Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Luxembourg Triathlon

Last weekend we traveled to Luxembourg. Six of us girls from Schweinfurt decided a long time ago that we would do a triathlon together. I said I would do it several months ago, but really didn't have time to train. Along with school and everything else I had going on, running, biking, and swimming were not at the top of my list. I didn't sign up for this thing until the middle of last week. I wasn't sure if I could pull it off without training. I did a mini triathlon with the girls the day that I signed up. I barely completed that, but went for the real thing anyway. On Saturday when we got to Luxembourg, I figured it was too late to turn back now!

We went for a little swim in the lake to test out the water when we first got there on Saturday. I tell you what, it was frigid!!!! The water instantly took my breath away! After a few hundred meters in the lake, by body was numb and I was good. We also took a lap around the bike trail. It was a great trail, but I wasn't sure how I was going to do five laps around that thing the next day!
Sunday morning we woke up to gray skies and rain! But that wasn't going to stop us from doing this thing! By the time we got there and got settled in, the rain was done and the sun was trying to peak through, but it was still quite chilly. The water was even colder than it was on Saturday.  As soon as the race started and we jumped in, my asthma spiked up and I struggled to breath. The water was just too cold for me. I was gasping and choking on the waves at the same time. After the first hundred meters, I finally was able to calm myself down and get in the groove. The rest of the swimming wasn't too bad. Actually, it was my favorite part of the whole race! I made pretty good time and was out of the water before I knew it!

Then it was off to the races on my bike. Five laps around the track for a total of 20km. The first two laps weren't bad, but by lap three I was getting board. My bike is terrible for racing. Jay and I bought bikes when we got over here, but we didn't get race bikes. Instead, they are more like mountain bikes. I felt like I was pulling a sled the entire race. I defintiely lost a lot of time and went to the back of the pack! I had to keep reminding myself that this race was just for fun. As long as I finished, it was all going to be ok!

I finally finished my last lap and went in to the transition area to put the bike away and start running. As soon as I got off, my feet felt like bricks! I could barely run. It took me at least the first kilometer to get into the groove of running. My legs just weren't too excited about it.

By about the third kilometer, I met up with an old guy. He became my running buddy and my pacer for the rest of the race. He made sure I stuck by him the whole time. I would try to slow down and catch my breath and he would slow down with me. We couldn't say too much to each other, but throughout the race we kept saying "OK" back and forth. When I slowed down, I would try to tell him to go on without me, but he wasn't going to let that happen. He would wait for me and then I would get back going with him. At the end of the race, he let me finish in front of him.

After we crossed the finish line, I gave him a high-five, the American way to say good job. In return, he gave me a kiss on each check. That would be the French way to congratulate someone. I was so glad to be finished!

I had a good time doing the race. I sure wish I was better trained and had a better bike. It's definitely not out of my mind about doing another one of these. I would sure like some warmer water next time though!

Here is a picture of all our supporters! We definitely had the best cheering crowd in the whole race! It was a confidence booster when hearing one of these awesome fans yelling for you, especially lil' Spencer (the littlest red head in the yellow shirt).

But here is the best supporter of them all! He was a trooper for me all weekend. I know he was bored most of the time, but he still let me do my thing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raft Race

On Sunday, Jay participated in a river rafting race. He, along with 10 other guys, pilled into a boat. They were one of 70 teams. Unfortunately, they didn't make it past the first round. It was fun to be out there watching though.

Without any practice or discussion on how everyone would row, their team wasn't too in-sync. Jay was stuck right in the middle. The person in front of him and behind her were exactly opposite on strokes, which meant Jay kept hitting one of them. He enjoyed it nonetheless.

Jay is the third head from the left.

Most of the crew after the race...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome Party

On Saturday, Jay and I threw a welcome party for our new LTC and his family. We had an ice cream theme and hired in the ice cream truck! We played some great family games throughout the afternoon. It was a great time on a beautiful sunny day!

Our commander's wife told me that I need to be a party planner in my next life. I love throwing parties and coming up with games. I just wish the supplies weren't so expensive!

One of the games we played was a relay race. Everyone was given a task and had to complete it for their team. Some of the events were a little harder than others. Here are some pictures to prove it!

Angie eating crackers and then trying to whistle.
Sarah drinking out of a bottle.
 Rebekah trying to put panty hose on with gloves.
 Caleb eating sardines.
 Josiah hammering nails into a board.
 Getting dressed Army style!
LTC Runey digging for worms. He is our new commander and will be Jay's boss! Good thing he's not afraid of getting dirty!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Club Beyond Service Project

Jay and I spent nearly two weeks in Romania, coming back this past Tuesday. The first week and a half was spent doing a mission project with Club Beyond, a ministry organization for our youth here in Schweinfurt. We met in Cluj, Romania with 400 high schoolers. Most of the kids took around a 30 hour bus ride to get to Cluj. Jay and I were lucky enough to get to fly there!

