Friday, January 6, 2012

Children's Christmas Program

Our kids participated in our church's Children's Christmas program on Christmas Eve, as that is the day that Slovakia celebrates Christmas.  They each had a part to say, and then all of the children sang together a few songs.  The rest of the program was a normal Lutheran church service.  In the video, it appears that the kids are outside, as if they are Christmas caroling.  This is not the case, as they are actually inside the church building, dressed in their warm coats, hats and scarves.  This is because our church has very little heating because it is an older, historical, cathedral-type building, and every Sunday people dress like this to attend church, while inside the building!  We leave gloves and scarves intact throughout the service, and are still sitting there cold.  This has definitely been something we have had to get used to!!  Fortunately, the Sunday School building IS heated, and our children stay warm every Sunday while attending Sunday School, which, by the way, they enjoy because they have wonderful Sunday School teachers!

In the singing part of this video, if the kids seem a bit tired or distracted, it might be because this was their second performance in a row, or they were cold, OR just that the beautiful ceiling was a bit mesmerizing!  :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Light-Saber Christmas

Already a broken one...but the Dads came to the rescue!

Our boys are very much into Star Wars, and they love playing with light-sabers.  They haven't had any of their own until now, but have always borrowed them from their friend, Marko, when they're with him.  So we decided to buy one for each of them, and ironically, Matt and Amy's boys also received these as gifts this year.  Matt and Ed decided to make a production of giving these grand-finale gifts to the boys, so dressed up as Darth Vaders to stage an attack on all of the jedis with their new weapons.  The fight lasted about as long as they do in the movies, and it was crazy in the living room for a good portion of the day...but we made some great memories!  :-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas with the Hartmans

They tried sledding on a smattering of snow...and our hill is steep enough that is worked!

Yes, it was as crazy as it looks!  :-)

Acting out the Christmas story

Christmas in Slovakia...BEAUTIFUL!!!  Last year was our first Christmas away from home.  It was a very quiet Christmas compared to the many we spent in America among friends and relatives.  In one sense it was hard, thinking about all of the parties going on of which we should have been a part, but in another sense it was nice and peaceful, spending the whole season with just the seven of us, not rushing off to party after party.  It was a great opportunity for us as a family to celebrate together the birth of our Savior in a quiet and meaningful way.

This year we were blessed to celebrate Christmas with our dear friends, Matt and Amy Hartman and their kids.  This family just moved to the Czech Republic to begin serving with Josiah Venture...and I mean, two weeks before they came to us.  They were waiting for their container of stuff, and since it was delayed and wouldn't get to them until after Christmas, they left their new empty home in Czech and came to our house.  They have four kids that are right in between our five, so it was a hoot of a time with 9 kids ages 10 and under.  What fun it was to enjoy these friends in our home.  The kids played together so well that we adults were able to have great times of conversation throughout the weekend...and great late nights playing euchre!

We had a really nice Christmas and hope all of you did too, celebrating our Savior's coming to earth for us.  What an incredible truth this is; and how this affects us as humans is staggering!!  We pray that you all will know the blessing of Christ living in you and the freedom that His coming brings!  Thank you to each of you who pray for us and who give financially to make it possible for our family to serve here in Slovakia!  Blessings!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We Love Ashley Ross!!!

We have a friend named Ashley Ross.  She lives in the Czech Republic.  She is also serving with Josiah Venture, and her title is Third Culture Kid Coordinator.  "TCK" is the latest name for an MK (missionary kid).  So, Ashley is a missionary sent here for the purpose of ministering to our kids, and all of the kids of JV families.  Part of her role is to plan and implement JV Kids' Camp each summer, which we blogged about after camp happened in August.  Another part of her role is to travel to JV families' homes in the different Eastern European locations in order to visit the families, and specifically to minister to the kids.  Ashley is a "TCK" herself, having grown up on the mission field in Peru. Her passion is to help our kids adjust to life away from their first culture (home in America), to be there for them as a friend and a listener.  She is a huge encouragement to us as parents, for sure, as she helps us know what our kids need in order to flourish in this foreign environment.

So, Ashley came to our house right before Christmas, and we loved every minute of her being here!  She got right in with the kids, playing soccer in the foyer, painting fingernails, reading to them, playing hours of Sorry and Dominoes, braving a fun game of Sardines throughout the house, and even taking home with her our flu germs that came upon us during her visit...SORRY ASHLEY!!!  We are quite blessed to have this special member within our mission organization...thank you, Josiah Venture, for caring for our kids in this way, for making their care a vital priority for maintaining healthy families doing ministry together!  And thank you, dear Ashley, for putting your heart into your role with JV, for loving our kids, and for caring about how they are surviving and flourishing here, so far from what they know back home.  Our kids are already asking when you're coming back!!!  Too bad we have to share you with all of the other JV families.  :-)