILL has us taken care of! I am so grateful that HE is in control and not ME!

21 November, 2011

Cold Water

Man, oh MAN a lot's happened in the last week!

To sum it up, we had a going-away party, we were commissioned by our church and we SOLD OUR CAR :D

That last thing is an answer to prayer, it was one of the big things that we felt was anchoring us to this place.  We originally hadn't planned on selling it but decided that it was best in the long run.  Cars don't exactly appreciate in value so we thought it was wise to go ahead and cash in that asset, saving the money to help get us a car when we return in a couple years.

Side note, Megan is refilling her travel bottles right now and apparently it's not going very smoothly.  Her little squeals are pretty cute as the various creams and liquids make messes :D

Mesquite Bible Church has been home to us for almost 3 years now.  We have been tremendously blessed by the people there and are so grateful for our time with them.  Yesterday morning, our Pastor and the Elders laid hands on us and prayed for us, sending us out from our church family to Hungary.  It may sound kinda weird to some of you reading this, but I gotta tell you, having so many loving people standing with you and supporting you is both humbling and incredibly encouraging!  As we walked back to our seats, one of our friends shouted out, "GO GET 'EM!"

Our going-away party was SO fun.  It was difficult in a way because so many people who came, that was our last time to see them before we leave.  The transitions as a missionary can be very difficult and to be honest, as soon as you finish one you start another.  C'est la vie.  Despite that, we really enjoyed our time with family who traveled from Austin, Amarillo, Hurst, Arlington and Oklahoma City to see us as well as friends from the metroplex and one goofy guy from College Station.

Several people who came by gave us some very encouraging cards, but one thing really stood out to me from all of them.  In one of the cards was written this verse which I'll leave you with.  I won't comment on it because I don't think I could say anything that wouldn't distract, just let it hydrate you.

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." - Proverbs 25:25 (ESV)  thanks to KD

14 November, 2011

Is 'Untitled' really a title in disguise?

Hey there!

So Megan and I have committed to blogging more frequently, so I'm in charge of posting each week by Monday :D  We just want to increase our communication to y'all and be more like our friend Shannon who blogs a LOT (though we don't have a cute 2-year old to source our stories and pictures).  Yet.  NO, we're not preggers.

So today we are finally diving in to the massive to-do list we created for everything that needs to get done before we leave on Friday the 2nd.  It's big, but it really helps both of us to get all these thoughts buzzing around in our heads written down on paper.  The activity helps clear our minds, kind of like Dumbledore's Pensieve.  Part of our work today is sorting through all the stuff we want to bring with us to Hungary.  Basically we have two piles: things we have to take and things we would love to take if there's room/weight allowance.  All our stuff is going into 4 suitcases and probably 2 Rubbermaid totes/containers/things.  Maybe 3 and 3, have to figure that one out still.  The wonderful thing about flying British Airways is that as missionaries, we each get to check 3 bags free of charge.  That's in addition to the carry-on bag and personal item (laptop bags) we each get to bring.  That's also in addition to my Enbrel which I get to bring separately (it doesn't count towards my carry-on or personal item).  Pretty sweet!

On another topic, I have three words that should explain why we both feel a little sick today.  Church.  Thanksgiving. Potluck.  Combine them and you come up with sanctioned gluttony.  It was amazing, but we both overdid it.  And THEN I tackled my dessert plate (which included a couple things from Megan's)  On our drive home afterwards Megan said, "We're not eating tomorrow, are we?"  :D  First world problems...

Well as my Grandma would say, "That's about all I know!"  Hope you have a wonderful week before Thanksgiving and here's hoping that we see you at our going-away party this Saturday!  (Hopefully you've already received the evite.  If not, let us know!)

