Tuesday, January 30, 2007

He is preparing all of us...

We started our day with the temperatures in the 50's...which to our kids is cold. Abby is grumbling about how cold she is and as I am helping her get dressed for school she suddenly stops, gets a huge smile on her face and says..."When we move to Austria I'm going to get used to the cold, right Mom?" and "When we come back to FL I won't like being hot anymore, will I?" I just smiled and said that that is probably very true.

Then, afterschool I went to run a few errands with all THREE children...always loads of fun. After much bickering about nothing, when we got home everyone had to do "room" time by themselves. Our bedroom is closest to Abby's and as I was folding the mountain of clean clothes that is scattered across our bed, I can hear a sweet little voice saying..."Oh Ja"..."Nein, Danke" and "Bitte" basically over and over. Abby was playing with her dolls, using the only German she really knows. Too cute!

And it is probably not just a coincidence that Luke's closest friends are very ethnically diverse. At his birthday party alone, 6 different nationalities were represented. A picture of what his class could look like in Vienna.

I know God has been preparing Brad and me over these last few months and years for our journey to Vienna...but He is also graciously preparing the hearts of our children to love the country, the language and ultimately the people who are different than them. I am so thankful for how He is leading all of us.

Monday, January 29, 2007

We can't believe Luke is 8!

Bradford "Luke" Hunter was born on January 28, 1999 at 11:10pm after a looooong labor and then a c-section. Brad, Memoo, and Neena were in the room to see it all, and Memoo belted out "He's perrrrr-fect" when she laid eyes on him.
...And we blinked our eyes and now he's 8--all 53" of him. Luke remains our sensitive soul, a boy with a heart for Jesus, for animals, for people. Today he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, or maybe open a fish store on the ocean. Never stop dreaming, son.

We celebrated his birthday with his cousins Ben and Mikey, and a group of boys from his 2nd grade class at Sheridan Hills. Some of the days events--Pokemon card trading session, pummeling a Pinata, capture the flag with Nerf guns, trampolening, and his favorite cake ("Stacey's Cake", from the Cake Doctor Cookbook).

As you can see, we are so thankful for the friends our kids have made. Please pray for our Luke, as well as for Abby and Levi, that God would give them all great friends in Vienna, and that his American friendships would continue to grow even as we are an ocean apart.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


It cracks me up whenever the temperature here in Florida drops below the mid 60's--people start to freak out! When it happens, it usually is the lead story of the evening news..."major cold front" on its way! Ha! Being from the Midwest, I get extremely excited when I can put on a long sleeve shirt without sweating when I go outside...so anyway...I was inspired to make soup for 3 reasons:

1. It's actually "cold" out...by Florida standards ;)

2. A good friend of mine gave me a "German sentence of the day" calendar for my birthday...and this was today's sentence (just in case you wanted a quick German lesson)
Was haben Sie fuer die Tagessuppe? Translated means, What is the soup of the day?
For some strange reason it made me hungry for soup...

3. I'm trying to be a better neighbor and friend. Last night our pastor started a series called "Bowling Alone". He discussed how there is a friendship crisis in American culture, how we are radically disconnected with the people around us...even our neighbors. So I felt challenged to do something and realized how easy is it to double your batch of soup, make some biscuits, and share with a friend. So that's what I did. Agnes, our neighbor and friend, was thankful. Pretty easy and yummy too. Below is the recipe...

Sausage Tortellini Soup

1/2 lb. bulk sausage (any kind you like would do)
1/2 chopped onion
1c. sliced carrots (I used canned)
1 (28oz) can Progresso tomato puree
1 (14 1/2oz) chicken broth
2c water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (9oz) pkg refrigerated cheese filled tortellini
3c frozen cut broccoli

In a Dutch oven, fry up sausage and onion until cooked. Drain. Add carrots; (I used canned to make it easier) tomato puree, broth, water and basil. Bring to a boil. Add tortellini; return to a boil. Add broccoli. Cook 6-8 min. or until tortellini are tender.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2c Bisquick
3/4c buttermilk
1c cheddar cheese
2-3T melted butter
1/4t garlic powder
1/4t dried parsley

