A Lesser Me

As of right now I have lost 50 pounds (22.7k). At this moment I weigh less than I did when I was 11 years old. I'm the smallest I've been my entire adult life. My BMI is, for the first time in my life, no longer considered in the obese range. I have gone from a size 20 (52Fr) to a 12 (44Fr). I've lost a whole lot of centimeters and inches too.

THE PROBLEM
My weight has been a struggle for me my whole life, from age 7 until today. Growing up in the anorexic 80's made being a fat child a nightmare. My mom did everything she felt was right; doctors, dietitians, diets, even hypnosis at one point. By Junior High I was in the 200's (90+k) and by High School I was in the 300's (136+k).

At 22 years old and over 350 pounds (158k), I had a roux-en-y gastric bypass. I lost weight rapidly. I bottomed out at 215 (97.5k) and stabilized in the 230's (104k). After having children, my new stabilized number rested forever in the 240's (108.8k). After a move to France and our 4th child, we knew we were done having children and I began to think seriously about losing more weight. It's easy to feel comfortable with yourself after losing, and keeping off, over a 100 pounds (45.3k) but I knew it was still too big.

SO HOW DID I DO IT?
Over the summer I did life coaching sessions and made a goal to be back at the 230's (104k) by the new year. There was to be no dieting, no exercise, just conscience eating. Eating has been a drug of choice since childhood and dealing with that addiction is key beyond anything a diet or exercise plan would ever do. So I set off to focus my energy in that direction. In January I hit 234 (106k). I made the goal. So what was next? The Holy Spirit was leading me to fast. It wasn't specifically to lose more weight but that hope was there.

I can't do a total fast. I have reactive hypoglycemia as a side effect of my bypass surgery. So not eating food at all is reserved for very special occasions and short amounts of time. So the fast went until my birthday, March 2nd. I cut all carbohydrates, did not eat breakfast, and did not eat a lunch. I would eat dinner with the family and a late night snack with my husband after kids went to bed. I've done low carb diets like this before with no lasting results so I really thought of it as a fast and not a diet. The weight melted off. No exercise, just not eating 3 meals plus snacks and no sugars or carbs. By my birthday I had lost an additional 25 pounds (11k). At 209 (94.8k) I had now surpassed what stomach surgery was able to accomplish. So I prayed and felt like I needed to continue. I would continue eating how I did on my fast but add a very small lunch and "cheat" days, since this was now no longer a fast but indeed a diet.

So why is this low carb diet working now? I have asked myself this question and come up with a few possible reasons. In the US I was working out at the gym and, for what ever reason, exercise like that has always stalled my weight loss. Here in France it's just walking everyday to get my kids from school. Also in the US I had low carb packaged processed diet food at my fingertips. I couldn't pig out on ghirardelli chocolate squares but a bag of sugar-free MnM's would scratch the itch. My addiction wasn't solved by subbing diet food for regular food. Here in France, if I want sugar free chocolate, I have to make it myself. Which I've done! Of course this is better for me, sweetened with natural stevia and not a label full of chemicals I can't pronounce. Mostly I'm too lazy and a handful of dried fruit ends up being the only thing I have for a sugar rush. Being in France and away from processed diet food has prevented the over eating. I have to prepare something from scratch so if I'm not really hungry, I don't.

Since my birthday, I have been under a doctor's care. My blood work was checked and I was all good to continue. My French doctor happily informed me that, should I lose another 40 pounds or so, the French health care system would pay for skin removal surgery. This was wonderful news. I have been plagued by lose skin ever since the 100+ pound weight loss and jumped at the chance to be rid of it. With this new found enthusiasm and motivation I continued.

So today I am at 197 (89.3k), this is the first time I have been clear of the 200 pound mark my entire adult life. 50 pounds (22.7k) down from my original starting weight this past summer of 247 (112k). I still have work to do. It's not over for me. I want that surgery! I'm writing this to inform people and maybe encourage others who have struggled as I have. If you want to "advise" me or "correct" something I'm doing, I respectfully ask that you do not. I have not been openly sharing about my weight loss because comments from the peanut gallery are not welcome. What I'm doing is working, I have a medical professional supervising me, and I do NOT want to hear about what you saw on Dr Oz or read on line. So please, keep it to yourself. Encouragements and "atta-boys" are welcomed and of course if anyone wants to ask questions to know more about what I am doing, please do.


