A Baptism.

Last year, in September, one of my good friends, Bethany, shared with me that she had made a decision to give her life to Jesus. This was a huge decision for her, but characteristically, she thought it through and has stuck it out. She asked to be baptized this year and we had a special service in September for her baptism.

So, here are some photos of the baptism day, mostly thanks to Fineas P. who gave permission for me to use his photos. He has a great camera and good eye for photography, and I’m glad we have some good photos for Bethany.

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 Sunday morning, we had a church service at our little chapel. My dad preached, and David shared scriptures specifically for Bethany.

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These three girls shared a song prepared especially for the service. They sing so well together!

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Jut before she was baptized, Beth shared her testimony of the happiness and fulfillment she has found in Jesus. She couldn’t stop smiling all day!

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And after the deed was done, there were hugs and smiles all around. (I love these photos!)

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For lunch, we set up plastic gazebos in our front yard and asked everyone to bring meat to throw on the barbecue. 

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Following shortly: a blog post about the annual conference (in September) and random events from Gympie!

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// U.S. Trip // Part Two

DISCLAIMER: If you’re subscribed to this blog and are hoping only for updates from Australia, I’m sorry. This is the last U.S. update. I will be posting an Australian update very soon, but some people wanted to hear about our U.S. trip, therefore I obliged.

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I take a break from studying and visitors to update you quickly on the last two weeks of my U.S. Trip.

 So, my cousin Kenneth found a really lovely girl (Charis, by name) from Kansas and decided to fall in love with her. They mutually decided to get married and have a wedding. This was the main reason why we decided to go back to the States. I stayed in Ohio for a few days after David & Carolyn travelled to Georgia, then I flew to Kansas a week before the wedding.

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The rumors are true. Kansas is really, really flat!

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A blurry picture of the happy bride and groom with us, the flower arrangers. It was so, so special to be with these people before the wedding for a few days.

Unfortunately, I really don’t have many photos of the wedding. It was such a beautiful day, a testimony of God’s faithfulness and His goodness to them. It was a simple celebration, full of happiness, smiles and music, and I am so thankful we got to be there to see them commit to each other for life.

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After the wedding, all of the Kauffman family travelled out to Arkansas where one of my uncles lives with his family. We rented a pontoon one day and enjoyed a day on the river.

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After Arkansas, we travelled down to Georgia, but swung through Alabama on our way to Georgia. Alabama is our home-state pre-Australia, so it was fun to see some old haunts and catch up with a few old friends and neighbors. And it was so fun to be with our cousins for hours-on-end while we drove. We made lots of happy memories.

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Georgia summers are hot and gorgeous. We spent a lot of time outside. My little cousins took me on a Gator ride back to their farm one afternoon and taught me how to hop hay bales.

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Blueberries were in season over our time there, just as we had hoped they might be. My aunt bought a huge box of them for just a few dollars and we helped her sort through them for freezing and in the process, experienced a major antioxidant overdose.

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I got to fly up to Lancaster (PA) and spent parts of two wonderful days with this dear friend and her husband. Lancaster is fascinating and beautiful.

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This afternoon with this family was pretty much perfect. We miss them so much since they moved back to the States. They drove several hours just to meet my cousin and I near Atlanta and spend an afternoon with us. We ate ‘barbecue’ (and fried okra!!) for lunch, caught up on their lives since moving back to the States and talked all-things-Australia. It was refreshing.

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David and Carolyn left nearly a week before I did. During the last week of my stay, I helped out at my uncle’s sandwich shop, went shopping with my aunt and grandma, ate Mexican food, and finished up shopping for my family.

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I love this little family. She’s my favourite (and only) Kauffman aunt and has a dear husband and children. They took me to church on Sunday, ate barbecue with me and dropped me off at the bus station so I could be taken to the airport.

Just because I can, I’m going to go on a little bunnytrail and share two stories from my time in the States which reminded me how much Jesus loves to answer prayer and how much He cares about little things.

On one flight from one place to another (there were a lot of those), I was sitting in an empty row of seats. Earlier in the flight, I had asked Jesus to give me a chance to tell someone about Him. I was sitting in my seat, journalling, when a lady stopped beside my seat, iPad in hand, waiting for her turn in the toilet. I don’t know if I showed my amusement over the fact that she clearly intended to take the iPad with her to the bathroom, or what, but somehow we struck up a conversation. In the course of the conversation, I must have said something about my iPhone and how much I like it, because, after her toilet trip, she plopped down beside me and asked, “So….which religion are you a part of that allows you to have an iPhone but makes you wear that thing on your head?”. (I hope it’s not rude that I laughed when she meant it in all seriousness). I told her I’m a Christian and explained why I wear ‘that thing’, and then discovered that she’s a Universalist and believes all paths lead to Jesus–Jesus did says He’s the Way, but that is just one religious leader saying that, while all other religious leaders say the same thing and are just as credible. She grew up with a Christian religion of some sort, but hasn’t seen fruit of Jesus changing anyone of her acquaintances and doesn’t believe His followers offer anything more attractive than other religions offer. It was sad to hear her all-too-common story of being turned off of Jesus because of His followers. I am grateful that it was at least a chance to share about Jesus, His character, and His expectation for His followers even though she seemed very settled in her own beliefs. Who knows what influence sharing simple truth about Him might have in her heart?

