Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Out to dinner

If you were leaving Denver for three months and had the opportunity to pick the place for a celebration meal, where would you go? . . . Ted's Montana Grill?  Blue Bonnet?  Those seem reasonable-- a steak house or a Mexican meal!
Our kids are not reasonable.  Knowing that they are headed to China--to get the real thing--still they picked P.F. Changs!  It was yummy and fun, but probably not what we'll be eating in the coming week.
The best part was the fortune cookies . . .by the way, did you know that fortune cookies are an American invention?  They didn't originate in China, but in San Francisco to please American palates.
Inside three of our fortune cookies we got these messages:

  • "This is a good month to participate in a new sport or hobby." I think we've got that covered if travel can be consider a hobby.
  • "You will be the guest of a gracious host within the month." That' s a certainty.  We're so blessed to have friends waiting for us in Beijing, Botswana and the Netherlands!
  • "You will make a change for the better and be glad within the week."  Yup!  

Counting down the hours!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Leaving' on a Jet Plane

With apologies to John Denver for ruining his love song . . . here are our lyrics to 
"Leaving' on a Jet Plane"

All our bags are packed,
We're ready to go,
We've made our beds,
and swept the floor,
We'd hate to leave a dirty house behind.
But the dawn is breakin', It's early morn`,
Our ride is waiting,* blowin' his horn.
Already we're so happy we could cry.

So hug us and pray for us,
Tell us that you're glad for us,
Thank you for this chance to get away.

'Cause we're leaving on a jet plane,
Don't know when we'll be back again,**
 It's great to finally go.

*Thanks, Dale for the ride to the airport so early this morning!
** Just kiddin'!  We promise to come back!


On Wednesday morning, February 1 at 8:00am, an Alaska Airlines flight will race down the runway at DIA and power into the Colorado morning sky.   If you live in the Denver area,  listen closely. . . you might just hear us hollerin' with delight as the plane banks westward, crossing over the city and climbing over the Rockies headed for Seattle.
We have a few hours in Seattle and then fly overnight to Beijing.  Since we're going west, we will skip a bunch of hours and land in China at about 4:00pm on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 2.  We are scheduled to go to various historic and cultural sites each day.  On Friday we will see the Forbidden City and Tienamen Square, on Saturday Mia will get her wish to see the Great Wall of China.
On February 9, we fly from Beijing to Chengdu to visit the Panda preserve.
On February 11, we fly to Guangzhou to see the White Swan Hotel where we stayed when we received Mia into our family.  Hopefully, we can take a picture on the famous "red couch." Then we'll drive to Hong Kong which is really close and that night we fly from Hong Kong to Johannesburg, South Africa, arriving early Sunday morning.  (Pull out a globe and trace how long that flight will be!)
We'll peel ourselves out of our seats and climb aboard a little plane for the hop over to Gaborone, Botswana.  We arrive there at 10:00am on Sunday, Feb. 12. On Monday morning, we will get in the car and drive 10 hours to the north of Botswana to see the animals and visit Victoria Falls.  We'll get back to Gaborone on Friday and Bob heads back to Denver on Saturday.
Now the resting part will kick in!  No agenda for February 19-March 17!
March 17 we fly to Amsterdam.  Details are still sketchy for our time in the Netherlands.
April 23 we begin our journey home: 4 flights, changing planes, changing time zones--arriving in Denver at 11:45pm Denver time.  Highlight for the kids of the trip home: we're stopping over in Iceland for a short layover!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What to pack?!

It's hard enough to pick out the right clothes, accessories, snacks, games and books for a weekend get-away. Imagine multiplying that X three months X three continents X three females X three distinct weather systems! Down coats for Beijing---the forecast for next week hovers just under 20 degrees (Fahrenheit); shorts for Botswana---even our hosts are complaining about the exceptionally hot and humid rainy season-- over 90 degrees; rain jackets for the Netherlands--hopefully some sunshine and tulips to go along with the spring showers!
How do we keep this simple??
Looks like Mia's got the idea!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's this sabbatical all about?

Here is what our congregation proposed to the Lilly Endowment: 
We are shaped by the places we live and the cultures we imbibe—especially those that shape our childhood. The purpose of this sabbatical is for our pastor, Rev. Joy Engelsman (Pastor Joy), to travel with her husband and children to several places that have been home to them to better understand and celebrate the ways that these lands and people have shaped their lives. As she considers both the unique and common ways that each of these cultures have contributed to her own life and faith formation, Pastor Joy will discern ways that faith can be developed and celebrated in our congregation.
The 4 key words are

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sent off with love and prayers

Thanks, Carter for capturing this video of the congregation blessing our sabbatical.

Thank you, First Church!

Thanks for sending us off with your love and prayers. And thanks for the yummy international potluck.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On the move

Welcome to our Journey Journal! We hope you enjoy traveling along with us on this incredible experience.
We are deeply grateful to First Christian Reformed Church of Denver for three months of precious time and to the Lilly Endowment for their generous support.
“Being alive, humanity has the privilege of always moving yet never leaving anything behind.” (C.S. Lewis, Allegory of Love
If that's true, then we carry along with us vestiges of our past . . . sometimes letting that past overwhelm us. But--my confession is that I tend more toward the opposite response.  I rush on and on, never stopping to sort through the treasures collected along the way:  family, friends, knowledge, grace, wounds, experiences . . . all things that shape me.

It's kind of like my office, which Thelma Boer will tell you has quite the collection of files and papers and folders sort of sorted, stacked on every flat surface, pretending to look like they know what they're doing there.  As we were filing today, I told Thelma how it happens to get this way. . . I work to prepare for an upcoming event, producing documents and power points, then we carry out the event, and--rather than take the time to reflect, resort through the paperwork and file it away--I toss that folder on my desk and jump into the next project.  

That's what I've been doing with my life, too.  Just tossing the experiences on an ever-growing pile and moving--always moving--on to the next.  

This extraordinary opportunity will allow me time to take inventory of all that I have collected along the journey of my life--especially the treasures of my daughters--and prayerfully give thanks, reveling in God's grace to us. 

So come along--we'll post some pictures and stories and questions and ponderings.  And some days, we won't post anything at all.   Pray that on all these days--especially the days when the blog is blank--I am reveling in the collection of gifts and the goodness of God.