Rise up, Rise up Now!

I'm here to tell you my testimony. Although I don't think that what I'm about to share is what you're expecting. I could sit here for the next few hours and greatly entertain you with the R rated tale that is my past life. All the horrors of drugs, sex, witchcraft, childhoods and teen years gone wrong told in the style of a Hollywood movie. It would keep you on the edge of your seats. But I won't. I refuse.

You see the real story of my life isn't something I can blame on people, circumstances, or even my own bad choices. The world as we know it is not real. What happened to me and what I've done in the past no longer exists in the eyes of heaven, so why should I bore you with it now. The truth is that somewhere in the real, God had a plan for my existence. Even before he formed me in the natural I was formed in His mind's eye with a purpose and a calling in the Spirit. Somewhere along the way, here in this realm of the natural, an enemy came in to destroy, distract, and deter me from that plan of God. It worked but only for a moment. In the grand scheme of forever that momentary lapse in my existence is petty and deserves little of my attention.

I don't deny that there is a time to mourn, a time to cry, a time to feel sorrow for ourselves and the failures, attacks, and demoniacally inspired activities of our past. But we can not build a home in that place and live camped out there, permanently stalled from all that God has for us. At some point we have to pull up the tent pegs and move on. We have to rise up and we have to rise up now.

This world as we know it is not real. All those people in your past, yourself included, were puppets on a string. Dancing the dance of the puppet master who was given authority to pull those strings. We have to move on and quit blaming those puppets for being used that way. We have to realize that for however badly we were made to feel subjugated, put down, enslaved, they were in fact having all the same done to them. Don't be fooled.

This world is a Spiritual one wearing earthly vestments. The real is affecting us all the time but we don't see the strings, we can't look past the clothes at the truth of what lies behind. The real powers that govern and contend for this universe. They're more real than what our eyes can see. In the spiritual I am not a sinner saved by grace. The sinner no longer exists. I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ and that “sinner” is no longer a part of my identity nor will I lay claim to her. I am once again in restoration with the creator of the universe who once again sees me in that perfect condition of who I was truly created to be. It is the lie of the enemy to trick me into believing anything different.

So we have to rise up, rise up and claim what is ours, what the enemy has tried to steal, what we have let go of. Rise up in the name of Jesus and proclaim the truth of who we really are and quit blaming the past. Rise up in truth, rise up in freedom, rise up in the Spirit.

The Kingdom of God is a rushing river forcefully advancing. We can be in it or we can be on the sidelines watching it flow by but our lack of participation does nothing to stop it. It will go on and only those forceful enough to jump in the stream will get to partake of it. The longer we stay camped in the lies and false reality of the enemy the longer it will pass us by. So RISE UP, and rise up now.

The Parable of the Sower and Why We Should Not Be Raising "Christian" Children

Introduction

     First off I have to tell you an exciting thing. I'm reading the Bible, IN FRENCH. So fun. I'm living in France and trying to learn French so it seemed like a good idea but let me tell you something though. I have seen so many things in the Word that I never saw before just because I'm reading it in another language. Seeing it in French causes me to stop and rethink things that I have read on auto-pilot in my mother tongue a 100 times. I highly recommend doing this to anyone trying to learn another language. It is great fun.

     Today God showed me something completely new in the parable of the sower. I saw it in a way I had never seen it before. I saw it in context to raising my children.

 The Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:3-9

     "Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."

The Parable Explained Matthew  13:18-23

     "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

Why I Can Not Raise "Christian" Children 

     When I read this today I felt God speak to me and tell me, this is what He wants me to do with my children, prepare them to be good soil. I can't "make" them Christians. I can, however, create in them a fertile ground so that when the Word of the Lord comes to them, it will be deeply rooted in a good soil that will bear much fruit. 

     "Who then is Paul (Dad), and who is Apollos (Mom), but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye (my children) are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." -1 Corinthians 3:5-9

     I have to surrender control of the outcome of my children to the Lord and trust Him with the increase. I need to do my best to prepare them and make them a fertile ground for that increase to happen in. I can not let my parenting be guided by fear of a possible outcome.

