Archive for the ‘Newsletter’ Category

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March 17th, 2013

The End of Winter: February and March at BFA

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Sometimes, it is most exciting to have nothing to do. For the first time in a month, Israel and I are spending a weekend at home. We don’t look forward to the empty weekends because we dread our work and ministry, but because our lives are filled with so much good that it’s easy to do too much.

It’s been a full six-weeks since we last wrote: two weekends of dorm subbing, speaking on a panel about identity, high school retreat, helping host an open house at a dorm, illness, doctor’s appointments, an international church service, Service Project prep, attending counseling, participating in a Murder Mystery Night, a new women’s bible study, time with friends, working on new web projects, planning for the future of our ministry, meeting with students, and the list could go on, but that would make this update even longer, so I’ll stop.

Highlights

Of the many things we’ve done over the past weeks, here are two that most stood out.

Time at the Dorm

We got to spend two of the past three weekends subbing at the wonderful Palmgarten dorm. We love being at the dorm! From cooking meals, to helping with homework, to playing games, to just laughing with the girls, it’s always a joy and privilege. On one of these weeks, Palm and the boys dorm upstairs, Maugenhard, hosted an open house. We helped the girls clean, cook and decorate, to host over 100 guests from our community. The theme of the evening was the Evolution of Music. Each floor and room was assigned a different era and genre of music ranging from the 50s to today; students were encouraged to dress up as a musician. We brought our Wii Just Dance game, which was quite hilarious to watch.

We also had the opportunity to join Palm on their Valentine’s Day event, a casino-themed Murder Mystery Night. Israel got to play an Elvis impersonator, while I was Security Sam, the head of casino security. Don’t worry, neither of us were the murderer.

The Murder Mystery Night Cast

The Murder Mystery Night Cast

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February 3rd, 2013

The Semester Begins; Twice.

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So classes resumed January 8th here at Black Forest Academy.  Students were buzzing with stories from the Christmas break, and dorms were again full of screaming highschoolers pining for more sleep. But this school year is different for two reasons. One, the first semester exams were three weeks into the new calendar year. Two, that means that the second semester didn’t start until the week after. You can imagine the horror of realizing you have to remember geometry theorems from over a month ago for an upcoming final exam.

A School Schedule to Rule Them All

As a sidenote, many students had seen “The Hobbit” over break. So I thought it fitting to find a correlation with the movie and our school schedule.

Our new school schedule places our semester’s ending and beginnings around the same time that all the German schools in the area have their breaks and starts. The reasons behind are many, but one of the main reasons is so that our bilingual elementary school doesn’t start or end 3-4 weeks before or after our high school campus does. Many of the families have students on both campuses, and I think that the parents appreciate the move, much more so than the students.

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November 27th, 2012

From a Grateful Heart

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This is the American month for thankfulness, and tonight I am abundantly thankful. God has poured innumerable gifts into our lives. The past weeks have been filled with many wonderful things—conferences to hone our counseling and media skills, treasured time with old friends, moments of holy brokenness in ourself and our students, times of rejoicing with those in the BFA community. Our life here is rich and vibrant, but tonight, I am struck not with the events, but with the people, the themes, the underlying and overarching goodness of our God.

I wish I could squeeze my heart into these words, so you could feel the deep pleasure and gratitude that lives there. Through ever-present pain, longing, and hurt, runs a bright fuchsia cord of earnest satisfaction. Even in the moments of acute ache, my soul still whispers to the great God above, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Thank you for my husband.

He is the most patient man I know. He is the stability of my turbulent heart. He is the greatest picture of you I’ve seen on this earth. I have no fear that he will ever walk away from me. Thank you for giving me such an undeserved love.

Thank you for this place.

It is a rare gem, to which I fear all others will seem flawed in comparison. These students amaze me with their vibrant creativity, fierce sense of justice, abundant compassion, and beyond-their-years wisdom. These families are flawed, but I’ve never had more opportunity to stand in awe at the sacrifice, patience and wisdom of parental love. This staff is composed of fallen humans, but they genuinely want to please you, they genuinely love those they’ve sacrificed so much to serve. Thank you for creating such a beautiful community.

Thank you for your body.

We do not deserve their love, prayers, and financial support, but you have lavished it upon us. Our families believe in the call you placed upon our lives, a gift that not all receive. Our friends delight in the work you have called us to, so much so that they happily provide for our needs. Our brothers and sisters remember us before you, lifting us up with heartfelt petitions for fruit, for growth, for blessing. Thank you for these people we are honored to know.

Thank you for your redemption.

I cannot believe that you take my shame and make it beautiful. I cannot believe that you take what has meant only death to me, and bring forth life. I cannot believe that you bless even my tarnished desires to serve you, for your glory and your kingdom. You overwhelm me with your goodness. My heart aches at the holy glory you display through my brokenness. Thank you for being my Redeemer.

Thank you for making me a mother.

