Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Photos from Germany

We had barely arrived when Jeremie took this photo of snow falling just outside his window
one of the views from the house

The family home - with part of my mom's, my brother's, my sister's and the guest appartments showing - can you see the little man sitting in the snow?

This family home is well over 100 years old and was used as an orphanage during WWII, run by my mother's aunt.
Yet another view - can you see Jeremie looking out of his room?
You could think I"m trying to sell the house - with all those photos - - - lol
My mom actually does want to sell it - so it may be our last time in it :(

Kylie getting "loaded" for her first snow ball fight

Some Travel Photos

brother and sister "chilling" while we check in (Tokyo)
Crazy girls in "Pajan" (Kylie's version of Japan)

one happy camper - no traveller

on the plane - watching one movie after the other and eating chocolate (given to her before we left) - can life get any better?

Even the smallest family member enjoys the inflight entertainment - headphones and all

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You know that you are in Germany when...

... the car ride from the airport to home that usually takes 2 hours, only takes 1 1/2 hours - courtesy of the Autobahn without speed-limit and a fast driver:)

... you and your husband sleep in two separate twin beds next to each other with a small space in between...

... you walk down the street, smiling at people, and they don't smile back. (Mostly true - and sad - but my people really can be very friendly and warm, but not easily to strangers... sorry, my island boy!)

... you get told to be at the post office no later than 3pm to send off a package on your first day back (for Nathalie's birthday, which is tomorrow!) and when you get there you find out that it is closed from 12pm-3pm. You go back home and come back just before 3pm. Several people are outside the post office in the cold waiting for it to open up. The church bell rings and at that exact second, the key turns and IT OPENS! Are we on time or what?!

... when you drive into the small town and you read a sign that says they are celebrating 750 years as a town!!!

Traveling observations

  • The second we board the plane in New Zealand, Shayden spontaneously claps his hands. He does the same thing just as we leave that same plane (in Tokyo).
  • As Shayden watches the clouds underneath us through the airplane window, he keeps doing his "bah"-sound for sheep, convinced he is seeing thousands of sheep for miles upon miles. He's happy as...:)


  • Nobody at the New Zealand or Japan immigration raises one question why this family with 2 different passports (US and German) also has with them a toddler with yet another passport (NZ) and a different last name - and if they possibly kidnapped him... The first question comes in Germany and all is fine when we show the letter we have from social services.
  • How easy Germany is when it comes to immigration checks! In Japan, we had to get fingerprinted, photo taken, papers filled out. In Germany? Nothing but showing a passport for everyone - not even a single paper to fill out.
  • Staying with our Samoan friends in Auckland and feeling like you're in Tahiti - the church youth choir practicing the most beautiful songs in the garage half way through the night - awesome singing - oh, those island voices!
  • Being brought to the airport by the pastor (our friend) and him insisting to buy our whole family breakfast at McDonald - staying with us until we have to board, even though it costs him a small fortune to stay in the airport parking lot for so long. But he won't have it any other way!
  • Another islander joining us for breakfast (he will use our van during our absence) - and just "hanging out" island style:) - talking, laughing
  • Being ushered to the business class check-in at Tokyo airport and getting VERY FRIENDLY service - no long queue - and we don't know why...
  • We're all pretty much healthy again- except for my occasional coughing fits


  • The airport hotel in Tokyo...
  • Lufthansa - (on our flight from Japan to Germany) served the worst food (I am NOT picky) and had no individual entertainment systems - to Kylie's GREAT sorrow - she had SO enjoyed Air New Zealand and the wonderful distraction the entertainment system offered her hour after hour after hour after hour:)


  • I realize HOW MUCH New Zealand has become HOME in the last 4 years. As I was packing up and getting ready to leave I was already very much looking forward to coming back!
  • Rich has the "revelation" that he prefers to travel alone as compared to with the family in tow - I wonder why??? LOL (it was quite a hassle, although overall the trip went well)


  • After only expecting my one brother to pick us up in Frankfurt with the rented van, he brings along his daugther and another nephew, plus my other brother drives from his home (over an hour or so drive, not sure exactly) with his whole family to the airport, just to welcome us -and then drive back home!
  • Being welcomed "home" so warmly with balloons in several places, nice welcome signs, treats on everybody's pillow, the kitchen full of food (we are staying in a separate appartment at my Mom's house) - and some yummy fruit salad and pretzels...


