That's right - the last of the Gregory kids has a job! Nicholas went in to Fred's restaurant here in Riverview at the beginning of last week after filling out their online job application just to make sure they received it and to put a face with his name. They asked him to come back on Friday for an interview, which he did. Then they asked him back for a 2nd interview today, and then offered him the job as a busser, gave him a couple of shirts and his name badge and said they'd call him when they had him on the schedule to let him know what hours he'll be working! Pretty cool! It's crazy to think that school starts in less than 3 weeks - what??? Didn't they just get out of school? I can't believe it. But at least it should keep him busy for these few weeks before school, and then he'll probably just work after school and weekends after that, and he'll get some much needed money in his empty pockets! Good job, Nicholas!!!!!!
Nicole and I had a lovely time having brunch together today at the The Egg and I where she and Nathan work. She was off today, but Nathan was hosting alone, so we took a few opportunities to harass him just a bit. That place has been a blessing and a great place for both of them to cut their teeth on in the working world. I'm very thankful! Now if we could just get Nicholas a job for this summer - that would be GREAT!!
This past Thursday was my first BCG treatment in a series of 3 once-a-month treatments. It went incredibly smoothly - just minimal pain. I even felt well enough to go dancing with Tim at a Fred Astaire dance party Friday night. It was so much fun getting out on the dance floor - I would do that every day if I could afford it!! Fortunately, the dance parties are free, and we had a great time cutting a rug!
For the 4th of July my dad made a rare visit up to our neck of the woods, and we had a very nice time visiting and eating hot dogs and hamburgers (veggie burger for me, thank you!). I can't believe we took NO pictures of the momentous occasion - so sorry!! My friend, Hollyhead, even came over - it's always SO good to see her! It was such a great day! Both my dad and Hollyhead left by around 5pm, and Nathan & Nicole went to some friend's house, so the question was, what would the rest of us (Tim, me, Noah, & Nicholas) do? I looked on the map at the nearest fireworks, and noticed that if we went the back way from our house up US41 and around by the port we could probably go down a side street and have a great view of the downtown fireworks. So that is exactly what we did. It took us 15 minutes from our house to a great side street where we could see the fireworks that had just gotten underway. We watched the whole show from the comfort of our air conditioned car, and then drove 15 minutes home with no traffic - it was AWESOME!! It's my new favorite way to celebrate the 4th!
Well, I think that's all the news fit to print. :-) Hope everyone's summer is going well so far! Until next time, blessings to you all!
I'm not exactly sure what that phrase means (I think it's from a movie or something), but for me it means it has been a very quiet week without 4 kids running around here! I've had a LOT of alone time, which I love, but even I am feeling ready for a little of the noise and clamor. The kids have been completely without electronics all week (no service up where they were along with no outlets for them to plug into), so we've had ZERO interaction with them!! Very weird! So when the youth pastor texted us around noon today and let us know they were on the bus heading home, I thought I'd text Noah and see how he was doing. He was feeling extra talkative as you can see - ahah! So we're just waiting until they get home around 10pm tonight to find out a little about their week!
It's been strange to picture our lives, and experience it, without kids running around. We decided we're pretty boring people! I actually think it would be different if it were more of a permanent thing - we would purposely fill up some of that time I'm sure. In fact, when I was leaving Winn Dixie last night I saw this young couple get out of their car and head in, and let me just say, they looked like 2 walking solid muscles! And I was thinking - you know - if I had all the time like I had this week, I could look like that. Minus the young part, of course, and maybe only 1/2 that toned, but even 1/2 - that would be great! So, I think that would be part of it - I definitely would like to get this flabby (I wrote flappy first, and that's pretty accurate, too) body in shape So maybe I actually could have time to do that! But for now, and for this week, apart from our date with the carpet cleaner on Tuesday and Wednesday, we really didn't do much else, probably also because we have still been recovering from that stomach thing. Today I would say I'm at 98% - have still had a couple of tinges of stomach upset but overall I would say I'm all better! Woohoo!
So, enough of this boring stuff! This morning we decided to have a little date morning. We have some gift certificates to the Lazy Days RV Store that they gave us this past January for taping one of those Big Time RV shows (which I think is due to air some time this August), so I thought it might be fun to scope it out and see what we might want to spend the money on (I know - we really know how to shake things up!). Well, Tim decided he wanted a pair of sunglasses, and I had heard all about these YETI tumblers, so we took one of the $50 gift certificates and blew it on those 2 items. I have to say, I couldn't be happier!! I put a few ice cubes in that thing at about 10am this morning, and it is now 3:30pm, and they just barely look melted!!
