Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tumble and Twist

It wasn't but a half hour into the school day--the first day after Easter break--when my phone rang and I saw the middle school's ID number pop up. I always have to take a deep breath before answering that number because it almost always brings bad news from the other end. Sure enough it was the voice of Emma's gym teacher calling me to say that Emma took a tumble while running and I needed to come get her because she could not bear weight on her foot and she heard a crack.

After I hurriedly finished getting dressed, I went to the school and retrieved Emma. It was a long hop to the car since I could not carry her nor did she want two 8th grade boys carrying her to the car. The gym teacher insisted that we would need to get it checked out at the ER since the accident took place on school property. Ugh, poor Emma...poor us!

When we got home Jonathan and I had to strategize how best to work an undetermined amount of time at the ER into our day. Jonathan was having a bad day himself physically after coming off an intense Easter weekend of ministry on top of returning gut pain and no energy. Therefore, for the first time in Kleis family history I attended a child in the Italian ER all by myself. Jonathan drove us and carried Emma into the hospital and then went back home to wait for our call when we were done. We didn't know how long it would take and someone needed to be home to let the boys in when they got home from school.

Chillin' while waiting to get x-ray done

I brought a sack of food, water, reading material and a back up charger for what could be a long day. We arrived at 10am and thankfully things moved along really quickly. An orthopedic assessment, x-rays, return to the orthopedic doctor and check-out were all amazingly accomplished in just 2 hours! Alleluia!

Casting...and she had her good pair of jeans on that we had to cut!

The good and bad news of it all was that Emma did not break any bones, but did sprained her ankle tendon pretty bad. So bad that they put her in a cast for one week. Not the ideal way to extend one's vacation. She attempted to return to school after two days of rest, but could only endure 2-3 hours a day since she was required to keep her foot elevated. It was a very long and miserable week for her laid up on the couch, but she was a trooper.

Sleeping, studying and permanent resting place for a week
On Wednesday, she got her cast removed. The ankle is still very tender and painful to bear weight. She was advised to use crutches for 5 more days and not do any sports for another two weeks. We are praying it heals well and quickly for her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

11 + 1 = 12

Our youngest, Luca turned twelve years old the end of March.  I can still remember the emotion like it was yesterday of discovering our surprise gift would enter the world just nine months after arriving in Italy. I was overwhelmed and excited at the same time, but trusted that God would give us exactly what our family needed and the grace to mother three children three years and under.

Luca, life has not been dull since your entrance into the world!

We all can say that our family is much richer because of you and the special gifts that God has blessed you with. You are uniquely and wonderfully created by your loving heavenly Father who knew exactly what he was doing. You are no mistake! 

You might often ask, "why did God create me this way?" And we will respond without hesitation every time with it is because God loves you and knew the world needed YOU, there will only ever be ONE you who loves the way you do, who is gifted the way you are, and who can shine God's glory in the unique way that you do. God loves you SO much, more than Mamma and Dada, and that is a fact demonstrated by his sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you. 

Luca, God has began a good work in your life and HE will be faithful to complete it. 

I know that this last year has been particularly challenging and frustrating for you as you began middle school and were launched into a whole new level of intensity with homework and studying. We have been slugging through it together in tears (lots of them from us both!), frustration and yet with a sense of determination. We are figuring this out together. I am so very proud of you and I know that the challenges are merely challenges--they are not defects or faults--God is making something beautiful out of it in your life. Just keep looking to Jesus! He is your answer and hope for everything!

We love your tenderness especially towards those who are younger, weak or different. You are a friend to everyone and your kindness is evident and a blessing to all who know you.

You are becoming a little musician, doing things your own way--of course! We love seeing your creative and ingenious ways of problem solving. We love your laughter, smile and craziness too.

It was our joy to celebrate your first 12 years of life! And it was a bonus that Easter break started on your birthday--maybe one of the best gifts, right?

