Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tis the Season to Give Thanks!

It had been decided upon that Charae, Leisel and I would be heading down early to California to help Grandma prepare for Thanksgiving. Since it has been a tradition in the Spafford household for many a year to decorate the house right before Thanksgiving, we decided that we must stick with that tradition and decorate on the very early date of  November the 14th.

It was quite a rush that Sunday as we rushed out of the church, quickly changed from our Sunday clothes to travel clothing, and then rushed off in time to catch our train. As it turned out, we found that our transportation had been delayed, and that we had plenty of time to sit around at the station. Instead of taking the train the whole way, we were going to be riding the bus for the first hour of our trip due to mudslides that had damaged the tracks along the way.

When we reached Portland station, we exited the bus to claim our luggage and to lug it all of the way to where we would be boarding. It was at this point that we were beginning to reconsider the amount of luggage that we had packed for our two week stay ;)

When we climbed climbed aboard the passenger car, we were glad to rid our sore shoulders of our many bags :)
Then we were off, and the train now had three giggly, excited passengers on board and a 13 hour train ride ahead of them. It was raining cats and dogs outside which made for a cozy ride. Since the train already has a tendency to be cold, we came prepared with our own blankets. With all that time ahead of us, we had plenty of time to freely roam the train. 

It was around 3 AM when we finally arrived in California feeling quite lively for it being such an early hour :)
That first night at Grandma and Grandpa's, we were scheduled to hear Chris Paranto, one of the four heroes that helped in the rescue at Benghazi.

Grandpa was very disappointed that he had not been in time to purchase VIP tickets. But what we ended up finding was that we had the better end of the deal. We got front row seats and were some of the first to rush to the front to meet Chris Paranto.

We three girls were flying high after hearing such a wonderful speech and on top of it, getting to actually meet him!

The next eight days that we had before the family joined us seemed to fly by...

...Wednesday finally rolled around and it was time to prepare Grandma the house for the great invasion of our family. The home was cleaned, a trip was made to Raleys, and a rather large shopping cart was filled to overflowing with groceries. The family had left home in record timing and they would be arriving by 2:30 that day.

Suddenly, the noise level seemed to rise, the house became strewn with luggage and sleeping bags, and life was back to normal again! :D

Grandpa enjoyed showing off his new Model A and giving rides to everybody in the rumble seat. It was rather funny to see the stares his old car would get as he drove it into town, and then the double takes that people would give when they saw that there were actually people riding in the back of the Model A :) 

Thanksgiving morning we were greeted with this sight from our porch: A helicopter was flying over head, carrying an American flag behind it that dwarfed the helicopter in size.

The weather had taken a rather chilly turn that day from the 70 degree heat that we had been having before. But rain or shine, we were going to get our traditional Thanksgiving walk in no matter what.

Kayleen went ahead of everybody to take family pictures of our cousin and her family :)

Twenty-eight people gathered around the large set up of tables in Grandma and Grandpa's garage to eat a very large and plentiful Thanksgiving Day feast. 

Annie was running around all day making sure that she didn't miss an opportunity to cuddle her cousin's little children...they received more attention then they knew what to do with.

Austin took every opportunity to wrestle whenever he could find a willing partner...the noise level always escalated to a higher level.

Mom made sure to get her baby fix in when she got an opportunity, getting a chance to hold her niece's little boy, Bennet :)

Since it was Grandma's birthday the next day, we made sure to give her the 'princess treatment'. We put up her Christmas decorations up for her, and prepared a meal of her choice: tri-tip, macaroni salad, and baked beans. Of course, the last and most important course was German Chocolate cake ;)

That night, we gathered together with family to celebrate a very special lady, who has made such an impact on so many lives!

While Leisel and I had been in Redding, Grandpa had been working so hard to find the perfect gift for Grandma. He had searched numerous jewelry stores till he found the perfect pairs of earrings for her birthday. 

The sun was so beautiful that last day that everybody was getting an itch to go outside. Dad took a car load of people out to Whiskey Town, a place he told us where he and mom had had some of their first dates :)

A lovely family joined us for dinner that evening. The Suhs are some dear friends of Charae's that she had gotten acquainted with while she lived down in Redding. She had gotten an opportunity to do some interpreting for the Pastor at his church as well. It was wonderful getting to finally meet these dear people!

Saturday evening was quite the rush trying to get all of the lunches made for the car ride home, packing all of our bags and loading them into the van. The plan was to leave by seven in the morning, We made it out the door by 7:15  (quite the record timing for the Spafford family ;) 
As we all piled into the van and everybody settled into their appointed seats, Leisel commented, "One of these days, this van is going to burst at the seams.". (we were all quite compacted in there :)
Everything went just great for the first 6 hours of our trip. We were almost home, already seeing familiar land marks when the battery light suddenly went on in our car and the CD player blanked out. The Lord had his hand of protection upon us the whole way, and we were able to make it safely to a near-by gas station where they replaced our car battery.

