Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Germany

We had a joyous & special Christmas season. Our daughter, Katie, was able to join us for a few weeks. We had a fun time exploring a few things in Germany with her and exposing her to our ministry. She made some new friends -- not surprising with her friendly personality.

We explored some sights with Katie, primarily a lot of castles & Christmas markets. Here are a few that we really enjoyed.

As we approached the Christmas celebration, we planned a fun excursion with folks from the Hospitality House. We took about 20 folks to Rothenburg and Nurenberg for a weekend. Rothenburg is known for being Germany's best-preserved medieval walled town. It has some fun and interesting sights, like the Medieval Crime & Punishment Muserum, a walk along the city wall, and a beautiful Christmas market. Nurenberg is know for its medieval architecture, the biggest Christmas market in Germany, the tiniest bratwurst in Germany and its Nazi past. Folks spent time in the Nazi Documentation Center and explored the Christmas market. It was a fun weekend and we shared our time with the Baumholder Hospitality House as well.

On Christmas Eve, we began our celebration at the Ramstein Comtemporary Service (RCS) for a candlelight worship service. We had a nice dinner at home and had our family Christmas celebration with Katie. Christmas morning began with about 16 singles coming over for brunch. We fixed eggs, pancakes, bacon, all the fixins. Afterwards, they opened their presents. Many came in their pajamas to enjoy the morning. We moved into the afternoon with a Christmas dinner planned at 3:00. We hosted 81 folks as we celebrated the birth of our Lord. We had a time of worship and singing carols, followed by playing games and hanging out! We hope everyone truly felt like they were at home.

We feel like we are settling into life in Germany and a routine with ministry. We are excited to see what God will do in 2010. We continue to work on deeping our relationships with folks that are in our ministry. We hope you and your family had a blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

November was a blur!

We can't believe that it is already December! November just flew by. We had a busy month as we began to get ready for the holidays. We attended our first Cadence European Staff Conference. We enjoyed spending time with our team and encouraging one another in our ministries. We dealt with the tragedy of the Ft. Hood shootings, death of a Chaplain here in our Ramstein community, people deploying to Afghanistan, family deaths and dealing with loneliness as the holidays approach. Yet, as Thanksgiving came, we were thankful.

We celebrated with 74 folks at our home. We played games together, enjoyed lots of turkey & pie and learning more about each other. Lou & I reflected on how much we appreciate this opportunity God has given us to serve the men and women that participate in our ministry. We have grown to love and care for each one in a very special way. Our prayer is that we will continue to deepen our relationships with them as we move into 2010.

As December begins, we are busy with activities and getting ready to usher in the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus. It is hard to believe but this will be our first Christmas in 48 years (second for Lou) that we haven't spent it with our families. Yet, we are honored to try and create a home away from home for those people here that will not be able to spend - yet another - Christmas with their family.

We started the Christmas season by going to the Tubingen Chocolate Festival and Stuttgart Christmas Market. We spent the day with about 15 folks eating chocolate from various parts of Europe, sharing our hearts as we walked through the Christmas market in Stuttgart and just hanging out!
We are thrilled to have an opportunity to share our lives with these folks! We can't wait to see what God teaches us during this Christmas season. May we never forget the miracle that the creator of the universe chose to leave Heaven, come to reconcile us with Him through the birth of Jesus, His death & resurrection. God calls us to respond to this truth -- how will you respond this Christmas?