What the heck?? How do they do that?? I'm totally sold! I told you we were boring!! So, we decided we'd go back with the kids and work on spending the rest of the gift certificates - it shouldn't be too hard! :-) Anyway, that's the latest and greatest from this end. I'll try to update again this weekend with news from the youth camp! Can't wait to hear all about it!
And then we collapsed! We finally had to get up because Tim had to work yesterday (Monday) from 3pm-10pm, so I spent the rest of the day unpacking, cleaning, straightening up, etc. I woke up this morning feeling worse again - argh! Tim and I planned on cleaning our carpets today since the kids aren't here and he doesn't have clients until 6pm. We both woke up draggy and not feeling well, but not wanting it to beat us, we went through with the carpet cleaning. I vacuumed all the carpets while Tim went and got the cleaner, and then he cleaned all the carpets, then I cleaned the upholstry on 9 chairs. We're wiped! Here's a picture of the chairs - how did we end up with white upholstry on our chairs?? That's about as smart as naming all our kids with the same initials - NMG! Ahah!
For some reason they let us have the cleaner until 9pm tomorrow, even though we went and got it this morning and it's a 24 hour rental. So maybe we'll get to do the couch and the cars tomorrow. Woohoo! Can't wait!
I tried eating oatmeal for breakfast this morning, but that didn't help me feel any better. I finally got a bright idea around 1pm to heat up some organic chicken bone broth I had made months ago and had put in the freezer, and oh my - I finally got some relief from the tight and nauseous stomach I've been sporting all day! I called my doctor's office and they said there's really not much you can do but to let it run it's course and drink lots of fluids. I called my urologist because I'm scheduled for a chemo treatment on Thursday, and predictably he said we should hold off a week, which makes sense but I just want to get this stuff over with! Because now since that treatment is pushed off a week my next treatment next month will need to be rescheduled, along with the treatment the month after that, along with my urine sample the month after, along with my cystoscopy 3 weeks later, along with my biopsy the month after. EVERYTHING gets pushed out now. But I know it is better to not compromise my body too much all at the same time. So please be praying I get over this bug FAST!!
I talked to my dad today, and he said my brother called and said there was a bombing in Lebanon yesterday. Sure enough, there were 4 suicide bombers who attacked a Lebanese village near the Syrian border, about 45 minutes from Baalbek, which is where we were a little over a week ago - crazy! I remember that day was the only day out of all the days we were there that I felt a little nervous about - I even mentioned it in my blog post that day. I remember telling Tim about that in the morning and he prayed for our protection - thank God! Wish we had known to pray for this village ahead of time. So please be praying for the families affected by this tragedy.
Well, I'm not sure what else to say on that note. I think we get an inkling of what a big part of the world lives like when something like the Orlando tragedy happens in our backyard. Hopefully it makes us a little more aware of others and helps us all re-evaluate our priorities. Makes things like carpet cleaning seem a little pointless! Ha!
Right before we left for this trip people would ask Tim how he wanted them to pray for us, and he said for family cohesion and I would add 'and for team unity'. Those prayers were so answered, thank you all who prayed for us! We just had a family pow-wow to kind of debrief and also get ready for this upcoming week as the kids head to youth camp in Georgia tomorrow morning at 5am! Glad for the energy of the young! Please be praying for Nathan as he is still dealing with the same thing Tim and I had/have - this stomach thing.
Our team leader sent us all an email this afternoon with a link where we can upload our photos, so I am waiting for everyone to upload theirs. Then I will download the most interesting ones to my computer and post them here! So stay tuned!
Hi, friends! Well, today was a sightseeing day to Biblos and Jeita Grotto, but not for 3 of us. Tim and I and another lady on our team got to spend the better part of the morning at the local hospital - woohoo! We took up rooms 1, 2, and 3 of the ER, and I got a picture of Tim in his room along with our awesome host couple:
They gave us IV fluids and some anti-nausea medication, and then loaded us up on 4 prescriptions. We slept most of the rest of the day and we're both feeling better - not 100% but definitely better. They told us to eat boiled potatoes and toast, so Kim told the kitchen at the convent that, and they brought us this tray:
They've been super nice and friendly here - it was a GREAT place to stay! So the team arrived back about 4pm from all the sightseeing and the kids said they had a great time - so glad for them! Nathan wasn't feeling very well, but he made it through the day and then he went with the team to meet local ministry leaders but they dropped him off right afterwards on their way to dinner and he's sleeping now. Please be praying for him! The hospital said we have to call them tonight to get cleared to get on the plane - didn't know the hospital had that kind of power. But we are definitely better so we're just waiting for the team to get back so we can ask Kim to make that call for us. And then we'll be leaving here in about 3 hours - about 1:15am to get to the airport by 2:15am for a 4:20am flight. Then we have like a 6 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany and then a direct flight to Tampa from there.