Thanks and Gig 'Em

P.S.  I don't really do pictures, so maybe I'll just include things that make me laugh whenever I post...  Here's yesterday's Dilbert (sorry it's small)

The Official Dilbert Website featuring Scott Adams Dilbert strips, animations and more

10 November, 2011

The Past Six Months

Many of you know that Ben and I had hoped to leave sometime at the beginning of June of this year. We were fully convinced that was God's plan and our support would pour in. Support did come in, but not when we thought and so one month slowly melted into the next until we arrived in November. We were at 87% and stalled out. We were discouraged and did not know who else to contact. We knew this was God's plan for us and that the support was there, so our prayer was just for him to reveal it. He did, but not in the way we were expecting. Ben and I sat down with our support schedule one night and crunched some numbers. We realized that if we chose not to raise support specifically for retirement than that 87% became 98%!!! (this doesn't mean that we won't be adding to our retirement during our 2 years in Hungary)

This was a heavy topic for discussion. We both were so anxious to go, but did not want to work outside of God's Will. We took some time to pray about it, talked to our support coach and our team leader and got the green light from the home office! On November the 3rd we got the green light to go to Hungary and yesterday, the 9th, we bought our tickets!

We will be flying out with British Air on Friday, December 2nd at 4:45pm.

Looking back on this summer, I can only praise God for the time we have spent here. We were able to go to our nieces' 7th and 5th birthday parties, the funerals of Ben's great-grandmother and my paternal grandfather, the 60th wedding anniversary of my maternal grandparents, and experience miscellaneous moments I will never forget! All of this would have been mourned and celebrated from a distance had we had our way and I am grateful that God knows infinitely better than I do.

Thank you all so much for your continued support and we will be continuing to share our experiences with you via this blog!

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this precious picture of Ben and our youngest niece:

09 October, 2011

More Crafts and a Day at the Fair

Our middle niece came to visit for a long weekend. I decided now was a great time for me to try some of the repurposing projects I saw on Pinterest. First, T and I did "science" by using a bleach pen to decorate some T-shirts that my mom picked up from Hobby Lobby. Mine turned out really cool, but we didn't leave the bleach on T's long enough so the pattern is really faint. It still looks cool, though, but I forgot to take pictures.

My next project was to take some of my old clothes and turn them into clothes for T. Two old camisoles turned into two strappy dresses (no pictures). Another old camisole and a yard of teal knit fabric became a top with super-cute ruffle skirt!


Then I turned one of my old sweaters that I used to love into a sweater-dress:


Then my dad and mom took T, Ben, and me to the State Fair so she could model for me.

Ok, maybe they didn't go so she could model for me, but that might have been my prime motivation.


We had a great day despite the rain! We got to see the dog show and ride the ferris wheel. We also got to try a variety of fried things. Ben commented later that we didn't have a thing to eat at the fair that was not fried. I think that's the point of the state fair, though, don't you?

Fried food we ate:
Corn dog
Buffalo chicken on a flapjack
The Ultimate Fried Cheeseburger (with fried onions, fried cheese, fried pickles, & fried green tomatoes)
Fried salsa
Funnel cake
Fried bubblegum


Funnel cake is my favorite and I only ever get it when we go to a carnival, so that one my must-have. Ben wanted to try a whole bunch of things, but the only thing I would have again is the fried salsa. It was incredible!

We had an amazing day and pray that someday our arteries will recover :)

I wanted to end this post with what may be my new favorite picture. I just call it "Joy!"



03 October, 2011

I have a problem...

I have an addictive personality when it comes to arts and crafts. I blame it on my mother who always kept me occupied with crafts as a child. She claimed if she didn't, I would be "building bombs in the basement." The fact that we didn't have a basement at the time when she first said this makes me wonder what it was I did that caused her to question the construction of our home...

Granted, I later majored in chemistry and was able to constantly deal with hazardous chemicals without blowing up a single thing!

Although, there was that poorly placed dessicator one time.

How you break one inch glass is beyond me.

And beyond my TA

However, I managed it.



Ok, back on track.

I love crafts and have recently discovered Pinterest. It is an amazing way to catalog and store ideas.

And it's pretty too...