     "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

     How many times have I parented out of fear and not love? How many times have you?

     The parable offers 4 possible outcomes of a person's condition:
  1. Road and Birds = Misunderstanding and Demonic Attack
  2. Rocks and Sun = Shallowness in Persecution
  3. Thorns = Worry and Worldliness
  4. Good Soil = Understanding
     1.  So let's avoid number one happening to my kids. What can I do? Educate.  They need to have understanding. We need to teach them logic and reasoning. They need to have a depth of understanding so that they can see through things that are obvious and find the deeper meaning. They also need to have an understanding of the evil in this world and what it is capable of so that they will not fall as easy prey and can recognize evil when they see it.

     2.  We need to create givers and carers, kids that are not shallow and self focused. Our kids need a global Kingdom perspective that can take them outside of themselves to see that they are a part of the whole, a member in the body. The world doesn't revolve around them and their own interests. Take them on a mission trip, teach them about persecuted churches around the world, take them to hand out breakfast and coffee to those living under a bridge, volunteer at a homeless shelter, and talk about it with them. Talk about what they saw and why that happens. They need to understand persecution and tribulation. We can't protect them from bullies, but we can help them to endure their persecution with grace and forgiveness. To help them see that there is a root cause to the pain that causes someone to act out that way. To help them to turn the other cheek and pray for those that would willfully persecute you. 

    3.  We need our children to feel secure, safe, and satisfied. We need them to trust us, even if times are hard. 

 
"Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" -Matthew 7:9-11

     We are this example. How can we expect our kids to grow up trusting an invisible Heavenly Father, if they can't trust us. If we blind-side them and cheat them out of a safe, trusting, loving, environment, this will influence how they view God. If we are trustworthy and build them a home with safety and provision, they will transfer that to their Father in Heaven as adults and teens. 

    Money isn't everything. In consumer driven cultures it's hard to not be lured in by the "deceitfulness of riches." I've met really miserable rich people and really happy poor people. We have to make sure that our kids are not drawn in by the commercialism make false promises of happiness. We need to teach them what real happiness is and encourage them to seek those things.

   4.  Understanding. We need to model understanding for them to have it. Let them have a voice. Talk through things with them. Model Kingdom, Christ-centered, Spirit-lead, Biblical living, so they will know it when they see it. So that when the Word of God comes to them, they will understand it because they grew up seeing it in action in our hearts, lives, and actions as parents. 

     "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." -Ephesians 6:4

    "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." -Colossians 3:21

     Childhood and parenting is hard. Luckily my Lord's yoke is easy and his burden is light. Praise God I don't have to raise perfect Christian children. I need to love, nurture, protect, educate, and prepare my little ones. Why is it that the simplest things are sometimes the hardest to do. I have to trust God with my children. So hard yet so easy. I have to quit trying to control them and rather instruct and love them. God is in control, not me. He is the one in whom's hands I will place their fate. I'd so much rather it be His than mine. 

     So this is what God was speaking to me today. If any of it is for you too, great! I hope that I can live out the lessons I feel like God is trying to teach me through this. I'm not there yet but I hope to be soon.

 


    

What Learning French Has Taught Me

I studied French for years living in the States without much progress to show for it. I'm sure all the words I learned are in there somewhere, but years of toil didn't produce much. Two months of living in France has produced a lot. Aside from a new vocabulary and a completely new way of dealing with verbs, learning French has taught me so much more than just another language.

1. I am SO American.
Ok, so this should be obvious right? Well, not so much. You see, in the states when you have a slight bit of knowledge of the world at large it's easy to feel international, mysterious, exotic, and superior. Most Americans don't travel off continent and even fewer know a language other than English. So to spit out a line or two of conversational French to an "Oooo"-ing and "Awww"-ing American, taken in by your travel tales of adventures abroad, makes you feel so, so, I don't know, cool. Not to mention all us Americans LOVE to talk about our ancestral roots in the old world. "Oh I'm a quarter this and one eighth that." No one is ever just "American." Oh no, all of us are a Heinz 57 sauce full of a dash of everything.

