Sunday, December 13, 2015

After the Long Silence...

Thanksgiving dessert table.
 The last month has been an incredible time of seeing people, studying German and even some finishing.  That right, yesterday I finished my LAST paper for my Masters Course...well, almost my last, it's on to starting my Thesis which is due April of 2017.  I have learned so much and am so thankful for this opportunity!

Thanksgiving at the JV conference center in Czech!
Thanksgiving we were able to go to Malenovice in Czech and hang out with about 120 other Americans!  It was a great time with lots of conversations and LOTS of eating!  You may notice a few of Jim's famous pies on the dessert table!

 On Friday after Thanksgiving I had the incredible priviledge of leading a prayer retreat with these beautiful Josiah Venture ladies!  What a sweet time of praying and sharing.  We were able to work through some of the Spiritual Disciplines of prayer in the beautiful and peaceful Selah cabin.  It is a place set aside for Josiah Venture missionaries to get away and spend time with God, family and friends.  We had a fire and even watched the snow fall!

 Jim and I are still in our intensive German courses.  This is my class last Thursday at our Christmas party.  We are inviting all of my class and Jim's class over to our house to celebrate Christmas with us on December 25.  Not everyone can come, but we are expecting around 20 of us!  For some of the students, this will be the first time they ever celebrated Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, we are so excite that Emily and Alpha will be able to come from Bangladesh to join us!  They arrive on Tuesday, December 15 and will leave on December 30!  I just finished decorating the apartment for Christmas and we are SO ready for them to come.  We will miss Nate, Raine and Jared, but are excited that they will be able to spend Chirstmas together in Lafayette, Colorado, where Nate and Raine now live and also to spend time with my family in Loveland, CO.

We are so blessed to be part of a House Group from our Church. This was two weeks ago when we met at our place and were able to celebrate Hagan's birthday.  There are 10 of us in the group and it is all in German.  I don't always catch everything (actually, I usually only catch a very small amount), but the bond between all of us is incredible!  I love these people.  

Jim is doing 2 Bible read-through groups with high school boys and doing it all in German!  He also has become the "Bible Answer Man" for the teens in the youth group.  Today after church, two of the girls spent time seperately asking him some great questions. Please, especially pray for one of the girls, as she is having a very hard time believing in Jesus, but she keeps asking questions!  I also meet with her weekly to help her with her English class.  She is originally from China and I am amazed how she has learned German enough to be in German highschool in the past four years and now she is also having to learn English!

Well, I still need to finish setting up Emily and Alpha's room and finish my German homework, so I best be off!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Youth Retreat Pictures

Thought I would show you a few pictures from our youth retreat!  What great teens!!!!

Here's the whole group!
Jim in deep discussion
Breakfast is ready!
Everyone gets a chance to wash up!

Our youngest attender!

We stayed in the coach house of this castle


Getting ready for Capture the Flag

Run, Jo-Jo!

Always ready to play card games!

Time to eat again!

How do we get out of this?

Time to talk and enjoy the sun.

Thanks for praying!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Grab Your PJ's! We're Heading to Narnia!

Tomorrow starts the "Herbst Ferien" (Fall Break) here is Leipzig.   We leave tomorrow for a youth retreat with about 16 high school students!  But that's not all...

Grab your PJ's and open the Wardrobe!

That's right!  It's an ALL GIRLS, ALL NIGHTER at the Millers with ALL the NARNIA MOVIES!!!

The invitations

It should be lots of fun and lots of practice for my German, as we will be watching the movies in German!  Good thing I know the story line!

So, over the next few days, please pray for us.

  • Pray that God will use the retreat to bring the young people closer to Him
  • Pray for me as I do a seminar on Homosexuality
  • Continue to pray for Jim's and my German language
  •  There have been some shootings in Bangladesh, one of them close to where Emily and Alpha live.  Emily is pretty stressed out.  We are praying that they would be able to spend Christmas with us.  Pray that if it is God's will, that He will provide Alpha's visa and the finances for them to come.
  • Pray for Nate's job, as he has had a few problems there.
  • Thank God that Jared is doing so well in school!  Pray that some of the scholarships he applied for this summer will come through for him.