We had Club every night, singing lots of loud songs and hearing a message from a great speaker. Here they are, jumping around during worship.

During the week, we had four different programs going on... building a playground at a local school, Vacation Bible School, Club, and a Sports Camp. For those of you unfamiliar with Club, it's an hour long ministry opportunity for the kids, playing lots of crazy games, singing songs, and hearing a short message that pertains to their current lives. Much like Chaos and Big House back in Cedar Falls.
 Don't these smiles just light up your heart!

 Doing a skit for Daniel and the Lion's Den

Jay's job throughout the week was to be hands on with the playground. He and another guy were in charge of it all. The goal was for our high schoolers to do all the work. Jay did a lot of teaching... how to use a saw, how to use a drill, making concrete, digging holes. It was so neat to watch him interact with the kids and give them a chance to try something new. He was so patient and really let the kids try, even if the drill ended up wrapping their shirt up into a knot!
 Painting tar on to the beams to help waterproof them before going into the ground.
 Do you see the big rocks and pieces of bricks below... those were all dug out of the holes. We dug up more giant rocks than dirt! It made for a much more difficult time digging!!
 32 holes had to be dug in all... it was quite a daunting task!
 After many laboring hours, this boulder finally was pulled out of the hole being dug. It took a long metal pipe and Jay's belt to finally pull it out! Jay was pretty excited to have that hole done!
 The finished product... monkey bars, platforms, balance beam, rings, chin-up bars, and swings.
 The two construction contractors... Jay and Kevin.
 Enjoying the new swing set.

I worked on the other three parts of the trip. My title for the week was all about Relational Ministries. Before we even left for Romania, I put together a VBS program, Club, and the sports ministry for the week we were there. Thankfully we had some great curriculum to use already, it just took a lot of organizing. Along with the VBS lesson, we did crafts, games, and songs. Club was very similar, but more geared for the older kids. I didn't have to do any of the teaching once we got there. Instead, I handed all the plans over to the high schoolers and let them go. They put together two hours worth of fun for the Romanian kids. When the kids were busy teaching, they were outside playing all sorts of games with the kids. A lot of neat relationships were created throughout the week. The hardest part of it was that we had to say everything through translators. The kids couldn't understand us at all and we couldn't understand them. We had three high school girls with us that translated for us.

One little girl really stuck out to me the whole week. She came on Monday, but was very nervous and shy. She stood in the doorway for the entire VBS portion of the day, not wanting to come near us. We kept asking her to come join us, but she kept saying no. We all went outside to play soccer in the afternoon. The girl came outside with us, but she sat against the fence on her own, not playing or talking to anyone. I went and sat by her, not really sure what to do. You have to remember that they kids speak only Romanian. So holding a conversation was not possible. After sitting beside her for 20 minutes, I finally tried to get her to smile. I picked a thick piece of grass and whistled with it. Then she tried. She would barely smile, but I did see it a few times. Then I went to get some bubbles and we blew a few bubbles together. By the end of the day, she still wasn't too sure of all of us. Nonetheless, Dana came back every day that week. She learned to love us and had so much fun. By Thursday and Friday, she was all smiles. Throughout the week we learned each others' name. That was all we could say to each other. So whenever we crossed paths, we would yell out each others' name and give a hug. Even though we couldn't talk to each other, a hug and a smile went a long ways!
Here she in on Monday...
And by Friday... she was my best buddy.

The last day we were at the school, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new playground and then held a carnival. All of our high school kids manned 20 stations that the Romanian kids could go around to. We handed out candy and prizes. It was an awesome afternoon. I really enjoyed just sitting back and watching the work that God had done throughout the week. We have no idea how many lives were touched last week and never will, but seeing smiles and hearing laughter made for an amazing experience.

Jay and I were really blessed to be on this trip. It was such a strong reminder about how spoiled we really are. We had so much more than any of those kids, but you would never know by the smiles on their faces and the light in their eyes. They were just excited to be alive. It didn't matter to them that they wore the same clothes every day, or that their homes didn't have running water, or that the bathroom was really a pipe dug down into the ground in the back yard. They had life and they were happy!

Such a great reminder... God gives us everything we need to live. We just need to be happy with what we have and use it to the fullest.

Club Beyond is heading back to Romania again next year. Jay and I are really hoping we can go back too!

On a side note.... I also got to see this wonderful friend, which made my trip even better!! Elizabeth moved up to England to continue ministry with a new group of kids. I miss her so much, so was glad to be able to spend the week with her!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Portugal Pictures

I'll try again... loading pictures of Portugal. It really is absolutely stunning. I wish we could go back. These four days were so wonderful! I loved spending time with Jay and not having any distractions!

Amazing right?!?!