Saturday, September 26, 2020

Thoughts from a Grandmother

This will be the most unsurprising post from a grandmother. It will be filled with 3 things: 

First of all, God provided my visa to fly to Bangladesh! Thank you to so many of you for praying for that! It was such a privilege to be there. 

Secondly, we are now in the States, preparing to celebrate Jim's parents' 60th anniversary and our son, Nathan's, marriage to Caitlin Henry (I'm sure next blog post will be filled with pictures from that!) 

Lastly, pictures of Noah Ullash Samaddar and his incredible parents, Alpha and Emily. Really, there aren't all that many. Only a dozen or so!

So, without further ado...

Alpha, Emily and Noah

Alpha's first glimpse of Noah

Wrapped up in Grandma, Anjuli's Saris 

Ever notice how long you can just stare at a new baby?
When we ask Ember (the dog) where his puppy is, he runs over and licks Noah's feet!

Dressed up to match for the picture. Two minutes later he spit up all over his photo outfit!
Grandma, Anjuli and Grandpa, Arabindu

Yes, still looking!

The praying baby

Grandma (Omi), Mom and Smiley baby!

Looks like an angel holding him.

OK, last one (for now)

Stay tuned next post for wedding pictures!

Monday, August 3, 2020

End of Summer? How can that be?!?!?!?

For a summer that started out looking like we may not have much of a chance for contact ministry, we sure had a surprise waiting for us! Originally we thought we would have 4-5 camps and 4-5 interns. Then we thought we would have zero camps and zero interns. My, weren't we surprised!

Though neither our US interns nor our US church teams could come, God provided us with two incredible "twinterns". Our Ukraine-born, German twin-sister interns, Anna and Sofia, graduated from German high school this year. Together with another young man, they have been leading the youth groups in Eisenh├╝ttenstadt and Guben the last two years. We are so thankful for them!!!!

Anna and Sofia on Graduation Day

The new style in Graduation Attire!
We also ended up having an INCREDIBLE camp, with the Twinterns' youth groups, as well as three other youth groups. You may have heard us refer to this as the Brandenburg Area. We have been doing this camp for 4 years, and feel so blessed to have had it again this summer! We had 32 campers, over half of which are not yet believers! We sure love these kids and have enjoyed our two follow-up activities of a lake-side Bar-B-Que and a Kayaking day!

Fun play on the mask theme, we had a Masquerade Dinner!

True Covid proofing food service!

Such a great group of kids!!

Jim, the Kayak-King!
We also saw 5 of our students from our Leipzig youth group graduate and the Leipzig youth band did a concert for some new youth groups in another city in Germany.

Leipzig youth band leading worship at youth group.
All in all, it has been an incredible summer of unexpected ministry. We feel so blessed to be here and be used of God in these young peoples' lives.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for us as we finish up our summer ministry with some "Action Days", a three-day, in-city camp in Magdeburg.
  • Pray that Lina will be able to get her visa to go to Bangladesh on August 23 to be with Emily as our first grandchild is born. (Emily and yet-to-be-born baby boy are doing great!)
  • Pray for our Twinterns, Anna and Sofia, as they leave us and start University.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Personal Time During Isolation

I've given you a window into what ministry time looks like for us under lock-down, but...and I know this will surprise you...I also have been doing some fun personal things during this time.

As you know, Emily and Alpha are expecting, so I have been able to merge two of my favorite things into my free time...creativity and babies!!!!

Emily on their rooftop, starting her third trimester.
So, the sewing machine has come out, and not just for my grandson, but for other babies as well!

It all started while we were in Bangladesh over Christmas. Emily and I each made a quilt, then I just couldn't stop! So here is a quick window into my happy times here:

So, this is the Bunny/Heart quilt before baby.

And this is after baby!!! This is Hannah Abigail Roney, daughter of David and Katka Roney! But just wait...there's more!

Dream Big quilt before baby...
And this is after baby! Timothy David! Hannah's twin brother!!! Soooo precious!!!

