Monday, March 10, 2014

Not Bad Weather

A man in Switzerland once told me, "There is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing." I learned to layer my clothes when I lived in Germany and take walks when I saw the clouds were lifting.

I was not prepared to have such a perspective in Seattle until Chris and I invested in a long rain coat and boots for me.  The rain does come often here in Seattle but it goes, too.   Then the sun comes out for a while usually.

I've learned to adjust my plans.  When I see the sun cutting through clouds, I try to linger an extra minute on a street corner, or stop my bike to read for a couple minutes in the park.  If I wait another fifteen minutes, it could get breezy and drizzle.

I take my time outside without rain gear when I can get it.  But I can still be outside.  I will just need to invent a waterproof book page cover to use after work.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Joneses

We received a State Parks pass as a Christmas gift.  Our goal is to enjoy as many parks as we can before the year ends.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our New Seattle Home

(Panoramic photo courtesy of Emily Kelly)

Our New Seattle Home
in the Ballard Neighborhood

More than ever Chris and I prayed for God's favor to be on us as intensively searched for apartments, jobs, and Craig's List furniture.  I felt pervasive insecurity the first day we moved in to 1313 apartment in Ballard because we did not know the culture, people, and details.  But God has provided Emily Kelly's family to host us for that 1st week and Chris' sister and bro-in-law, Stacia and Dan, to loan us their car for apartment searching and shopping as well as put us in touch with a truck for furniture hauling.  We go to their place or the local Grumpy D's coffee shop for the internet until Tuesday or so when we can get internet, so call if you would like to get ahold of us sooner.

Hopefully within the month I will be nannying in a family in the area through The Complete Nanny, LLC.  My interviews went really well with them and now they are looking for a good family placement.  Right now there is a possible match with a bilingual family in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  I will likely have the family interview next week.  Chris is looking into coffee jobs.  He had an interview with a well-known coffee company here for an excellent paid coffee apprenticeship.  I hope he gets it, but if it is not going to be the best fit, we are interested in seeing what other options there will be.  Today he has a painting job.

It is hard to believe that so much has happened in such a short time since August 17.  We are excited to settle in more.  Amazingly, we feel fairly oriented to the city because of all the driving we have had to do for apartments, jobs and furniture searching.  

Thanks for your interest in us!  We love you and will keep you posted as more comes up.  We are finding treasures in wedding gift boxes and other things that were shipped.  I am trying to get over being sick, but I probably have an infection, so I will go to the doctor soon.  We look forward to a chunk of time this weekend to unpack more hopefully.

Michelle (Jones)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Goodbye, Germany. Hello, USA. At least for now.

Michelle Waters, BFA Maugenhard RA, 2011-2013

Goodbye, Germany.
Hello, USA. 

At least for now.

JULY 2013

Dear Friends,

I am back in the States now.  Ending life in Germany and beginning it again in the USA is a significant and complex task.  Several weeks ago I shed my possessions down to several bags.  Now I am in the process of planning and packing up my life in my parents' home and mailing it to Seattle, WA, where Chris and I will move after we get married in 4 weeks.

Yet, I want to leave you with a beautiful and concise video of what your prayers and finances went towards these two years. Frank, my co-RA at Maugenhard dorm, consolidated hours of video footage of daily activities and interviews with current RAs and crafted a 8-minutevideo about a day in the life of a Black Forest Academy Resident Assistant (RA).   Enjoy getting a glimpse into the hearts and ministry of my fellow BFA RAs this year.

I am deeply grateful for the meaningful ways you have journeyed with me over these last two-and-a-half years preparing for, living in, and moving back from Germany and my service at Maugenhard dorm.  We appreciate your prayers up to this point and now as God continues to show Himself faithful as we reorient to the States and begin marriage.  Those of you who have been financially supportive of the ministry should have received a letter in the mail, explaining how you can end your giving commitment or continue through my two gap months with TeachBeyond.  If you have questions about these details, please email

I can hardly believe it, but it is time for these email correspondences to end.  Even though my involvement in the ministry in Germany has come to a close and you will not get periodic updates, please feel free to keep in touch from time to time. When I am back in the area again maybe I can see you.

