Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Emily's Shower!

As you know, our daughter, Emily, is getting married in Bangladesh on March 20.  As we are walking this journey with her, we are finding out that there are MANY cultural differences when it comes to planning a wedding!  We are trying to honor both cultures as she embraces some of the Bengali traditions and lets some of the American ones go.  We approach each decision asking, "What is most honoring to Alpha's family and what is most honoring to our family?"  For instance, most Bengali marriages are arranged, although many of the young people are having what is called a "marriage of love" where they, not their families, chose their mate. So this is how a "marriage of love" would normally work.  The man would ask the woman if she is interested in marrying him.  If she says yes, then the man talks to his parents, they OK the choice with all the important people in the family, such as the oldest uncle, cousins and so on.  Then the man's family sets up a meeting with the woman's family to ask if the son can marry the daughter.  They come to an agreement and within 2 weeks or so, the couple gets married, with the families doing all the wedding planning.

You have to admit, this is a bit different from the way we do things, so when Alpha approached Emily back in May to ask if she would be willing to marry him, Emily immediately replied, "Yes!  But you will need to ask my father."  With panic in his voice, Alpha said, "No, it is our culture for my father to ask your father!"  to which Emily replied, "But it is MY culture for the man to ask the woman's father."  This was an issue of honor Emily was not willing to let go of and, believe me, we do feel honored and respected that a very nervous Alpha asked Jim over skype for our daughter's hand in marriage. 

Now, they still honored Alpha's family by asking his parents, who in turn had the whole family meet Emily and give their approval, then his parents talked to us about the marriage.  I am so proud of the way Emily has balanced walking down this tightrope between two cultures.

With that in mind, one of the things Emily was finding hard to give up was the idea of a bridal shower.  It is not something they do in Bangladesh, but it makes an American bride feel very special and allows her to tell her story and have her friends pour out their love on her.  She had mentioned this numerous times to me, so I knew that it was important to her, but I just didn't know how to pull it off.  She was going to be in Germany with us over Christmas and, not only did she not know anyone here, but the Germans would have probably thought I was crazy to ask them to buy pretty lingerie for my soon-to-be-married daughter. :0)

Emily and Claire
So, I came up with the idea of a surprise "distance-shower", kind of like distance-learning.  I invited a bunch of people to a Facebook group and disclosed my plan.  Anyone who would like to take part could send me money, I would go buy things from them for the shower (is it ever fun spending other people's money for someone you love!) and the two of us would sit in our German living room, open the gifts and read the notes.  Not quite as fun as a room full of people, but it would still be a special shower! 

As this progressed, our friend and fellow JV missionary, Laura Hash, got excited and volunteered host the party at her home in Poland, having some of the JV ladies who had been with us during the early years in Czech and Poland, including her best friend, Claire Patty, who was home for Christmas!

I can hardly remember a time when my daughter looked so beautiful, the anticipation and joy shinning in her eyes, as she was surrounded by people who had loved her since she was a child and as she opened gifts and heard words from friends and family from around the world!

To read about the shower from Claire's point of view and to see pictures of the two of them as children, check out Claire's blog at

I am so thankful to EACH of you ladies who participated, to Brenda Gudeman who collected the money for me, to Laura Hash for hosting and planning the shower and to Connie Patty for giving a beautiful charge to Emily about a true "marriage of love"!
Celebrating with children's peach-flavored bubbly!
 We are SO BLESSED!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Iceskating at the Laundry Mat!

I never expected to meet a professional ice skater at the laundry mat.  I woke up this morning not only to the shortest day of the year, but to a cloudy, cold, dreary day.  I've mentioned before how much I like hanging freshly laundered clothes on the line on a SUNNY day.  Well, as I contemplated the four loads of laundry I needed to do today, my thoughts were NOWHERE NEAR sunny.  I could just see us dodging wet clothes in the apartment for the next two days as they slowly dried. Just as I could almost feel the slap of a wet t-shirt across my face, Jim suggested we take the wet clothes to the laundromat to dry. Believe me, I jumped at the chance.

