Missed Anniversary

Posted in Team, travel at 9:39 am

I was surprised to hear Jason offer me an apology on the phone the other day. I really had no idea what he was talking about. He explained that he felt bad for missing the anniversary date for our move to Italy – April 15, 2005. I looked at a calendar, and sure enough, we left the US for Italy more than two years ago.

I sort of felt like it was cheating, since we came back from Italy a tad early because of some scheduling issues. I tried to remember the excitement and raw nerves of that day. The picture of us in the ticketing line with three kids and thirteen large containers must have been something. I remembered Heidi’s mom and sister crying as we went back behind security. I remembered Heidi’s dad’s quick goodbye at the curb. I thought about all the goodbyes that I had already said in the days before our departure.

But as my mind snapped back to the present, I was really surprised that two years had passed since that day. All in all, the move to Italy was … do I even say it? … easy. God blessed us with a great team who made the transition as painless as possible. There were always hard days where we longed for the comfort and ease of our life in the US. But we’ve settled in, and are excited to see how God will use us in Ancona.

Here’s to as many anniversaries as God will allow us in Ancona


The Rest & Relaxation of Furlough

Posted in family, home service, kids, travel at 8:59 pm

So we’re in America on “furlough.” Furlough is kind of a strange word that doesn’t mean much to people I think. No one is really sure what exactly it is, probably because we’ve only heard of missionaries taking one. Many missionaries use other names for it like “home service.”

Furlough sounds like a big vacation, which I am learning it is not. While it has been wonderful visiting with so many people who have lots of encouraging things to say about the work in Ancona, at the same time it has been very difficult to be away from our home in Italy and the work there. We sort of feel like we have a foot in each culture, not exactly comfortable in either one. It’s hard to live out of suitcases. Traveling takes its toll on a family with small children. Just the number of people and churches that we want to see is enough to make our heads spin!

I feel ungrateful as I go back and reread what I have written. So many people have sacrificed to give us a great home in Rockford while we are here. People have thrown open their arms to welcome us wherever we have gone. It’s been a huge blessing to see the kids reconnect with Grandmas and Grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Furlough is an interesting beast. It certainly isn’t a vacation. But it’s not the day-to-day life of ministry in Italy. One of these days I’m going to come up with a really good name for it.

American Eating Habits

Posted in culture, home service at 8:36 pm

I just ran the numbers and I have spent about 7% of my life in Italy, and 93% in America. If you look at the statistics the vast majority of “me” should behave like an American would behave. But I have been amazed at how strongly that 7% influences me.

Walking into Taco Bell the other day and noticed a small sign in the window advertising Fourth Meal. They were inviting all of us to come into Taco Bell for the meal after dinner and before breakfast.

My mind flitted back to times back in Joplin when Josh, Matty and I would head to T-Bell for a midnight snack. A Chalupa, a crunchy taco or two, and a huge drink always seemed to hit the spot. Despite my expanding waistline, I couldn’t avoid the temptation of Fourth Meal.

But when I saw the sign, the 7% of me that is Italian was appalled! Who on earth needs to eat four meals?! As I look at my daily activity level, there’s no way I can justify the need to eat an entire extra meal. And if someone did eat a fourth meal, why waste it on inexpensive food like a bean burrito? In my mind I began to make wild, Italian hand gestures about the absurdity of Fourth Meal.

However, 7% is a clear minority. The 93% of me that is American is thinking about sneaking to Taco Bell right now for a quick Chalupa. If only Josh and Matty were here…

Flipping the Four Wheeler

Posted in home service, kids at 8:15 pm

Four Wheelin’Heidi’s dad surprised us one day by telling us that he wanted to get the kids four-wheelers. He has quite a few acres of land, complete with trails that go through the woods, which are perfect for four-wheeling. So when the vehicles (and helmets) arrived, we drove the kids out to the farm to try them out.

The four wheelers have a speed control on them, so we decide how fast they get to go. Trey’s hardly can make it up a hill, and we are just fine with that!

Lance, however, is a little more confident in his off-roading abilities. So we have been gradually increasing the speed of his four-wheeler. He’s mostly careful, but you can see in the smile on his face as he makes a tight corner that the testosterone in him is fighting for control of his normally reserved personality. One day, he sharply turned as he was about to go down a hill. His four wheeler flipped, and Lance went flying.

Those of you who know us know that I am much more calm and collected in emergencies. Heidi flails about and panics. But for some reason our roles switched and I went running out there and Heidi stayed put. Lance got right back up, shook his head, and said “Woah.” For the first time I think he realized that there is a little bit of danger involved here. In those few seconds while I brushed him off and made sure he was OK, I could see in his face a maturity that I haven’t seen in him before. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ll be more careful next time.” And I was proud of him when he hopped back on and tried again.

Heidi and I are learning not to worry too much. They’re having such a good time being with Grandpa as they explore the trails in the woods. And maybe Lance is learning lessons that he’ll remember when I hand him the keys to the car for the first time.

The Death of the Tooth Fairy

Posted in home service, kids at 8:04 pm

Chloe is the lone early riser in a family of people that aren’t big fans of morning time. One morning she bounced into my bed and whispered in my ear:

“Daddy, I know that you and Mommy are the tooth fairy and that you sneak into my bedroom after I lose my tooth and take it and put money under it. Mom told me.”

In my half-asleep state, I wasn’t really sure what to say. Was she trying to trick the information out of me? Did her mom really tell her that? Was I too loud the night before when I did the tooth-dollar swap? I paused for a second and said, “Are you sure?”

She bounced out of the room, just as happy, and said, “Yep!”

I only later found out that earlier in the morning she had asked her mom for the truth, and Heidi (no doubt under duress) spilled the beans. Lance also figured out the real story. So we swore them both to secrecy since their little brother is still waiting to lose his first tooth.

My teammate recently faced a close call with the tooth fairy as well. Read about it here.

Watch out Santa … your days are numbered…

These posts are dedicated to…

Posted in family, home service at 8:01 pm

My father-in-law thinks that I haven’t been posting enough to the blog. He’s right, but blogging on our slow dial-up connection is a frustrating experience. I told him I have a list of things that I want to blog about, and these next few posts are dedicated to him! :)