We love being here and are so excited to be part of what God is doing!

So, tonight as you put on your PJ's or open your Wardrobe, remember to pray for us!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Looking for Summer Interns!

We are so excited that our ministry is ramping up!  We just returned from our Fall Conference for Josiah Venture.  It was a great time of fellowship, teaching and looking toward the future.  Jim and I went two days early for him to attend the JV Counsel meeting and I attended the Summer Camps planning meeting along with Steffen (from the Owl Glass story), our German friend, who was able to go with us.

Can you find Jim and me?  We're on the right hand side, three rows from the back.  Jim is on the end and I am about 4 people in.

Now we are starting to plan our Summer 2016!  We are planning to have an English Camp next summer as an outreach for our youth group.  We are praying for 3 interns and one church short-term team to come over and help us.  Let us know if you or anyone you know is interested.  Just think, being a part of the launching of JV Leipzig!!!!!

Here is a great video from a Summer Intern this summer.  A Summer Intern Story from Josiah Venture on Vimeo.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Just Finished A.1.!

No, I'm not talking about that "bold, savory sauce that makes any food better".  Our A.1. did not include raisin paste or orange purée. (Wow!  Did you even know those things are in A.1.?  I've liked it all these years and I don't even like raisins!  Good thing I didn't know...)

Our A.1. included vocabulary, grammar and those irritating little articles!  Come to think of it, I don't really like those either, but I guess you sometimes have to add previously scorned ingredients to make a "bold and savory" end product! 

So, we finished our A1 German course and, according to my German friends, "A good horse doesn't jump too high".  I think they were trying to encourage me about my "skin of the teeth" pass, but then again...

Jim's German class on A1 graduation day!

Jim is now in A2 and I am taking a 2-month study break to finish two papers I have due for my Masters courses.

Last Friday we had a "Grill and Chill" in the park with our youth group.  Although it was a beautiful day, I'm not sure any of us were taking the shorter days into account.  We ended up finishing our grilling by all of us huddled around the grill, shining our smartphone lights on the meat to make sure it was done!  It was a great time!  (And we didn't even have any A.1.!)  Jim shared his testimony ALL IN GERMAN, with smartphones shining on him like spotlights on a splendid stage!  He did an incredible job, worthy of the smartphones!

Selfie with some of the youth group girls!
We leave tomorrow morning for our Fall Conference where we will, among other things, start thinking about our English Camps for next summer!  We would LOVE to have some of you come join us for this!  We'll be getting out more information as soon as we can.

As you think of us, please pray that we will continue to grasp more and more of the German language so that our lives will be "bold and savory" to those we come into contact with here!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stand By for the Blitz!

"OK, Mom and Dad, Alpha got his visa, we're leaving in 4 hours!"  That's how it happened.  Four minutes and three months earlier, the visa had just been an application that had been denied and looked out of reach, but now, they had Alpha's visa in hand and, with school starting in less than 2 weeks, they needed to fly to Germany that night!  Funny thing about visas, they're really hard to get, but if you get one and don't use it, they figure you never really wanted it in the first place and there is less of a chance that you will ever get one again!

Needless to say, we had a great time!!  It was Alpha's first time out of Bangladesh and his two main observations were that no one honked their horn and that there were SOOOO many incredible cars and motorcycles!

Saying goodby at the airport
Since Jared is still with us, it was a great time of "brother bonding".  They are very similar in so many ways!  Bike riding, computer games, hours in the local computer stores...they couldn't have gotten along better.  AND, I got my "mommy time" with Emily!!!  We love seeing them as a married couple and are excited to see all that God has in store for them!  They are back in Bangladesh now with Emily teaching and Alpha having three job interviews this past and next week!

First day of School
Speaking of school, Jim and I started our intensive German course the first week of July!  We are in class 8am-1:15pm Monday - Friday and have about 2 hours of homework each night.  It is VERY intense!  We are very encouraged by the progress we are making.  We will continue through this A1 level, then on to A2 and B1.  Each level is 8 weeks long and those who finish B1 should have the language capability to get a German speaking job!  We are excited that we have finally gotten into this course, as we have been trying to get in since we arrived in November!