  • Being welcomed by SNOW!!! During our last visit 4 years ago, Jeremie prayed so much for snow and there was hardly any until the end of Dec. (when we left). This time, we didn't dare hope for snow, and there it is waiting for us!


  • Getting up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow and going outside as a family for the first snow ball fight ever with Kylie!


  • Thinking of Nathalie and missing her sharing this fun time with us - knowing she'd LOVE to be with us!


  • When you jet lag so badly that you toss and turn in bed without being able to sleep for 5 hours of the 8-hour-night 3 nights in a row and then feel like a zombie all day.
  • When your husband next to you has no jet lag and just sleeps through the night (except last night, when the bed collapsed in the middle of the night, but that's another story...)


  • When you quickly rush out of bed in the middle of the night because you hear the door open and you're afraid Kylie's on her way outside to visit the rabbits. And when you come back inside you fumble through the dark room, think you've found your bed, plop down to get back to your sleep, only to find yourself hugging the rather hard floor with a huge "clunk" that shakes the house. Oops, missed the bed - ouch! (and it wasn't me - I was being compassionate while trying hard to hold back my laughter)


  • To stay in the same appartment that my parents moved into when they got married 52 years ago (of course, renovated). Yep, my mother has never moved houses!!!
  • To have Kylie use the same silverwear and placemat that I used at her age, play with some of the same toys that my siblings and I played with!


  • Only my french-speaking readers will understand this one: On our second evening in Germany, we had "pate" (or liverwurst) on the table for dinner (with bread). Leilani couldn't remember the name for it very well and asked, "Is that pete"?

'nough said. Photos to come soon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Last minute update

We are leaving in just a few hours...

Just letting you know that we were definitely able to see the effect of your prayers!
ThANK YOU SO MUCH for praying!!!

In spite of more sickness (1-day stomach flu) for me - and Rich a little - WE ARE JUST ABOUT READY. Exhausted, but ready.

Just have to do last minute packing, washing of sheets etc, then clean the whole house and mow the lawn.
Oh - and Rich has one last breakfast with his small group from the DTS...

Thank God for different help he sent this week - especially with babysitting!!!

In the midst of all the craziness - including getting a short DVD made up, yes, I know, last minute... we've been trying to do it for weeks but it just wasn't possible - Shayden gave me a special gift: he said "Mamma" for the very first time!!!! Isn't that sweet?!!!!

I've been trying to teach it to him for well over a year now...
It sure made this Mommy's heart melt... He's so cute!!!

Until last week, he hasn't been able to say the sound "m" - even after lots of practicing with speech therapist and all. Then, his first word was "more", as I was feeding him some yummy pear that he wanted more and more of...

Anyways, thanks again for praying - and please keep it up! We need all the help we can get to arrive in Germany in one piece - oops, I mean 6 pieces - haha - besides the 9 pieces of luggage - 4 of them for Shayden:) - plus handluggage

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


... and needing PRAYER!

"Bless the Lord, o my soul .... who heals all of my diseases."

That's what I was reading this morning and claiming for myself.

YET - I feel I that we need some BIG TIME help in prayer to make it.

Went to the doctors - again - this morning because Kylie had become REALLY hard of hearing over the week-end. She was diagnosed with ear infections in both ears and put on a a second round of antibiotics in 3 weeks (she just finished the first round for her cough last week!)

She hasn't had an ear infection in MONTHS - - -

The doctor doesn't seem to be able to figure out what my problem is. Thought I had asthma, which I have never had and don't think I have. Gave stronger antibiotics and steroids.