It was a busy day at the laundromat.  All the dryers were in use, but I was sure a couple would come open soon.  As I tuned in to the conversations around me, I realized the two guys pulling dry cloths from the dryer were speaking what sounded like American English to each other. The couple folding sheets together was also speaking English.  The two guys left and I went up to the other couple and said, "I think I recognize your accent, are you Americans?"  "Well, no," they graciously replied, "we are actually Canadians. Aye?" 

So we started talking and swapping stories of what brought us to Leipzig.  Next, a very tall black man came in and heard us and asked if we were Americans.  We all laughed.  I said I was, but that the others were Canadians and that we were all North Americans.  He smiled and said, "I'm 'further' North American.  I'm from Alaska!"  When I asked him what he was doing in Leipzig, he said, "I arrived yesterday and I am a professional ice skater."

OK, now if any of you have been around when I get excited (just ask anyone who has seen me watch a Bronco game) you can just imagine my response when it all come together in my mind and I realized he was in town to skate in the Holiday on Ice show!!!! I gave him a big hug and said, "I can't believe it!  I keep telling my husband we have to go." "Well," he said, "my family is not here and I get a certain amount of free tickets, would your family like to be my guests?"  So, by the time our laundry was dry, we were going to Holiday on Ice for free AND we had invited him and two of his friends over for Christmas brunch, complete with turkey and all the trimmings!  (They skate two shows on Christmas Day, so they will just have to have turkey early!)

So, next time you are doing laundry or just putting on a freshly laundered shirt, take a minute to pray for Lee and his friends, that they will feel welcome in our home and feel a bit of Jesus' love this Christmas.  (And think of me Sunday night, sitting with a big smile on my face, as I enjoy Holiday on Ice!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Thanksgiving, a Polish Angel and a Black Eye

A Polish Angel
We're driving through Poland, anxious to get back to Germany after our Thanksgiving celebration in Czech.  We are already delayed one day because of the freezing rain that had turned the roads to ice.  As we pass through the outskirts of a town, the car behind us starts flashing its lights.  Jim looks down at his speed. No, he's not speeding. He checks to make sure his lights are on, as it is the law in Poland to always drive with your lights on. Can't be that, his lights are on.  The car pulls up next to us with the driver waving frantically.  The car pulls over and we pull over in front of him.  A man gets out of his car and comes up to my window, rapidly speaking and waving his hands.  Jim gets out of the car and through hand motions and pointing, we figure out that our right back tire is loose and wobbling back and forth as we drive.  Upon closer inspection, Jim sees that two of the five lug bolts are broken completely off!  The man drives away and we slowly pull out, looking for a gas station or somewhere to get it looked at.  Within about 2 minutes, we see a tire store with a garage!  We leave our car and call our friends, Dan and Laura Hash, who live nearby.  As we tell the story to Laura, she says, "Wow, that man sounds like an angel!"  To which Jim replied, "Yes, and he looked an awful lot like Dick Patty!"  (Dave Patty's father, for those of you who know him.)

Well, this was the culprit. A small ring, about the size of a bracelet, had mistakenly been left on the axle after the summer tires were removed and the winter tires put on!   Too many more kilometers and our tire would have come completely off!  I'm not saying that all angels are Polish, but God sure sent us a Polish one that day!

A Black Eye

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Czech with about 100 of our American Josiah Venture teammates and families!  (To read more about our Thanksgiving gathering, check out Connie Patty's blog post at

Now, no Thanksgiving would be complete without a rousing game of American football.  So, Jim went down to the field to join in on the game of flag football.  As he looked around, he noticed he was the only one there over the age of 50.  That should have been his first clue!  But, no, he goes ahead and dives in where all other men over 50 tremble to tread!  But, never being one to hesitate, he came back with the greatest souvenir of all, a manly looking black eye!!!

So, weather you think angels are Polish or that black eyes are manly, we know this Thanksgiving will go down in our "Thankful Book" as the Thanksgiving God used a Polish Angel to deliver us and a black eye to remind us that we aren't as young as we once were!