I have so much more I want to share, but also want to be sensitive to everyone's time. Of course, you can always stop reading, right? :-) So first I want to talk a little more about the orphanage. I'll try to upload some more pictures when we get back or maybe during our 6 hour layover, but I'm just not up to the time consuming-ness of it right now. Anyway, one of the stories I want to tell you about started the week before we left on this trip. Tim saw a new client couple in his office and he let them know he wouldn't be available for the next week because we were going on a missions trip to Lebanon. The guy said, "Here - take this $100 and give it to the orphans". Tim asked the guy how he knew we were going to an orphanage because he hadn't mentioned it, and he just said God told him and wanted that money to go to the orphanage. We gave it to the director, Karim, yesterday and he was so happy - it was awesome. Tim felt like he couldn't give Karim the guy's name since he is a confidential client, but Karim wrote a thank you note and a receipt and asked Tim to give it to the guy.
Tim did some art therapy with the girls having them draw pictures of something that makes them feel safe and other pictures of emotions, and then we took their pictures and stapled them into little booklets. Some of the girls really got the idea and their drawings were very expressive - which was Tim's goal - that they would be able to get in touch with their feelings. Then the last order of business of the day was Chagy the clown, which the girls absolutely loved, and many of them accepted Christ. We then passed out gift bags we had put together for them earlier in the week, and they just loved them!
The team just got back from dinner, and I went out so I could say goodbye to Kim and David, our host couple. David's background is tech arts, and for the service tonight (again, Tim and I didn't go, so I'm just letting you know what David told me) he had Nicholas sit with him on the boards and help out. Nicholas just came in our room and said he really enjoyed that, and really loved getting to know this team. I have to agree with him - everyone had such great attitudes and were just awesome! I'm looking forward to hearing from everyone about their day today, and will hopefully have some pictures and stories to tell. Blessings to you all!
This 2nd day at the orphanage was even better than the first. However, I am not feeling well, and believe it or not, these updates take anywhere from 2-3 hours to do because of the internet going up and down and then being slow when it does work. We went to our host couple's home for dinner tonight, but I stayed in their guest bedroom the whole time with stomach issues. I started feeling sick right before we left to go to their house but I was really hoping it wouldn't last. Unfortunately, it did, and then right before we left Tim started feeling it, too. Please be praying because a few other people are also feeling nauseous. I'll try to update this tomorrow, but we've got a pretty full day and then we leave late tomorrow night (actually really early Saturday morning at 1am) so I can't guarantee I'll have time. It's been such an amazing trip, but with the way I'm feeling now, I'm looking forward to just being home and crawling in my own bed! :-) Thank you all again for all your prayers!! Blessings!
We spent all day at the orphanage first singing some songs, playing games outside in the morning, and then inside, as well as painting, putting puzzles together, eating lunch together, etc. They were a precious group of girls with bright faces and open hearts for lots of hugs! Today was all about connecting with them. Tomorrow we will do more ministry with Tim leading them in some art therapy and sharing the gospel message through our professional clown - they're going to love it! Tim let Nicholas loose with his camera on his phone, so I'll include a few pictures that he took along with a few pictures I took from today. The first picture is Nicholas with the Orphanage's director Karim - what an amazingly soft heart and sweet spirit! We fell in love with him, too, right along with the girls!
