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August 14th, 2012

Almost Home

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Partner with us in loving missionary kids

Israel and I spent the weekend at Beaver Lake with some dear college friends. I left my computer, my phone had no service, and I refused to find out the internet password. We spent a weekend away from support calls, excel spreadsheets, and thinking about when we might get back to Germany. Well, it’s hard to turn off our minds, but we certainly tried! The lake and good friends helped.

As many of you know, we were hoping to return to Germany tomorrow, on August 15th. That’s not going to happen, unfortunately. But we are very close! We only need $390 more in order to finalize our tickets! We’re at 83% and need to be at 90%. We are praying that we can leave by Monday, August 20th, as I am scheduled to participate in New Staff Orientation next Wednesday morning.

We’ve been very blessed in the past few weeks with many new donors. Old friends, new friends, people we’ve never met, churches we’ve never been to, former BFA students, and adult MKs have all joined our support team. It’s been wonderful to see God bring so many people that we could never have anticipated. We are rejoicing in the continued provision of God.

Will You Partner with Us?

We are still looking for more folks to partner with us in loving Third Culture Kids. We only need four people to give $100 a month, eight people to give $50 a month, or 16 people to give $25 a month to hit our 90% requirement! Would you pray about being one of those people? Would you share our ministry with your friends, family and churches? 

We’re Ready

In the past few days, several BFA students have written to ask if we’re returning to Germany this year. One of the girls I meet with weekly said, “Do you have enough support to get back to Germany? Do you think you’ll be able to come back? Please, please do!” I am eager to tell her, “Yes! We’re coming back!” Another of my girls has been praying for our support all summer, which is kind of a big deal. It’s been so encouraging to hear her say that she’s been praying for more support, praying that we will be encouraged, and believes that we’re going to be back on time! I love that our support raising is a catalyst for her to talk to Jesus every day.

We can’t wait to hug these students again. We can’t wait to walk through the beautiful German hills again. We can’t wait to meet all of the the new BFA staff. We are ready to be home. We hope it’s only a few days away.

 

August 9th, 2012

An Active Perseverance

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Last week was exceptionally encouraging in our support raising. In one week, God provided over $500 in new support. This week has been particularly discouraging. A few days ago, we discovered that we needed to raise about $350 more than we’d originally thought. This brought our support from 84% to 77%, which means we’re back to needing $1,200.

Last week, it seemed like new supporters were pouring in. This week, it seems like the world’s gone on vacation. Last week, we were encouraged, motivated and excited. This week we are exhausted, discouraged and just ready to be done.

When we raised support in 2010, there came a point when we’d run out of people to contact. We were stuck at 50% and didn’t know where to find more supporters. We were discouraged, tired, and running out of hope. Then, God brought us a major financial supporter who enabled us to go to Germany. It was unexpected. It was miraculous. It was shocking.

This feels like a very similar place. We’ve been working, working, working all summer to raise new support. We’ve been emailing, calling, meeting, speaking, praying, and God’s brought $1,600 in new support. It’s incredible. But our energy is gone. Our time is short. Black Forest Academy feels all of its 4,924 miles away.

Yet despite the similar situations, I stand on a much more stable foundation. Now, I know that God is in control. I know that He is working on our behalf to bring new supporters. I fully believe that we will get back to Germany, and I am hopeful that we will return in time to prepare for school.

Yet I still feel discouraged; I’m just ready to be done. I want to throw up my hands and say, “God, I’ve done my part. Now it’s your job. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done.” Part of me wants to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to budge. I don’t want to!

I’ve always thought of perseverance as gritting your teeth and bearing the wind and rain until the storm passes by. My perseverance has been passive. God is challenging me to make my perseverance active. He is not asking me to merely sit through this uncertainty. He is asking me to work through this uncertainty. I cannot lay in bed while he brings support. I must keep working, calling, asking, praying, hoping, and believing. This perseverance is the perseverance of a long-distance runner. I must put one foot in front of the other, until I arrive at the destination.