This is a puff quilt I made for our little grandson as a floor mat for him to lie on to soften their tiled floors! Pooh Bear is trying it out!
This is the quilt Emily made for her little boy while we were there over Christmas, with some fabric I brought from the US, as well as some from Bangladesh! A mixture of the two, just like he will be!!!
And of course, you can't have a lock-down without pulling out an old UFO (Un-Finished Object). Yes, this was started when Nate and Emily were toddlers and, hopefully, will be finished today!
Emily and I also had fun doing an online class together making these two cuties!

My Brother Fox
Emily's Puppy Dog
So, what is next? I'm starting a 30 day quilt challenge, making 1 square a day for 30 days. But don't worry, it should only take me about 130 days, since I DO need to continue working, too! So, this is what is it supposed to look like when it's through. I'll let you know, but don't hold your breath!!! 

By the way, if you would like to participate in an online shower I am doing for Emily, you can find her Amazon Baby Wish List here

Just be aware that this is the Amazon German site. To translate it into English, click the icon to the right of the search bar at the top of the site. We are asking that you stick to the list, as I will be taking the items over and have a weight limit (and you know how that is with all these quilts to take!!) You can also purchase a Gift Card on the wish list. It is called "Geschenkkarte".

Also, we would love to have you send a gift of words for Emily, Alpha, and their baby, a childhood memory, a memory of one of your children, a blessing, a prayer, advice, etc. We will be putting these in a book for her. You can send it to my email here.

So, have some fun in your own happy places during this crazy, beautiful time!!!

Monday, April 20, 2020

We Even Made Them Think!

Many years ago, there was a TV show called "Kids Say the Darndest Things". This week, during our youth leader training, I just had to take some notes, because it felt like "Teens Say the Darndest Things"! Our young leaders were telling how their Good Friday youth group went. One of the girls said that there were three guys in the Zoom group that they didn't know. The 2 girls that lead the group were so excited about this and one of them said, "We even made them think!"

They went on to tell us that one of the guys was a skeptic and was making all kinds of crazy arguments, just for the sake of arguing. The incredible thing was that one of the guys that has been coming to youth group since camp last year, but is not yet a Believer, started speaking up and defending the girls and what they were saying about the Bible! We all had to laugh a bit and get excited about how God is using this isolation time in very unexpected ways!

It seems like there is not much to tell about during this time. Sometimes the days all seem to blur into each other, but there are definitely some moments that sparkle! Spring has truly come to Leipzig and I have been able to enjoy some wonderful times on my balcony. Sometimes it's talking to God and sometimes it's talking to someone else on Skype! I am so thankful for our beautiful balcony.

Me on our balcony, praying in the Josiah Venture online Prayer Room

Emily's Puppy 
My Fox
Another fun thing is that our daughter, Emily, and I have taken an online crafting class together. For those of you who don't know, Emily and her husband, Alpha, are missionaries in Bangladesh. Here is what we made together across the thousands of miles!

No one knows how long this will last or what life will look like when the isolating is over, but I am so thankful that God has not isolated Himself and that He is still working and still giving good gifts!

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for our summer ministry. We have no idea what it will look like, but we know that God has a plan.
  • We have had to cancel all our Short Term Church Teams coming from North America to help with camps this summer. Pray for each of the team members that will be home this summer, that God will use them where they are.
  • Pray for our Interns. We will make a final decision on May 15 if our North American Summer Interns will come for the summer. Whether or not they come, our 2 German Interns are still planning on doing ministry with us this summer. Pray for their support raising. You can click here for Anna and here for Sophia, if you would like to give toward their ministry.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus and the Millers

Just as many of you, we are working from our home these days. Here in Germany most of our borders are closed, schools are closed and all but "essential businesses" are closed. (Interesting fact, dry cleaners and hair salons are considered essential businesses here!) All our church meetings, including youth group, are disbanded for awhile.

So what does ministry look like during this time for us. Most of the time it looks like this:

I feel so privileged to be part of this Bible Study made up mostly of young mothers in our church. This week we met online and, yes, the children were still playing in the background and crawling on moms' laps, just as they do when we meet together.

