Monday, April 19, 2010

Vienna City Marathon

Sunday morning, while I was still in bed, my phone began to ring. It was my friend, Michi. She was planning on running part of a relay in the Vienna City Marathon. She said she had been throwing up all night and needed someone to run her leg of the race. Only, I would need to leave right then because they were meeting to pray right before the run. I literally threw on my running shoes, heated up some oatmeal while Reesa grabbed me a clean shirt and a water bottle, and I ran out the door. The entire time, I was giddy, saying, "I can't believe I get to run in the Vienna City Marathon!"

(Backing up a bit) Friday morning, I was on my run and I ran past a bunch of white tents and wondered what was going one. (Since I don't know German, I had no idea the race was this weekend.) I sighed and thought, "Wouldn't it have been nice if I could have ran in it." LITTLE did I know what God had in store for me!
From left to right: Djudji, Nadine, me, Julie. Julie had bought all of us these nice running shirts and put tape on the back that said "Run Through Christ".
We met outside a little church by the starting line and we prayed for the race and that we would get to talk to people about the message on our shirts. Then they quickly showed me where I would be running and filled me in on all the details. I would be running from Schonbrunn to the Rathaus (5.7 K). Thank goodness it wasn't anymore as I hadn't been training for a race at all!
I hopped on the U-Bahn and headed out to where I would start and watched for Julie to come in. As I stood there, I was amazed at how God had worked this all out. Just Friday, I was thinking how cool it would be. I hadn't ran Saturday even though I was planning on it. All my shirts were wet in the washing machine but not my running pants. Two weeks ago I injured my ankle (remind me I need new running shoes when I get to the states) but now it was all healed up. I was just amazed and this gift He had given me. Praise the Lord.
I saw Julie and gave her the wave that I was starting. I tried to run harder than I had in my morning runs. A couple kilometers into the run I was getting tired and I just started to pray that God would give me the endurance to keep it up. Just then an older man ran along side me, put his arm around me and said, "God bless you, I run with the same message (refering to the back of my shirt)." That was what I need to make it a little farther. Not long after that, I realized in the rush of things I hadn't drank enough water. I was starting to get really parched. I prayed that there would be a drink station soon but I ran for quite a while without the water I needed. I prayed again for the strength. Soon enough, there was a drink station and I actually stopped to make sure I got all the water I needed to continue. I started up again refreshed and ready to move on. Not too much longer there were bananas! I grabbed one and ate two bites of it. It made my dry throat feel SO much better and again I was refreshed. I kept on and realized, "Man I'm outta shape!" But I refused to feel discouraged, I mean, I did just wake up and I haven't been training. Just then, I saw my friend Nate who was running the half (Way to go, Nate!). And that helped keep me distracted for a bit. The last stretch of my leg of the race was so hard...I just kept looking for the numbers where I would meet Nadine. I started to wonder if I had somehow missed them. Had I passed her? Your mind plays tricks on you when you come to what you think should be the end of your run and it isn't. Finally, I saw the start of the numbers and I could run the last part knowing I was almost done. I found her she was off. She passed me our bag of things and I went to the finish line to cheer on Djudji.
There were SO many people there that the gate to get into the park was jammed! You had to get into the middle of it and just allow to the flow of people to push you side. It maybe took me 5 minutes in this mob to make it inside! It was crazy!
Watching the finish line is always so interesting. It's fun to see the types of people that cross it. Some wave their hands in the air in victory, others look like they are about to die. I know I would have been the latter. There were old men. There were dads running with their kids. There were friends who would join hands and cross the finish line together. It's always so sweet to see and it makes me want to run one myself one day. What an accomplishment!
After I watched for a while, I it was time to find our meeting place to meet up with the other girls (I had all their stuff). I could not find the meeting place. I tried for 45 minutes to try to get to the other side of the finish line. There was no way to get there! I thought, "Oh no! What do I do? I probably have everyones keys and wallets!" I prayed I would run into someone. I turned around and vwah la! There where the two girls that were finished. The said, "Oh my goodnes, we just prayed we would run into you and had just said, 'amen' and there you were!" God's hand had been in this entire day!
After we all met up, Nate had tickets to an after party. We got our picture taken, some of the girls got massages, and there was an all you can eat buffet, plus, all the drinks you wanted. What an amazing day! I still can't believe it happened!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Ah-Ha Moment

Today, I had the most amazing experience. My class has been ganging up on a little boy in Primary, and today, I had had enough. For the past month, they have been pushing him around and teasing him. I’m embarrassed to tell you this because for the most part my class is actually quite good. But for some reason I have a small pack of boys that like to feel superior and have found that picking on kids smaller than them gives them power. Today, even the girls were in on cracking the jokes. All of this is done behind my back of course, I only occasionally hear about it from the boy’s older sister. Today, when the kids came back from centers, I was informed that the little boy had been teased about a picture he drew. (Not to mention the boy has a band-aid over his eye from when one of my boys pushed him and he hit is head on the concrete.) It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was irate. Passion simmered inside. I did all I could to keep from erupting. I spoke calm but angry, my voice cracking as I choked back the tears. I explained to my kids that I can’t believe this is still happening and I don’t know what else to do…that’s when the fire alarm goes off.