There really is nothing like the absolute culture shock of complete immersion into a foreign country to really hit home just how much of your own culture you really are. I'm an American. Through and through. And never so much of an American as I am right now living in France. I hunt down American food and ingredients like a blood hound and pay embarrassing prices to obtain it once found. I stumble over my own culture constantly and feel rubbed the wrong way by things I know for a fact to not have been meant offensively. Yet they still bother me. Knowing is only half the battle. The fibers of my capitalist American self run deep. Even deeper than I once thought.

2. A watched pot never boils.
I'm given so much encouragement by people continually about how good my French is for someone who has been here for such a short time. Yet, American that I am, I'm impatient. I want to have deep philosophical, religious, conversations now! I don't want to stumble around like a three year old grasping for whatever word I can find to kind of sort of explain what I'm trying to say. And then say it badly. I can be understood, for the most part. I can understand others, for the most part. "A watched pot never boils," is such a fun English expression about patience. How constantly watching and waiting for something to happen will slow the time. You're so much better off forgetting about it and being surprised when suddenly it happens. 

The truth is I am getting better, daily, moment by moment. Each TV show I watch, each conversation I have is pushing me forward. More bubbles beginning to form in the water. One day it will boil. One day, without even knowing, it will have happened, I will be fluent. I look forward to that day. For now I will try to describe the deeper things of life like a 3 year old without the vocabulary to fully express what she means and wants to say.

3. People are people.
Americans think French people are so cool. We love the accent (so don't be too embarrassed by it Frenchies and don't try too hard to lose it), we love the food, we love the culture, the art, the history. It's all so rich and colorful. So different from our own. French people have a mystique to Americans. When people heard we were moving to France the reaction was as if we were moving to Disney World. "What?! France?! Oh you are SO lucky! I am SO jealous!" Yes, yes. France is gorgeous, the food is good, the landscape is lovely but people are still people.

The more French I learn the more the mystique is lost. That guy over there is a redneck. Yes he's French, but he is as much a blue-collared redneck as any hill-billy picked out of a hat from the deep woods of Kentucky. Yes he eats baguette and drinks wine instead of Budweiser and pretzels. But he is who he is. Being French doesn't change that and I love that. I love down home salt of the Earth people who aren't full of themselves and I'm so glad they're here to make me feel more at home. He isn't alone. All the classic stereotypes are here. The Auntie May, the girl next door, the geeky loner, the jock, the hippie, the prom queen, they all exist here in their own cultural equivalents. If anyone of them came to the states they'd instantly be given street cred for being French. All our stereotypes we associate with that would be placed on them immediately. If they knew how to play their cards right, they might could even play it off and reinvent themselves.

So I'm encouraged. I will continue to trip over my French and feel blessed by every French person who bothers to return the favor and trip over their bad English. I will indulge my American-ness and wait for my pot to boil. I will take comfort in knowing that these lovely people, are just people. Hopefully, one day, I will have a fabulous testimony to go with all this work and observation. For now, I'm enjoying the journey.

Our Homeschooling Approach

In general we create our own curriculum for everything using free resources found on the internet and other community resources but also have curriculum that we enjoy too. Our oldest child has Aspergers and an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Because of the APD and the fact that we are all pretty much visual learners, we use a lot of video and visual stimulation. We also try to incorporate field trips, cooking, and crafts into as much as we can to give a full sensory learning experience. We teach based on an eclectic, unit study approach that has unschooling principles at it’s core. This helps us to appeal to our older son’s intense interests and gives him motivation to learn. By taking his interests and approaching those interests from all angles; science, history, reading, math, vocabulary, social studies, etc; he is better able to be motivated to learn. We find this approach not only works for him but for everyone.

When we, the parents, were in school we were both in GT (Gifted and Talented) and honors classes. Despite our “abilities” we found that at graduation we were prepared to be excellent test takers and not much of anything else. Our character also suffered at the hands of the child-led mob in both our public and private school experiences. We wish to raise children who have a love of learning, know how to seek out knowledge on their own, understand and pursue their passions and talents, and most of all have Godly characters that seek to be kind, loving, fair, and honest. As adults in the real world it has not been our experience that knowing how to bubble in circles with a number two pencil gets you very much. It is, however, been seen that those with talent and passion who pursue a career path or particular passion with intensity, honesty, and integrity are the ones who succeed. This is the goal of our homeschooling.