Now, you have the potential to waste a lot of time, but if you discipline yourself, it is an excellent service.

I'm not very disciplined.

Check me out at: http://pinterest.com/naylormade/



Ah, the other reason I'm posting.

EVERYBODY IS HAVING A BABY!

Except us.

But that gives me time to indulge in my other addiction.

Knitting :D



These are some of my latest projects.

And my friend Catherine.

She's not a project.

But she's doing some knitting of her own.

Knitting a BABY! :)

Ok, enough silliness for now. Ben and I are doing well, we love you all out on the interwebs, and we are currently at 84% of our support raised. Things have slowed down a little bit, but we are hoping that it is just the last push before Hungary!

22 August, 2011

Rain

I love the rain. I always have. It conjures up romantic images of English gardens and reading "Jane Eyre" or "Pride and Prejudice" while tucked away in some quiet window-seat. I think I love it so much because I have never lived anywhere that got rain overwhelmingly frequently. The closest I got was in Hawaii where we had our "feather rain" that fell faithfully between 2 and 3 pm daily. I just got used to it and it was far too light and brief to need an umbrella. This was also when we got our best rainbows because, of course, the sun never stopped shining during these times. One time while living in Hawaii, we were driving home at night and I saw lightning off in the distance. I was very excited, because while rain was daily, lightning was unheard of. In fact, lightning was so rare in Hawaii that my mother panicked and thought I was having a seizure. She would not calm down until it flashed again and she could see it.

The fact that I love the rain has made this summer one of the most difficult of my life. It has however, made it a great opportunity for my prayer life. I hope I am not the only one able to admit that when it comes to my spiritual life, I feel I do more things wrong than right everyday. I make up a list of rules to follow and if I cannot check each of these off daily, I have failed.

Prayer is a huge part of this for me. Too many days I have found myself falling asleep at night realizing I had not spoken to my Father a single time that day. In the past, I have beaten myself up over this fact and kept myself awake vowing to do better the next day. Recently, though, I have realized the futility of this. Now when I begin to berate myself for failing, I talk to the Father. I tell Him that I have missed Him and apologize for not coming to Him sooner. Here's the thing: He forgives me! Completely and utterly. So I move past the regret, relax in His grace, and begin to glorify Him for Who He Is.

What does this have to do with the rain? It's no secret that I wilt in the Texas summer and Depression's old claws begin to tear at me again (especially in August). Each fall is like a re-birth. That first brisk breeze of the season feels like God Himself is breathing His life back into me, reminding me of how He has sustained me for another year. But this year feels harder, hotter, and more relentless. A few weeks ago, I reached the end of another 110 degree day without talking to God. I was tired and I broke down. I didn't know what to ask for. For Him to sustain me? I already knew He would be faithful. What I needed was hope. I wasn't asking for November in the middle of July, but I prayed for rain. Glorious, soft, gentle, cooling rain. Softening the ground and renewing my spirit.

The next day, I was at my sister's.  My brother-in-law was grilling out for dinner and he told us all to come outside. When I walked out the door, I could smell it. The earthy smell that I would bottle if I could. The smell of rain. It began with a soft patter and ended up pouring. All of us, grown men and women and three little girls, stayed in it. My sister and I pushed the girls on their swingset. There was no one telling anyone to go inside. We all stayed in it, played in it, danced in it.

The littlest girl and I were the last to go in. It finally got too hard and cold for her, but I could have stayed  until it stopped. We were both soaked through, but overjoyed.

This all happened visiting my sister in Oklahoma. Then we went to to visit Ben's grandmother in Amarillo. Ben and I were out doing yard work and it began to rain. Not heavy, just soft and beautiful. It was the most I have ever enjoyed gardening in my entire life.

When we got back to Dallas, I was preparing for the heat and the dry. After all, it had not rained in months. The day after we got back, it rained. I just sat out on the back patio and savored it like a chocolate milkshake. I cried, overwhelmed by the greatness of our God. I know I was one of millions of people praying for rain, but in those three days it felt like God was speaking directly to me and I praised him for it. Just when my puddle of strength runs dry, I find the ocean of His.