I want to leave you with a few nuggets that God is encouraging me with these recent days.  I have included the relevance to me in italics.
  • "The Blessing" by John Waller  lyrics (click to listen to a recording): "Let it be said of us / By the ones we leave behind / Let it be said of us / That we lived to be a blessing for life [...] //  This day / You [God] set life, you set death right before us, this day / Every blessing and curse is a choice now / And we will / Choose to be a blessing for life [...]." Michelle - This formal ministry may end, but my heart is to chose for Chris and I to be a blessing wherever we are - for life.
  • "I hang my soul on those strong pegs, those 'I believe's'  And I am strengthened." - Elizabeth Elliot, Let Me Be A Woman, pg. 6.    Michelle - Despite the hard parts of processing major changes in life, I am comforted by the profundity  yet simplicity, of holding to the core confessions of the faith when all else can feel like "shifting sand."
  • "I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with you all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." - Ephesians 3:16-21, NLT.  Michelle - I feel humbled to read it, but I want this to be our prayer for me and for you in the years ahead.  May we experience God's love simply but profoundly.

Go with God,
Michelle Waters (soon-to-be Michelle Jones)

Please ask God for our...

- Wisdom and grace in processing Germany and the future

- Sensitivity to what really matters these 4 weeks at home

- Life-giving jobs for Chris and me, an apartment near the work in Seattle, and a couple likeminded friends

Saturday, June 1, 2013

2012-2013 Maugenhard Students & Staff photos

Photographs by David Park, Dad of Josh, Maug Sophomore

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reflection: Mom's Experience of Maug and Germany

From Anne Waters' "outsider's inside view": 
          "When Michelle asked me to fly to Germany to experience her life there, I said that I thought I had a good sense of what her life there was like through our conversations, her blogs, and her pictures.  I was wrong.  Thankfully, through the encouragement and provision of my husband, Scott, I was able to fly to Europe to spend time traveling with Michelle and experiencing her life at Black Forest Academy (BFA) and Maugenhard Boys' Dorm the first two weeks of April.  I now have a much more clear picture of Black Forest Academy and Maugenhard Dorm and Michelle's life there.  I was grateful that I also got to spend quite a bit of time with Chris Jones, Michelle's fiancĂ©e, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with both Michelle and Chris during my time there.

            On several occasions in the time before I went to Germany, Michelle had called us via Skype and introduced us to some of the guys and shown us some of the activities of dorm life.  I had seen many pictures.  Michelle often described herself as being a "mom" to previously 21 and now 19 boys with all that entails.  I think I had a general sense of the responsibilities that the staff had in making sure the boys got their schoolwork done and got to school and their activities on time along with supporting them in those, shopping and making sure meals were provided, caring for the other needs of the boys, and being available for them.  Now I have my experiences there and the stories of the boys and others I met from the dorms, the school, and the church to give "substance" to the general framework of understanding I had, and I will never be the same.
             When Michelle was on duty at the dorm, I was her "assistant," and I basically did what she did.  It was the end of spring break, so I went with Michelle on her run to pick up a guy from the Saint Louis (France) train station and two different runs to the Basel, Switzerland, airport to pick up a couple guys.  I appreciated getting to talk with the guys we picked up and learning more about their families and their stories.  Other Resident Assistants (RAs) were picking up other students.  I was impressed with the coordination, flexibility, and communication that went into this process of getting the students back to BFA, which often involved changes in who was doing what based on flight delays and other factors.  The RAs and house parents worked as a team, not just within a dorm but also among the dorms.

            I was also impressed with the division of labor and cooperation within the staff in Maugenhard Dorm, which includes Mark and Sue, the house parents, Frank, the other RA, and Michelle.  I was also impressed with their love, dedication, and care towards the boys.  In the evenings during the week after dinner there were set hours for study for non-seniors and free time for hanging out in the large room that houses the huge kitchen, dining room, and a large space with computers, couches, and chairs.  Michelle warned me ahead of time that most of the guys did not want to be asked questions and that we were just to hang around and be available for them. 
            Sue had told me in a conversation we had that these boys were the most difficult of the boys in any dorm.  It was not that they were disobedient.  My observation was that many of them seemed closed to letting the staff into their lives.  The staff put in countless hours of love and sacrifice for very little positive feedback.  I could understand why it has been difficult for Michelle not to be able to "connect" with many of the guys and get much positive feedback from them when she gives so much of herself to them.