We believe that children enrolled in public and private schools can also achieve all the above. It has been our experience that it takes a certain calling to be in any of these situations by both the parents and the children. We believe in hearing the voice of God in all of our decisions and going where He leads you to go. For that reason we had our son in public school for K-2nd grade and are grateful we did. We currently send our daughters to public school in our little French village and believe that is God's will for them currently, even though the oldest girl longs to be homeschooled like big brother. If you are following God’s guidance and not an arbitrary sense of obligation to a particular dogma or group pressure, you win. We have seen homeschooling fail children just as miserably as the school systems can. Any form of education not done right will fail a child. We hope and pray that will not be said of us.

Along with all these other beliefs it should be made known that we hold to young Earth Creation (but we will teach our children evolution and also about the "Christian Compromises"). We use the received text for our Biblical studies (KJV and NKJV in English), and we believe in the gifts and fruit of the Spirit needing to be an active part of any Christian believer’s life. The Word and the Spirit need to be in balance in every Christian’s life and also in the lives of our children.

Our CDTS Outreach from 2008

We're in Romania 

September 23, 2008 at 4:46pm

So we arrived in Romania, via Italy, yesterday. We had an orientation with the base leaders here and we're really excited about what all they have going on. There are many ministry opportunities here that we get to help with. They have a girl's home that minister's to girls on the street; a children's youth center that assists poor and homeless children by giving them meals, showers, a fun place to play off the streets, and homework help; a cafe that does twice a week bible studies for the university students; and an outreach team that does evangelism, bible studies, and feeds the older street kids (between 18-30). So we are very excited about what all will happen here and will send you updates and pictures. Thank you for your continued prayers, its needed. Especially pray for Autumn as she has no vaccinations and there is concern about the fruit and water here making her, and thereby the baby, dangerously ill.

BABY UPDATE:

So before we left Switzerland we had 2 different sonograms by two different doctors that confirmed the baby appears to be a little girl. :)


Constanta, Romania

October 10, 2008 at 2:21am
So today we leave Constanta and head to Iasi (Yawsh), in the North of Romania. So I figured before we boarded our train I would send a last update from Constanta with our overall experience. It's sectioned for those with little time who just want to scan through.

Baby:
My pregnancy is great. I'm at 21 weeks with no problems or illness, praise God. Baby kicks and grows rapidly, as does my belly, each day. I'm doing good avoiding fruit and veggie peals and have been making sure to drink my bottled water.

Isaac:
He is such a trooper for a 4 year old and travels absolutely wonderfully. But the first week we were here he had a very difficult time adjusting. I made him a count down calendar with all the days left of our outreach until we fly back home to Texas. On it there are all the major events, including team member birthdays and travel days when we change cities. He loves his calendar and has fun every night marking off and counting the days. So this next leg well prove whether or not it has helped him prepare mentally for the changes.


The Street Children:
So the YWAM base here has a day center for extremely impoverished and destitute children. These children are primarily Turkish and Gypsy decent and have an abundance of siblings but rarely a father. They spend there nights wandering the streets of the city alone without supervision under their parents orders to beg and sometimes just to be out. These little ones are as young as 5 and 6 and we have seen them walking around town alone. They are always quick to run up to one of the team members when they see them and give a big hug. They are sweet bright children. Their prospects in this country, coming form their origins and race, are slim to none. But these full time missionaries here running their center make such a different. The kids can finish school and are given something very rare and precious here, hope for their future.

The Street Youth:

This is typically what happens to the day center children when they grow up, they move out and live on the streets. The team here does weekly outreaches and Bible studies with them, feeding and building relationships. Ryan and I have gone several times and it is a tough ministry to be sure. Last night I shared at their Bible study my story of finding Jesus when I was a street teen in San Francisco. For the ones who stayed to listen, it definitely made an impression. Impressive to me is that the ones who are the most open and respectful, the ones who always stay to listen to the message after the food, are all x-day center kids. That fruit is priceless for me to see.