While preparing to fly back home, I had to juggle a lot of stuff to bring back. I packed quickly before leaving for the States (I finished exams one afternoon, and had a few hours to get ready to leave for a month) and wasn’t very wise with space. While in the States, I did shopping, both for myself and for gifts for my family. Between those gifts, clothes, the many journals I bought on special (who can resist buying necessities when they’re on special?) and the 25+ books my sister ordered for me to bring back, I began to rapidly fill up my suitcases. I weighed the bags at my grandparent’s home and they were just under the maximum limit. I took a bus into the airport. It was raining on the way there, but everything was going smoothly until suddenly our driver slammed the brakes and just, just stopped in time to avoid crashing into the car just in front of us, while the car behind us swerved around us to avoid crashing into us. The bus was dead quiet. 🙂 Thankfully, we made it safely. I took my bags up to the check-in counter and a friendly guy began weighing my bags. Apparently my grandparent’s scales were wrong because I was several pounds over the limit. Of course, I got scared because Delta charges a lot of money for extra baggage. The guy who was helping me must’ve seen the worried look on my face and shrugged and said, “It’s alright. Normally, I’m supposed to charge you $100 for those few pounds, but I’m so not in that mood today” and he waved me through.

 I hope you all have a wonderful day/night.

IMG_6704While I love travelling, and I loved being in the U.S., these three faces at airport were such a happy sight. Coming home is the best feeling!

Sorry!

In the last update, I set a lot of photos to open up in a new tab (so you can see them in a larger format) when you click on them. However, somehow the files got mixed up and a lot of the photos open up to the wrong photo. Try it, and you’ll see what I mean (so that I don’t have to explain that in detail).

Sorry about that. But I’m not going to try to change it now.  I’ll just double-check that in the next post. 🙂

I hope you all have a really blessed weekend.

Heidi Kauffman

// U.S. Trip // Part One

In January, we received the happy news that one of our cousins was planning to marry a lovely woman in July. By July, I had decided to go if I could get tickets under a certain price. Also, David & Carolyn planned to go if they could get tickets cheap enough. David and I both have a winter holiday from university, so the wedding was perfectly timed.

So, I was praying, they were praying. We all wanted cheap tickets, but because it’s holiday season in both countries (I guess that’s the reason, anyhow), cheap tickets were not to be found. I began telling God that I “really want to go, but I want to be sure you want me to go”, and kept looking. Somehow, one of David’s mum’s friends knew of a travel agent in California that gets good deals. David contacted this agent, and she found Delta tickets for much cheaper than anything we had previously been quoted. Carolyn and David booked their tickets and then Carolyn did her best to persuade me to come with them on the same dates. I found out that I could go with them, leaving the day after my exams finished, so I asked the travel agent to book a ticket for me, too. I chose a return date a week later than David & Carolyn, and she booked tickets for me. A few minutes later, I asked if I could change the return date because I realized it was on a Sunday. She answered back and said, “No, tickets just jumped up about $800 since we booked your tickets” (no more than an hour later).

Later on, she told David that she wonders if there was a computer glitch somewhere that allowed us to get these deals because prices from then on were a $1,000 higher than what we paid. (I love when “God” gets called awesome names like “Computer Glitch”.)

So, the week before I left, I took one exam, studied for the next one, took another exam and then packed my bags that night (that explains the thrown-together mess inside my suitcases!). The next morning, I took the 6 a.m. train down to the Brisbane airport, and thus, a month of holiday began.

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I met David & Carolyn in Sydney and we made the 24-hour trek with them all the way to Columbus Ohio.

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And once there, we were greeted with happy, wonderful grandparents and comfortable beds. These grandparents were with us for David & Carolyn’s wedding. It was really special to see them so soon afterward.

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We had a glorious week in Ohio! We got to enjoy the summer — beautiful summer storms, long evenings (light until 9:00? Yes, please!), and gorgeous flowers. These are Grandma’s flower gardens. Aren’t they beautiful? She and Grandpa both work hard to make her hobby into beauty like this.

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All but three of my mom’s siblings live in Ohio within 20 minutes of Grandpa’s place. They all came over one day with their children and we all mulched the flower gardens. One aunt and her family came from North Carolina came for the week while were there, as well.