Combine Bisquick, buttermilk and cheese until lumpy. Spoon onto cookie sheet and sort of flatten out with your fingers. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Mix butter, garlic powder and parsley together...when biscuits come out of the oven, brush immediately with the butter mixture.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Day of Firsts

Abby came home from school and discovered I had washed all of Levi's "big boy" underwear. She thought it would be so cool if he would put a pair on...(even though he is NO where near ready to wear them) she managed to convince him to put them on for the first time. He was walking around proudly in his "big boy" pants for about 45 minutes and then this...

Luke also experienced a first today. He started baseball. Did pretty well--slugged two out of four pitches out of the infield. He had a little trouble running the bases, as he forgot to actually touch them. oops! Hopefully this will be good exposure to team sports and I'm sure he'll be in the running for "most improved" by the end of the season! ;)

Abby has her first show and tell tomorrow at school. She is so excited about starting softball that she is taking her glove and cleats.

And last, but certainly not least, this afternoon was my first Pimsleur German lesson. Brad has been saying forever that he thinks it is one of the best language learning programs out there...this coming from a guy who really likes languages. They use repetition to drill it into your brain. I actually found myself enjoying it. I know, pretty amazing. It also brought joy to my heart listening to Abby repeat along with me (with better pronunciation than me I might add!)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Before and After...

So, our Abby girl got the "Kit" American Girl doll for Christmas...the one with the cute bob. She has been asking if she could get her hair cut like Kit for a few weeks now. This about threw Brad over the edge, his baby girl wanting to get a "big girl" haircut. Another reason why he is terrified of the shorter cut is because one time I came home with the "wedge cut" after asking for a bob. This was right after we had Luke, over 7 1/2 years ago, yet he is still haunted by memories of it. Hence, he was pretty torn as to whether or not he should let our Abby go ahead with it. Here are the results...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Greatly encouraged...

Back in November, I was occasionally writing a "Thankful Thursday"...well, since it is Thursday I thought I would update you on five of the many things we are thankful for ...

1. We have been greatly encouraged by everyone's e-mails, cards, phone calls and prayers after the death of Brad's grandmother. The service was a sweet reminder of how much Gamma was loved...and how great our God is...

2. We are SO thankful for our new teammates Jeff and Jodie McMullen... Yes, they have names and faces, (and kids Ewan and Liesl) and you can get introduced to them all at their blog by clicking HERE.

3. Just today we found that Rio Vista Community Church will be partnering with us in a substantial way...

4. We are grateful for the new individual prayer and financial supporters...We now have over 80% of our monthly support pledged! Praise God! And please pray that we'll be at 100% by the end of March, so that we can tie up loose ends, pack, and prepare to head out on May 28.

5. Recently we have had great conversations with a few couples and singles who are inquiring about joining the team...we look forward to seeing what God may be doing as we build relationships with these folks!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Levi turns 3!

Three years ago...

Levi Fredrick Hunter was born January 16, weighing in at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces. Yes, he was HUGE...he had the biggest feet and umbilical cord I had ever seen! Of my 3 pregnancies, Levi's was the worst. The first 5 months of pregnancy I was plagued with unrelenting nausea and vomiting, despite numerous suggestions of trying "saltine crackers"! I was at one point even hospitalized for losing 10 pounds in one week... don't feel too sorry for me though, I still managed to gain over 50 pounds. I loved being pregnant through the holiday season and took full advantage of eating for "2". Fast forward to 2007...

Now our sweet "baby" is 3! He gets that it is his birthday and he has made requests for a white cake with white frosting, party hats, balloons and presents. Not too demanding I suppose. He loves to play with his trains, put together his puzzles and get high off the scent of his blankie as he watches a good episode of Dora. Brad and I think that he will be the "comedian" of the family, as he already loves to tell silly jokes and make funny faces when it is not appropriate. We are thankful that he has a healthy dose of fear...and doesn't like to stray too far from us. His favorite foods are cinnamon rolls and pancakes with lots of syrup...if you would let him, he would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! He can memorize all the lyrics to any catchy song you put on...with some of his favorites being "Victor Vito" and the soundtack to the Broadway version of Lion King.

