I found a windmill in Holland!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


When we left China, we had to spend the night in the Guangzhou (Gwong-Joe) airport. We were offered a hotel, but we were nervous about getting back to the airport in time the next morning, and we weren’t sure we trusted the Chinese 3 star rating on the hotel, so we decided to sleep in the airport. It was not the most pleasant night of the trip
!!! Not only did we have to sleep on airport benches, dodging fixed armrests, but it was FREEZING!!! I was wearing my Crossover Warm Ups, Troy’s thermal shirt, and his Jordan Velour Pants and STILL froze all night long!! We had to laugh and just chalked it up to “experience”.

We arrived in the Philippines where we were welcomed by hot and muggy days! We were grateful to be warm!!!

Our contact here was not able to meet with us because he had to go to Guam for a conference and his “back up guy” had a family emergency and had to leave the country at the last minute, so we had more down time than we had expected. My friend Edee is on staff at YWAM Antipolo, so they allowed us to stay at the base and she showed us around town a bit.

This is the view of Manila from the roof of YWAM Antipolo.

Manila is a colorful place. We rode in a Jeepny, which is an old WWII Military SUV, converted into public transportation. These Jeepny’s are everywhere, and function like busses. Each one is decorated according to the owner’s taste. It is truly an experience to take one!! We also rode the sky train to one of the Malls that we visited. We ate our way through Manila trying Cocoa Rice (Philippine Oatmeal), Bibingka (Custard cakes), fruit shakes, whole wheat spaghetti, Philippine Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Fried Fish and Curried Cauliflower and finally…..Balot (Pronounced Ba-Loot).

If you don’t know what Balot is brace yourself for this. Balot is a chicken or duck egg that is between 16-19 days developed. Yes, there is a formed baby chick in the egg. You crack the egg open and drink the “soup”. Then, you peel the shell, dip it in vinegar and sprinkle salt on it, and then you take a bite. I’m not gonna lie….I was freaking out!! Troy was SUCH a good sport about it!! The staff guys at YWAM were encouraging him to try it, and he did!!! I was so proud of him. He talked me into eating one too. I couldn’t even look at what I was eating I just put it in my mouth and chewed as fast as I could!! After swallowing, they hand you a glass of Coca-Cola to chase it down. Troy liked it so much that he went with the guys to get MORE!!! When they came back, they also had “chocolate chicken” which was cooked chicken blood and grilled chicken intestines. I tried both of those dipped in vinegar, but refused to eat more Balot. I am proud of myself, and Troy for trying them, but I cannot say that I enjoyed any of it!! We videotaped the experience! Benji, one of the staff guys, said “Thank you for embracing our culture”. You’re welcome Benji! Please pass the coke!


The Pagoda and Water pools lit up for Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival.

This is the leg of our “Around the World” adventure that I had anticipated the most. Not only would I get to see my friends Matt, Heather, Jeremy, Jenny, Sarah and Chris, but also I was going to meet Lily….the Chinese Foster Daughter.

Those of you who know me well are aware that I have wanted to adopt a little girl from China for many years. Lily is an orphan and was living with a Chinese family who wanted to adopt her. They were going through the process of adopting her when they discovered that she is HIV positive. In Chinese culture, there are many misconceptions about HIV, and children who are positive are often left to die. Literally. Orphanages will not take them, and many times their only hope is foreign foster families or Chinese families who are willing to risk everything to help them. Lily’s Chinese family had two older sons and if they kept her, the extended family would have cut them off and the sons would not have been allowed to marry etc. So, they made the difficult decision to give her up. Matt and Heather took her in and she has been a delightful addition to their family. The hope is that a loving family, in the United States, will adopt Lily. Adoption would give her more options for medical treatment as well as hope for a productive future. Lily’s story is heartbreaking. She was found at a train station, and her skin was cracked with a lot of sores. They think she was about 1 at the time, and was in very bad shape physically. She often wakes with night terrors. It breaks my heart to think of what she has experienced. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about all that she has already been through in just 3-1/2 short years of life.

Me with Lily

Our time in China was fun. We played with Matt and Heather’s FOUR children and laughed a lot. It was wonderful for me to reconnect with these sweet friends who are like family to me. We had great discussions, fun cultural experiences and a lot of rest. In addition, we were able to meet with some contacts that work with brothers and sisters in university settings. They invited us to come do camps in China. We are excited for that opportunity.