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my work that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." 
Isaiah 55: 10-11



15 August, 2011

ADHD

So part of my (Ben's) pre-field checklist was getting tested for ADHD.  Surprised?  Well, it came up last fall.  Megan and I were required to each fill out 8 different psychological exams.  When UWM invited us to our Candidate Assessment & Orientation week in October, part of that Assessment was with the psychologist who had graded and reviewed our results.  Some of my responses made her wonder if perhaps I had ADHD, so UWM wanted me to find out one way or another before we move to Hungary (date still TBD)

I finally went in for that evaluation this morning.  At first I thought I would need to go see another psychologist or counselor.  Looking into those options, however, we learned about the price tag (several hundred $$$).  Doing MORE research led me to learn that my regular doctor (he's a D.O.) and he charges WAY LESS!  Anywhoo, on the results.

Wait, maybe I'll make you hold on a little longer.  No reading ahead :D  I just wanted to relate my expectations going in.  I didn't really doubt that I have ADHD; specifically, I know that I have personality traits that closely resemble it.  It's kinda hard to understand the differences especially when you also begin to ponder what could also be character flaws.  What I mean to say is, I have a personality that naturally makes me easily distracted and when I was younger, I wasn't as responsible and had difficulty in school.  At least, I attribute those difficulties to immaturity.

Okay, so my doctor decided that there's enough evidence to support that yes I do indeed have ADHD.  HOWEVER, I have developed such effective coping techniques and strategies that it really doesn't affect my functionality or diligence.  ALSO, he doesn't believe that medication is or will ever be necessary.  (insert big smiley face)

01 August, 2011

20 June, 2011

Truffles!!!

Wow.

So some good friends of ours from Mesquite make truffles.  They are delicious.  And hand-painted.  And DELICIOUS!!!  Right now they are sponsoring us through the 23rd of July as their way of supporting our ministry.  Here's the deal: For every 12ct box of EPIC Truffles sold, they will donate $10 to us!  Flavors are Vanilla, Caramel, Espresso (Megan's Favorite), Pomegranate, Raspberry & Key Lime (Ben's Favorite).  Orders will be delivered to customers in DFW and shipping is available for those outside the metroplex but it does increase the cost.  

To place your order, e-mail Dona Glick at corporatetouch@mac.com
They take cash or checks made out to either Jeff or Dona Glick for $27.50

Have a sweet treat to get us on our feet!

10 June, 2011

How was training?

This is one of the most common questions that we are asked. Unfortunately, it is one of the most difficult questions to answer concisely. No one really wants to hear the five hour version, but the five second version goes something like: "umm... amazing!"

Leaves something to be desired doesn't it?

Enter: the blog!

The whole point of this wonderland of information it is provide those of you that want to know more, more!

Back to our initial question: "How was training?"

In order to tell you about it, I have to give you the cast information as well as the acts and scenes ;) (i.e. the people and the class schedule).

We started "Equipping" on Feb 7th and it went until March 10th. This class was the essentials of preparing us for cross cultural ministry.

Up next were 2 weeks of "Second Language Acquisition" (We worked on phonetics and different methods of learning language), followed by 2 weeks of "Building Dynamic Teams."

Last but not least was a week apiece for both "Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills" and "Facilitating Church Planting Movements."


Now for the peoples (Get excited you photophiles! We are going to show you pictures!):

From bottom right to top left:
Karen, Shannon, Laurie, Ellen, Trish, Andy, Jarrett, Matt, Kari Jo, Frances, Me, Ginnie, Jon, Nathan, Steven, Kyle, Ben, Don, Tim.

