10.19.2014

J&C's Baptisms

Justin & Catherine are some of our closest friends. We met them in Korea 4 years ago. They had been dating for a little over 6 months & Justin had just became a Christian. Our first meal together, shortly after we met them, we talked about Jesus over shabu shabu, a Korean hot pot meal. We quickly grew a strong connection to this beautiful couple. I can remember so many times that Zachary and I were praying together for them in Korea. We had such a strong sense in our Spirit that God was going to do something great with them. We could see that God had a calling on their life & that He meant for them to be close, real close to Him. I could see & feel all over them God's longing for intimacy with them. Do you ever have moments like that? Where you can feel God's heart towards people? I felt it with them.
We all moved to Dongying together and took a job teaching at the same school. After Dongying, we moved to Qingdao, Justin & Catherine were married and moved back to Qingdao. They took jobs at our school & lived with us for 4 months, while looking for an apartment. Then this past year, we have seen them baptized & give birth to their beautiful son, Elijah. Through all of it, we've seen their growing faith & trust in the Lord. We've seen such maturity in the Spirit. God has used them to encourage & strengthen us in our faith. We've learned from them & found places of rest with them. God is so good. We have been beyond blessed to have known this couple.  They're amazing. We praise God for them & how He keeps bringing us together!
On Easter this year they were baptized at their church here in Qingdao. They had waited to be baptized until they found a steady Church body to be apart of. We felt so thankful to have been there for their baptism!
 
The baptism took place at the Intercontinental swimming pool, where the International Church of Qingdao meets, they meet at the Hotel, not in the swimming pool, though that would pretty sweet, huh? Zachary and I got there early, got decked out in our shoe covers & enjoyed the Easter morning at the pool. 
It made me think of my baptism, when I was in high school. It's such a special moment, this moment you publicly proclaim that you freakin' love Jesus, that He's washed away your sins, & that you desire Him, to follow Him, to be like Him & to know Him more. Before Baptism, I think there's always this nervous, giddyness. It's exciting & awesome but in front of tons of people!
Slowly people started trickling into the pool area. We joined friends and waited for the Baptism to begin.
Catherine was 6 months pregnant at the Baptism. We joked about how it was a "family baptism."
I love this girl!
Justin was first up!
 
And there he is, under the water!
Next up, Catherine!

After Justin in Catherine there were 5 or 6 more baptisms. Justin is American, Catherine is South African, there was a girl from Papa New Guinea & a few others from various countries in Africa. It's so cool living in an expat community & going to an International fellowship. We get a small taste of what it will be like with all the nations before God in heaven. 
It was so excited & awesome and as you can see brought many to tears.
After the Baptisms, all together we sang Amazing Grace. It was powerful & such an awesome moment, on Easter morning, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord, and singing about His sweet grace as an International family!
They were all smiles after!
Their baptism was such a great way to celebrate Easter. Congratulations Justin & Catherine! Thank you for inviting us to your special day! We love you!
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Running with Dogs: Chiang Mai Countryside

While in Chiang Mai we spent some time learning about Care for Dogs. While we were there we learned about their great need for people to walk the dogs. Since our Villa was only a few streets away, we decided to take a day to go for a run & walk some of the shelter dogs.
We probably walked 8 to 10 dogs that day! We'd take two, run around, play in the forest & head back for 2 more. It was great exercise & a wonderful time to love on some dogs, who don't often get much people interaction or walks.
Each dog had it's own quirk. This guy was the cutest. He was covered in healing mange & other skin problems, so he wasn't exactly the dog you'd long to pick up and cuddle at first. He had a severe inner ear infection so he could only walk in circles. It was sad but quite funny to see him happily turning circle after circle. He could however walk straight if on a leash. He had the sweetest personality & loved going on a walk.
These two were quite the challenge. The one Zachary was running with loved the walk, and was fine walking with us, but if you got to close to his face or body with your hands he'd start to growl & bar his teeth. He had come from a very abusive environment, leaving him with little trust for new people, but he liked us enough to be walked by us! The one I was walking had been ran over. His back and back legs had been broken. He has healed & recovered remarkably, but he still has trouble walking long distances. He'd happily be walking, when his back legs would sort of collapse. Poor thing was so resilient and not at all bothered by his constant collapsing, though.
Being in Thailand, we had beautiful scenery all around us to enjoy.
The last two we walked were my favorites. They reminded me a lot of Chara. They had also come from abusive environments & were slightly stand offish, but still full of that spunky, puppy spirit.
We took them through the woods, where they rolled around and pounced on things.
There was a trail through the woods that led straight to our Villa from Care for Dogs. Where we stayed, The Narritaya, had amazing organic food & villas and offers discounted rates for volunteers working at Care for Dogs. If ever in Chiang Mai again, we will seriously consider taking an extra few weeks to volunteer with this great foundation & of course, have breakfast at Narritaya.
We loved spending a day with the pups at Care for Dogs, getting  a run in & exploring Chaing Mai's countryside.
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