Our classes are very international.  Jim has fellow-students from China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Columbia, Romania, Yemen and the US and mine are from Saudi Arabia, Palestine, China, Syria, Canada, Venezuela and Italy.
Some of Lina's classmates

God continues to open doors relationally and we are excited to become more fluent in German.  Please pray for us:
  • Praise God for the time we have had to spend with our youngest son, Jared here this summer.  We have enjoyed a number of heart to heart talks and we have seen God at work in his life.  He has worked on many scholarship applications to be able to return to John Brown University on August 24.
  • Pray for some of those scholarships to come to fruition.
  • Praise the Lord for allowing Emily and our son-in-law, Alpha to visit us here for 10 days.  Pray that God will continue to knit them together as a married couple and that He will provide a visa for them to come to the States next year for Alpha to work on his Masters.
  • Pray for Alpha as he continues the job application process, that God will provide a job.
  • Pray for Nate and Raine.  We really miss them!  They seem to be doing well in Colorado with Nathan's new job and a new dog!  Pray that God will also continue to knit them together as a married couple.
  • Pray for Jim and me as we will be taking our German language A1 comprehensive exam on Friday, August 21 and Monday, August 24.  This is the culmination of the first two months of intensive instruction and study.  Passing with a 70% or better will allow us to move onto the A2 level course in September.  The test covers five areas: Listening and reading comprehension, writing, grammar and a speaking interview.
 Thank you for your love, prayers and support.  We are so thankful for all of you!
Nate and Raine's dog, Odin.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In Need of a Superhero!!!

 "By the way, do you have the (SLAM) keys?"  Jim was in England with Jared, my friend Barca and I were standing outside our apartment door and, of course, the keys were right where they belonged in the little drawer on the OTHER SIDE of the door!  We needed a superhero!  Who should we call but the Hausmeister?!?! 

When we moved into our apartment in February, we met our Hausmeister (caretaker), Paul.  He and his family live directly below us and we have struck up a friendship, starting with a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies delivered to their door not long after we moved in.  Paul is always ready to lend a hand.  Now the question was, did he have a master key that could unlock our apartment?

I knocked on the door and Paul's wife answered.  No, they didn't have a key and Paul was out walking the dog.  Soon other neighbors gather outside the Hausmeister's door and many suggestions flew around, most of which I could not understand, being that they were all in German. 

Finally, Paul and Snoopy (yes, that is the name of their tiny shih tzu looking dog) came home.  We all trooped upstairs to try the door again.  No, still locked.  But...I had left the bathroom window that opens onto the balcony open.  Only problem, our balcony is two floors (third floor in the US) up.  No problem for Paul The Burgermeister!  He ran down to the basement and returned with a step ladder.  Rearranging everything on their balcony, he climbed up the ladder.  His hands barely reached the bottom of our balcony.  Now this is a slightly over-weight (although now I think all the extra weight is muscle), middle-aged man with two teenage children and a dog named "Snoopy"!  I watch him get his footing on a bolt on one of the metal supports and then he slowly pulled himself up and disappeared.  Meanwhile, his wife, clutching Snoopy, had retreated to a back room and closed the door because she couldn't bear to watch!  "Habe es!" (Got it!) he called down and we all clapped, his wife came out of the closed room and Snoopy yipped with excitement!

So now Paul and his family have a freshly baked strawberry/blackberry cream cake and I have my key carefully put away in the new "belonging" place, my purse! 
Paul's balcony is the one with the curtains and ours is the one above it!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fusion Choir Coming

Pray for us, as a JV Fusion Choir of 50 or so high school students is coming to do a concert with a local high school here in Leipzig!  Pray that it will open doors for relationships with the local students and that all will run smoothly as we house and feed this crew!  To read more about Fusion, click here.

Czech Fusion Choir

Friday, June 12, 2015

German Showers and American Burgers!