Human Trafficking:
Romania is top 5 in the world for human trafficking. Primarily woman and small girls are taken into prostitution houses in the west. They are highly prized because they are white European decent. Most other trafficking victims are Asian and African. But we have also heard stories here of men taken with promises of high paying jobs in factories that get stuck in foreign countries with no wage and no way back home. Sadly, in the short time we've been here we've heard many stories about this happening. The conditions here can be so bleak that even though the Romanians have heard the stories before and know the risks of taking one of these Western "jobs." The risk sometimes seems worth it and more stories are made of human slavery through deception. The people on the base are committed to raise awareness of this issue and have been proactive in trying to prevent it from happen to those they have in their care.

The Cafe:
Is a student ministry that, of course serves coffee, and brings Bible studies and cool speakers to speak to the college students who come. This ministry is extremely encouraging as it is very refreshing to see the young Christian Romanians who come full of excitement for the Lord and a hunger to learn His ways.

The Base:
Finally the base! The YWAM base here and the staff are truly an amazing sight to behold. They have such a spirit of peace and unity and an amazing heart and calling to be here doing what they are doing. They need prayer for more workers, finances, and a bigger facility. They have really outgrown the resources they have and need more to continue to grow and expand to meet the demand of need that is here to tackle.



If you made it all this way to the end, thank you so much for caring enough to read this all.


Love,
The Springer Family
Autumn, Ryan, Isaac, and Baby 

Iasi, Romania

October 26, 2008 at 2:38pm
So this is our last day here in Romania. Tomorrow morning at 8:00am we board a chartered bus for Bulgaria and the last leg of our outreach before returning to Switzerland and then home. So much has happened here and I'm very grateful for the chance to have served here in this country. So let me catch you up on what things have been like here in Iasi.

The Base
With Fall in the air we've done a lot around the base, gathering the fallen walnuts, cleaning, raking leaves, and we harvested all the apples from the trees and off of the ground out back on the base's property.

The Farm
We went for a couple of days to help out on a farm in the North just 7 miles from the Moldovian border. It's a boy's home called Children's Hope (http://www.childrenshope.ro/?language=en). They take in boys from off the street or from out of orphanages when they turn 18 and have no where to go. they teach the boys work ethic and the gospel. It's a GREAT ministry and Romania could use a 100 more of them.

The Festivals

Several festivals occurred while we were here. Iasi turned 600 and they had their feast day for the city's patron Saint, Saint Paraschiva. She mummified after burial and they keep her remains on display but once a year, October 14, she is uncovered and pilgrims can come into the cathedral and kiss her remains. So all this was going on at the same time and we were here for it. So we walked around the city interceding for it and even getting to talk to a few people. (This doesn't happen often has none of us speak fluently in Romanian.)


Student Ministry

We met an amazing couple here, David and Erin Freich, who are running a student Bible study for all of the international students who come here to study at the Medical University from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. I say Bible study but with the amount of students they have attending it, it's more of a church than a Bible Study. Their ministry is amazing and they themselves are a great encouragement to Ryan and I. They are our same age with a 4 year old little boy, Zeek, whom Isaac ADORES, and a 2 year old little girl, Mari. They have only been here for 3 months and God has given them a great house and a great congregation. Talk about being blessed by God for your obedience. It gives Ryan and I hope to see God do the same for us. So while we were here we've been able to serve them by helping to do outreach on campus, attend their services, and help them to paint and settle into their new home.



Chinese Workers
One of the members on our team, Kyoung Soon, is from South Korea and has been ministering to Chinese refugees in South Korea for years. While we've been here in Iasi we have met some guys out of a group of 100 or so workers who are Chinese. Kyoung Soon has been able to minister the gospel to them and has been bringing them tea, sandwiches, and soup for their 15 minute work break everyday. We also have been able to get Chinese Bibles and other materials for them and they had us over for lunch Sunday afternoon. What an opportunity to witness to a people from a closed communist country. There are several Romanian Christians here that have prayed for this chance to get to know the Chinese workers for months. Kyoung Soon was their answered prayer. We leave them here to continue the ministry that she started. They will be helping the Chinese to learn Romanian and also aide them in getting money home to their families and other practical things that were otherwise unknown to them. Interestingly enough some of the students from the student ministry may be able to help with the translation.


So we have high hopes for Bulgaria and I look forward to telling you all what God does there with us.