This picture is not well- set up to show you who everyone is so here is a little more detail on the families we got to be closest with during our time.
Nathan, Shannon, and Josiah Clifton serving with SALT
They left for Hong Kong shortly after Equipping and are now expecting their second little one!
They are similar to us in their personalities and Josiah adopted us one night at a group movie. He sat right between us on the couch for a good portion of "Megamind." We didn't mind at all!
Follow them at: http://www.nsclifton.blogspot.com/ (I took the pic above and the one on their blog header :D)



Jarrett Furnish
Heading to Zambia to work with youth. The definition of a youth leader (aka. crazy ;)



Jon, Trish, Aaron, Anikka, & Isaiah Olvera serving with CAM International
Beautiful people. Beautiful kids. Beautiful hearts. They are going to Honduras to do camp ministry. We miss you guys!
Follow them on their journey: http://jonandtrish.net/



Steven, Kari Jo, Noah, Clay, & Cyrus Shephard serving with SIM
Left for Joss, Nigeria the 12th of May.
Steven and I matched almost exactly the same on every personality profile and so did Ben and Kari Jo. It got to be a running joke when it was time to break up into groups that Ben and Kari Jo would inevitably end up working together.
Follow them: http://shephardsinafrica.blogspot.com/



Matt, Laurie, Harley, & Blake Tandy
Currently in Guatemala to do language learning before leaving for Peru to do business as missions.  Harley is the sweetest little girl you'll ever meet and Blake is going to be a stuntman someday.  Boy couldn't stay clean if his life depended on it!




Tim & Ginnie with CAM International
The only other married couple that didn't have kids :D  Their journey to Spain began many years ago but God is finally taking them there at the end of this summer!  Ginnie is co-founder of Wonderfully Made Jewelry, a non-profit that exists to create hope for the victims of sex trafficking by providing sustainable jobs producing high quality handicrafts and jewelry.
http://www.wonderfullymadejewelry.com/


(forgot to get a pic, see the group picture above)
Frances & Kyle Holmes
They were kind enough to lend some balance to all the young people who attended CIT.  Kyle is a retired cop and Frances is almost a retired homeschooler/domestic goddess.  Their two youngest sons will accompany them to Spain and finish high school there.

There were also three single women there going to an undisclosed country in the Middle East. They were some of the ones I grew closest to, but you will not see their pictures or real names here to protect them for the future. I will call them, "Betty," "Virginia," & "Loretta." Ladies, if you read this, I hope you appreciate the names ;) (they can be changed)!

These were the students we went through "Equipping" with and with whom we built the strongest ties. There were many other singles, couples, and families that came in and out, but these are the ones we hope to stay in touch with for a very long time.

Two other families that were not in Equipping but became fast friends:

Eric, Lisa, Hannah, & Matthew Weaver with CAM International
Serving in Mesquite, TX
Little did we know this sweet family was living just down the road from us the whole time we lived in Mesquite! Eric works at the CAM office and Lisa is a nurse, they hope to launch a ministry to the Spanish-speaking community located in East Dallas.


Scott, Jennifer, John Spencer, & Sophia Stadalsky & Megan Kibbey with UWM
These folks were at our candidate orientation last fall and are headed to Dundee, Scotland to do ministry with medical students.  John Spencer looks exactly like Anakin Skywalker from Episode I and Sophia has the BEST belly-laugh you'll ever hear!

We learned so much in our time at CIT, but the most important to me were the people that we met. They were the ones that we laughed and played with, but they were also the people praying, helping out, and supporting us through the difficult times in North Carolina. Before we shared about anything else, I wanted to share about them. If you feel so moved, please pray for these precious people and the work God is leading them to do!

That's all for today!
Yay for pictures!

29 May, 2011

Meaningless

I was talking to a friend earlier this evening and it started to make me think about what people want out of life. What do you want out of life? Are you content to live a life where all you get out of it is a job you don't hate, bills that are paid, and to be well taken care of until you die?

That's not enough for me.  In all seriousness, if I had believed that was all there was to life, I would have killed myself a few years ago. I struggled with years of depression when I was in college and if I had thought that would have ended all the pain, I think I would have done it.