Side effect of steroids - all kinds of miserable stuff, also insomnia - so that's why I am writing this in the middle of the night - can't sleep - not good!

I think I'm not going to keep taking the steroids.

Hard call, since i do need to get better.

I haven't been sick like this in YEARS - - - it's coming up to 4 weeks!

And we're leaving in 3 days.

Lord, have mercy on us - WE NEED TO BE WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Invisible Mother...

It all began to make sense,
the blank stares,
the lack of response,
the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.
I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,

'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.
But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM! Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know...I just did.

I just read this and loved it. Thought that you moms out there reading this might enjoy it, too =)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another beauty

Even though I'm still VERY weak and hardly able to do any work, I CAN sit at the computer and type - - - and I've just GOT to boast a little more about another beauty that Jeremie brought home from school. Have a look - this was this morning as he was putting on the finishing touches to this gorgeous coffee-table!

By the way, he got 2 prizes on Wednesday - one for wood-work and one for automotive(mechanics) - yep, he's a hands-on, practical kind of guy - definitely coming after his Dad in that respect :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today, I spent doing - - - pretty much NOTHING.

That is, besides going to the doctor, getting antibiotics, taking Shayden to get babysat, picking him up an hour later cuz he kept screaming (didn't want to be babysat), booking a couple of train tickets for Germany, talking to the airlines and lounging around in different parts of the house while Kylie and Shayden were playing.

Enough of this sickness already!!!

Leilani's home schooling consisted of her playing teacher for Kylie most of the day. She figured that Kylie has missed so much school (almost 3 weeks) that she had to intervene and do something about it. Good on ya, girl! You did well, too!

I wasn't sure how Rich would respond when he came home at 5:30pm. Normally, he finds the table set and a meal ready.
Not today. The breakfast dishes were still not washed up and no dinner was ready, the house a mess.

To give credit where it is due - he came with a bouquet of flowers for me (!!!), cleaned up the breakfast dishes, heated up leftovers and prepared some raw stuff - all the while happily singing - then put Kylie to bed before he even had his own dinner (cold by then).

Thanks, Honey, you are an awesome gift to me and I love you!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A new era has dawned...

... at the Betts house!


Now for you in the US, this is nothing spectacular, since every teenager gets to drive at 16!

For you in Germany and Tahiti, it is pretty special to have a barely 17-year-old in possession of a drivers licence.

Here in NZ, it is - well - quite common, although many don't have their full licence at 17.

Jeremie passed his test with flying colours and can now take passengers with him and also drive after 10pm! In the past year and a half, he was able to drive, but without passengers (unless they had a licence themselves) and not at night.

We are so proud of Jeremie and also happy that he can finally take Leilani with him to youth group etc.
He already helped me out a couple of times today taking Leilani to where I would have normally had to drive her. YAY!!!

Tomorrow is his last day at school, the day after is the "Prizegiving Ceremony" (he will get a prize, we don't know yet in what subject), next week, he has one more exam and then - he has graduated from High School! (no graduation ceremony in NZ)

Well done, son!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shayden adopting us?

A while ago, I mentioned that we "might" keep Shayden now, after all. I thought, I'd better follow up on that and let y'all know that YES, we will be keeping him (permanent foster care, adoption isn't possible)!!!
The story on how it all came about is waaaayyy to long to blog about.
All I can say is that I am in awe of God and HOW he orchestrated the whole journey up to today.
If you are interested to read the full account, leave me a comment with your email address, and I will send you a Word document that I wrote up with all that led up to our decision (beware - 6 pages!) :)
Anyways, I feel so blessed that God is entrusting us with Shayden's precious life!
I have loved the little man from before I even laid eyes on him - just after I heard about him.
I have loved him like my own child not long after he arrived with us (almost 16 mths ago!).
I love him every day and enjoy him soooo much - - - even though he can be most annoying at times, especially when he refuses to eat time and again --- grrrr... =)

This past week, Rich came home one evening after he'd been with the DTS - looked at Shayden with "those lovin' eyes" and asked him: "Shayden, do you want to adopt us?"
When the rest of the family (including Shayden) looked at Rich funny - (we were all sitting around the dinner-table, ready to start dinner) - he explained:
The DTS had had a Kiwi church historian speak about NZ church history and the relationship between the Maori and the European missionaries. It was quite fascinating and moving.