Those little munchkins marched straight to the door. They knew better than to do something wrong at this point. They all walked slumped over like scolded puppies. They weren’t walking fast enough so I pointed to the door and I firmly said, “Walk.” They all, like little remote controlled robots, picked up the speed. The other teachers knew by how quiet they were that something had happened.

Maybe I needed the fire drill to extinguish the fire burning inside of me. It gave me a little time cool off. I’m not sure what bugged me the most. Imagining the little boy crying each morning because he doesn’t want to go to school. The fact that I love my students so much that I want to show them the right way to live and have them start acting that way. Maybe I was upset that I hadn’t changed them yet. Maybe I was upset because I felt they were still disobeying me. I can’t put my finger on it… We talked as a class and I told them if it happened again they would “lose recess for the rest of the week…no, the rest of the year. And YOU will have the call the boy’s mother and explain what happened.” I was still pretty upset.

Well, time to teach math. I started to explain today’s lesson and it just didn’t feel right. I turned around and said, “I’m sorry guys, I just don’t feel like teaching math right now.” Something was still missing. At that moment, another teacher came in to teach science. With the fire drill and lecture and all, we had ran out of time. So, I took the opportunity to go talk to the director. I sat in his office and let all my frustration out. What I wanted was for him to go yell at my kids. Put a little fear into them. Maybe they would listen to a man over me. He agreed to come talk to them and I stood up in a rush, and walked out the door in a hurry. He followed, but half way down the hall he said, “Wait, let’s just stop and pray about this.” I stopped dead in my tracks. THAT’S what was missing. There in the middle of the hall, with an occasional student passing by, we just prayed. Suddenly, I had peace.

WHEN can I EVER say that I prayed with my boss at school about a discipline issue? This place is so amazing! The director of the school walked into the classroom and with the calmest, most loving voice, talked to the kids…and then he prayed with the kids. It was an ah-ha moment. Sometimes, I forget to take Jesus into my classroom.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 4

Day 4 was the only day we had indoor things planed…and it rained. Again, we see Him at work. We a small group go on home visits out in the village the rest of us stayed to have tea and lunch with the elderly women. The elderly are not well taken care of and for some of these women it’s the best meal they will receive all week. We sat down to drink tea with the women and even though we did not speak the same language we just smiled and they hugged and kissed us. Lilly translated for us and some of the kids gave their testimonies. DK, Laura, and Hitchi lead music with some Romanian songs. We made some Chinese lanterns and pained eggs. We prayed with the ladies and served them lunch.

I got to walk with one the mothers to pick up a few of the kids from kindergarten.
After the ladies were gone, we had an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Then we gave out the donated toys we had brought with us. It was neat to see the VCS students be able to give out toy once they got to know the kids so each one got things they would really like.

Day 3

Day 3 was a jam packed day. In the morning, we painted at a church called “The House of Prayer”. The church was in a village with no running water so we used a well and an outhouse. They had a small building in the back for Sunday school and a gate and fence in the front that needed painted. Other kids walked around the village picking up trash out of the ditches. Once 1:30 rolled around we were far from finishing our job. The kids were starting to worry that we might miss lunch, when the pastor of the church and his wife showed up with a feast. Noodles, hamburger, carrots, doughnuts, and SODA! Mmmmm…we ate well. When we thought we might go hungry, God provided for us in abundance.

When we got home there was just enough time to change our clothes and eat some dinner and VBS started. We weren’t sure how many to plan for so we had prepared for 80 kids not knowing estimation would be way over or under. Philis from the other team did a magic rope trick that shared the gospel and Nels gave the message with skits from the kids. DK did music, some led games, the rest of us did crafts. There were 79 kids in addition to their parents. We had 1 googley eye left! Is the Lord not totally in control?

Day 2

At morning devotions, Michael shared Isaiah 41:10 I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, srly I will uphold youwith My rightious right hand.

Day 2 started by sorting clothing and toys that were donated. A few minutes into it, I hear someone call my name, “Nicki, it’s Lilly, I went to Grace with you.” Wow, is it not a small world or what? Who knew I would be in this remote village in Romania and run into a girl I went to college with in Omaha! Crazy!