Prayers Please

We would greatly appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would speedily bring in our remaining support so that we can leave sometime next week. There are also many other BFA staff who are still lacking support. Pray that we would persevere through our weariness. Pray that we would be protected from the attacks and distractions of Satan. Above all, we want to know God better, please him, and glorify him.

July 31st, 2012

16 Days. 16 People. $1,600.

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Partner with us in loving missionary kids

Well Folks, we’ve got 16 days left in America. We’re planning to head back to Germany on August 15th, but we still need to raise $1,600 a month.

We’re at 67% of our monthly support right now. To board that plane on August 15th, we must be at 90% of our support. This means that, in order for us to return to Germany at all, we must raise $1,100 more per month. In order to return fully funded, we need to raise $1,600.

We try not to make internet appeals, but with our time so short, we’re getting the word out through every avenue we have.

We’re looking for 16 people who will commit to giving $100 a month for the next three years.

If you’ve read our blog, received our updates, cared about our kids, or cared about us, would you consider joining our support team? If you’re reading this message, we would humbly request that you talk to Jesus about whether he would like you to be one of those 16 people. We are honored by every person who considers supporting us, even if the answer is ultimately no.

If you don’t know about our ministry to Third Culture Kids at Black Forest Academy, we’d love to share with you during these last few days.

How to Give

If you are considering giving, or have decided to give, would you let us know? israelanddani@talesfromtheblackforest.com

Please Join Us In Prayer

Please join us in praying for full support by August 15th.

We are so grateful for the people God has placed in our lives, and for his perfect, often surprising, provision.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving.

July 28th, 2012

We Have a Mission

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One of the things we like to do is share our ministry with groups. Sunday school classes, home groups, random people pulled off the street, we like them all. Actually, sharing with a small group is probably how we communicate most effectively, because there’s some structure to our time, but it’s also casual and personal. But that’s besides the point.

During one of these presentations, I realized that I’d verbalized our mission statement. I didn’t really know we had a mission statement. I mean, I probably could have pulled some words together to somehow express our love and care for TCKS, but now I know what our mission is. I’ve probably even said some variation of this in the past, perhaps even this exact phrase, but this time, it stuck. And the tiny lightbulb in my head went off.

Our mission is to help missionary kids know that Jesus loves them too.

From my conversations with MKs over the past two years, I would say that most MKs struggle with fear, loneliness, and feeling like God loves everyone else, but not them. These kids’ families have been called to far-away countries. Their parents have been called to share the love of Jesus with specific people groups. Their lives have been uprooted, possessions sold, friends left, familiar languages abandoned, all in the name of Jesus.

MKs spend their lives supporting their parents’ lives. They know how to perform well. They know how to act the part which they are required to play. They have to travel around America, visit countless churches, and talk to people they don’t know, in order to raise money to get back to the place where Jesus wants them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, for the most part, MKs love their lives. They grow to love the countries where they live. They learn to speak the language more fluently than their parents. They go to school, have friends, and enjoy the food of the countries where they serve. Most of them wouldn’t trade these experiences, but these aren’t things they chose; Jesus called, and their parents answered.

Many MKs feel like a burden to their parents. Often, these missionary families are under incredible stress. In addition to ministry concerns, support raising, and the difficulties of living in another country, missionaries are not always safe. Sometimes, they’re in danger of being kicked out of the country. Sometimes, their houses are bugged. Sometimes, their very lives are in danger. Missionary kids know this. They see the stress their parents feel. They feel their parents’ burdens. So they don’t add to the burden. MKs often keep their hurts, struggles and thoughts to themselves, because if they tell their parents, they think they’ll just make things worse. As a result, many things which should be spoken, which missionary parents wish would be spoken, stay in secret.

So the thought that God cares for the world, but not for them, grows, gains significance, and takes up residence in the hearts and minds of these teenagers. It seems that God doesn’t care about their lives. It seems that God sacrifices them for the sake of everyone else. It seems that God sends someone to the entire world, but has forgotten them.

But we have a mission.

We want to help missionary kids know that Jesus loves them too.