What is the point of life? If there is no afterlife, then everything we do on this earth is futile. The riches I acquire will not come with me when I am gone. I may leave them to my children, but my children may squander them on pursuits of pleasure. What good is food and drink? It sustains the body and may provide momentary pleasure, but overindulgence just harms this feeble body I reside in. Is the pursuit of power most important? To trample my fellow human beings and gain prestige in a life that I cling to by a mere thread? What happens then when I die? My power goes to someone else who will then die. Will I even be remembered when I am gone?

Solomon addressed all these issues and more in the book of Ecclesiastes. He was one of the most affluent kings of all time. His power was great, his every whim met, he had a unique opportunity to pursue any and everything we place value on in this life. What his verdict when all is tried and assessed?

"Meaningless!" 35 times (give or take) the word appears in the book. It is all meaningless! We live and our life is fleeting.

What does have meaning?

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

This life is not enough for me. Settling is not enough for me. I want nothing more than to love and please the Heavenly Father that loves me. That is the meaning of my life. He sent His Son to die for me that I might know eternal life in His presence. How glorious!

Do you believe in God? Do you know what will happen to you after you die? Are you satisfied with that?

I will be satisfied with nothing less than an eternity with my Father. I will be satisfied with nothing less than a life deserving of Him. I am not perfect. I will not always do what I want to do. But if I do not live for Him, then I do not live at all.

The rest is meaningless.

*I know that not all of you who read this blog believe this, but my goal is to serve food for thought.*

28 May, 2011

Why, yes, it HAS been over 3 months!

Hello everyone out there in Bloggerland!

First of all, let me extend our deepest apologies for not keeping you up to date. I was sick for a long time and by the time I felt well enough to write, it was an overwhelming mountain to try to communicate all that was going on to you.

I want to share with you all the illness have been suffering from for over three months now.

When we first arrived in North Carolina, we were exhausted! We had spent the week before packing up, moving out, saying goodbye, and traveling to CIT. It was wonderful to be somewhere that I knew was more stable, but there was still the grief of leaving our friends and family behind. I began to suffer very quickly from the introduction of new allergens into my immune system. Texas is bad enough in the spring, but at least my body is fairly used to it!

What were just obnoxious sniffles quickly developed into a full-blown sinus infection. The first I had suffered in four years. It was also the worst I had suffered in my entire life. To add on top of it, I was enjoying back pain and a rash that suddenly appeared one day on my chest and back. I was just a ball of joyfulness wrapped in a ribbon of ecstatic ;)

One day, the pain of the sinus pressure became too much. In the tiny little town we were staying, the doctors were not accepting new patients. There were not any emergency clinics either, so off we headed to the ER at the local hospital... for a sinus infection...

Once we got in to see a doctor, she diagnosed me with... a sinus infection. No surprise there. She could do nothing more, as the infection just had to run its course. However, I decided to show her the rash that I had written off as an allergic reaction or poison ivy. She took one look and said, "Oh, no, that's not an allergic reaction. It's shingles."

"What? Shingles?" I was very confused

"Have you been under any stress lately?" she asked in a slight Scottish accent.

I was about to answer no, but the words died on my tongue. I had just spent the past 3 months meeting with people, attending various social events, raising support, packing up our home, and saying goodbye to my family and close friends to travel almost 700 miles and begin attending the most emotionally challenging classes of my life.

Had I been under any stress?

I answered her in the only way I could.


I started bawling.


Once I finished, she wrote me a prescription for Acyclovir. She also told me to consume more chocolate and laugh more.

Chocolate and laughter. Now that's a prescription I can fill!

Ben then took me to the pharmacy (Sonic) and then took me home to rest.

The pain I thought was just back pain was actually nerve pain caused by the no longer dormant herpes zoster virus. The pain would begin to get worse in the ensuing days, but the doctor had also had prescribed vicodin. Now that was fun for all!

The day after we told our CIT crew of the diagnosis, someone left a grocery bag full of chocolate on our front doorstep (We met the most amazing people there and most have become like family to us).

