Friday, June 27, 2008

The Wildlife around the house...

I saw two havalina (nasty wort hog looking things) last Saturday on my way into Starbucks at about 3:45 AM. I didn't get pictures but man they were gross...and just non-chantly crossing the street into Tohono Chul Park...right by our house.

Brian, being a boy, decided we was going to catch a lizard. He was successful. It bit him on the finger but then didn't move until Brian dropped him outside. Of course, when he caught the thing he ran into the house to show me and Amanda.

Then there was the snake right outside the house...don't have much to say about that except...GROSS!!!!

Enjoy the pictures!

The Come before Winter Update!!

Finally...I know! I must apologize for taking so long to update but life is hectic and there are 50 million other things going on. I'm just glad I finally got all my thank you cards in the mail! :)

My travels from Tucson to Dallas were quite uneventful. I was able to get to Dallas a day early to do wedding planning with mom and spend some time with my family. I met up with the rest of the team on Friday at DFW and off we were to
Sarajevo...with a 12+ hour lay over in Vienna, Austria.

Mariana Long, the author of the report below, was a missionary in Vienna in the 60's (and maybe early 70's). She gave some of the team members a mini tour of Vienna. We walked Stephansdom to Figlmuller, a very authentic Austrian restaurant for authentic.

We went and had a Vienna espresso and Sacher Torte (or apfel struddle) at the famous Sacher Hotel directly behind the Staatsoper.

After lunch we took a short walk back around Stephansdom, Hofburg and the Imperial Palace, and Staatsoper.

All that in less than 12 hours...but a wonderful experience getting to see Mariana's face light up as she spoke of her life there. What an honor it was to experience that with her!

Then off to Sarajevo...just a two hour plane ride away. As we flew in I was amazed at all the beautiful mountains and Ever Green trees...I had no idea! It was after midnight I believe when we landed but were greeted by teammates Jeanene Reese and Linda Forester as well as missionaries Heather, Liz Crittenden and Carolyn Cox. They drove us to our hotel...we got situated and rested for the night... now I could continue to go into more details but I feel that Mariana's words wrap up our week beautifully. Pleas continue reading...

I have attached the words from Mariana Long, one of my fabulous team members, to share with you. She created a beautiful PDF file with pictures to go along with her report. If I knew how to turn that into a link online I would!

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!”
Come before Winter
Bosnia & Herzegovina
June, 2008
Mariana Long
“The war in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 destroyed nearly all the athletic sites of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. The wooden seats from the Zetra arena were used for coffins. The bobsled run turned into trenches. The mountain site for Nordic skiing was transformed into a Serbian artillery position. The Olympic stadium became a graveyard,” writes Richard Sandomir, July 7, 1999, The New York Times.
This is the history remembered by most when Bosnia is mentioned. Reminders of this dreadful time in the history still exist, but we saw the beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina from a totally different viewpoint.

On June 2, 2008, thirty-five women, aged 27 to 69, from Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, and Russia, joined the Come before Winter team of thirteen for spiritual renewal. The time spent there was indeed, a mountain-top experience. Our beautiful hotel was on the mountain where Olympic Nordic skiers competed twenty-four years earlier. We did not come to compete, but we left feeling as though we all were wearing “the gold.”

For five days, we wrapped ourselves in Psalm 103. Women who came to the renewal with spirits very near the breaking point, left with fresh resolve to return to their difficult lives with the sweet assurances of this psalm ringing in their ears – and yet with a realistic view of life in regard to the promises stated there.

Several months ago, when two of our brothers heard that we were studying Psalm 103, they wanted to write a special hymn for us. (I have attached this link to a YouTube video of the team singing the song. The video itself is not good at all but we wanted to capture the sound of the song. Please enjoy with your ears...not so much your eyes!)
We received a copy of the music the day before we left for Bosnia. What a gift! We are especially grateful to Mark Shipp, professor of Old Testament at Austin Graduate School of Theology in Austin, Texas, and Konstantine Zhigulin, a Christian brother from St. Petersburg, Russia, for using their talents to bless the entire renewal in such a way. It quickly became our theme song.

Each day’s thoughts were centered on one of five words. Monday, we pondered the Hebrew word, “HESED;” Tuesday – “HOLY;” Wednesday – “REMEMBER;” Thursday – “COMPASSION;” Friday – “BLESS.”

Mat and Beth Hames, of Alpheus Media in Austin, produced an amazing video expressing the meaning of “Hesed” with music, pictures, words. It is an indescribable masterpiece that became more meaningful to us with each viewing as we worshiped and studied the message of Psalm 103.