God provided showers for our 50 high school choir members!!!!  And let me tell you how it happened.  I was busy writing the blog asking you to pray for the showers while Jim was out looking.  I finished the blog and was quite hungry because it we after noon.  I went to the refrigerator to see what kind of treasures could be found.  Bummer...nothing but ketchup and some long expired...well, I'm not exactly sure what it was.  So, I went to my comfort food, crackers and milk.  Yes, this was one of my dad's favorite quick meals.  A cereal bowl full of crushed soda crackers with milk poured over the top.  Quite tasty! 

Just as I am trying to finish off the crackers before they get too soggy, Jim walks in.  "I got the showers!!!!"  Wooh! Hooh!  (Imagine a lot of dancing and celebrating here.)  "So, Jim, are you hungry?  I can offer you some crackers and milk."  "'s the other thing.  The place that has the showers also has an American Diner with THE BEST BURGERS EVER!!!!!!!"  Wrong thing to say to a hungry wife who has just tried to satiate her hunger with crackers and milk.  Yes, it's true.  He sat down and enjoyed a great, big, dripping American hamburger WITHOUT his dear wife...  "But," he said, "I have scheduled the first meal for the choir at the diner, they have given us a discount and...YOU can go!"  OK, I guess I'll let that one pass since I'll get my burger in just over a week!

The showers are in Le Kickerhall that is combined with the American Diner.  The cook is from Scotland and the owner is a retired soccer player.  Of course, Jim hit it off great with them and we now have showers and dinner!!!!

So, thanks for praying and check out this menu!  You may want to come visit us in Leipzig after all!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Connections are good...unless...

This past week was a week of connections, and most of them I loved, but some of them...well, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I LOVE the connection with "Connect".  "Connect", the name of our youth group, is a great group of kids!  After our time in the tents (see 5,000 Tents and 10,000 Blessings) I feel our relationships have really grown.  I still can't talk much German and some of them can speak a bit if English, and yet, we have really grown to love each other.
The "Connect" youth group at Ring Cafe
Our next incredible connection was with our dear friend Katka.  Katka was a high school student when we lived in Czech and she often babysat our children!  Since that time, she has gone to Bible School and has been on staff with Josiah Venture for the past 11 years in Czech and is now going cross-culturally with JV to Latvia!  We feel so privileged that she was able to spend 4 days with us doing a preparation training before her move.  It was fun to reconnect, hear new stories, share old memories and do a lot of laughing!
Check out Katka's JV profile here.
The last two connections I had this week were not nearly as fun as these first two.  The weather here is beautiful and things are so close to our apartment that we often walk.  Saturday night we went to a birthday party and, as Jim wanted to stay a bit longer (no surprise there!), Katka and I decided to walk home.  We were talking about all the things God had done to bring us to Leipzig and the last word Katka heard me say was "miracles" and all of the sudden I was laying face-down on the sidewalk!  I had stepped in a hole and had quite a "connection" with the pavement.  It was truly a miracle I was not hurt at all, as I hit my face smack-dab on the sidewalk!  Not even a bruise!!!

The next connection came today when I was riding my bike to meet a friend for lunch.  Yes, you guessed it, I hit a curb and found myself connected again with the pavement!  Thankfully, again, I was not hurt!
Now you know why I wear a helmet!!!

So we'll keep on making connections, but hopefully not to often with the pavement!

Prayer Requests:
  • A JV "Fusion" choir of high school students is coming from Czech June 18-20 to do a concert for a local high school here.  Jim has made some great connections with the high school while setting this up.  Pray that the concert will help to open doors into relationships with the school
  • Also, pray that we will be able to find a place for all 50 choir members to shower!  They will be sleeping in our church, but as it only has one shower, we must find a place close-by for them.  Jim has spent the last few weeks getting one turn-down after another.  He is out again right now trying to set something up
  • We have a couple coming on a vision trip for a week starting Friday.  Pray that God will make it clear whether they should join our team or not.
  •  Jared gets to come spend a good part of the summer with us starting June 22.  Pray it will be a good connection time with him.  He and Jim will spend about a week alone together on a "guy" adventure!  Very exciting!
  • Pray for Emily and Alpha.  They would like to come visit us for a few weeks this summer, but he was turned down for his visa.  They have gathered more information and are resubmitting their request.  Pray that it will be granted!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5,000 Tents and 10,000 Blessings!