Right now, Jim is on a Skype call with one of the boys in one of our youth groups who is still seeking for answers. They are starting an online Bible reading time together. We continue to think of and try creative ways to continue ministering to the people God has call us to here!

We have a monument in Leipzig that commemorates the "Battle of the Nations", where multiple nations came together to fight and defeat a common enemy, Napoleon. Today, as I was watching the news, it seemed to me that we are now in a situation where we are doing the same thing, coming together to fight a common enemy, Coronavirus, only with one great difference. We are coming together to fight, and yet we are divided from each other, as we do not know if the one fighting next to us actually has the enemy in them.

Monument to Battle of the Nations in Leipzig.
So how about you? What are you doing during this uncertain time. I would love to hear about what God is doing and any ideas about how you are reaching out to others!!!

Please, pray for us as Josiah Venture is making some decisions about what summer ministry will look like here.  I will keep you updated on that. Please, continue to pray for us, as we continue to pray for you!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

You Want to Study What?!?!

When we asked our youth group kids what they wanted to study at their Winter Retreat, they said, "The Wrath of God". Well, that sounds like a fun retreat, don't you think? When I first heard, I wondered how in the world we where going to cover this, but what an interesting time it turned out to be! We asked questions such as, "Would you want a God who could not get angry?" "Is there such a thing as righteous anger?" "How do I balance the shame I feel about my country's history and the anger I feel toward what happened?" It was an incredible time with the incredible kids of our youth group!

The Winter Retreat Group
Finally...our teammate, Rachel, arrived just a little over a week ago, and she is already going strong! We are so thankful for her! We are exploring the possibility that she will be living about 1 1/2 hour away in Magdeburg, working with a youth group there, as well as being our Summer Intern Director and oh, so many, other things! Thank you so much for your prayers in getting her here!!!!

Rachel arriving at the Berlin Airport. Can you tell I'm excited?!?!?!
We feel so blessed! God is so good to us in every way! On top of all these blessings, Jim and I get to go to a Marriage Conference that Josiah Venture puts on for us, their missionaries, every few years. We will leave tomorrow and spend 4 days in Krakow, Poland, getting time with our spouses and getting opportunities to work on our marriages. There will be 108 Josiah Venture couples there, as well as counselors and marriage coaches. This year, Jim and I have the privilege of being Marriage Coaches for 2 couples during the conference, as well.

Please, pray for us:

  • That Jim and I will have a wonderful time strengthening our marriage at the Marriage Conference
  • That Rachel will settle in well and find the right apartment.
  • For Jim and I as we prepare to teach a Workshop on Marriage at the European Member Care Conference in Malaga, Spain, March 16-19. You can read about the speakers here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

So, What are We Really Doing in Germany?

Ever wonder what Jim and Lina are really doing in Germany? Sometimes it's hard to explain, but some of our young people made this incredible video for us that will help you understand! It's less than 4 minutes long and well worth the time!

Not only that, but we are finally getting our first FULL TIME team mate!!!!! We are so excited that Rachel Birkabile will arrive February 12! Thank you everyone who had helped make this possible! I know many of you have been praying with us about this for a long time!

Prayer Points:

  1. Pray for Rachel as she arrives, that she will settle in well and integrate quickly to culture and ministry.
  2. Pray for us as we are in the midst of Camp Planning Season, that things will go smoothly and that many young people will come to camps this summer!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Bridge Between Texas and Germany

Everything's bigger in Texas, even connections!
Thirty-one years ago, I was a single girl, freshly moved up to Germany for Spain. God had been teaching me many things over the past few years in Spain, one of which was that I liked to be in control of my life and often used manipulation to bring about what I wanted. I spent much time repenting and praying about this, but realized how prone I was to fall back into relying on manipulation, rather than trusting God.