God has sent us. God has sent us to Black Forest Academy. God has sent us to Germany. God has sent us to missionary kids, to help them believe that, yes, Jesus loves you.

You are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are valuable and loved and cared for. Jesus delights in you, little soul that you are. He knows you. He works on your behalf. We have left our families, we have left our lives, we have left our possessions, so that you would know He cares.

And BFA students, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you.

We have a mission, it’s to share the love of Jesus with missionary kids, who know of Jesus, but don’t always know that his great plan of salvation and love includes them. It does.

June 27th, 2012

One More Brunch Reminder

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Our German Brunch and Update is coming up in a few days. We’ve been busy scoping out salami, cheese, mineral water, and trying to find the perfect breads (which actually don’t exist in Northwest Arkansas). We’re looking forward to sharing what God has done over the past few years in us, through our jobs, and in our relationships with students. We’re excited to share how God has worked through your support and prayer to work in the lives of Third Culture Kids.

If you’re planning to come and haven’t let us know yet, could you take a few minutes to RSVP? We’d hate to run short on butter or something.

Hope to see you Saturday!


You can RSVP on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/events/397847740251782/

June 11th, 2012

We’re in America!

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Yes we are! We arrived in Arkansas on Saturday evening after an uneventful day of traveling. We had a wonderful Sunday, full of some of our favorite places and people. Now we’re busy trying to make ourselves busy. We’re hoping to fit in as many visits with friends and family as we can.

We’ve changed some travel dates!

We had to change around our Oklahoma dates, so here’s our updated travel scheduled.

  • Arkansas – June 11 to 16
  • Oklahoma – June 17 to 25 (Tulsa on the 22nd and 23rd)
  • Arkansas – June 26 to July 2
  • Chicago – July 3 to 9
  • Texas – July 10 to 17
  • Colorado – July 18 to 24 (Based out of Larkspur, but planning to spend a couple days in the Ft. Collins area)
  • Arkansas – July 25 to August 7
  • Germany? – August 8

If you’d like to get together, give us a call or send us an email right now! We have very little scheduled at this point, so we’re probably even available for last minute things.

This summer, we can be reached at israelanddani@teachbeyond.org and well as by phone. Israel’s number is 479-966-9381. My number is 479-301-0150.

How can you help?

We would love your prayers over the next few months as we raise support. It would be fabulous to have a group of people praying for us every day. Some things you can pray for are:

  • Our diligence in connecting with people and seeking out new supporters
  • Us to be patient, kind and loving toward each other
  • God to bring in our needed support ($2,300 a month) by August 7th
  • That we would be a blessing to the people we interact with

We have couple practical needs as well.

  • We need a car to use in Arkansas from July 25th until we leave on August 8th
  • We don’t have very many new contacts in the States; we have been living in Germany after all. It would be great to invite some new people to join our support team. If you happen to love hosting events and bringing people together, we could do a game or dessert get-together where we share our ministry with your peeps.

We’re looking forward to connecting with many of you over the next few months! See you soon. Continue reading

May 2nd, 2012

Of Ripped Canvas and Thankfulness

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About a year ago, I finally painted a long-bare canvas. I inscribed on it a poem I’d written. This art piece was in memory of our heaven-dwelling babies. I’ve had this canvas in my office at school all year. It’s precariously balanced on an electrical outlet, waiting to be more securely attached to the wall.

Today, that canvas fell, not for the first time, but this time, it met the corner of my desk, resulting in a gash. I was meeting with a student at the time. At first I was bewildered, then angry, then deaf to all that Beka was saying. And then I started crying. I don’t think poor Beka quite knew what to do. I wanted to show my broken canvas to Mari Ellen—she’d appreciated this piece of memorial lament—but she wasn’t there to sorrow with me.

That canvas is the most personally significant memorial I have of my kids. Seeing it abruptly torn, jerked to the surface my hibernating sorrow. For the rest of the day, I was exhausted and slow-moving. It’s funny how such a small thing can summon the heavy, familiar weight of grief. I didn’t expect this small incident to cause such a strong reaction.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the Senior Transition Seminar. It’s a time for Seniors to process saying goodbye to BFA and transitioning to college life. I’ll be talking to the girls about relationships in college. Tonight, while thinking over what to say, my thoughts turned to all of the girls who I’ll be interacting with.