Our trip director, Jessica, is of Lebanese decent, and so one of her cousins who lives here and her husband met us for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant. Again, the food is just crazy! They keep bringing it out and bringing it out – it is so much! And they bring it out family style so you just share every plate they bring out with everyone. I didn’t even try to keep track of everything they had, but here’s a couple pictures I took to try to capture some of it. Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers. You may remember me telling you about one of our translator’s, Timothy, and his story of conversion from Muslim to Christian after his best friend died in the war right next to him. Well, tonight he was playing soccer starting at 10pm in his soccer league so we surprised him and showed up for the first hour to cheer him on! Kim (the wife of our host couple) brought the leftovers from the restaurant to the soccer game and Hiba, one of our translators, came upon a little Syrian boy, Hamed, who was only about 9 or 10 years old. He was just heading home because he had to work contruction in the morning to help support his family of 6 and to help raise enough money this summer to pay for his tuition at his school next school year. She gave him the food to take back to his family, and I’m sure it was a treasure to that family. At the game, Timothy scored 3 goals (called a hat trick for you non-soccer people like me out there) right after we got there, and you could tell he was SO thrilled to have us cheer him on!! Check out the last picture below I took of him. Until tomorrow, blessings to you all!
Today we went to Our Lady of Lebanon (and no, I didn't take that photo - just found it on the internet). It is a big statue of Mary and people come from all over to pray there. So we joined some of the people and asked them how we could pray for them. Usually, their first reaction was, “Why would you want to pray for me?” Once we told them it was because God loved them and cared for their needs they opened up, sometimes weeping through their pain. When we first got there we visited the Byzantine Icon Museum, and the artistry really was quite fascinating. Rita gave us a lot of background information about many of the items there, and as we were leaving I felt led to ask her if I could pray for her for anything. She asked me to pray for her intentions. When I asked her what that meant, she sighed and replied, “I am not married”. Enough said – I totally understood her heart. Tim and I worked with the Singles at our former church and I’ve always had a heart for singles, so my heart was moved as I prayed for her. She was so appreciative and couldn’t believe that I would stop to ask her how I could pray for her – she said she felt like God had sent me and she was so encouraged - she asked for my email and wanted to stay in touch. It was precious. We then went out to the courtyard at the bottom of the statue and the first lady I asked if I could pray for her said that she has 1 child but has had 4 miscarriages since then. Well, Tim and I dealt with infertility, so once again I felt like I had a point of reference and definitely a heart that connected with hers. She was so appreciative of my prayers, and there was just story after story like that. Tim spoke with a number of Syrian refugees who had lost family members in the war and were praying for remaining family members in Syria for them to get out. The last group of people he spoke with was Ralph and his cousin, Mark, and Mark’s girlfriend, Ingrid. Ralph said he had everything the world had to offer – lots of money and beautiful women and anything he wanted, but he was very unhappy and unsatisfied. He knows his mother has been praying for him so he has started reading his Bible and found more of a satisfaction and joy in his life since connecting with God in that way. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of hearing people’s stories and joining them and encouraging them in their seeking for God. The first picture below is a picture is of Rita giving us a tour of the museum. The 3rd picture I took from the top of the steps of the statue of Tim and Nicholas in the courtyard, and the 4th picture I took of one of the 3 or 4 cedar trees in the courtyard. They really are quite impressive trees!
We went to lunch at a burger place and couldn't pass up a photo op with the team and our waiter!
We came back to the convent for 1 hour of free time, got back on the bus, went to a mall and got souvenirs and grabbed a quick bite there (where a couple of our guys led a guy to Christ in the Starbucks in the mall), and then went to the slum areas to a church service of almost all Kurdish refugees. There was a famous Kurdish Christian singer there so I understand the people felt very honored for him to come there. The service was kind of inside but really more outside in a broken down building, so it was pretty hot. It was entirely in Kurdish and this time we didn’t have an interpreter with nice headphones, but we were still able to figure out that the lesson was on Phil 2. After the service, we were called upon to pray for people. I remember 2 women who had boyfriends (or husbands – I couldn’t understand which), over in their country (didn't understand which one) still resisting ISIS, but they were both so afraid they would never see them again. Same thing for a mother who asked us to pray for her son. It was a little overwhelming to hear about the pain of a few of the people there and imagine all the pain represented in that service, and then all those affected by the war. I didn’t take many pictures there because it just seemed too personal or just inappropriate to do that. So here’s just 1 picture I took (that's Nicole's pretty head in front of me a little to the left)::
I don't know what else to say - other than please pray for all the people affected by the persecution of ISIS. Please also pray for a couple of our team members who couldn't go today due to a stomach bug they have. Also, Noah is fighting a head cold, so lift him up as well. Tomorrow we will spend the day at an orphanage. Thank you for your continued prayers for us - I feel like you are touching the lives that we are touching because you are with us. Thanks again!
Tim & Jodie