Unlike all of his friends, he still is not potty trained and really is showing no interest at all now. When asked if he wants to put on his new "Cars" underwear, he answers..."no fanks, I'm just a baby!" So we will set our sights high this upcoming year...hopefully get potty trained, lose the binkie, and learn more German than mommy!

Speaking of Levi's potty trained friends, our dear friends the Cateses and Rosses celebrated all of our boys' third birthdays this past weekend (they were all born within a week of each other). No ordinary show would do for this occasion...so we all went to the Greatest Show on Earth...Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus. We had a great time shelling out $6.00 for a bag of cotton candy...oops! I mean we had a great time watching our little ones have a great time! Levi was a little disappointed that there were no grasshoppers there...he claims Memoo told him to expect them :0) After the circus, we enjoyed some Florida sun, danced the salsa, and enjoyed birthday cookie bars on the bay.

Happy Birthday little Levi! You bring us much joy!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Jessie Hunter, 95: Helped oversee funeral homes

BY HANNAH SAMPSON, Miami Herald, Jan. 9, 2007

Jessie Hunter, who at 21 married into a mortuary-owning family and built a life around the business, died Saturday in Plantation. She was 95.
Hunter was the matriarch of the chain of funeral homes in South Florida that bore the name of her husband, who died in 1966, and son, who died in 2003.
Born and raised in Detroit, she married Fred Hunter, the son of a funeral director, in 1932. They opened their own funeral home there and moved to South Florida in 1950.
In a 1991 story in The Miami Herald, Jessie Hunter recalled her first experience styling the hair of a woman who had died. Her husband -- the couple had recently wed -- came upstairs to their apartment above the mortuary and told her it was time to ``do the hair.''
'I said, `What hair?' '' she said in the interview. 'And he said, `My mother always did the hair.' That did it. If she did it, I did it.''
The Hunters opened their first South Florida funeral home in 1960. After Fred Hunter Sr. died in 1966, Jessie kept the business going with her daughter, son Fred Hunter Jr. and his wife Lyn.
Today, though no longer family-owned, Fred Hunter's Memorial Service operates funeral homes in Hollywood, Davie and Fort Lauderdale, a cremation service in Miramar and a cemetery.
Hunter moved into an assisted-living facility in Plantation in 2005. Before that, she lived next door to the Taft Street funeral home that her family founded. ''It was her life,'' her daughter Cheryl Hunter Sullivan said.
The Rev. Harold O. Taylor, a retired Baptist pastor, said he didn't know anything about doing funerals when he moved to Davie in 1960 fresh out of seminary.
His first funeral was with the Hunter family's funeral home; many more followed, and he credits Jessie Hunter for teaching him how to tend to people during those somber occasions. ''I came to Davie out of seminary and she taught me more about working with people at the funeral home than I ever learned at school,'' said Taylor, 76, who still lives in Davie.
Sullivan said her mother's greatest strength was taking care of people who were grieving. ''She always knew what to say to make people feel at ease. She was very present for each person that was there. She was very authentic in that she knew exactly what they needed,'' said Sullivan.
Sullivan said her mother's interests stretched beyond the family business as well. She belonged to several organizations, including the Hollywood Woman's Club, Mirwood Pines Business and Professional Women's Club and Miramar-Pembroke Pines Chamber of Commerce.
Besides her daughter, Hunter is survived by grandsons Rick Hunter of Fort Lauderdale and Brad Hunter of Hollywood; granddaughters Janis Ericson of San Rafael, Calif. and Julie Ericson of San Diego; daughter-in-law Lyn of Hollywood; six great-grandchildren and two nieces.
Visitation is scheduled for 3-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Fred Hunter's Funeral Home, 6301 Taft St. Service will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home, with burial following at Hollywood Memorial Gardens.