I like these 30 girls. A lot.

I have one month left with them. One more month to enjoy their smiles. One more month to hear their thoughts. One more month to laugh until I cry at their quirky humor. One more month to hug them. One more month share their lives while I can touch and see and smell and hold them. And then they’ll be gone. Off to places all across the world. I may never see them again. And that makes me so very sad. I don’t want BFA sans them.

I was thinking, just before writing this post, about that torn canvas and how sad it made me, how it affected my day. And I rather surprised myself by saying, “Thank you God that I’m sad about that canvas.” I had to consider why I was thankful.

Thank you, God, that I loved, and love, my children. Thank you, God, that I remember them through art. Thank you that these things are meaningful to me because these people are meaningful to me. Thank you that my life is filled with people I love. Thank you, God, that I care about these senior girls, who will soon be moving on to bigger and better things. Thank you that I will miss them. Thank you, God, that my hurt comes from deep love. Thank you for filling my life with things so good, people so good, that I miss them when they’re gone.

April 29th, 2012

Visiting America

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Hello All. Great news! We’re visiting America this summer!

It’s time for our Home Assignment — a rather technical term for visiting family and friends and raising more support. We’re both excited and overwhelmed at the thought of being in the States this summer. We’re eager to reconnect with our family, our friends, our church. We’re looking forward to Chik-fil-a, english books, and the english language! But we’re not so sure about the heat, the trying to condense two years of life into a few minutes, and the grueling travel schedule. I expect this summer will give us a more full picture of what it means to live between two worlds, to love two worlds.

So, we’ll spend two months in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Chicago and Colorado. While we’re there, we want to catch up with all of the America-dwellers we love. That means you! So, if you live in any of these places, or will be traveling through, we would love to have a cup of coffee (or two) with you and hear all about your lives. We might not be back in the States for another two years, so we want to see as many folks as we can.

Our Schedule

  • June 9th – Fly to America!
  • June 10 – 23 – Arkansas
  • June 24 – July 2 – Muskogee and Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • July 3 – 9 – Chicago, IL
  • July 10 – 17 – Bonham and Dallas, TX
  • July 18 – 24 – Colorado
  • July 25 – August 7 – Arkansas
  • August 8 – Return to Germany! We hope!

Let’s schedule a get-together sooner rather than later!

How You Can Help

We have a few needs for our time in the states. Here are some of the ways you might be able to help.

  • Support

    This is one of our primary needs. We need to raise 50% of our support, or $2,300 more a month. We’re trying not to let that number intimidate us. Our goal is to return back to our beloved Black Forest Academy in early August, but if we haven’t raised enough support, we’ll have to delay our return. We’ll see what God has in store. We hope to meet with many new folks about joining our support team. We’d love for you to start considering joining our support team, or even increasing your support.

    There are some other ways you could help us raise support as well. You can host a dessert night for some friends, where we can share our ministry. You can refer some folks who you think might be interested in what we’re doing. You can invite us to your Sunday School class, Community Group or Church.

  • Prayer

    Pray for new and increased supporters! Pray for safe and easy travels (we’ll be doing a lot of it). Pray for energy. Pray for God perspectives on our circumstances, whatever they might be. Pray that we’ll be a blessing.

  • Housing and Transportation

    If you live in Arkansas, we’re in need of housing and a vehicle. We’ll be in Arkansas from June 9th to 23rd, and from July 25th to August 7th. We need a place to stay and a car to get us around. If we need to, we’re more than willing to move around during this time. If you have a room, an apartment, or a car that might be an option for us, please let us know.

Let the Story Sharing Begin

We’ve had an incredible, life-changing, oh-so-hard-but-oh-so-good two years in Germany. We can’t wait to share our experiences with you, whom we love and cherish. We can’t wait to hear how you’ve grown and changed these past two years. We can’t wait to share our love of BFA, and the stories we’ve made.

See you soon!

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