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It was so lovely to be with our relatives again. We grew up knowing them and interacting with them, but as children, not adults. It’s interesting now to go back to visit and get to know them all over again adult-to-adult. We spent most evenings together.

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I have 18 first cousins on my mom’s side. They are all younger than I am, so most of them felt like nieces and nephews. They are truly precious.

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It was wonderful to see these two, an uncle and aunt that live out of state. They stopped in for part of an afternoon, and then returned on the weekend and stayed for a whole day with the rest of the family.

Also, there are three little boy cousins all about the same age as my sister Charis. They didn’t get along perfectly the whole week as evidenced by the picture above (caught red-handed!). They made me miss my own little siblings. It did take a lot of work to win their hearts, however. I went out and bought candy to bribe reticent children. It worked nearly every time. 🙂

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Did I mention cute? He’s the newest cousin. We were so pleased to meet him. He was only a few weeks old.

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This uncle married this lady last  year and he chose well! They’re getting ready to have a baby, and are remodeling a cute little house with a red door and a red front porch.

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One of my favourite evenings: most of the children went swimming while we ladies sat by the pool and chatted. Later on, the men joined us, and we made smores.
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This dog loves Grandma. And my uncle & aunt have wonderful views from their property.
And these guys like cornhole.
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David & Carolyn stayed in Ohio just over a week, and then flew to Georgia to be with my dad’s family. I was able to stay for two days longer, so the Sunday that they went to the airport, I joined my uncle & aunt and their family at a local hospital. We sang in the halls with some of their church people, then went to a park for lunch. I spent the afternoon with their lovely family.
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(The aforementioned lovely family.)
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Look at this amazing sky! Sunsets are so creative of God.
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We had so much lovely food…I couldn’t take photos of everything (being guests, we were served so many yummy dishes so often. It’s a royal situation if one is hungry constantly!). I must confess that I ate at Taco Bell three times while I was in the States (thus the documentation). It’s Mexican fast food and it’s so yummy and cheap. (Here’s a photo, just because.)
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(My aunt and her husband own the cutest little cottage.)
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Re-connecting with relatives was delightful. We mostly spent time doing that. But, we also met several friends throughout our trip, and that was absolutely wonderful. I met up with this friend one afternoon after touring Holmescounty. I met her several years ago, and it almost didn’t work for us to see each other. But, we snuck in a quick hour at a coffee shop and talked rapidly. It ended too quickly.
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And I got to be with this girl, too, one afternoon. That was a short two hours, as well. Cold Stone BerryBerryBerry icecream is so yummy.
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Speaking of friends: David, Carolyn & I made a day-trip up to Guys Mills (Pennsylvania) to visit their friends, Shannon & Joella Lehman. They worked in Poland while Carolyn lived there and David stayed with them when he went to visit. I liked them immediately and we shared a wonderful day together.
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(They have a beautiful dam on their property. Also, I loved being with these two favourite people this trip. We made lots of happy memories together.)
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Mr. Russell (pictured below) joined us for lunch at Shannon & Joella’s place. He spent time with us in Australia at the end of last year, giving teaching on Anabaptist History. He & Shannon offered to take us on tour of Faith Builders (see more about this college here: http://www.fbep.org/). We met Mr. Brubaker who pulled out his scientific paraphernalia and showed us some great experiments. My dream is to attend a term there someday , and our little tour made that desire even more intense.We got to tour the buildings and meet administration staff.
    
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Our grandparents took us to Holmescounty one afternoon. We went to the Walnut Creek Cheese Factory and Behalt, and stopped at a few garage sales and op-shops along the way.

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Sappy, I know (I made them feed each other, just because), but aren’t they sweet?

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I am always amazed by the sheer amount of choice in the States. So many brands of the same thing (fabric softener, detergent, bread, cereal, etc.) in one place. This shop (Walnut Creek) was no exception. I could’ve spent much money here, buying little things that brought back U.S. nostalgic memories (I didn’t, I promise). Instead, we just bought a few things, and icecream. 
 
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These kinds of evenings are the best kinds of evenings, I believe.
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(Please excuse the phone picture scattered throughout. That’s all I had with me most of the time.)
And thus ends my flood of pictures from our Ohio stay. I will be share about Kansas (the wedding of course!) and Arkansas in the next post.

The start. . .

So, I started a blog!

I have been having so much trouble sending out updates with Mail Chimp. Over half of my subscription list does not receive my newsletters (due to spamming, I believe?) and I have not the heart nor the energy to fix the problem (Truth: I’ve tried to find a solution to this difficulty, and have no clue what to do from here on). Therefore, I started a blog. I’ll  update it every-once-in-a-while, and if you want to keep tabs on us, subscribe to the blog via email or add it to your blog reader!

Take care.

Heidi K.