Enter an incredible man sitting at the computer opposite me in my new office in Germany and my good friend "Brenny Brewer"! I won't go into the whole story here, but it finally came down to a late-night bareing of my heart to Brenny, telling her I liked this incredible man (yes, you may have guessed that it was Jim) and telling her that I didn't want to manipulate the situation in any way, but wanted to totally rely on God. At this point, Brenny said, "I think I'll take Jim out for dinner on Sunday night and find out what he thinks." I panicked! I told her not to do that, as I really wanted this to be from God if it were to happen. At this point Brenny said, "Oh, I'll be subtle." My reply? "Brenny, there is not a subtle bone in your body!" Well, needless to say, that dinner did happen, Brenny was not subtle, and 31 years later I am still married to that incredible man!

We had the joy of seeing Brenny (Brenda) and her father in San Antonio during our Home Assignment! What a joyous time time we had remembering and laughing and sharing what God had done in all of our lives since those Germany days! Thanks, Brenny, for that not-so-subtle dinner!
Brenny, in front of the Alamo
At the Firehouse Museum where Brenny's dad, Walt, works.

A few years after that fateful dinner, we were invited over to our Chaplain's house, Rick and Helga Needham, near Heidelberg, Germany. Still being newly married, Jim and I sat on their love seat, holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes. (Ok, I may be overdoing it on the mush here!) Nine months later, our son Nathan was born! We took baby Nathan over to the Needham's house for dinner one night, and two exhausted new parents fell, glassy eyed onto that same love seat. Nine months later our daughter, Emily was born! Believe me, when we visited Rick and Helga this fall in their Texas home, we made sure we did NOT sit on their love seat! What a joyous time time we had remembering and laughing and sharing what God had done in all of our lives since those Germany days! Thanks, Rick and Helga for sharing your home and your love seat with us!

In front of Needham's house, minus love seat!
Texas was full of Germany connections. Visiting Ron and Linda Franklin, the parents of some of our former Heidelberg youth group kids. Stopping by for an hour to see the son of a couple we served with in Germany, who is now married to a girl I had the privilege of mentoring for a while when she was serving with Josiah Venture in Serbia a few years ago! What a privilege to see you, Regent and Traci Perez!
Ron and Linda Franklin

Traci and Regent Perez
Germans have a saying, "Die Welt ist ein Dorf", "the world is a village". We experienced that over and over again as we visited dear "family" in so many states, from so many parts of our past! God is so good!

Here are some things to pray about for us over the next few weeks:

  • We still need to find facilities for 2 of our 6 camps that we are planning this summer. Pray that God will lead us to the right places, with the right dates available, at the right price.
  • Pray for our NEW TEAM MATE Rachel Berkebile, as she continues to prepare to join us full time in February. Pray for everything to come together on her end there in the States, as well as all the logistics for receiving here here in Germany. Check out Rachel's Bio here.
  • Pray for our 4 interns, Claire, Lemuel, Anna, and Sofia, as they raise support to serve with us this summer. Check them out here.
Thanks for being part of our "Dorf"!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Back in Leipzig and Back to "Normal" Life

I have never assumed my life would be "normal". In fact, most people looking at my life the past 35 years would say it is quite "abnormal", but after 3 months of traveling and living out of suitcases, I am so happy to be back to my "abnormal normalcy"! One of my most cherished "normal" rituals is my early morning coffee and time in the Word, often skyping with my daughter, Emily!

Oh, but the "abnormal" was so rich and beautiful! We traveled 12 states in the US, spoke in or met with staff from each of our 6 supporting churches, and had incredible times of telling and listening to "God stories" with about 40 of our supporters! We loved our time with each, many of them YOU!

We got so much special family time, seeing each of our children and our parents, and most of our siblings! We celebrated Thanksgiving with Jim's family and Christmas with Emily and Alpha in Bangladesh!

Since we've been back, Jim has attended the "Revive Europe" Conference with some our youth group young people, and we have started having camp meetings!

Jim and youth group kids, driving back from "Revive".
So many things happened during our "abnormal" that I want to share with you, so I will be sharing snippets over the next few weeks, as well as letting you know what's going on here!

Pray for us as we settle back in. We are filled to over-flowing!