Several people have asked me lately what the summer holds for us. For work, we’ve been spending time with students – taking advantage of the slower pace of summer life for most international students and working on behind-the-scenes ministry stuff (like preparing for next year and raising more support). Family-wise, we’ve been taking time for picnics and other summer fun, but one of the main things we’ve been doing involves power tools.
The house we bought was built with three bedrooms. Sometime between its construction and when the previous owner took residence, two of the bedrooms were combined into one. (Based on the wallpaper, carpet, and curtains in the room I’m guessing it was sometime in the 60’s or 70’s.) Since none of the aforementioned attributes of the room were desirable in this decade, I was anxious to remove them, plus we wanted a third bedroom. So our house has undergone another identity crisis and is becoming a three bedroom house once again. Read More…
Last year Easter surprised us. Life was moving full speed ahead and suddenly Easter morning dawned before we had really thought about any way of celebrating it. This year I wasn’t caught quite so unprepared!
We have never dyed eggs as a family but I think it might just be something we do every year. It was fun to see Caleb’s reaction to the way the eggs were becoming colored – and he really liked helping to put them in the dye solutions! I forgot to use the time when we were dyeing the eggs to talk about why we were doing it and what Easter is about, probably because the entire time we were working I was imagining a cup of bright red, blue, or green dye spilling into Caleb’s lap, but we did talk a little about what Easter is after we finished. And now that I know how nerve-wracking egg dyeing can be, I can plan ahead to talk about why we’re doing it before or after the process!
On Sunday, we celebrated with those at church with Bethany’s tradition of a pancake breakfast before the Easter service. I was working in the toddler class during the service (the class gives the 2- and 3-year-olds somewhere to learn and wiggle while everyone else has to sit still and listen) and it was really exciting to see the kids grasp the theme of the lesson. It was the first time they’ve done that while I’ve been teaching and to hear them say, “Jesus is alive!” at the end of our time together was really exciting.
To end our Easter celebration we welcomed 5 international students and a friend from church to join us for Easter dinner. I did my best to make it a traditional dinner and it was a great time to talk, get to know each other better, and enjoy lots of food. It was a simple way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but it was a good way.
It struck me this year that we spend a whole month getting ready to celebrate Christmas, with lots of traditions and reminders of the coming day, but Easter doesn’t get nearly as much fanfare. Next year I hope to be able to start a few new family traditions to help focus our celebration of Easter onto Jesus and to help teach Caleb that Christ’s resurrection is such an important thing to celebrate.
Last Friday we hosted an international worship night at InterVarsity’s large group meeting, led by students from International Fellowship Association (our International Student Ministry). We were excited to share the experience with a handful of friends from the community, as well. It was a wonderful celebration of God’s love for all cultures and languages as we sang, heard scripture, and prayed – in a total of nine languages. For a sampling, see the pictures below:
Every March, InterVarsity students from the UP, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even the Dakotas travel to spend their spring break learning and serving in inner-city Milwaukee. This year’s Milwaukee Urban Plunge (MUP) focused on answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
Through studies of passage like Luke 4:14-30 (Jesus rejected in Nazareth), Mark 5 (Jesus healing three people), Luke 10 (the good Samaritan), and Matthew 25 (the sheep and the goats), students encountered how Jesus saw and interacted with the marginalized, and how we are called to do the same. We were then sent out to work sites to respond to the scripture in tangible ways, serving local ministries in whatever way they needed.
My group served at the Scott Christian Youth Center, started by Mother Scott in 1974. Since then, it has become a ministry hub in its neighborhood, serving two free meals a day, offering free clothing to those in need, and being home to a local church.
Before leaving the first time to our work site, we were told by the MUP director to expect a slower pace; if we don’t actually accomplish anything our first day at Scott CYC, that’s okay.
Having adjusted to the slower pace of life when we lived in Bolivia, I wasn’t too concerned, although the students’ first day there was a challenge for them. We did a little bit of work sorting and organizing clothing, but spent a good chunk of the time just sitting and talking with each other, and then Mother Scott, the highly-respected matriarch of the ministry.
Over our four days (we spent about 4 hours there each day), I noticed the students becoming progressively more comfortable with our site. Each day we did some work (cleaning out their cooler and cutting 50+ pounds of carrots and zucchini, for example), but a large part of our time there was spent talking with the people that worked/volunteered there and those that came for the meals. For the students, each day seemed better than the last as they started taking more initiative (and needed less prodding) to talk with those that were there.
As we debriefed at the end of the week, students felt more confident in identifying and seeking out the marginalized on their own campuses, learning their stories and loving them as Christ commands us.