Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hungary 08 - The Reinvasion of CA!

Hehe... what a silly blog title! Anyway, it is sort of what we did. We don't typically repeat a trip with SPACE, but this year we gave it a try. The added responsibility of being solely responsible for the kid's program this year as opposed to having "directors" over us made it entirely different. Not to mention having to navigate our group of 26 through Europe as opposed to 16 - big difference!!

Now that we're home, it's a bit easier to look back at this trip and see that we really accomplished everything we set out to do. We had some bumps in the road - as we always do - but nothing that wasn't divinely ordained for the purpose of our growth and amusement. Yes, we are confirmed in our belief that God has a sense of humor and he chooses to lavishly bless us with it!

Low points of this year's trip:

~I spent all two of our Vienna days in the lime green hostel.... miserable! I had a combination of stomach issues and the likely probability that I overdid it on my blood pressure meds due to our very late departure, 6 hour loss of time and early to bed.... very dizzy, very nauseous! Anyway, it was fortunately a very nice, very clean hostel and the weather was chilly, so my room was quite comfy!

~Miscommunication among our scattered team was very frustrating for me, T and the rest of our group. It's always a challenge, but with 26 of us it was just really an issue we could not find a decent solution to. Add to that the loss of electricity on our team's hotel floor, seemingly being blamed on our iPods, appliances, etc., walkie talkie's that only worked out front and we had difficulty coordinating and other various "issues" that came up - hiding out in the baby room was a good distraction for me!

~Lugging all our baggage through the Paris subway to our hotel was a totally anticlimactic event for me! We had originally intended to check our large bags through to Washington, DC, but were unable to do that. While I sort of begged T to at the very least contact United about storing our bags at the airport, I was quickly outvoted for the alternative of taking them all by train and subway. It was pretty wacked. 26 of us, our arms full, dragging very large suitcases and team duffel bags behind us and me with two children to keep track of - not my idea of fun! I'm totally against this kind of activity, which is an interruption in the daily lives of regular subway users!!!

We first stepped off our express train to find our subway and were greeted by a line of 6 armed guards in full military dress. I won't tell you what went running through my head as my girls looked at them wide-eyed! We proceeded, very slowly, through the maze of tunnels and stairs (lots of them!) with our bags, stopping every 100 feet or so to count everyone, to try to navigate to our correct subway trains. At one of our exchanges, I watch Em get shut in a subway door yet hop on the train (alone), then Kt got shut in the door yet also managed to hop on with Em. T then had his turn while asking if we should get on... at this point it was clear we would not all fit on the standing room only cars... he also got shut in the door, then our luggage.... and I watched them all ride off, wondering if he'd be able to get everything and my children off at the next stop!

At our final stop, we had to lug our luggage up what seemed like an endless number of steps and fortunately found our hotel right above the station - I've never felt such relief!! Of course, listening to the trains all night and day was a bit of a reminder for our two nights in Paris of that crazy evening!!


~ We all made it and the few bags that didn't were delivered within a day.

~ Meeting up with friends from last year's conference. Amazing people, creative, innovative, family-oriented, missionally minded and this year I feel like they made an effort to really connect with our team. We were completely blessed by them in many ways.

~ One of my goals this year was to provide a baby room that parents actually felt comfortable leaving their babies in. We had 13 children aged 0-2 registered in our room and we saw 11 of them!! In fact, our room was well used and while it was crazy, I was really excited that we could serve the parents we did and the conference as well. And the babies we had? For real, folks, they are the future of missions for sure. Watching them and the children at this conference made me really excited for the future of the kingdom. It's amazing that all these families are committed to not only serving the way they do, but introducing and raising their kids to living a life fully for God. It's very humbling!

~ Em finally connected with some girls on this trip! Kt met up with all her girlfriends from last year and had a BLAST! Em actually spent some time with a couple of super sweet girls and we learned quite a bit about how to be a good friend. It was such an answer to prayer for me!!

~ We had the honor of meeting one of T's missions mentors (of course, it's someone who has no idea the impact he's had on T's missional beliefs), Alan Hirsch. Alan and his amazing wife, Deb, came to talk to our team one evening. Along with their ridiculously sweet Australian accent, I could have listened to them all night talking about missions, church, the future of the kingdom and just about anything they wanted to share with us. T told our kids before they came along that people pay $300-400 to hear this guy talk - funny how much impact a pricetag has on teenagers. From that point on, our kids nearly monopolized any free time these poor people had, and they were truly good sports about it, even finding our kids on the playground to chat with them. I'm pretty sure they have no clue what their time meant to us - we were awed, blessed and pretty much floored by their investment throughout the week in our team through their encouragement, advice and love. Amazing folks!

~ We spent some time with our friends, the Rapps, while at Connect. Not as much as I would have loved to. Not even a meal together... but our kids hung out, they came to share very openly and honestly about their first grueling year on the field and how God has continually blessed them in their obedience. Nice to know such authentic people!! Wish we could spend more time with them!

~ Paris!! One Sunday in Paris was just not enough for me. I SO want to go back there!! At least now I have a list of places to go, things to do and pictures to take on my next visit to that beautiful and complex city. We climbed the Arc de Triumph - the four Shengs, visited the Eiffel Tower, saw the Louvre (it was closed =(), and saw Notre Dame. We ate at a french cafe, walked down the Champs Elleysee ? and walked along the river Seine. For real, it was almost dreamy! I had wanted to cap off our one day with a nighttime taxi ride, but T had a bunch of things to do, like find us a way to transport our luggage to the airport the next morning!!

For those of you who prayed for us, supported us and have followed us on this journey, we can't really thank you enough. I'm amazed we're all home in 26 pieces, that God moved in many hearts and that many seeds were planted in our own team to extend what we experienced and apply what we learned to our everyday lives. As a final note, we had one team member ask to be baptized on our trip - it was amazing. It was more than a highlight because in many ways it represented the change we only sometimes witness to in the lives of the kids we serve. It was an honor to be there and for T to be the one who baptized him. Neat, life-changing, forward thinking. Thank you for coming along on our journey of transformation!

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

A very full trip! Sounds like you had lots of wonderful experiences (minus a few travel woes ;-).