Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet Team Ητα!

Wow! Wow wow WOW! Greece is incredible! There's so much to write about. Not surprisingly, sitting down to write blog posts has been lower on the priority list for a while, but NOW! Now it's getting quite interesting.

A moment to introduce our team, who you'll be reading much about this year:

Jason & Mandie Summers
Judah, Addison, Amelia

Britta Albertson

Allison Doolittle

Kyle Snow
He's newly engaged! His fiance, Lauren, is in Texas and will get to visit us this year!

A blurry Jennifer Pang!
Notice Blurry Britta behind her with a CLEARLY fantastic face.

All of us together! Jennifer isn't blurry, but Allison is hiding. One day, team... One day we'll get a great one.


Intersting tidbit: Jennifer has dark eyes. The other seven (ten with the kids!) of us have light eyes. Blues and greens and maybe a light hazel somewhere. Pretty interesting to sit across the table from all these light-eyed people!

I've asked Kyle how often he thinks we'll be asked if we're siblings. Blonde, fair skinned, blue eyed pair. Definitely siblings. I think we should just say yes if it happens.

The Summers came from living in Missouri. The other 6 of us came from Texas. 5 of us from Austin.

Now, better, more real-life pictures of most of the team.. stolen from Facebook:

Jennifer Pang
Doesn't have a Facebook! Boo. No photos.
Jennifer is brave, a quick language-learner, outgoing, grateful, and a fantastic question-asker.

Kyle Snow (and Lauren Lucas!)


Sweet air guitar, Kyle.


Eep!

For all you girls who can't help it.

This face. Often, already. For things awkward/uncomfortable.


The happy couple!

Kyle is an observer. He is content to be wherever he is. He LOVES A&M football and shouts at the TV -- which I only learned because he and JT hooked up the laptop to watch the live A&M Alabama game in the Steki. He knows lots of trivia and likes to share relevant facts. I learned a lot about European soccer tonight at dinner!

Britta Albertson
Britta is happy

and silly

and artistic

and uses big gestures

Allison Doolittle
Allison is joyful

and expressive

and thoughtful

and loves hiking!
The Summers
Okay, I couldn't find much on their Facebooks! What professionals...
I really can't find a better photo of them than this. They are so sweet and have SO MUCH personality! 
Mandie is sweet and genuine and patient - a GREAT mom!
Jason is helpful and generous and witty and a loving dad.
They are a great couple. I look forward to learning from them!

Jason is ridiculously tall. 6'4" I think he mentioned once? And this is funny. Doppleganger.

The kids are great - outgoing and content and healthy. I didn't ask permission to post their photos here, so no pictures. The family photo is Mandie's profile picture, so I figured it was a safe choice. 

Addison ("Addie") is 7, I think, and is sweet and happy. She likes to pretend she's a puppy dog, and she cracks jokes! Seriously, she put a stick in her mouth after dinner and ran away barking. She's so funny!! She plays with her brother, and they get along pretty great. She likes to color, and her very favorite color is pink -- ANY pink, she says.

Judah is 5, I think. He is brave and talkative and CONFIDENT. He's happiest when he's right in the middle of the action and even happier when he's the center of attention! Judah is all boy and loved the guys on the team from day one. Judah decides where people sit at the table -- most importantly, which one of us sits next to him. Everyone else is on their own, really. He gets silly jokes, and dishes them right back. A quick game of tag, and you're an instant best friend.

Amelia is 2, I think. She draws lots of attention because she's so CUTE. I haven't gotten to play with her much yet because she's just happy as can be parked in her stroller munching on some pita bread. I look forward to learning more about her little personality. ... Not little. Not with this family. I'm sure it's just as big as her siblings!


Please pray for our team!
For healthy conflict when it arises, for healthy bonds as they form, and for joyful, God-glorifying relationships among us all. 

And there you have Team Ητα - the 7th Athens Stint year and the 7th letter in the Greek alphabet!











Saturday, July 13, 2013

Musings while we wait

Hello, world. :)

We're moved in and semi-settled with Mr. & Mrs. John Mansfield, and it's been a blast. It's so great to be in community and no longer far away in Hutto. Ecclesiastes talks about this I'm pretty sure.. You know, the bit about a time for moving closer and a time for moving far, far away. A time for hectic support raising, and a time for other non-support related activities. Very Biblical.

We are hovering, folks, on that 50% mark. And here we have plopped. And we wait. And we call and we make appointments and they cancel and we call and we actively wait. We have 2 1/2 weeks to be fully funded -18 days!

