Friday, November 20

Swine Flu, The Play and Thanksgiving

Well, this has been an eventful past two weeks. Starting two weeks ago we had quite a few girls home sick. The school ended up confirming that we had cases of H1N1 and closing down the school for a few days. The play was scheduled last weekend so everyone in the audience had to wear masks! We had two girls involved in the play and we were grateful to see their hard work not go to waste. Luke and I had our last weekend off before Christmas break and we went to visit Tim and Rachel Meier in Toulouse. It was great for us to see friends and they have Dominoes pizza with cheesy bread =) We got back to the dorm and immediately started prepping for our dorm Thanksgiving. All the dorms have their Thanksgivings on the Thursday before so we can invite the families that sub in our dorms. I have never cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal before and had loads of help pulling off the 36 person production. In the end it was a tasty night with amazing fellowship. We are leaving today for our dorm retreat. We will have 2 days away with no internet or tv with the girls. We're hoping for snow since we're taking them to a missionary camp house in the Alps. It should be a great change of scenery from them being cooped up and isolated in the dorm for the past week and a half!

Brandon and Lizzy at the play in their mandatory masks

Rachel was a Brooklyn diva in the play- she was amazing!

The girls before their game of muddy tackle football

Thanksgiving place settings

The ENTIRE oven was filled with Thanksgiving food!

The final product layed out before everyone feasted

Waiting patiently to get food

The aftermath of the food set in quickly- rolling around on the floor

All of our wonderful dorm girls!

Thursday, October 29


Every Sunday evening we have "Dorm Fellowship" which is usually a time where we come together and regroup spiritually as a dorm. The past few Sunday's we had serious dorm fellowships so we wanted to lighten it up a bit and let the girls have some bonding time. Luke came up with the idea of a bake off. We put the girls in teams of 4 and they each gave us their ingredient lists. We told them the only parameters is that they had to be done by 8:30 on Sunday evening with presentation in hand. We "flew in" three judges (from three different parts of town) and told them there would be three awards handed out: Best in Show, Presentation and Taste. They had a blast and it was a really great night for the dorm!

Emily and Krystal mixing their hot fudge in the kitchen

This yummy dessert won best in show

The very prestigious judges (naturally Luke wanted in on the judging action!)

These are the three trophies we made

The winning teams happy dance when we announced the results

Sunday, October 25

There are good pumpkins....and bad pumpkins...

Last weekend the dorm was invited to HBR (a boys dorm) to carve pumpkins. They asked us to bring 14 pumpkins to split between 47 guys and girls in teams. The girls had a great time and a few of our girls were even part of the top three prize teams. After lots of hot chocolate, spiced cider, delicious applesauce cake and peach crisp- we went to their rec room to play "name that tune." It was among one of the more hilarious games played with a group of MK's and young adults. A couple days later a few girls and I were driving by HBR and saw that all of our pumpkins were still on display on the dorm steps. We decided to play a mini prank and steal 4 out of the 14 pumpkins to display at our dorm. This may seem harmless since there were 14 total pumpkins and we brought them anyway, right? Well, that is thinking from my female perspective which is very different than having 28 boys witness you take 4 of THEIR pumpkins. The guys apparently got pretty riled up and later that night we had a surprise attack on our dorm where the pumpkins were smashed and pumpkin goo was spread all around. Luckily, HBR came to help clean up and like gentlemen, later on in the week came over dressed in ties with a cake in hand and sang "stand by me" to our dorm. Lesson for the weekend: never pretend to steal anything when there is testosterone involved.

1 of the 6 crates of pumpkins we bought

This is a typical pumpkin stand alongside the roads in Germany

Major concentration in pumpkin carving (this was the winning team!)

Carving out the pumpkin

Picking up the larger pieces of the mess after the guys came

Luke is surveying the damage from the inside where it is safe and smell free

HBR with their cake, ties, and amazing singing skills....apology accepted

Friday, October 16

Before and After

This is our new tv room that I talked about in our last post. I finally found our "before" pictures so I thought that would help show just how much work went into this room. This is where we have weekend movie times and our dorm fellowships on Sunday evenings. It is proving to be a cozy place to be now that the weather has turned to fall!

The new tv that Doug and Priscilla donated to the dorm. The girls love it!

The green couch in the corner was found in spermull. There are a few days a year where you can put anything out on the corner of the street and the city picks it up and trashes it for you. We rescued this gem of a velour couch and it is a great addition to the room. Some may say 70's, I say awesome.

Mixing the cauldron of gray took two of these to paint the room.

Lizzy and Bonnie working hard!

Vacuuming up the bugs....look at that face!

Notice the floor to ceiling furniture. This was AFTER we cleaned out the room. You couldn't even walk in it before we attacked the mess.

Sunday, October 4

The last 6 weeks...

The seniors and juniors in our dorm are on their class trips this week, which means we have only two girls left in the dorm! It has given us a chance to connect with the two individually, but also to catch up on some much needed blogging and a new newsletter soon to be sent out. Here are a few photos from the last few weeks of events!

