Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday in Advent

Last Sunday our family of only eight people managed to be in five different churches. Marie went to LCC (Larnaca Community church), where she's been active for almost a year now, and Jacob went to the house church, which we as a family started attending regularly two and a half years ago. For nearly a year, I have been more often than not staying home with the three younger girls, but occasionally attend LCC, the house church, Grace Church, or St. Helena's. Last Sunday we went to Grace Church. Jörn and Lukas were in Germany, and Lukas went to church with the friends with whom he spent the weekend, and Jörn went to our home church in Düsseldorf, where he also had the opportunity to make a small presentation about what he does here in Cyprus.

This Sunday was more back to usual, in that Marie went to LCC and Jörn and the boys went to the house church, except that Katie also joined them at the house church, as a new Sunday school has been started there. (While I don't think there's anything at all wrong with children staying in a regular church service, nor do I like it when children are not welcome in a church service, three hours or more was simply too long, in my opinion, to expect any child to sit still AND to not resent being forced to be there. Or at least, it was too long for me...) So it was just Helen and Elisabeth who went with me this morning to yet another local congregation, the Greek Evangelical Church, for the first time.

I enjoyed the singing very much, being familiar with a couple of songs from the house fellowship (which is bilingual, but most of the singing is in Greek), and at least knowing the tunes of some of the others, although I hadn't heard them in Greek before. Only one or two were totally new to me, but not difficult to follow, and I understood almost everything. I understood a great deal of the talking from the front, as well, although it would have been difficult for me to translate, because my energy was going into understanding the gist of things and there wasn't any energy left to look for English words. The man who did the children's talk asked me if the children speak Greek, and when I said no, he asked someone else to simultaneously interpret. Although that was thoughtful of them, I really don't think my 17-month-old and three-year-old got much out of it anyway, being about persecuted Christians in Egypt, and then comparing it to how we might feel at school as compared to home. As I find simultaneous interpreting extremely distracting when I understand both of the languages, even as limited as my Greek still is, I probably understood less of it myself than if it had just been in Greek.

After that, "the children" were released for Sunday school. The children consisted of Helen, Elisabeth, a baby who's about six or eight months old, and one girl who I'm guessing was around 12 or 14. The baby didn't go out and I didn't plan to go out with mine, but when someone else suggested it, I figured I might as well, as they were getting a bit restless anyway. However, we never did find that one girl (and I don't think she went to "Sunday school", as when she came back towards the end, she had a drink cup from the bakery with her...), and eventually went back in for the sermon after all. The sermon was actually mostly in English, by someone who is visiting Cyprus for three months, from Philadelphia. (I spoke very briefly with his wife afterwards, which is how I know that.) As it was consecutively interpreted, rather than simultaneously, it was easy to follow and good for my Greek, as well. The talk around communion was all in Greek again, and the final song.

And then we came home and had lunch. Marie put in a brief appearance before heading off to basketball, and Jörn, Lukas, and Katie just arrived home. (Jacob is also at basketball now.) We'll be leaving in a few minutes to go to Richard and Sue's house, where we spend every other Sunday afternoon and have dinner. Marie and Jacob will join us there after basketball, so we'll finally all be together as a family then for the first time today. And tomorrow we might get around to making an Advent wreath.

Edited: Actually, Jacob didn't go to basketball today, but I hadn't seen him come in, because he went straight to his room to work on a card he was making. I was rather startled to see him when we left the house. 8:20 p.m. now, everyone home, four children heading for bed imminently...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Counting games

You know those counting-backwards songs and rhymes? "Five little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head" and so on? Anyway, we had a counting backwards (and some back and forth) day yesterday, but I'm not even going to begin to try to add rhyme and rhythm, won't even guarantee reason.

There were eight of us for lunch, not necessarily a given, as Jörn isn't always home for lunch and Marie and/or Jacob are sometimes out. For that matter, on Wednesday this week, Jacob and Lukas were both out for lunch.

At 4:00 Marie left for band practice, so we were seven.

At 5:00 we dropped Jacob off early at youth group Bible study (it starts at 5:30), leaving six of us in the car. (As it's dark now before 5:00, I don't like him to walk by himself.)

At 5:20 we parked at the airport, check-in was very quick (Ryan Air--just a matter of turning over the one piece of checked luggage, as they'd checked in on-line and printed boarding passes), and we said good-bye to Jörn and Lukas, who are spending a week in Germany. The main reason is for Lukas to visit his orthodontist, since it is MUCH less expensive to fly to Germany every six months, and have orthodontic care there that is covered by health insurance, than to pay for orthodontic care here. However, they're of course taking advantage of being there to visit quite a few friends, and Jörn will be meeting the new pastor of our home church.

That left just four of us to drive back home, and on the way home, Elisabeth fell asleep. So then there were three of us.

At 6:00 four friends arrived for house group, so that did more than double the number, but having only seven people at the dinner table, especially when four of them are guests, is a little strange! I made half as many baked potatoes as we would normally have for just our family, and they didn't even all get eaten. (With Jacob and Jörn both missing, I really shouldn't have been surprised...) One of the guests was another boy who headed off to youth group (starts at 7:00) as soon as he'd eaten, so we weren't seven for long.

After dinner, I put Helen to bed. She was absolutely exhausted and totally hyper and it wasn't a pleasant experience for either of us. But once she was finally asleep, that left just two Langes. Happily for me, Sue had been entertaining Katie while I was wrestling with Helen. I do not have any idea how I used to get small children to bed when I only had two or's so much easier now, with older siblings to help. That they're not home Fridays isn't too bad, though, because Jörn is generally home every other Friday, and even when he's not, our house group is meeting here, which consists usually only of three other people, all of whom are very helpful with the children.

Katie eventually went to bed, but I don't remember if that was before or after Elisabeth woke up, so I'm not sure we ever did get down to just one Lange. Elisabeth had woken up before Marie and Jacob were home from youth group, though, so we did get back up to four Langes and very briefly, four guests. Dena and her son left soon after Dena got back from picking up the three youth group people and  then Jacob went to bed, so it was back to three Langes and only two guests. Then they left, and some time afterwards, Elisabeth finally went back to sleep. At some absurd hour (I'm very bad about going to bed at a decent time in any case, and am worse when Jörn isn't home) I wrote on Marie's Facebook wall that it was time for bed (she was on Jörn's computer, I was on mine), so she said goodnight...and I did eventually turn off mine and go to bed. And read for another couple of hours...

I don't know HOW many times I got confused about how many people should be around today. Jörn and Lukas are of course not home, Jacob was at King Malu all day (as he is most Saturdays), and Marie slept until noon, so it was only the three little girls all morning. Around 11:00 Sue arrived, as the family who used to live in this house (they now live in Nikosia) was coming by. That filled some time, and Marie made an appearance in time to have some lunch before going to her violin lesson. After lunch both Helen and Elisabeth fell asleep! Elisabeth didn't sleep long, though, and she's asleep now (it's 10:30). Helen, on the other hand, slept for well over two hours. Marie is trying to get her to bed at the moment. Oh, and Marie was out for a couple of hours this evening, watching a movie at a friend's house, so she wasn't here for dinner.

Right now, it's just me. :-) Okay, so Marie and Helen are awake, but they're in Helen's room, and Elisabeth is asleep here on the couch with her feet on my lap, but for all intents and purposes, I'm about as on my own as I ever get.

It's quiet.

It's weird.

It's nice.