Many of the support stories I hear are of God coming through crazy big at the last minute, but man am I just praying for some mercy here. And while I'm praying for God to move and show mercy by fully funding us SOONER rather than later, what I've realized is I've neglected my quiet time these past couple weeks. I mean, sure, I've flipped open the Bible and journaled a bit, but not the devotion I'd like to have. When we sold the house, got all moved out, finished up the repairs, I hit a bit of a wall. Is there a more proper name for the "I have ARRIVED!" complex? It happens after big life-moments, you know. Graduation, landing a job, finally quitting a job, getting married, I would presume after having a kiddo or finalizing that adoption... There's always the temptation to fall into that trap. And then life keeps going and goals and deadlines keep approaching. 

I think I've treated my quiet time like that. "I'm here. I made it. Whew." I've worked really hard on many things since then, but not my time with my Father. 

[Please insert your own transitional sentence to avoid abrupt subject change.] 

People keep asking me how I'm doing, if I'm excited, etc., and the real answer is that I don't really know. I'm joyful! I'm looking forward to the future! But I would imagine I'm a bit like a marathoner rounding the last turn heading into the final few miles and my mileage time is 50% below what it should be. Or maybe 30% below. Whatever. Just behind. 

And the lesson in perseverance deepens.

People I love have stepped out of the support-raising race, not because it's "too hard" or anything, but because God has showed them a change in plans. I feel a little bit like I've lost some team mates -- not any that are in our team going to Greece, but companions nonetheless.

And speaking of going to Greece [I have GOT to work on my transition sentence skills], still no word on our visas. Keep praying. Well, yes there's been word, but that word is that in the 6 years of the ministry, Greek visas have not been an uncommon prayer request for the final months up to departure. Also, if something goes wrong with them, the people heading all of it up are very smart and make very wise decisions, and God knows best. So we wait.

We wait for financial support to come in, we wait for the August 1st deadline to hit, we wait for word on our visas, we wait for my renewed passport to arrive in the mail, we wait for the crock pot to chirp so we can have dinner.

Ooo, the most fun thing I've waited for was the home made mint chocolate chip ice cream to finish churning! It was so good. 

I can tell you though that what I'm done waiting on is for I-don't-know-what to happen so that I'll spend time with Jesus. If you've been waiting for the same something, now is a really good time to practice obedience. I will, too. Bible time.

Catch you on the other side. 

__________________________________________________________

In other news, I'm still doing laundry, and you can still make a tax-deductible donation by clicking here. We have one-time gift needs and monthly commitment needs. 

To learn more, please email mrslaurenbaer@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's for dinner? Chipotle. Forever. And God doesn't work inside of boxes.

"Does your blog make you log in a certain way to see all the other posts?" ... No, there's only one post. "Hey! Have you posted anything to your blog this week?" .. No, just the one post. "Is there a way we can keep up with you in Greece more often than once a month letters?" .. Well, if I ever get around to doing more than just one post. "I check your blog every week for new posts!" .. Sounds awfully pointless since there's only one post.

This recent trend in conversation deserves its own hashtag on twitter. #goodtry #getittogether #blogfail #hashtagsworkonfacebooknow

Can a blog in it's entirety be entered into failblog.org? I don't want to know.

To be fair, it's been crazy. I mean, the only people who are working harder than us is anyone with a child. Actually, support raising is exactly like having a child. Too far? Maybe I take it back, but anyone else raising support, feel free to chime in.

So, for the benefit of your understanding and for our own memories, this is a chronological list of the crazy. "How will we ever get all this done?" has turned into "Praise Jesus, we've managed to get all of that done!" giving us hope for the future. Enjoy.

April 
  • 6th: Challenged to consider going to Athens with Cru
  • 7th: Decided and said "YES!"
  • 10th: Applications submitted to Cru WITH REFERENCES from multiple people. (Great job, you folks!)
  • Week of the 15th: Phone interviews and receiving acceptance and placement
  • 19th - 21st: Intern Kickoff Weekend (IKW) 
  • START SUPPORT RAISING CRAZY!! 30 hours per week each. 10 appointments per week. 100 calls per week.
  • 2 Full time jobs
  • Real life like dinner and date night and groceries and laundry and such
  • Church and community obligations to step down from
  • Keep or sell the house?
  • When should Lauren quit full time job to transition into full time support raising?