This is our new tv room that we spent a couple weeks remodeling this summer. It used to be a storage closet and we installed new carpet, painted, and rearranged!

We have dorm fellowship every Sunday night. On this one we went up to a fire pit and made s'mores, then worshipped around the campfire.

The whole dorm dressed up for Fall Party. The theme was opposites. We had "fit and fat", "baby and grandma", "coke and pepsi"...etc.
This is "fit and fat"- they won the award for best dressed.

The seniors came up with some new birthday traditions this year. This is a picture of them passing the birthday pillow with the present on it as they play a song for the birthday girl.

The boys dorms decided to have a Rugby match and our girls had a cheer off with another girls dorm. They definitely won!

The school added high school intramurals this year which the girls love. Our dorm is extremely talented in sports, but many girls have to choose which sport they love the most because it costs their parents money per sport.

Sunday, September 6

Finally, a moment to blog!

Our staff at Palmgarten! Lizzy, Luke, me and Bonnie. We are blessed.

We are two weeks into our first year as dorm parents and so far.....we love it! We spent the last two weeks before the students got back renovating a storage room into a tv room. When we first saw it, it was stacked floor to ceiling with furniture that we had to move out and into the dorm. We then painted the walls, put in new carpet, installed lights, and moved the furniture around. The finishing touch was the 42 inch tv that Luke's parents donated to the dorm! The girls LOVED the finished product.

Since they have arrived we continue to learn how to grocery shop for 23, how to cook for 23, how to communicate with 19 sets of parents, how to adjust to staying up until midnight again, how to be creative in planning events, and how to balance life in general. I went for a walk with one of the girls and she asked me what the hardest thing was about moving into the dorm. I had to think about it for a second, and then decided that it is the realization that I have 19 people watching all my actions and words. It's a big responsibility and everyday I am realizing how I am being spurred on towards holiness. You can't fake an everyday, genuine relationship with the Lord. They see through inconsistency, but they also have amazing capacity for grace and love. I am learning and loving. 

Monday, July 20

Back at home

Luke and I just got back to Germany after being away from home for 6 weeks! After our training my parents came to visit for 2 weeks. It was a wonderful time to spend one on one with them. I'm so grateful our families invest in our lives here. It makes being away a little easier. Now we are back into a routine, we are beginning to pack up our apartment to move over to the dorm. Our dorm apartment is still under renovation so we're going to make the most of moving little by little. Jersey is happy we're home, she's had enough change for a little while. Little does she know....a new home with 22 more people around is just around the corner! 

We took my parents to our favorite restaurant for their 30th anniversary! 

Saturday, June 27

A little PFO update

Our training has been outstanding this week. The wealth of knowledge and years of experience have blow us away. It's been a stretch getting back into the "classroom" setting and sitting for long period of time, but it is well worth it. We have been hearing stories of God's faithfulness to international schools all over the world. We've been blessed by some great story tellers who recapture pivotal moments in their ministry, and stories about students lives that are changed as a result. We have been learning about the TCK (Third Culture Kid), which is a kids who lives in a culture other than their passport country. We have been talking about transition, taking personality tests, communication evaluations, and discussing differences in cultures. My favorite sessions have been our time with the group of staff who are going into boarding programs next year. The times have been extremely valuable going over relationships with parents, discipline, dorm atmosphere, relationship with Resident Assistants...and so much more to come. We have another 6 days here at Houghton College with a break tomorrow. It has been encouraging to meet other dorm parents who are going into the same situation as we are and being able to talk through our questions and concerns. Mostly, we are having fun learning about the kids we have the privledge of serving next year!

This is a panel of 9 different international schools represented at this training. Senegal, Malaysia, South Korea, Germany, Romania, Czech Republic, China, India, and Ecuador.
We have classes all day and then we play at night =) Luke is playing a little too hard and in the last two days got a black eye from a soccer ball to the face with sunglasses on and a frisbee to the nose!

Sunday, June 21

PFO in Houghton

We made the 5 hour drive yesterday to Houghton, NY from New Jersey. Instantly we met people who drove from Atlanta so it made us feel much better about our short drive. We settled into our dorm room that we will reside in for the next two weeks and I am sitting here writing from a nostalgic dorm desk. Everything so far is reminding us of our first orientation with Janz Team Ministries in Winnipeg last year. You come to an unknown place, with unknown people and you have to make a community for a couple weeks. Luke and I are both thankful that we are going through this training after being at BFA for a year. I think we are taking this more seriously than we might have if we had it last year. The schedule looks packed, but filled with great information. We found out our small group leader is Evan Evans, a family friend and one of the reasons we are at BFA. We head to our first session at 3pm. Thank you to everyone who is praying over this time. We had a tremendous time being with family in New Jersey and connecting with all of our faithful supporters.  I am hoping it will be productive and fruitful! 
Luke, Ryan and Landis at our favorite pizza place in the city. 