We love you Luca, always and forever, no matter what!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

It Never Gets Old

SHARE 2018

I say it every year...but there is no week out of the year that is more highly anticipated by our kids than the week of the SHARE family education conference. This was our fourth conference and each year we become more and more rooted in relationships that are life breathing and sustaining, especially for our kids who don't have peer Christian friends in their day-to-day lives here in Italy. If you think about the life stages of pre-teens and teenagers, you know it is such a crucial age. One of our concerns and prayers for our children is that they would not become bitter against us for the sacrifices that we as parents have imposed on them because of our calling in missions to the Italian people. By God's grace we have seen them embrace their lives as MKs and I don't think they would trade the hardships and constant stream of goodbyes for anything else--but that doesn't mean it is always easy. Connecting with other kids who understand and relate to their lives, emotions and quirks has been a so critically important in providing them friendships and encouragement.
"We are all weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love." -Robert Fulghum
Our kids call SHARE "home". As they grow older, we are seeing a whole new side of the support network surrounding our kids not just for one week in February, but throughout the year. The uniqueness of this "SHARE family" is how the leaders of the teen group continue to follow the kids throughout the year. On Saturdays, our teens have a virtual youth group meeting of sorts to chat and/or watch movies together. It's a big deal for them and I love hearing their roaring laughter echoing down the stairs each week. On top of that they are texting on a daily basis with their friends all over the world. They are thriving from these life-giving relationships and we could not be happier for them.

We continue to gain so much emotionally, spiritually and educationally from our participation in this conference. This year there were near 40 individuals from our organization alone that attended. It is a reunion that we look forward to every year allowing us to connect with our Central and Eastern European colleagues, who have adopted our family into their region. Our annual dinner together even gave reason for the CEEMed Regional Administrator and his family to make a special trip to Siófok to surprise us.

The keynote speaker this year was Michèle Phoenix. Words cannot be put into writing about the valuable contribution and insights she provided through her lectures. I am still having to chew on and internalize all that she had to share about MKs in relation to grief and I highly recommend her ministry and writings to all missionary families AND to those who desire to understand MKs and the reasons why they might get the label "weird". They are third culture beings and it is a complicated universe that they live in and we wish more people would attempt to understand them. And of course, MKs need some help figuring it out themselves along the way, and Michèle can speak about it because she lives with the title of adult MK. Visit for valuable resources and insights.

Love her!
Tyler and Bailey Dodds were back again to lead us in worship.
This year both Samuel and Luca received more testing for their sensory processing disorders. We are so thankful for the quality and professional therapists and educators that are brought in to help serve global working families. The ongoing support and counsel received from the occupational therapists throughout the year has been so helpful and I feel like with their support we are doing everything we can to help our boys thrive, grow and succeed with their unique challenges.

How awesome is it to know your online English 2 teacher in real life?! We love Mrs. T! We have known her for years, but this is Samuel's first year in her class and both he and Emma will have her next year too. 
Another highlight from the week was the kids recital. It is always a lovely evening full of great and budding talent. This year Emma participated again with a dance routine. She was intending to perform with two other close friends but they had to back out at the last minute as they were busy serving on staff this year. Emma was a rockstar who adapted at the last minute and had the courage to perform a solo routine for the first time in this venue.

Luca has been itching to perform in the talent show for years, and it might be the sole motivation factor for him begging for guitar lessons. He only began lessons in January at the local music school. The week before we left for SHARE he said he wanted to play in the recital. He only knew one song called "On the Wall." What I found impressive was how he had this 2+ minute song all memorized. The musical talent is starting to emerge in our children, which shouldn't be surprising and I promise to share more later on that topic--but we are literally amazed with their self taught initiatives.

Much relief and joy upon his performance!
It was nice to have the full gang of girls all back on the field this year. It had been two years since I have seen some of them in person so it was a sweet special time of fellowship with them this year. These ladies are a huge source of encouragement to me, always!

Are you bored yet? I should probably just wrap this post up with more pictures.

Medieval Times Week for the 5-12 year olds

Fun and enthusiastic teachers is an understatement
Free time for Luca meant: pool or pool (billiards or swimming)

Pups: 13-14 year olds


...the goodbyes never get easier...
The week of the "Beast from the East" with crazy cold temps and snow.
Luca comes back to the hotel with this picture on his iPod. "Look Mamma,  I am standing on the frozen lake!" Oh, my heart. 
Samuel's perspective of the frozen lake
...until next year...