The Children’s Church Dilemna

Over the past month and half we have visited 6 different churches. Ian and I LOVE that because it’s like doing a little field research in our own language. On 5 of those visits our kids have been with us. One of the most stressful parts is leaving them crying at the door. We’ve tried to convince, bribe and have mainly had to drop and go which sometimes can just be…..hard. God has wired each of them differently and it’s simply impossible for one church to accommodate each of them well.

When we went to a small Bible Church in Chicago with a host family, Asher was drawn to the toys and loved the fact that he was the only baby so he did not shed a tear when we left. Our home church is Ellison’s favorite because she is connected to her small group and her leaders and nothing else is the same for her. If we are not going to our church we have to give her plenty of warning and allow her time to…….process.  Our Jude, however has had a hard time almost everywhere we’ve been and it is heartbreaking. Last Sunday when we went to our own church he totally melted down like a 2 year old and it was beyond stressful for this perfectionist mama.

This past Sunday after another teary drop off for him we really wanted to get to the heart of his issues with going to children’s church. After church and before brunch with some friends we found a quiet moment to actually ask him why it was so bad for him to go in. He said “because I miss my Ellison, my Asher, my mommy and my daddy.” Um…my heart was so full. Jude is our second born and for as long as he’s been around there’s been Ellison assuring him that things are ok.

As I think back over our last few churches there is one other church that he went into without complaining and it makes total sense in light of his comment. It was a small church and basically all of the kids other than babies were together. He and Ellison really loved that a lot. The whole time they got to be with one another  and he felt safe and secure.

This coming Sunday we will again be in another church which just comes with the territory these days.  As we’re thinking about how to help him, we’ve thought about having some wallet sized pictures printed of our family to remind him that we love him and that we’ll be back soon to get him.

Have you guys out there with kids tried anything to help kids go into their areas at church? If you have some tips I’d love to hear them.

Lions and Tigers and Visas oh my

This summer we were on a campaign to get to 70% in order to get our visas. Confession: we had no idea what all that involved. Once we hit that mark we were pumped to start the process. And it has been quite the process.

Thankfully, we did not have to navigate this alone. The week that I went to Orlando for training we were able to make some calls to the Austrian consulate to get the ball rolling. A few things were getting lost in translation and I called on a friend of mine from Germany to make sure that we were understanding everything we needed to know.

We found out that we had to apply in person in Washington DC. We knew that it could take up to 3 months to get the visas so we wanted to go as soon as we could. The week after we moved in to our friend’s house we tried to plan in some rest before heading out to Illinois for training. After hearing about needing to apply in person, however, we knew it’d be crazy, but we felt like we had no choice but to get up there ASAP. So in a span of 7 days we moved, packed and flew to Washington, unpacked and packed again and flew to Chicago.

On my birthday, we boarded a plane on a quest for visas…..

We arrived in DC late that evening and crashed. We discovered the next morning that an 8 page application for each family member was required. Oh and by the way it was in German. Ummmm…. our whopping total of 3 german course were not sufficient for words like “Niederlassungsbewilligung.” We were able to get on Skype with our ministry area leader in Austria and managed to get them all filled in. Our next stop was to Kinko’s and Walgreens to print some pictures and additional documents we needed.

We arrived at the consulate by taxi at 12:30 and we must have looked over our documents 20 times and finally got it all together and turned it in before the 1:30 close time. Although we hoped we had everything in order, we found out that we needed to obtain Apostilles for a few documents before our packet was complete.

We were pretty bummed that we didn’t walk away that day completely done, but we were happy that we left the bulk of our packet and that we had fulfilled the requirement to apply in person.

With a few hours before our return flight home we took in a few sites of DC which we really enjoyed.

After returning home, we’ve done more running around (including a day trip to SC), and we finally got everything we needed and overnighted the packet to the consulate! We got word that our packet was complete and now we wait….

By now, our documents have arrived Austria and we are praying BIG to get a decision back soon so that we can board a plane and head that way. Here we are waiting again in this process. We know however, that in Him we can wait well  and we trust, once again, that His timing is perfect.

Wheaton, another kind of home

A few weeks ago we were at our sending agency, TEAM up in Wheaton, Il. Sending agencies handle the logistics of helping churches send missionaries. They handle all of our funding and benefits and also ensure that we are well emotionally and physically. Once you reach your destination, they provide support in your designated ministry area.

Going to our sending agency is another form of going home for us.  It refreshes and inspires us every time. These folks have trekked with us since 2006 as we’ve prayed and considered committing our lives to serving overseas. They have shown us nothing but love and grace as we’e walked along this path.

We just finished PhaseIV training where we got all the nuts and bolts necessary to begin life in Austria. When we chose TEAM years ago as our sending agency we were drawn to the people. These are our friends, Steve and Jane who we met at a workshop at our church. They sold us on TEAM long before we even really understood what a sending agency was. Over the past several years these 2 specifically have been there cheering us on, praying for us and encouraging us at just the right moments.

Every time we are in Wheaton, we’ve met so many people who greet us with a pure excitement for where we are going. I love rubbing shoulders with people who have walked in our shoes and can offer encouragement from a place of having been there. These people know what it is like to commit years of your life serving away from “home.” They’ve raised families in the jungle of Papua while acting as medical missionaries, they have begun churches in Japan, and loved on folks from places I’ve never even heard of. I look at them and their unshakable faith and trust in the Lord and I so desire to be in that place. They have taken big risks and in many cases the costs have been high. But, even through their struggles, they have an attitude and posture about this life that I so want to have. To answer His call at whatever cost. Wow!

Being in Wheaton was like a breath of fresh air. The opportunity to be with others who understand the why behind the going.  Whether it’s fellow missionaries being trained, those who have returned from their ministry areas and now work at headquarters, those in the mail room and special blog friends who just want to take you to lunch :-), they all get it and are genuinely excited to hear more. In many ways, there is a special type of community that I suspect we will only get when we come here.



The Making of a Prayer Card

Rule number 1 to being a missionary is to have a prayer card. Last week we must have been asked 25 times about one. It was cool because people want a tangible reminder to pray for your family. We got some magnets made almost a year ago but our picture is out of date and there isn’t a ton of contact information on it. With  our move approaching fast we realize that we need an updated card done ASAP. The major hold up has been getting another family picture done which for those of you with kids will know, is no easy task.

Last week in Wheaton, we made a new friend, Karlene from Canada. (side note- I could just listen to she and her husband talk all day long with their awesome accents). She overheard me saying that we needed a new prayer card and offered to take some pics for us.

I present to you….the making of a prayer card.


Asher: Cheeeeeeese

Asher: “Guys there are markings on this tree.” Jude: “My teeth hurt.”

Leaf Break!

Getting a little closer.

It’s really sunny down here….

Ok….crop out the paci and I think we’ve got a winner :-).