Love,
The Springer Family

Hissar, Bulgaria

November 7, 2008 at 5:41am
So today is our last day in Bulgaria. From here we head to Milan, Italy to catch a train back to Switzerland. We'll be there for about a week and will then return to TEXAS! We are all very excited to be coming home for the holidays and baby's "birth" day. So let me tell you what all we've been up to for the 10 days that we were here.
Craft Time 
Craft Time

Gypsies, Gypsies, Gypsies
We did almost all of our ministry here in various different gypsy villages. It was a very encouraging outreach. These gypsies have such a heart for God and it was amazing to share and worship with them. We would be doing one of two things usually, running a kids club or speaking at their church services.

Gypsy Kid Club 
For kid's club we would have a lot of fun. We'd always do some sort of lesson from the Bible and then follow it up with songs, crafts, and games. The kids were all amazing! If we didn't tell one of the stories just right they'd correct us and fill in any missing details we may have forgotten. The older ones would pray for us and play the surrogate parent/teacher with the younger children, and also any adults that would step out of line in "their" service. If this next generation of gypsy kids is any indication of the future, prepare for gypsy revival in that town.
Beautiful Gypsy Children 
Beautiful Gypsy Children
 
Gypsy Church Service 
At night we'd go out into the villages for the adult services that they would have at different villages during the week. The worship was amazing!!! If they put what they did on CD and toured the states with it they could make a good living for themselves. They are so earnest in their worship and their hunger for the things of God. They share whatever modest things they had with us and were very generous loving people. In one village the men are hard at work building a church building. This may sound simple at first glance but let me just explain it.

These guys work HARD all day long like field hands. After dinner they go out in the dark, cold and work on this church for hours, lit by whatever car headlights they can shine in their direction, using whatever materials they've bought themselves or scrounged up from somewhere. The village is SO proud of their church, which is currently only a foundation with some bare bones, but every time you pass the sight some one is very quick to point it out with a proud gleaming smile. The current church is someone's living room, equivalent to half of their entire home, sacrificed for those who want to come in to worship Jesus. These people were so amazing!
One of the mineral water taps 
One of the mineral water taps
 
The Town 
We also did some ministry in the town of Hissar itself. The town has tons of ancient mineral springs, renowned for their healing abilities, that date back to Roman times, with seasonal spas and hotels. While we were here we did some regular church ministry with a church, children, a women's group, and a couple of conferences. Also very touching, was all the people we saw everyday, at the internet cafes, shops, and restaurants we frequented. People were always very curious about this group of mix-matched foreigners and what we were doing here in their small little Bulgarian town. Those conversations were always small seeds.
The Ancient Roman gates of Hissar 
The Ancient Roman gates of Hissar

So we leave this place with a lot of wonderful experiences and look forward to the future.

Homeward Bound,
The Springer Family



FRANCE, 10 Things Every American Should Know

(Originally written in 2007. I now live here as of 2014)
NUMBER 1: Not everyone here speaks English!
Ignore anything to the contrary that others who've been here might have told you. Even in Paris, I've found very few people with a working ability to speak English. So PLEASE come here knowing at least a few basic things in French to help you get around. The more the better. Especially if you will be traveling anywhere out into the countryside, which you really should, its absolutely amazing out there. Besides its only fair. We always say of others coming to our land, "If you're gonna be in America you need to speak English." So why shouldn't the French demand the same of us. Like I said, it really is ONLY fair.

(2014 Update: Still true.)

NUMBER 2: Peanut Butter is an exotic item in France.
This one is especially for you parents out there who may have children, like mine, addicted to the stuff. If you would like to track some down and neglect my advice, which is to take a jar with you, you can try looking where the jam, honey, and nutella is (which by the way they have more Nutella here on one shelf than I think I've seen in my entire life) but more likely than not it will not be there. So try looking in the "exotic foods" section. Oh yeah and don't look for a "jar" look for a can. That's right, a tin can, bearing almost no resemblance to what we in America know as peanut butter, inside or out. People here say they hate peanut butter and from what I've tasted of the local variety, I don't blame them.

(2014 Update: Not true any longer. Skippy has taken the nation for peanut butter lovers everywhere and the creamy variety can be found in small jars pretty much everywhere. Also Mexican and Asian foods are found now too, although they aren't very good outside of a genuine Asian or Latino community store.)