One very cool thing was that we were there at the end of Chinese New Year Celebrations. The last night of the celebrations is the Lantern Festival. Traditionally, the people will light lanterns and release them into the sky. As you may guess, lanterns with candles floating in the sky can be quite dangerous because they start fires. So, the city has banned the tradition, but there are still lanterns hanging everywhere, and they light fireworks THROUGHOUT the city. We went to Mall area where there is a Huge Pagoda and water show. We watched the spectacular water show and then walked back to our friend’s home. Along the way, there were fireworks going off all around us. We literally saw them on the sidewalk, street corners and some in the medians on the street. They were going into the wee hours of the morning. Our friends said, “this is nothing compared to the first night of the New Year celebration”. Holy Cow!! I cannot imagine how chaotic that must be!!!

Fireworks for sale!! They were lining the street corners a few nights before the Lantern Festival.
We walked past these fireworks going off on the sidewalk. There were big ones shooting from it.

It was super fun to experience a little bit of the Chinese customs.

Of course we had to eat some Chinese food! We tried Sweet Potatoes from street vendors, Chinese vegetables from a restaurant across the street and Calrow (Grilled meat and bread with insanely hot spices on them). Calrow tasted good, but after a few bites, you couldn’t taste anymore because your mouth was on fire!! Jeremy thought we were wimps. I guess we are!! J We took pieces of white bread and put them on our tongue between bites to cool it down.

Calrow (Meat and Grilled Bread)

The highlight of food in China was Beijing Roast Duck with Hoison sauce. We had that our last night in China, and it was Yum!!!!

I have learned that there are random "stalkers" lurking in places you might not expect!! What is that guy doing? Smelling my hair? HAHA!!!

There is much more that I could say. I have an INTENSE respect for my friends who have chosen to live there. They are TRUE heroes in the Kingdom.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pics from Malawi

Praise the Lord!!! We got our bags!!!
Here are a few pictures from Malawi.
The view from Customs in Malawi when we landed.
The courtyard where we stayed in Malawi. This was "Mama Jesse's" house.
Troy and Rus warming up with the kids at Chipasula Secondary School in Lilongwe. We got BURNT this day!!
Good Shepard International School basketball clinic with 5th graders.
Rus and Troy with some of the older boys at Good Shepard International School. Troy did some skills training with them after our clinic with the 5th graders.
Rus and Troy with Chicomo after sharing encouragement with him.
Yes, we did a clinic at the SOS Orphanage and school in the RAIN.
Gari drove us around Lilongwe while we were there. She is a beautiful woman of God.

This is me with Chisomo and Elbi. Chisomo is Mama Jesse's daughter. We have very similar heart's for ministry. Elbi is a staff member at Mama Jesse's house and is sweet as sugar!!

Troy with Mama Jesse.

I will post China and Philippines soon. Our internet has been off and on and very unreliable for the past week and a half, so that is why I haven't posted.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Sometimes when God wants to do great things, the enemy comes against you in ways that are most frustrating. Getting to Malawi was a challenge to say the least!! We arrived in Johannesburg from London with only 50 minutes to get to our connecting flight. When we got to the transfer desk, they said our flight to Malawi was closed and there wasn’t another flight until Thursday. After going to two different airlines, they decided that because our connection was an “illegal transfer”, the only option we had was to call our travel agent back in the states. We knew we couldn’t make the call from our cell phone, so we set off to try to get another flight and to find our baggage. In the process, we went from Terminal A to Terminal B no less than 10 times. We had two guys from Belgium with us who were in the same predicament. They asked if they could hang out with us and if I would talk for them at the different desks that we were directed to. The ironic thing was that the airline found their bags, but ours are still missing. We all had to purchase new tickets to Malawi on another airline and we flew that afternoon to Lilongwe. It was a nightmarish day, and when we landed in Lilongwe, we had to go through Thunderstorm clouds. That sounded scary, but was relatively smooth compared to what it could have been. However, as we landed we were grateful for the rain because one of the wings on our plane emitted a ball of fire!!! OH MAN!!!! Troy looked at me with eyes as big as plates!!

We arrived safely and our contact Rus met us at the airport with a doctor friend named Gari. We went to his Aunt’s home and quickly became part of the family. Mama Jesse (as Troy and I call her), has taken good care of us. We are in a very wealthy part of the city, so it is very safe here. We’re spoiled actually! :) We have walked alot and have taken the "African Subway" a.k.a. a "Mini bus" PACKED full of people.

Wednesday, we went to several places to try to get toiletries, internet access, water and contacts for possible camps. We walked A LOT!! We did a mini camp at a Secondary School called Chipasula. The kids were great, but it was HOT!! Troy and I got FRIED!!! I’m not sure what we thought when we didn’t put sunscreen in our bags!! We got to share with the kids though, so we were really excited.