Though I have not touched a child of our flesh and blood, you have given us children on this earth. You have filled our days with beautiful souls to protect, to delight in, and to love. Some days, my heart nearly bursts from this beautiful sorrow, this abundance that you have poured upon us through our brokenness. You have taken our barrenness, and given us children. A students once said to me, “Even if you don’t have kids, you have kids,” and it is this that makes me stand in awe of you, a God who would give us children of the heart. Thank you for being a giver of good gifts.

Thank you for promises like these.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,

that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet I will not forget you.

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…

Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

For the mountains may depart

and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”

says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

October 14th, 2012

Newsletter: The Whirlwind of September and October

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Wow. It’s mid October. It seems ages ago that we were in America, but it’s only been two months. The first six weeks of school are perhaps the busiest time of year for us. We’re pretty exhausted, but despite the need for a mini-vacation, we’re so very grateful to be here.

We Thank You

Thank you. Thank you, once again, for all you have done to allow us to be loving these students at Black Forest Academy. Your generosity, prayers and friendship are what allow us to be here. God worked a financial miracle this summer through all of you. It was no small thing, your generosity and prayers. God used you to do the seemingly impossible. We have already seen evidences of why God worked so unbelievably—in relationships with students, in new opportunities to serve, in renewed excitement, in our own growth.

Sometimes, I get anxious about this life we lead, about living on support. What if the money goes away? What if people forget to give? What if someone loses their job? I was worrying about these things the other day, but then I remembered you all, your love for us, our love for you, and the great God we serve. I want to always chose gratitude, because we have been abundantly blessed, because for this time we get to be at BFA, because we get to partner with you in the work God is doing at Black Forest Academy.

So thank you. Though we may not be the most frequent communicators, we are always grateful for your partnership with us and for your love for these students.

Highlights and Blessings from September and October

  • Small Groups  – I oversee BFA’s High School Small Group program. This year, I tried to provide more leader training than we’ve done in recent years, and am planning to offer continued support to small group leaders throughout the year. I also have more enthusiasm for the small group program than I’ve had before! Already, God’s hand has been evident in the way small groups were set up. Some of the more challenging groups have been shuffled around and seem to be connecting very well already!
  • Volleyball – Israel coaches the JV girls volleyball team. Volleyball season is grueling, with practices everyday and overnight trips almost every weekend, but it’s rewarding. Israel loves coaching the girls and is trying new techniques this season. I’ve heard from several students and parents that they greatly appreciate having Israel as a coach. The teams are doing much better this year, winning most of their games!
  • Relationships – I already have about 10 girls that I’m meeting with on a regular basis. I didn’t expect so many so soon!  God has allowed me to quickly connect with girls, new and old. This year has already been full of serious, heart-level conversations about girls’ pain and brokenness. I’m trying to be more intentional in praying with and for students; it’s the most valuable thing I can do for them.
  • God Is at Work – During Spiritual Emphasis Week, in Small Groups, in relationships, it’s evident that God is moving among our students. I have a great sense of expectation about what he will do at BFA this year.
  • Junior Trip to Normandy and Paris – We are Junior Class Sponsors this year, which means that we attended the Junior Class trip to Normandy and Paris last weekend. It was a wet, exhausting, cramped, educational, meaningful, fun, and unifying trip with the 75 Juniors. Israel connected with a lot of the guys, and I was able to support some girls through difficult moments. We also helped prepare meals, led small discussion groups, handed out money, and successfully navigated the Metro with all 86 Juniors and Sponsors. We greatly enjoyed seeing the WWII sites in Normandy and, of course, the wonders of Paris, but it was particularly lovely to share these things with our beloved students. You can see photos from the trip here.

Upcoming Events and Needs

  • CCEF Conference – I will be traveling from October 24th to 31st to attend a conference in Chattanooga, TN. The conference is on guilt and shame and is hosted by the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. I am very excited about the subject matter, as these topics come up almost daily with students, not to mention in my own life. I’ll also get to see some of my lovely college friends on the way back! Pray for safe travels, no jetlag and that I’m able to absorb everything!
  • Dorm Subbing – This weekend, we’re subbing at the fabulous Palmgarten Dorm. We always love the opportunity to hang out with girls, help out the dorm staff and just do whatever needs doing.
  • Day Retreat Planning – In November, I’ll be hosting the first Day Retreat at BFA. This will be a Saturday retreat for students who are interested in taking some intentional time to process their lives and encounter God in new ways. I’m meeting with a few staff this week to work out the details of this trip. I’m very excited about this event, but am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities of what this time could be. Pray for guidance and for God to work during this retreat.
  • Time Management and Rest – We’re tired, and it’s only been six weeks. We need wisdom to know how to use our time wisely. Israel has two more weeks of volleyball; we’re hoping things will slow down a bit after that.
  • Students – Please pray for God to work in the lives of these students. So many girls have been on my heart. I want them to know God’s great love and care for them. They have so many hurts. Please intercede on their behalf.

Here’s a smattering of photos from the semester so far. If you’d like to see more, you can check out this album or the Junior Trip album on Facebook.

August 17th, 2012

Germany, We’re Coming Home!