May
  • Continuation of
    • Support Raising - lots of calls, appointments almost every evening and weekends full
    • 2 full time jobs
    • Real life like cleaning the bathrooms and showering and more laundry and such
  • Decided to sell the house
  • Sold the house
  • Apply for visas
  • Lauren put notice in at work
  • When should JT be done working?
  • 31st: Lauren's last day of work

June
  • 1st: Deadline! 15% of support goal dollars!
  • Continuation of
    • Support raising calls & appointments, except crazier because now Lauren's not working full time
    • JT's full time job
    • Real life like showering and sleeping and having friends and stillwiththelaundry and such
  • JT put in notice at work for July 12.
  • 2 full days of purging the house
  • Garage moving sale. Sold:
    • furniture: coffee table, entertainment stand, guest room furniture set, organizational pieces, side tables, tv stands, kitchen table, patio furniture, bookshelf.
    • clothing
    • some kitchen stuff (lots of things are going into storage, specifically wedding gifts)
    • board games, movies, books, jewelry
    • JT's guitars and pedals and sports gear
    • More. so much more.

For the rest of June, we're looking at...
  • 50% deadline of support goal dollars by the end of the month (12 days from the writing of this post)
  • 28th: Close on the house
  • Before the 28th (10 days from the writing of this post): Pack up and move out and into new place, deep clean house, make touchups like painting and fence repair and re-caulking.

Are you overwhelmed? I was. I'm currently overwhelmed just proof-reading all of it. 

I reiterate. Like having a child.



So today, the decorations are off the walls, the house is in a state of piles to be packed or sent to different places, we've eaten chipotle for the past week, and we have 12 days to raise 30% of our entire support goal. 

and yet, when I remember to breathe, God reminds me that all this is temporary. He reminds me that no matter where I am in life that jobs, houses, decorations, and dinner are all temporary. 

He also reminded me through a friend that God doesn't work inside of boxes, and that He, in fact, prefers to work outside of them so that we know it is only He who could have possibly accomplished the task. 30% in 12 days? He's got this. And we will work diligently towards that goal, running the race and persevering.



For now, we need prayer.

Pray
  • For generous givers to fill the financial need.
  • For networking. We are running out of people to contact on our own.
  • For the people in Greece. That they'd be physically fed during an economic and hunger crisis and that God would be working in their hearts even now to receive Him and His provision spiritually. 
  • That JT's and my time with the Lord would be frequent and sweet.
  • For our visa situation. Our team currently doesn't have visas or a clear way to get them. Cru is working very hard on this situation, and we are trusting God to move in a big way to provide.
Needs
  •  5  4 large suitcases
  • Networking - Names and phone numbers/emails of people who you think would be encouraged to hear our story. Not necessarily people who you think can or would give, but who would you want to tell your story to if you were entering into full-time ministry?
  • Anyone around Austin want to help us move this weekend? Fix up and repair the house next week? Deep clean at the end of next week (Thurs/Friday)?

We really are enjoying this chaotic time. We are remembering to rest and to give up control over our schedules and energy levels. And we're remembering that Chipotle for dinner is an okay thing during this season. God's got all of this in His hands.


Today's dinner. They know us by order.


To give towards our 50% goal, you can make a tax deductible donation. We have two goals: one time gifts and monthly commitments.

Please contact us if you'd like to learn more at mrslaurenbaer@gmail.com





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Laundry, however, will never be over. Laundry is not temporary. Laundry is a result of Genesis 3, specifically Genesis 3:7 and is, as such, a piece of hell.





Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wait, What? (Frequent Responses to Perfectly Normal Questions)



No, you heard right. Moving to Greece. Here: 



Athens, in particular. There:





No, not vacation. Our new jobs are sending us. We'll get to that later...


Yes, a whole year.  Maybe two.  Maybe more.  However long God calls us to be there.  Then after that, we'll go wherever else He says to go! 


We leave around September 1st, pending flight day/time.


Hmm. "Why" is a valid question. The simplest answer is that people need Jesus, and we're not only available but we have the desire to go to be missionaries. Why Athens? Because that's where the need was and is. There was an opening on the team, the timing is right, our heart moves for the culture and people, and we were point blank asked to consider going to join this team. 


How did this happen, you say? 


Imagine a marriage proposal except less romantic, no ring, very little "wooing" effort, and Jennifer wasn't down on one knee. She didn't even buy us dinner first. But she DID say something like, 


"Seriously, I think you should consider coming with me for these reasons:


1) You have a heart for Europe and have considered missions there before.

2) You can articulate the Gospel and you love Jesus.
3) Our team needs men."

In response, we determined the following: 

1) That's true. More on this later. 
2) Also true. 
3) JT is a man. 

Her challenge was the very first of many things that would simply seem to fall into place. We'll get to talk more about this, but suffice it to say God is moving and paving the way. 


For now, we trust Him to do the following practical things that we need:

- Bring a buyer/renter for the house.
- Build a team of financial partners to support His ministry through us.
- Bring an answer for when to faithfully transition into full time support raising.
- Draw us into Himself and sustain us during this overwhelming season.

He is faithful all the time. 


Love, Lauren (& JT!)