Within a week of the ER visit, the rash began to clear up. As I write this, the marks can still be seen and the pain is still there, but it gets better everyday. It's something I can ignore most of the time with only occasional pangs of remembrance.

I hope this explains a little of why we have not updated in so long. Ben does an amazing job of keeping up with everyone on facebook, but I confess that is one of my shortcomings.

Thank you all for your prayers and continued support! We will be sending out a newsletter soon and hope to continue blogging on our experiences at training.

14 February, 2011

The Road Trip of Epic Epicness

Buckle up, comrades, for we are about to take you on the ride of a lifetime across part of the former CSA.

Once every era, the dreaded "Yukon Dilemna" strikes fear into even the most stalwart Texas, icing roads and leaving a trail of below-freezing days.  Fortunately, our plans had only been delayed one day and we departed our beloved country/state on a Thursday morning, the 3rd of this month.

IH 30 is the pavement we tread for many a mile before if brought us to that border strider, Texarkana.  Spell check doesn't seem to care for that clever name combination.  Regardless of the moniker, we had crossed over before we realized it.  Arkansas should really give better warning than they do, at the minimum they should mount a yellow "Razorback crossing" sign.  Needing a lil' break, we made use of their 'Welcome Center' where the restrooms were indeed as clean as advertised.  The free coffee was, well, it was free.

A few more hours brought us to Little Rock and a new leg of the Eisenhower Interstate System, IH 40.  Side note, have you ever heard that tale about how every mile in five is straight so it could be used as an emergency runway?  Not true, go check out www.snopes.com if you don't believe us :D  Having quickly exhausted the charms of our eastern neighbor, we crossed the mighty Missis...[how many s's and p's are there again?] sippi River into Tennesse.
Above you'll see a quick snapsot as we enjoyed the monumental bridge that ushers motorists into Memphis.  Did you know that they have a pyramid there?  Somehow we doubt that it will last as long as the Pharaoh's.  We arrived in Nashville well after dark and spent the next two nights with a friend from Aggieland and her husband.  They graciously opened their home to us and we met their thestral/dog and two cats.  (seriously, he looked like a thestral).  You may have lived out of a suitcase before, but for three days we lived out of our car that was loaded down like you wouldn't believe.  Friday gave us the chance to visit an old friend of Ben's from Austin, meet his new wife and grab some lunch with them.  That friend is a musician, and he invited us to the gig he was playing with his sisters that evening.  They are REALLY talented and you can check them out here 
'Trudy Chase' members Meredith(L) & Katie Bandas Thomas(R) with Brian Bandas(L) & Aaron Thomas(R)
Saturday we headed out to Charlotte, NC to spend the weekend with another friend of Ben's, but we had to show you what we saw on our way out of town:

Who does AAA call when THEY break down?

Driving through the Smoky Mountains was awesome, reminded us of that scene from 'Cars' where Lightning and Sally go for a drive.  Haven't enjoyed a drive like that since the road to Hana.  Our kind host in Charlotte treated us to pizza, bowling and Settlers of Catan.  Megan won both rounds of bowling AND Settlers, so we guess she was on a roll(groan)  After visiting his church on Sunday and being introduced to the awesomeness that is 'Cook Out' (best milkshakes ever), we loaded up again and backtracked an hour and a half to the Center for Intercultural Training campus in Union Mills.  What we did once we arrived is for another post, however.  One last thing before we finish, do you ever get a little frustrated with how quickly you unload something that took you hours to load?  I mean, that car was empty in 10 minutes once we pulled up on the lawn right up to our apartment door.  Wait, was I not supposed to share that?

Up Next:
The first week of class!
DISC & Mindstyles! (Ben & Megan are polar opposites)
Ron's Cooking!

08 February, 2011

Packing up to Leave

It always amazes me how much can happen in a week. Specifically, within the 11 days since I last blogged. We hadn't packed yet and were still sleeping in our little apartment in Mesquite.