Lilly recruited me and the girls that were helping me out to go help with the kids. Lilly and I talked caught up and I told her I had been teaching special ed for the past 4 years. She said, “Oh, good, I could really use some advice, we have several kids here who need help.” Lilly teaches the kids after school since they don’t get extra help at school. God just confirms to me over and over the need for special ed teachers overseas.

After dinner, we handed out invitations all over the village to invite families to the VBS tomorrow night.

Day 1

Day one was mostly driving, but even so we saw how God was in control. We took extra precautions before we left to make sure we wouldn’t have any trouble getting our visas and getting across the boarder. Now, keep in mind we had 17 people in two vans with maybe 6 different passport countries (USA, Korea, Costa Rica, Namibia, Nigeria, Switzerland). People looked at us funny. The guard took all our passports and we sat for 2 and a half hours! Cheryl, another adult on the team, decided to go in and see what the hold up was. Well, the scanners weren’t working so they were entering them in by hand. Costa Rica wasn’t on the drop down menu. The man asked Cheryl if she thinks it would be ok if he put Dominican Republic. “No! That’s a totally different place!” was her reply. So, we wait some more and a man comes out speaking some Romanian, some English, and some German. Something about “two years…two years,” he was shouting. We had no idea what he was talking about but he was holding a green card of one of our students saying he couldn’t go in to Romania. I’m not really sure what happened, but eventually he said we could go in but he couldn’t guarantee us we could get him back out of the country. Ha! Well we said, “Great!” And we entered Romania, a little nervous about what would happen on our way out! But we all got our stamps and off we went.

We decided to take a new route this year…one that took us off the beaten path…one that had pot holes the size you could swim in...and one that didn’t have a McDonalds. Surely we’d find some place to eat…we drove and drove and then we decided we’d settle for just a place we could pee! We stopped at a gas station but the toilet was broken, so we used the bushes. Then we went back on the road to try and find a place to eat. We pulled into a Romanian restaurant where they did not speak English. They had to call some friends on the phone to translate for us but they ended up taking Euro and they ended up cooking some delicious sausage and bread for us. It tasted great and the price was great. Even BETTER than McDonalds. God is good!

After a short while in the van Doug called us, told us even the missionaries get lost going the way we came and he drove out to meet us and lead us to the place. God knew our path before we did and supplied our every need. We knew He must have some great things in store for this trip!


"He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it went well. Is not that what it means to know Me?" declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 22:16

On March 28th, I had the opportunity to sponsor a high school missions trip from Vienna Christian School. 12 students and 5 adults met up with a team from an international school in Istanbul, Turkey. We went to a remote village called Cornesti in Romania to help out two missionaries named Doug and Roberta Moore. We worked and stayed at a compound for women and children in crisis. The home shelters women who have been abused. They help women keep their children, not abort or abandon them, and teach them how to be mothers. All the while, teaching them how they can find restoration in Christ.

A while ago, Doug was driving around the village on a hot day and noticed a man sitting under a tree with a blanket covering his legs. He stopped to ask him why he was covered up on such a hot day. The man explained that his legs had “gone bad.” As he lifted the blanket, Doug could see that gangrene had taken both legs. When Doug asked the man why he hadn’t gone to the hospital the man replied he didn’t have the bus fare.
At this time, Doug really felt burdened to get a medical van to take people to the hospital if they need it. He also put out a plea for donations of medical supplies. He now has a shed with a medical van and lots of medical supplies. Many have donated broken hospital beds and wheel chairs and Doug has fixed them. In fact, Doug has given away 6 electrical chairs.
Another time, Roberta was at church and gave her reading glasses away to a lady that needed them. After that, six other ladies wanted to know if she had more for them. So, they sent out another plea asking for used glasses. After a shipment (I’m not sure the exact number but I want to say…) 158 pairs of glasses and a bag of pieces came in they ran a clinic at a near by church. They had no equipment to find prescriptions so people just tried on several pairs until they got one that matched. Every pair of glasses were handed out that day. Then 3 more ladies came knocking on the doors and Doug had to tell them he was sorry they were out. The ladies insisted they had came as soon as they could and Doug got out the bag of pieces. He built 3 more pairs of glasses and sent those ladies on their merry way. The only thing that was left was a frame with a missing lens. They hear another knock on the door and it’s a man with only one eye. He swore he wouldn’t have believed it himself if he wasn’t there. He also believes that each prescription was meant for each individual that received those glasses. Now, he has over 2,000 pairs of glasses and someone even donated a machine that can find the prescription of your eye and the prescription of the glasses, allowing them to match glasses up perfectly.

It was amazing to see how God has provided for this growing ministry! We got to see only a glimpse of it while we where there for only one week!