Thursday morning we walked to a pharmacy to try to get sunscreen (which by the way is $26USD for a small bottle. No joke.) We walked back to the house and then down to Good Shepard International School for a small clinic with 5th graders. It was overcast and we both wore long sleeves and praised God for the cooler day!! The kids were SUPER fun and they LOVED the camp! We played “Knock out” and they asked “Can we play it again?” One girl said “I wish you could come everyday!!” They were so cute!

Thursday afternoon we went back to Chipasula and did another clinic. Afterwards we were approached by a guy named Chisomo. He had some questions about the Jehovah’s witnesses. He then told us about how his mother was a strong believer and had prayed for healing after a diagnosis of being HIV+. She was healed, and that really impacted his life. He commited his life to the Lord in 2009, but has struggled with what he called “backsliding”. Troy was able to encourage him with his personal testimony, and then Chisomo asked how he could get more connected with people who could encourage him in his walk. We introduced him to Rus and they are going to meet on Wednesday! When we walked away we were so excited. It’s worth it!!

Once we were in the car, Troy said that he wondered if there was more he should have said and we talked about that a bit. As we “debriefed”, we passed Chisomo on the road, so we stopped and gave him a ride to his home. On the ride, Troy was able to share a bit of what we had talked about in debrief time. It was so cool!! We were so blessed to see the Holy Spirit working in the life of this guy. We are so grateful that he was prompted to ask a question and had the courage to do it! We are also trusting that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide him to people who will challenge him to grow. God is faithful to complete the work He starts.

Gari, Rus, Troy and I went to lunch at an AMAZING Pizza place and as we were washing our hands in the dining room, Rus looked at me and said, “I am so glad you guys came here. We had almost decided to give up on the Basketball ministry here in Lilongwe, but having you here has reignited something in us to keep going.” If you know me….even a little bit…you know that there is nothing better for me to hear than that I encouraged someone who is in full-time ministry. It is worth it!!!

In spite of the enemy’s attempts to keep us from this place, God is working through us. We are sunburned but not burnt out. We are missing belongings, but not destitute. We are tired but not defeated. We press on to attain the prize for which God has called us heavenward, and it is worth it!!!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pics from Ukraine

It is really hard to upload photos here in Africa, but I wanted you to get a taste of Ukraine before we start posting Africa stuff. So...here are a couple of pics.

Some of the students from YWAM Kiev! So great to see Derrick!!
The Friendship Arch in Kiev symbolizes peace and friendship between Ukraine and Russia.
The Globe monument has Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) as the center column and then paving stones in a different color spread out towards markers that have the names of different cities in Ukraine and the distance they are from Kiev.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This is long overdue, but our time in Ukraine was, well......an experience. We arrived with no one to pick us up and after a few emergency calls to the US to try to get our phone working, our contact called us. Apparently we can receive calls, but we can't call out. YIKES!!! So, our driver arrived 1-1/2hours late and we drove through Kiev and out the other side. He did not speak English, so Troy and I were not sure where we were going. We arrived a Massive Guest complex in the middle of the WOODS!! It was beautiful!
However, we were greeted by more non-English Speakers, so we were pretty tense. It's hard to describe, but something wasn't sitting well in our spirits. Fortunately, a friend of mine from YWAM Denver contacted me that evening and he offered to house us in the city the following night. He is currently doing a school at YWAM Kiev and plans to join their staff in the future.
We went to church with our original contacts on Sunday morning and then met with their sports director. Following that meeting, we went to visit YWAM Kiev where we were hosted by Derrick Nissely and his girlfriend Vicka. We even got to watch the Super Bowl at 1:30am!!!
The coolest thing was getting to meet the sports director for YWAM as well as the director of sports for the church.
Derrick and Vicka also showed us around the city. BEAUTIFUL!!!! I will post pictures when I am able. The internet is slow here. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Class, Medias and on the road again.

The last day of class was super fun as I divided the students in to groups of similar personalities. They realized that having people unlike us is a valuable commodity. We need those who are NOT like us in order to function as a complete "body". We laughed a lot as we saw the struggle to work with those who are strong and weak in the same areas weare. Balance and unity is essential to function as a whole and be most effective in our callings. I love it when a plan comes together!!!

After our final class, Troy, Paul, Stacey and I drove to Medias (about 2 hours southeast of Cluj). We had lunch at the YWAM base and toured the facilities. They are still finishing their facilities, but there are great views from the base like the one below. They also have a very innovative and Eco friendly heating system. It is designed to trap the cold from the winter underground for cooling the base in the summer. Likewise, the warm air from the summer is saved to help heat the building in the winter. From the outside, the facility looks like a work in progress, but inside it was quite cozy and nice.
The heating system.
We are hoping to have a basketball camp in Medias this summer. They have 2 gyms near the base. The town is significantly smaller than Cluj, but has a lot of Olde World feel. It boasts one of the last remaining citadels in Europe that still has people living within the walls. One of the Clock towers is leaning and is in the top 5 of towers in Europe that lean a little more each year, yet continue to be intact.