When I was a Youth Ministries major at Western Bible College, we had a summer school class called 'Camping and Wilderness Ministries'.  Part of the class was to spend a week backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  It was quite the adventure and I enjoyed sleeping in a tent for a week.  Of course, I looked like this back then:
Yes, that's really me!

Needless to say, a few years have passed and sleeping on the ground is not nearly as appealing as it was back then.  So...when Jim broke the news to me that we would be camping out in tents with the youth group, I put on my best 'puppy dog' eyes and asked if we could sleep in a real bed. 

This past week-end was a gathering of 5,000 youth and staff of the FeG denomination from all over Germany.  Now, how do you house 5,000 young people at a conference center?  Why, of course, you turn the parking lots into campgrounds and everyone sets up a tent!

Some of the tents

Well, it's not quite 'wilderness', but it is still tents!  It was a glorious time of worship, drama, speakers and, of course, Frisbee, bungee jumping and mechanical bull riding!  (Had to ride real bulls in the Sangre de Cristos!) Everything a teenager could want!!!

It was a great time to connect relationally with the students and, no, I didn't sleep in a tent.  A gracious family allowed Jim and me to lay our aging backs down in a wonderful bed with an incredible shower just down the hall!  Now, this is what I call camping out!!!!!

You can watch a trailer of the event at

Jim waiting in the meal line with our group.

Amazing worship time...some even in English!!!

Some of the girls

Jim in the middle of things, as usual!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Chief Among Non-Believers

I ran across an article in Spiegel Online a couple of days ago called, Chief Among Non-Believers: Only the Old Embrace God in Former East Germany, that helped me understand anew why we are here in Leipzig.  Many of you have been praying for us the last week-and-a-half as we have felt the attack of the enemy.  I know he would like to defeat us, because the work here is great.  But God...  Yes, we know we are called and this article gives a vivid picture as to why.  You can read the entire article here if you would like, but let me share some of the statistics that were in the study that was cited.  Many countries are included in the study, but you will notice that the eastern part of Germany is IN EVERY CASE either the highest or lowest percentage, depending on the question.

Here are some of the results of the study for the eastern part of Germany compared to the USA:

Agreeing to the statement:

                                                                                       Eastern Germany                        USA

"Certain God Exists"   - Ages 28 and under                              0%                                      53.8%
                                     Ages 28-35                                     6.5%                                      59.4%

"Never Believed in God" - Ages 28 and under                     71.6%                                       6.7%
                                         Ages 28 - 35                              63.6%                                      5.5%

"Agree God is Personally Concerned" - 28 and under             6.0%                                   65.6%
                                                         Ages 28 - 35                6.8%                                   64.6%

" Strong Belief in God" - Over-all age group                           2.5%                                   35.0%

"Strong Atheists"- Over-all age group                                   46.1%                                     1.2%

Please, continue to pray for us and we will continue to pray for you, as we all have our jobs cut out for us!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thank you for Praying! An Update

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers on our behalf.  I felt like Moses in Exodus 17 when he had to keep is hands lifted for the Israelites to keep victorious in the battle against Amalek.
12 But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
 I felt like my hands were so weary and these last few days I felt so many of you at my side holding them up.

We certainly still need you to hold us up in prayer, but my intense weariness has lifted and, although I am not at liberty to share everything, I would like to share some of the things you have been pray about.

Some Break-throughs:

Jim has been working on meeting with local high school directors to set up Fusion concerts (JV Pop Rock Choir Ministry) for their students.  It seemed like he has been hitting walls all around, but THIS WEEK, he was able to talk to four schools!  This is a huge break-through. Please, pray that they will want to be included on the schedule for concerts in June. One of the walls we are hitting on this is that none of the schools seem to have a room big enough to host a concert, so we will also need to find some neutral  venues where the kids will want to come.