We bathed ourselves over and over in Psalm 103. We gathered in reading groups; reading structurally, reading theologically, and reading prayerfully. We spent time reflecting thoughts of the psalm in silence, in quiet activities, and in art. We began and ended each day in worship together. The sweet words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul” regularly reminded us of each element of that psalm.

Each day clusters (2-3 participants to each team member) gathered to pray, to share thoughts of the day or their own personal blessings or battles. We rejoiced in the victories from the various mission points, and in the hurts of disappointment.
We were especially moved by the experiences the “nationals” shared. One told of the serious threat of the lives of her and her family – a threat made by the gypsies with whom they are work. Another lady from Bosnia shared with us some of her stories of her experience serving as a nurse during the war. Another shared her personal story and the blessings she found in spite of the terrible war. Her very own words: “On 14 November 1992 god found me after I tried to escape for 46 years He found me in my bungalow in a refugee camp during the Bosnian war. Missionaries came to my bungalow looking for someone else and they found me instead. I thank god for this I will never forget this.” What a joy she was to all of us with her bright outlook on life and with her love for the Lord!

The study of Psalm 103, the lively discussions in various reading groups, the quiet times of reflection, the time spent expressing thoughts in art, and the worship together gave all the women – including the CbW team – courage and strength to keep on keeping on. Our time in the scripture did not give these Godly warriors just a temporary bandage for their hurts and wounds, but a hard plaster cast to give strength to their broken parts. God will continue to heal. He will be there when they are being broken again and will give them strength to deal with the difficulties that life will absolutely bring!

And I can almost hear them say, even in the most difficult of times, “Bless the Lord, O my soul….” They take this psalm seriously! They are just that kind of women!
Thank you for your compassion for the women who are engaged in a spiritual warfare on difficult turfs – fighting for the souls of many we will never meet on “this side.” Thank you for the way you have participated in this battle. May God richly bless you!
Thank you!

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. Psalm 103:8-11 NIV

Come before Winter Bosnia – 2008 Front row: Karen Alexander and Catherine Goode Second row: Jeanene Reese, Brooke Hollingsworth, Cynthia Agnell, Jana Graves Third row: Carol Maples, Susan Griffith, Linda Forrister, Sylvia Gerrard, Mariana Long Back row: Joyce Blake and Jennifer Crisp

A heart-felt message emailed to us soon after the renewal from one of the participants:
Dear Heather and the whole team of CbW which has been to Bosnia and Hecegovina even it has just passed one week after my coming home from Jahorina it seems to me everything so present and real on the one hand and at the other hand so much like a beautyfull dream...I hope you arrived back to the states and had relaxed from your busy time. I just wanted to say Thank you so much for doing this service on us and coming and encourreging me. It has really been a huge blessing and all arround my house the signs remaind me on what has become important to me (Hased, compassion, Holy...) and the bag , pictures and songbook remember me on the amazing job you has done for us before comong. As a friend of me said about your job :It´s a blessing for every person we are in touch with. Becouse if we are renewd the families, churches and everybody hopefully is............ May trhze blessing God gave me through you andure and last forever With big Thanks. Diana S. (Sarajevo) PS Sorry for my bad english

**If you would like for me to email the PDF file with pictures to you I would be more than happy to. Please just send me your email address and I will get to to you right away!**

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bosnia updates to come

I just wanted to let you know that I am still planning on updating everyone on my fabulous trip with Come before Winter to Bosnia. Since I got back to Tucson I have battled illness, jet lag and work. I will get to it I promise!!
Here is a teaser of what is to come!

Hotel Termag; where we stayed during the renewal, beautiful resort, wonderful staff, nice rooms, sweet memories

The clouds below us; Carolyn Cox drove different team members up to the top of the mountain every day to check out the phenomenal views, it is fascinating to be standing above the clouds

Looking down onto Sarajevo from the mountain tops

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Excuse ME!!!! I have an announcement to make!!!

My little sister, Valerie G Goode, is moving to TUCSON!!!! On July 3rd Valerie and I will be loading her car and driving 15 hours from Farmers Branch to Tucson.

She will spend until October with me! Then she will be heading cross country to the NYC to spend a couple months with Lyndsey!! What an exciting time!! Then sometime in 2009 she will be heading off to where ever the Peace Corp sends her! That is right my friends, she has been accepted into the Peace Corp! The interview went very well and now she just has to wait for all the medical testing and to be told where she will be headed for two years!!

We are so proud of you Veeves-e-kins!!!