Rich came out of this time feeling that what was happening with us taking on Shayden as part of our family was actually just as much about him, a Maori, taking us on into his country/people - "adopting" us into New Zealand. WOW!!!

We can't see all the ramifications of what this means quite yet, but it does seem profound . . .
and we feel honoured!

By the way, speaking of getting "adopted" into NZ - Rich and I both voted today at the New Zealand elections! YEP, we get to vote, too!!! It was pretty exciting - as simple as it was:)
This was the first time we both voted, believe it or not!!!

We've both been gone from our home-countries since we were able to vote and never felt well enough informed to vote by mail.

We did feel well enough informed for these elections and GLADLY did our part in the decision that is still to be announced - later tonight.

I'd better head off direction bed and not take advantage of my returning strength and health - and get some sleeeep.

Shayden playing "Yatzee"

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Rich was not even home one day - - - and he came down sick.

Something totally different than what Kylie and I have, but still sick.

Kylie is getting worse and started antibiotics.

Leilani had bad dreams and bad pains.

I was feeling worse, too.

Rich and I got so fed up and mad this morning and had a "violent" time of prayer to rebuke this attack of sickness on our family.

At the same time, we prayed for other things, including provision of finances for some urgent needs.

A few hours later, we get a phone call from a friend. He asks for our account number because he wants to give us a financial gift - a VERY generous gift. We are overjoyed and thank God!

Not long after that, we get another phone call from the same friend. He took the money he was going to put on our account out of the bank (plus more for himself) and before he could deposit the money, he got robbed! His whole wallet, all the money, all his cards...

I AM MAD!!! Mad at the enemy - - - what a thief!

I hate it when people that are so generous - and those who support us - get attacked in their finances!!! It is just not right, and we will intensify our prayers, that's for sure!

If it is the backlash from Rich's time of ministry in New Caledonia or what, I don't really care.

We have GOT to see healing in this family - and provision - and the restoration of what was stolen from our friend.

And we WILL see them!


In closing, a little quote from one of our YWAM-teachers that I was thinking of today:

"You have either just come out of a trial,

ARE in a trial, or

are just about to enter a trial."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


There are moments in parenting when you take a deep, grateful breath and your heart cries out "YES!!!"

Like when your 13-year-old, full-fledged, people-pleaser, non-confrontational teenager goes to see a movie with friends.

They are supposed to watch a certain movie.

They change movies in the last minute without knowing much about the other movie.

She starts watching it, realizes it's not appropriate and

walks out,

goes to the front desk,

asks to use a phone,

calls home and asks to get picked up,

waits for 15 minutes by herself in front of the movie theatre until I show up.

Now that is impressive!
I am soooo proud of the courage you showed there, Leilani, and the right choice you made even when it was VERY difficult and may have cost you those friendships! Well done!

OR - - -

When your 17-year-old son takes his little 5-year-old sister to bed when he sees Mom busy with the baby (Dad overseas), tells her a nice good-night story, prays with her and lovingly tucks her into bed! All that more than once and without being asked!!!
(I won't write a message to Jeremie. He doesn't read my blog)

And, of course, I am very proud of you, too, Nathalie, and what you are doing!!!

I AM BLESSED!!! And even more so now - Rich came back home!!! Yuppiee!!! His time in New Caledonia went very well and he feels like he accomplished his "mission". Thanks for your prayers!!!
Now we "just" need to see HEALTH in the family as we are getting ready for our big trip to Germany and the US in just over 2 weeks!!! Kylie and I especially.