Jim and I have great language tutors, but we know we need to take an intensive language course.  We have been trying to get into the most highly recommend one since we arrived in November, but it has always been full.  THIS WEEK we were accepted into the July - August class!!!  This is a huge answer to prayer, but also a huge prayer request.  We will be in class 20 hours a week.  Pray that God will use this to catapult us far ahead in our German speaking and understanding!


Jim - Since his surgery, Jim is doing incredible!  We often forget he even had surgery, that is how well he is doing!  He is in physical therapy once a week and that is going very well.  Thank you for your prayers!  Please, pray for his continued full recovery.

Nate and Raine - They have just moved out of the house they were able to stay in while the owners were gone for three months (thank you Jay and Kathy!).  They are now moving to Colorado.  Please, pray for a place for them to live and for jobs.

Emily and Alpha - As you saw from the pictures, it was a beautiful wedding.  They are doing great and loving being married.  Please, pray for their adjustments in marriage and that Alpha will be accepted for a Masters program at a School in the States.  Right now they have his application in to Fuller, Wheaton and Moody.

Jared - We had a wonderful time with him at the wedding.  He is loving school, though it is much harder than High School (as we hear, but must learn by experience).  Please, pray that he will be extra diligent the last part of this semester and that his grades will be such that he can keep his two scholarships.

Lina - I am working on finishing a paper that is due April 15 and am working on learning German.  Please, pray for both of these.


I'm sure this is one of the reasons for my weariness.  Although we had an incredible time in Bangladesh, it is always wearing to travel and we have much for traveling in the next two months.

April 18-29 - Israel - We are privileged to go to the GYI (Global Youth Initiative) summit in Israel this year.  There are about 250 youth leaders from around the world that are invited.  It is a time of training and creating a deeper understanding as we are able to walk where Jesus walked.  We are very excited and blessed to be doing this!  Pray that we will get all that God has for us out of this trip! 

May 6-10 - JV Spring Conference in Czech.

May 10-21 - Lina in England for last Master moduel.

May 23-25 - Camping trip with the Leipzig, Ring Cafe youth group.  (Thankfully, I think I actually get to sleep in a bed, as I'm feeling a bit old for sleeping on the ground!)  Please, pray that this will be a great connection with the young people and, though I especially have a hard time communicating with them in German, that this will really establish and build our relationships with them.

We have some busy months ahead.  Please, pray for energy, strength, health and mostly that this will be a time of being closer to God and being used by Him.  What  a privilege!

We know that God is about a great work here in Leipzig and we are privileged be a part of it.  We also know that Satan wants to do all he can to discourage us and get our eyes off the ministry.  I am especially feeling far from my kids theses days.  Please, pray for each of them, that God will be firmly established in their lives and hearts and that I will be able to hold them with an open hand.

Again, thank you for your prayers.  I will leave you with a fun picture of Emily and Alpha at their reception at Alpha's home church in his home town.

Monday, March 30, 2015

In a Huge Battle

Please, pray for us.  I feel like we are really getting hit by the enemy.  I can not share any details, but we really need your prayers right now.  I am feeling very tired, weak and vulnerable. Thank you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Emily's Wedding

The wedding was beautiful!  The bride was beautiful!  The mother of the bride was beautiful! ;0)

We got back to Germany and fast internet last night, so I want to get these pictures up right away.  I hope you enjoy them!
I LOVE this picture!  It captures them perfectly!
The room where the ceremony took place.

Alpha's mother being escorted to her seat by Alpha's brother, Upochoy.
Yep, that's me, the mother of the bride, being escorted by my handsome son, Jared.
Saying their vows
View from the back of the room
The Bridal Party.

Daddy-Daughter dance.  Notice her tears.
Bride and Groom dance.  Notice her smile!!!!
Alpha's family.
Our family minus Nate and Raine.  We sure missed them!
Emily adjusting her veil!
She's a beautiful bride!
Mr. and Mrs. Alpha Upohar Samaddar
Alpha singing to Emily
Had to include this one of Emily and me just before the wedding.
And one final fun picture!!

Thank you everyone for praying for us.  It was such a lovely and wonderful time.  We love Alpha and are so thankful to have him as our son-in-law!