Click HERE to read our January 2007 Prayer Update with comments on my Grandma

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Our recent journeys...

We're finally home and starting to get settled again after leaving Dec. 15th for our long multi-purpose trip. We started in vacation-mode at Orlando for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas (a surprise Christmas gift for the children). The kids were so excited and we had a GREAT time with Mickey and all of his friends.

The next morning we were off to North Carolina with a quick stop in Columbia, SC to see our friends, Benjie and Laura Ingram. We were greeted with warm hugs, yummy steak and a HUGE basket of all the essentials so we wouldn't have to go to the store once we reached the mountains! How thoughtful is that! Thanks guys!

Once we reached Beech Mountain it was a quick night's sleep and we were off to worship at Banner Elk Christian Fellowship. We had the privilege of sharing what God has been doing in our lives and the vision for Vienna. They were very encouraging and have committed to becoming a partner church with us! We praise God for our relationship with this vibrant church.

Because Beech Mountain is one of the kids' favorite places to go...we had the kids make lists of what they wanted to do. Luke and Abby said skiing, and fortunately there was just enough snow to make that happen. It was Abby's first time skiing. She was such a trooper and really got the hang of it after 3 days in a row. Both Luke and Abby are soon to surpass me in their skiing abilities! We also found time to sled, ice skate, go fishing and swing from the trees...on a rope swing that is! :)

Speaking of trees...there is nothing like chopping down your own 11 foot tall fraser fir with a busted hand saw and a few pushes from your three chidren for only 40 bucks! We managed to find a few leftover Christmas decorations (including an ancient plastic illuminated manger scene that you can see in the picture here), and our friends and teammates Jeff and Jodie sent a few ornaments to add to the bare branches! (They were perfect! Thanks!)

The Couric family then joined us, along with our moms, to celebrate Christmas. We had so much fun EATING, talking, playing and continuing to make lovely Christmas memories together! Did I say EATING?
The 26th we were off to St. Louis for the Urbana conference...here are some fun statistics:

3780--miles put on the old mini-van as we traveled through 8 states
44--different state license plates seen on the highways (Brad became obsessed!)
12--movies watched in the car
23,000--people we worshipped with at Urbana
10--years since the last Urbana that Brad and I attended...when we were just dating!
96--Diet Cokes consumed (rough estimate!, hopefully overinflated) along with eating 3X our body weight in fast food
0--family members sick during the trip (Halleluia!)

Our role at Urbana was to recruit both for the Vienna Team and for World Harvest Mission (WHM) in general. There were 24 other WHMers there, and it was exciting to meet lots of people that we hadn't met before.

While we were in meetings and manning the WHM booth, Kelli and Corey Tolle were laying down their lives to care for our children. (NO KIDS ALLOWED at the conference...so Urbana lovingly told us! Ha!) The Tolles have 3 boys and our kids felt like they were an extended part of their family...they had so much fun that they actually didn't want to leave St. Louis!:) We will forever be grateful to them, as we really could not have done it without them!

On our way home, we passed through Atlanta on Jan. 1st and visited yet another special family, the McCaigs. So fun to see how our families have grown!

Now we are glad to be home and sleep in different rooms from our kids once again, but our hearts are heavy as we arrived to find out that Brad's 95 year old grandmother's health is quickly failing... Please pray for her. Brad has had some sweet words with her since we got back, but pray for him and all of our family in the days that lie ahead.

Also, we know that many of you who read this blog pray for us and we would appreciate some specific prayer for my mom, Mary (aka MeMoo). What started as a cold has now turned into a major ear infection and possibly the flu. She has been to the Dr. twice and has yet to see any improvement. They have started her on yet another antibiotic and some steriods. Please pray for her quick recovery.

ps Thanks to Gordon & Marilyn Woolard for checking on our home while we were away! (Sorry we gave you the wrong code for the alarm...oops!)