Here's how it looked about two years ago when we moved in.


The coat rack never looked that tidy ever again.


As a matter of fact, the whole apartment never looked that tidy again.

I won't post any pictures of the empty apartment. It was too depressing to take any, so I assume it would be too depressing to look at any.

One thing, you should all get used to is the fact that I (Megan) am a photographer. Therefore, my posts tend to have a lot of photographs. Although, I do try not to take too many photos, which means I end up not having all the ones I wanted. I think I'm going to stop doing that now. My advice to you: Take lots of photos! You can always delete, but you can never go back to that moment you were trying to capture!

GRATUITOUS PHOTO ALERT (heretofore referred to as a "GPA")!


Actually, this is me with the last bouquet Ben brought home from Central Market. Aren't they gorgeous!?! They dwarfed me and I could barely hold them. God has blessed me with such an amazing husband!

Speaking of Central Market, check out the cake they made for Ben on his last day:


It made him Hungary (ha-ha!) :D


8 days ago we moved out.
6 days ago we hit the road.
More about our road trip soon!

~Ben & Megan

28 January, 2011

Exercising our Faith Muscles

This is our first post on our new blog. We will be chronicling our adventures in support raising, training, and finally living in Budapest, Hungary for two years. As of right now, our plan is to be in Budapest for two years. After that, we will come back to Texas as we decide if God is calling us to Hungary long- term or if He has other plans for us!

On to the story that everyone is wanting to hear!

Ben and I have been support raising for Budapest for about 4 months now. Our goal this whole time has been to make it to training in February. Things were looking great and we stepped out on faith. We gave our apartment 30 days notice and Ben gave his job 2 weeks notice.

Training starts February 7th and we have been packing up our apartment this week to leave on Wednesday for North Carolina. It was a sad time, but things were going fairly smoothly.

We found out Monday that we did not have enough in our account to go training.

*Cue the little girl inside me to start crying*

Ok, the big girl on the outside cried too.

After a couple of boxes of kleenex and some time to vertically monologue in a heated manner, Ben and I decided it might be a good idea to pray. Always a good idea, but sometimes you need to rant at Him a little before you're ready to be on speaking terms. As usual, He was waiting with open arms.

We told Him how desperately we wanted to do His will, but we didn't know what we were supposed to do. If we needed to wait, we would wait, but if we were supposed to go now, there were things we needed to do! It seemed like most of our friends did not think were going to be able to go to training. We needed to raise $5,600 in three days and while we know that our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, sometimes it's hard to convince ourselves that there will be ground beef for dinner tonight.

I have to admit I was mad. I was mad at the people that didn't think my God was big enough to come up with thousands of dollars in a few days! I was mad at myself for doubting this at times too. I shared with Ben that I just wanted someone to give us a gift, no matter how small, and say "I know it's not all you need, but I wanted to be a part of getting you to training in February, because I know God can do it!"

Thirty minutes after we prayed this, some of our supporters called. They were going to give us a gift in April, but decided to do it earlier because they believed God could get us to training. They did it online and the money was on it's way at the exact same time Ben and I were praying for it.

Now the big girl was totally justified in bawling her eyes out...
and she did so...
exceedingly...

Ben and I felt that God was telling us to continue walking in faith as He was working it out. We were supposed to go to training, so we better start packing and getting ready to go. Wednesday was coming soon.

However, within 72 hours of learning about our need, we did not have the $5,600 we needed.



We had almost $10,000!

Ben and I had a date last night as Jason's Deli. Our dinner had just arrived and Ben's phone started to ring. Now my husband is a gentleman and since it was an unknown number he was about to hit "Ignore" and start in on his food. I had a weird feeling and told him to go ahead and answer it. It was a church we interviewed with on Tuesday afternoon.

They wanted to give us $7,000.

I stopped wearing mascara this week.
It's been too dangerous.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Sometimes the KJV says it just right)

We're going to training!

Blessings,
Ben & Megan