The Lord has given us so much to be thankful for this year! We've never lacked any good thing, but He has always given us exceedingly and abundantly above what we ask or think! I have always known that I have been blessed with the most amazing family in the world, but this year, as we all joined together to celebrate Thanksgiving, I felt especially blessed and thankful to the Lord for bringing us safely together again!!!

We're now all home again and settled back into our daily routines. Everybody has their individual schedules to keep and family times sometimes seem quite rare, but each evening we are blessed to gather around the table together for dinner and enjoy family devotions together. As the Christmas season draws nearer, we anticipate getting two weeks together with Dad off of work.

Soon after we'd gotten home from California, the Christmas festivities began...Christmas baking was started, all of our Christmas albums were taken out and played, and the perfect tree was cut down from the tree farm to place in our living room. Gifts were wrapped and the loads were carried down stairs to adorn the underneath of the tree. We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" in celebration of Kayleen's birthday.
 We are all looking forward to a blessed Christmas Day, as we continue the Thanksgiving celebration rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, Emmanuel, "God with Us"!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Internationally Bound!

There once lived two girls who had never ventured anywhere outside of the USA. They had traveled to many places within these boarders such as Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan,Washington D.C., and of course Disneyland. But they were now getting ready to go on their first international trip ;)

After months of saving up and many conversations on the subject, they settled on the plan to spend three weeks in Japan. 

They waited for the perfect time to buy their plane tickets and picked out a nice little hotel in Fukuoka city, where they would be landing. 

Their flight is scheduled to leave on the 2nd of February. Of course since travel is all part of the experience, they chose the flight that would give them an 11 hour layover in Seoul :)

They will be arriving in Fukuoka on the 4th of February, where they will get 4 days to spend some time with Ryusei, the young man who stayed at our home for a month last year. 

Then they will be spending two lovely weeks with these special people at their home in Nagasaki.

I am sure that these two girls will return with some stories to tell, many pictures to show and some wonderful memories to treasure!!!!
They're hoping to keep y'all updated a bit through this blog...but we'll see how that goes ;)

Needless to say, Kayleen and I are both so thrilled to be able to visit Japan; so thankful for these wonderful people and their hospitality, and thankful to the Lord for His provisions throughout all of our planning!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Contracting 101

It has long been dad's dream to build a shop where he could store his tools and and work on woodworking projects (among which would be some promised hope-chests ;)
It seemed like for a while, this dream was a long way off...

Then he finally decided if he didn't start now, it would never happen. 
So, plans were made.
One cold day in January, three people headed outside with wooden stakes, a tape measure, and hammer...they were going to stake out the dimensions for a barn.

At first, it was our all-too-ambitious Daddy's idea to build the barn himself. But it soon became obvious that we would never be able to get it done by the end of the year.

The barn! The topic of all conversations...countless meetings were held, numerous phone calls were made...till one day, we found ourselves in a licensing office picking up the plans for Dad's shop.

Of course the first drawing of the barn was to have been much larger then what the finished product ended up being. As the planning went on, it slowly decreased in size. 

Very soon after that, the days became filled with contractors coming and going and our house became a regular construction site. Leisel became Dad's #1 contractor, making all of the phone calls, setting up the meetings and dealing with all of the workers.

Each morning began with a meeting between Dad and Leisel, discussing the plans for the day, and each night ended with dad and her meeting in a little corner of the house and going over the progress made.

Pretty soon, it was time to put up the actual structure. 

Over the course of the next several months, we had huge trucks arriving at our house, delivering wood, laying concrete, and bringing supplies.

Throughout the building of the barn, Dad made sure that plenty of pictures were taken to document it's progress. Dad's shop was finally being built!

As it began to come together, we would take different trips out to the barn in the middle of the night to look it over. One night, Leisel, Cosette, and I penciled our names on a piece of roof sheeting.

The barn had come together beautifully over a period of a couple months and it was now time for the roof to go on.
Leisel, Cosette and I packed up our sleeping bags and pillow that night and headed out to the barn. We were going to spend the last night in there, before the roof was put on. Cosette placed her sleeping bag atop a stack of wood, and Leisel and I placed ours on the floor.
 The stars shown beautifully in the sky that night, and the crickets serenaded us. The cold just made us snuggle in even further under the covers. 
That morning, we woke up to the rooster's crow. There was dew all around us and covering our sleeping bags. We decided it might be best to make a pot of coffee and bring it out with us to help us brave the cold while we read our Bible's. The sun was coming up over the hills in brilliant hues of pink and the air carried with it the scent of fresh country fields. 

We had gotten rather used to people constantly being at our house. Our builders had a fresh batch of cookies or brownies baked for them daily. When it came time for their last day, we all gathered outside to take a picture together.

Austin had become best buddies with our builders and had taken every opportunity to talk with them over their breaks. When it came time for them to clean up at the end of a day, Austin was there to help them.

The barn still waits to be filled with tools so that dad can begin woodworking again.

It was a great controversial subject for a while as to whether the barn was to be red or brown (the color of the house.) It was Dad's opinion against nine of us...it being his barn, Dad won.