Medias is also where Paul grew up, so we visited the "block" where he grew up and where his father still resides. I was so excited to see inside a communist built apartment building. I don't really know why, I have just always been fascinated by the concept of growing up in a country that was communist. I remember watching the Olympics and the announcers talking about how some of the athletes grew up in one room apartments. It's a curiosity thing I guess. Anyway, we met Paul's delightful Dad (Antee) and made jokes with him. He is a sweet man. I felt so honored to get to meet Stacey's Father in law.

Troy was not feeling good all day and was such a trooper for going along and pushing through his illness. I felt so bad for him. When we got back to Cluj, we went to "Tonight Pizza" and had some of the best pizza I have ever had!! We slept for a few hours and flew from Cluj to Budapest this morning at 6 am. Now, we are waiting for our flight to Kiev where we will spend less than 48 hours. The journey is a blast!! :) Troy is feeling better and we will soon be on Flight #5 of 17! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teaching and sweet friends

This has been a very full week!! Yesterday and today I taught in the Discipleship Training School at YWAM Cluj. The topic was Personalities and how they contribute to unity in the body of Christ. It has been fun. I really enjoy getting to know the students and hearing their stories. They dream big dreams for God and want to be used by Him to bless this world. It's amazing!!! I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach again.
This afternoon, Troy and I took a taxi to Iulius Mall to meet with some of our Crossover Camp kids. Ale', Pistru, and Sorin met us at the food court and we had a great time chatting with them. They are such delightful kids. As we were leaving we got to see Arpi for a minute. Such a joy!! They are excited for the camp this summer. I just never get tired of seeing how good God is to give me relationships with people all over the world. How did I get so blessed?

Here we are with the kids at the mall. Love them!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Romania (Food, Birthday and Friends)

Two of my very favorite things about traveling are: Experiencing new food, and PEOPLE!!!
When we arrived in Romania, I was greeted with a welcome basket full of Romanian goodies. One of the things that Paul made sure he included was a small bucket of "Crap". Apparently it is a vegetable spread for Crackers and the like. I laughed so hard at the name! Unfortunately, it contains onions, and I am allergic, so I could not eat it, but how hilarious is that?!!

My very favorite thing about Romania is a snack that is made in small stands on certain streets. It is a Hungarian treat called "Kurtos" (Pronounced Ker-tosh). OH MY GOODNESS....It is delicious! Stacey and I went to get some and they did not have enough of our favorite kind, so they made one right as we waited. They wrap dough around a wooden spindle. They put the spindle on a rotating gear that rolls the dough over hot coals to cook it. Then, the spread it with something to make it sticky and sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and crushed walnuts on it. We ate an entire roll on the way home between Stacey, Troy, Paul and I. It's even better warm peeps!! :) Here is a picture of the ladies in action making the Kurtos.

"Lost in Translation" is a term that becomes familiar after a few trips overseas. There are some expressions that simply don't translate well. There are some words that we use that are normal to us that are the absolute WORST cuss word you could ever say in another country. For example, if you say "my foot" in English you are clearly referring to the part of your body that keeps you balanced and able to get from point A to point B. In Romania, those words are highly offensive. In turn they have expressions that sound exactly like our most eye popping vulgar terms. Discussing the usages can be quite entertaining. Troy's reaction to the use of the Romanian equivalent to "I will" turned in to a half an hour of uncontrolled laughter around Paul's birthday dinner table.
Following Dinner for Paul's 33rd birthday, we joined many of his friends at a local bowling alley to celebrate his birthday. We bowled and shot pool and had lots and lots of Romanian cakes. Thanks for being born Paul!!! :)
At the birthday celebration we were joined by some of our dear campers from the Crossover Camps here in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. DeDe had a career ending injury last year and she brought us gifts that were especially significant to her career in Basketball. She gave Troy a bear that she had taken to every game she ever played. She gave us her first basketball jersey to give to another Crossover player who was significant to he
r in the camps, and she gave me a championship medal that she won in 2008 during one of her greatest seasons.
We also got to visit with Cristi and Sorin who are dear friends from the Crossover Camps. These guys are awesome!!!

Me with DeDe
Troy and I with Cristi Bulucz (Paul's younger brother)
Troy and Sorin