Saturday, June 6

An unexpected trip home

So Stephanie and I leave for the United States on Monday. A three hour car ride to Frankfurt followed by a nine hour flight to Newark. We purchased our tickets just two weeks ago. We hadn't planned to go back this summer, but because of some changes that are happening for us next year a trip home became part of the plan.

As many of you might know and some might not. Steph and I will be making role changes next year. We'll be moving from working within the school as teachers and administrators to residence life as Dorm Parents. Quite a change.

Throughout the year we've been subbing at HBR dorm on Thursday evenings and have developed a strong belief in the importance of quality residence staff. BFA has been blessed by having tremendous dorm staff that mentor and impact BFA students on a daily basis. It didn't take much time of being in that environment that we began to feel pulled.

We feel honored the school feels comfortable entrusting us with such a responsibility. Typically the age of dorm parents has been older with actual parenting experience. The thought is the pros of having younger people in this position (more energy, relatable, less distraction, etc…) might make up for some of the cons. It is in some ways an experiment. One made with excellent support made available for Stephanie and I, and one we’re excited to be involved in.

Some people think we're a little nuts. Its an exhausting job. We'll have twenty girls next year. That's right... girls. Those of you who know me best might wonder how I'll do in such an environment, and I'd be lying if I didn't say we have some healthy concerns. Personally, I'd feel there was something wrong if us if we didn't. Most people have been tremendously encouraging and have placed their support firmly behind us. The decision process would have much more difficult without them.

In the end. We feel confident this is what God has for us. We hold no illusions it will be a pain free experience, but will move through the year day by day humbly pursuing God as we go. That for us will be key.

This brings us back to our trip to the states. We’ll be home for four weeks. Two of those will be spent in New Jersey at my parents place. We’ll be visiting and sharing with our home church what the change will look like for us. We’ll also be doing some fundraising in preparation for year two as self supporting missionaries at BFA.

The third and fourth weeks will be spent at a Conference in Houghton, New York. We’ll be attending the Pre-Field Orientation conference for TCKs (Third Culture Kids). The school believes it will help prepare us to better understand the unique characteristics and needs of missionary kids. We’re excited to see our friends and fellow missionaries, Jewel and Evan Evans as they will be part of the leadership conducting the conference.

We’d appreciate your prayers as we enter the next month. For a relaxing time with my family, for a successful fund raising endeavor, and for valuable personal discovery and applicable info we can take away from the PFO conference in Houghton. If anyone would like to connect with us while we’re in New Jersey don’t hesitate to shoot us an email.


Monday, May 18

She may look like an angel but she's not....

Jersey sleeping looks adorable, harmless, like she could never do 
anything to hurt you or your household...

And then you come home to your brand new book ripped to shreds and your favorite skirt with a hole in the middle of it, socks strewn everywhere, shoes gnawed get the picture.

Needless to say, the honeymoon phase of our wonderful puppy came to a close today. She is capable of great chaos, but we still love her. A tiny glimpse into the world of parenting I suppose!

Wednesday, April 22

Short funny story

This morning one of our middle school girls got a cast of her arm after having it for approximately 6 weeks. As typically happens, the arm was noticeably smaller and paler then her other arm. This was understandably alarming to the student. So much so that she begged her mom not to make her go to school. As inhumane as it may have seemed to our young friend the mom felt it was important to attend. And to school the young girl went. Completely distraught. It was several periods later a co-worker of mine noticed the student's family car leaving the parking lot with the student inside. Curious, he went by the front office to inquire as to what the reason was. Casually the front office manager replied, "she threw up in the bathroom at the sight of her own arm." Now that is dedication.


Friday, April 17

Our spring break was filled with sunshine, friends near and far, and beautiful places to see. We had a truly relaxing time breaking away from school life for a couple weeks and enjoying the scenery. Luke and I spent the first weekend in Dublin to get away for our 2nd anniversary. I loved traveling to an English speaking country where I was able to get around so easily! We then drove to Prague with our good friends Adam and Laura. For our second week of break we meshed together our worlds from the US here in Europe by seeing two sets of good friends from the states. It was amazing catching up and hearing where they are at in life and what is ahead for them. We are back at school and loving seeing all the students again. There is nothing like BFA!

Our friends Tim, Rachel and Blaine came to visit us for four days. They are serving as missionaries in France and are currently in language school. We had such a great time connecting with them and hanging out with Blaine who is a talkative little man now!

Jersey had a great time over spring break too! She spent a week with one of our friends, Timmy, who is like the dog whisperer. She was spoiled with love and affection!

Bohemia Bagel is an expatriates best friend. In Prague we loved many meals we had in the city, but nothing could compare to a western style bagel with egg and cheese. Yum! We even brought some home to put in our freezer!

This is the scenery of Prague at night.

Luke and I on the Charles Bridge making the trek across.

In front of Trinity College. We were able to see the Book of Kells and the Old Library. Fascinating!

This is taken in front of St. Stephens Green in Dublin.