            I had the opportunity to encourage one of the boys in Maugenhard Dorm.  I could tell that he was down, and he seemed to feel left out.  It was special to see how he perked up when I talked with him.  We got to talk several times, and one evening he showed me pictures of his artwork and his family on his computer.  He seemed to really appreciate the time and attention I was able to give him.  I know that Michelle has a special relationship with him and several other boys in the dorm.  She and the other staff serve an important role in the dorm of being available for the boys when they need them.  It is not on a schedule.  It is in God's time.
            Each boy's story is different.  Most of the boys are children of missionaries, many of whom are in difficult and sometimes closed countries.  Some of the boys chose to be at BFA, and some of the did not.  Some of them seem to be glad to be there, and some of the them seem resentful to be there.  Some of the boys are Christians, and some are agnostics or atheists.  It was mind expanding for me to see boys who look Caucasian and whose parents have U.S. passports or who look Asian and whose parents have South Korean passports talk about being from such countries as the UAE, France, Russia, Belarus, China, Spain, and Turkey.  I was impressed with the desire to serve the Lord and the sacrifice of the parents and families who willingly serve the Lord on the mission field.  I was grateful that BFA gives these missionaries an option for a quality education and a wholesome, loving living arrangement so that they can provide for their children while serving the Lord in difficult circumstances.

            One day a missionary woman and her 14 year old son visited BFA from a difficult, Central Asian country to help her son decide whether he wanted to attend BFA in the fall.  They came to Maugenhard Dorm for dinner, and Michelle and I got to talk with them.  The younger daughter of the missionary woman and her husband is doing well with the online Potters School home school curriculum and is content with that.  This son is very discontented with that and is very social.  The only other option in the town where they live is a Muslim school.  The missionary family is letting the son decide between BFA or going back to the U.S. to live with his grandparents and attend school there.  This was a living example to me of the dilemma missionary families have.  Even the trip to visit BFA took many hours of travel and much expense for the woman and her son.  I admired this missionary couple for involving the boy in this important difficult decision.

            After hearing a number of stories of the boys at Michelle's dorm and other missionary families, a question surfaced to my mind:  If God gives us children to raise and nurture to love and serve the Lord, why does He call missionary families with non-adult children to difficult situations where they feel the need to let their children live in a distant place in a boarding school or with extended family, rather than with them?  I heard of several young people who have rejected the Lord because of their parents' call to be missionaries, and I assume their feeling of not being a priority in their parents' lives has a part in that.

            As I have prayed about this and processed what I experienced at Black Forest Academy, God brought the verse to mind from Isaiah 55:8, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ' declares the Lord."  I realize that God has a plan to bring the unreached people of the world to salvation through Jesus Christ.  He calls the people He wants to go where He wants them to go to accomplish His purpose.  Many children of missionary children become committed Christians, and many of them become missionaries themselves, even when they are sent to a boarding school or to live with extended family far from their parents.  Also, many children of committed Christian families who grow up with their families living together and whose parents focus on raising their children to love and serve the Lord end up rejecting the Lord and going their own way.  There is no guarantee.

            I believe that the Black Forest Academy is God's provision for providing the best possible Christ-centered, loving, supportive learning and growth environment for many of the children of the missionary families who are called to difficult countries who believe it is best to have their children live away from them and be educated there.  I heard stories of many of the dorm staff members and BFA teachers and administration.  I was struck by how God has brought the right people to fill the roles that are best suited for them so that the entire school community runs smoothly.  I was also impressed with the heart of the people I met who are on the staff of dorms or in some role at BFA who had a genuine desire to sacrifice to love and serve the Lord.  They willingly gave up a life of comfort to dedicate their lives to the Lord at BFA.  It caused me to search my own level of commitment to serving the Lord and my willingness to sacrifice my comfort in service for the Lord.

            As Michelle said, BFA is not for everyone.  Dorm life at BFA is not for everyone.  Michelle said that some missionary families choose to move near to BFA, so they can live as a family while there children go to school there.  From my observations and conversations, it is important for the missionary families to pray and seek God's guidance about what is best for their children and family and to include the children in the decision so that it becomes their own decisions and then to remain involved in their children's lives to the extent that is possible."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

On the Eve of My Birthday

Three hundred and sixty five days ago my speakers repeated the tune of "Twenty Four" by Switchfoot.  It was apropos for that birthday.

Now on the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, I realize I don't have words for where I've been and where I am at now.  I am not able to journal and reflect as I usually do the night before.  Instead, I scroll through my iTunes, seeking songs that speak to my present heart and hopes for this upcoming year.  

I have found three artists that have shaped my music and heart growing up, who speak for me once again.  These songs reflect where I've been and where I sense I am going in my twenty-fifth year ahead: (Click to listen and read more about each)