NUMBER 3: Have good shoes and socks
Even in the country you walk a lot and my stupid socks plague me. I got new shoes before I left and they are working great, but my socks suck and fall down into my shoes. Ugh! Oh yeah, lay off the tennis-shoes. People don't wear them here, major tourist give away. They are considered tacky and ugly when worn outside of an actual tennis court.

(2014 Update: Somehow Tennis shoes are now a European fashion trend. Not sure if it will last forever but it is here now)

NUMBER 4: Know their customs BEFORE you come.
This really should be number one. Even more important than knowing the language you have to know their cultural and societal norms more than anything. Do not come here thinking this is a "white western" world. Pretend like your going to Japan or China and learn a bit about the French's social protocol. Certain things we do that are considered "rude" or "polite" are the exact opposite of each other. For example! In America you do not greet people in stores or restaurant. You are in there for business. If you are asked anything its only to find out what you need. In France its expected that you exchange greetings with the clerk or store owner before conducting business. Not to do so will ensure rude horrible service because they feel they are acting in kind to your behavior. Their business is not just business, its like an extension of their home and they expect that you would politely greet them first. And this is just one of many.

The only other one that is really important to know is that a waiter will not be giving you a lot of attention. Here to be constantly going to a table that has not asked for your services specifically is "interrupting" them. But an American would almost never "hail" a waiter and would think that if they had to do so it is because he was "ignoring" them. These things are a big deal here. Know them.

(2014 Update: Still VERY true)

NUMBER 5: The French do not hate Americans.
Get over it people. We've been fed this lie from our Franco-phobe government and it just simply is not true. The French are a proud people, as are we, and two proud, strong people can, more often than not, rub each other the wrong way. What the French do hate is people who come here with no respect for them, their culture, their country, or their language. Superior attitudes and objectionable behavior bother them more than where you are from. Pretend like you are going to stay at someone else's house before you come here. Learn the rules of the house. And then respectfully obey them. You would want the same done for you.

(2014 Update: This was written during the Bush/"freedom fries" era. Political context aside, still true.)

NUMBER 6: Bring a lot of money.
Even in the off season its REALLY expensive. Even eating cheap stuff from street vendors can still cost you about 10 euro ($15) a meal. And where are all these creperies I was promised! I finally find one of these apparitions and wouldn't you know it, I wasn't hungry.

(2014 Update: Still expensive here.)

NUMBER 7: Prepare thyself for dehydration!
In America we use REALLY big cups compared to the French. Seriously! The cups in some places would look like buckets to them. Their large glass looks like our small and their small glass is a dixie cup. So I would highly recommend cutting back on your fluid intake a week or so before you come. Or you could bring your own cup and give yourself away. :)

(2014 Update: Definitely still true.)

NUMBER 8: Fear not for you Big Mac attack.
The French have McDonald's EVERYWHERE! It's actually a bit depressing. Even way out in little towns in the middle of no where we saw McDonald's (The French call it McDo, pronounced, "Mack-Dough"). BUT here is where we found out its a tad different. French law regulates its food better than we do. So the ingredients tend to be fresher and better tasting than it's US menu item equivalents. You will still find some things different, even in McDonald's, like Espresso instead of coffee, but no one hears me complaining about that one.

(2014 Update:Still true only now I see more of them and more highway signs advertising them than I had before.)

NUMBER 9: We're sorry but number 9 is on strike at the moment and can offer no information at this time.

(2014 Update: Yes, SO TRUE!)

NUMBER 10: Prepare to be amazed.
Nothing you would ever see in a picture, or book, or hear someone tell you about this place could ever prepare you for the grandeur and artistry that is "France." It is not just Paris in the same way New York does not equal "America". This entire place, every city, house, tree, or blade of grass is just amazingly beautiful. I don't think there is anywhere in the world quite like it. It's like you can't find "ugly" here. Ornate, perhaps even gaudy, but never ugly. Everything here is about striving to create beauty. The land itself seems to have taken up the cause of its people by decorating for each season and setting its ornaments all into place. Or perhaps the chicken came first and because the land is that way the people couldn't let themselves be out done. Who knows? but bring a lot of film and prepare to be disappointed at the inability to "capture" something.

(2014 Update: Perhaps a bit overstated but generally true. And of course no one uses "film" in their digital cameras or smartphones.)