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We reached our 90% support requirement! We depart for Germany on Monday morning! Eek!

We are overwhelmed and awed. Did this really happen? Are we really at 92%? Are we really heading back to Germany, not only in time for the beginning of the school year, but also in time for our staff conference? We’re amazed.

At one point, I thought it would be November before the support was in place. I knew that we would return at some point, but I didn’t know what the timing would be. All summer, I’ve been reminding myself that my BFA girls will be okay without me. The school will not collapse without us. God is completely capable of keeping everything running, and running well, without us.

So our joy is multiplied by this blessing of returning on time. We are so grateful.

Abundantly Blessed

God has done an amazing thing this summer. When it was all said and done, we needed to raise about 60% of our monthly budget, a little over $3,200. The fact that God’s brought in so much support in only 69 days is astonishing. Honestly, it can take months, sometimes even years to raise that amount.

God has not only met our financial needs, but he has met our financial wants. We have enough money in our account to replace our nearly dead car, invest in a comfortable mattress, and pay our German taxes. We feel abundantly provided for.

Beyond the financial aspect, we are so grateful to be returning to Black Forest Academy. We get to see our BFA kids again. We get to sub in our beloved dorm. We get to return to the beautiful hills of Kandern. We are completely unworthy to know and love these kids, but God has given us the opportunity anyway. Even more, it seems that he’s not begrudgingly letting us return to BFA, but is saying, “Here, I prepared this for you. You desire to be there because I desire it for you. This is my best for you.” What an unbelievable thought.

Thank You

Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for the numerous expressions of love and care we received this summer—the beds to sleep in, home-cooked meals, dinners at our favorite restaurants, cash for gas, prayers for encouragement, conversations about the things on our hearts, loaned cars, invitations to speak, Facebook posts, thoughtful emails, coffee dates, hugs, smiles, and so much more. We have so many amazing people in our lives.

Thank you for being interesting in the work God is doing in and through us at Black Forest Academy. Thank you for caring about missionary kids and Third Culture Kids with us. Thank you for showing just how important you think they are, by giving of your money. It may seem like a small thing, but to us, it is invaluable.

You allow us to be at Black Forest Academy. We are an extension of you. We have been changed by our time there. We think God has changed a few students through us too.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We are blessed.

The Final Push

We would love to be fully funded before boarding that plane on Monday morning. Being at 100% of our support would be incredible. It would allow us to save, invest in retirement, and even travel a bit. It would give us more stability as we serve over the next three years.

We are currently at 92% of our support. We need to raise only $409 per month in order to be fully funded. We’re still praying to find people to commit to giving $25, $50, or $100 per month. If you would like to give, please contact us! You can easily set up a donation with the buttons above.

Vielen Dank und auf Wiedersehen!

 

August 5th, 2012

We Need You!

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10 More Days!

Wow. What an amazing six days it has been. On Tuesday, we needed to raise $1640 a month. Now, we only need $1140! God’s provided $500 in new support since Tuesday!

All summer, our support had been slowly inching its way forward, so it’s fabulous to see it grow by leaps and bounds. It’s been such an encouraging and energizing week. We’ve been abundantly blessed by the generosity of our friends, family and church. God has surprised us with his speedy provision. We are currently at 77% of our monthly support. We are praying to be at 80% by the end of the day, and to be fully funded by August 15th!

We are still looking for 11 people to commit to giving $100 a month. Would you pray about being one of those people?

We know that not every one can commit to giving $100 each month, but don’t let the amount prevent you from giving. Commitments of any amount help us reach our goal of returning to Germany! Actually the majority of this week’s new support came from commitments that were smaller than $100 per month.

We are eager to see how God will provide over these final 10 days. Ten days, Folks! We can’t wait to get back to Germany and our BFA kids.

We Need You

This morning, we shared this video with our church. We would love for you to watch it and pass it along. We need you to partner with us and Jesus in loving missionary kids!

 

July 31st, 2012

16 Days. 16 People. $1,600.

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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.

June 23rd, 2012

RSVP – German Brunch with Israel and Dani

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Come Hear About Germany

Don’t forget to RSVP to the German Brunch. We’d love to see you there.

You can now RSVP through Facebook if that’s to your liking – http://www.facebook.com/events/397847740251782/

Below is an excerpt about the event. You can read the full article here – German Brunch with Israel and Dani.

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Join us for a German Brunch and Update!

At The Grove Church at 385 E. Sunbridge in Fayetteville, AR
On Saturday, June 30th
At 10:00 AM

In addition to hearing about how God has worked in and through us at Black Forest Academy, you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful German brunch. Sliced meats and cheeses, rolls, veggies, yogurt, müsli (granola), boiled eggs, coffee, tea, juice, and mineral water all await you.

It would be helpful to have an idea of how many people are coming, so that we can prepare. If you know that you’ll be joining us, could you let us know you’re coming by commenting below, texting, emailing—you know the drill. But if you forget to RSVP, come anyway!

Our Contact Information

In Case You Don’t Have It

Israel: (479) 966-9381
Dani: (479) 301-0150

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