Recap of 2015

What a year 2015 turned out to be! We never dreamed back in 2010 when God first called us into this ministry that we would have the opportunity to sing and serve all over the world. God has affirmed our calling in countless ways this past year; it’s been deeply humbling and so encouraging to us. The best way to sum it all up is to quote Psalm 145: 19 “He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him…”

We pushed harder this year than we have ever pushed before. We spent six months on tour, shared 55 concerts in seven countries, and traveled 45,963 miles via car, airplane, train, and ferry. Our introverted comfort zones were stretched, sometimes painfully; and we’ve grown in the process. We’ve learned a lot about our limitations, our brokenness, and our need of Jesus. Words are not adequate to express our gratitude to Him for what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in and through us. We thank the Lord for calling two messed up people like us to serve Him and be saved in the process. He is so good to us!!

Here are some of the blessings we experienced:

All the host families around the world who opened their hearts and homes to us. Two that really stood our were the couple in AZ who loved on us like family and begged us to come back again. And the older couple in Germany who couldn't speak any English yet they opened their home to us and cared for us in the most loving way. Other-centered love and kindness are truly universal languages.

Thinking that we were going to go into the hole financially with all our travels and then selling enough CDs at the first event to more than cover everything for the rest of our world tour! We were shocked! Still are, in fact!

The delicious German bread, we’ve been dreaming about it ever since!

Petting kangaroos.

Hiking in beautiful towns and country-side in Europe.

Austrian Alps

 

Walking the beaches and finding beautiful shells in Australia.  

Night sky in the Australian Outback.

Reconnecting with Arise students and friends in England, Ireland, Switzerland, and Australia.

The amazing rental car God provided in Germany. For you car people, we were going to be renting a car that wasn’t fun or fast but they upgraded us (for 20% less than we were going to pay for the original car) to this Mercedes E350 diesel. Lets just say it flew down the Autobahn and up the Swiss alps with incredible ease and speed, while still getting 44mpg. It was a blast!!

It’s the little things… like Matt finding a perfectly shaped heart rock on our date day in Ireland. He had thought to himself how special it would be to find a heart rock while we were there. Truly our God is a Father who knows and loves to satisfy even our secret desires. 

Singing at a Catholic church in Ireland. It was attended by the perish priest, Catholic members, Protestants, as well as secular people from the community. The person who organized it was in awe the whole evening that God had brought that mix of people together in the same room.  

Being the only white faces in a church in England. We didn’t know what they’d think of our soft voices and mellow music since black people have way better voices than us folk singers - but they loved it, so much so that someone called their pastor afterward and scheduled another concert for us that weekend. 

The people in Germany and Austria who took hours of their time to decorate the churches and halls with beautiful flowers for the concerts. 

The birds that filled our days with song in Europe. Spring flowers that were bursting out everywhere we went. We spent more than six months following spring between the United States and Europe. It was amazing!

Matthias, our friend and cellist from Switzerland who accompanied us on our tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We can’t express what a blessing he was to us and to the ministry. He translated our concerts (and even which type of gelato we wanted); he added incredible beauty to our music with his cello and guitar playing; he was our tour guide and our road companion. We hiked our legs off together on every free day. So many good memories were made, we hope to do it again someday Matthias, if not here, why not in another galaxy!

Our Aussie brother Kyle. He was our tour guide and the guarder of sound boards from twitchy-fingered sound guys. We survived the “pug farm” together, shared embarrassing stories, laughed till we cried, and all around enjoyed our time in each others company. 

The week we spent in Hawaii before flying home (first vacation since since our honeymoon seven and a half years ago). We were the whitest people on the whole island, and clearly needed some sunshine on our skin!

 

Funny Moments:

After a concert at a very conservative camp meeting this summer, an older gentleman told us that our music was“dancing on the edge,” then he added, “but I liked it!”

The sweet host in Germany who prepared an incredible spread of beautiful food for us; when we thanked him for it, he brushed off our compliments with: “Oh, its just a few wegan weggies.” It took a lot of self control not to bust out laughing!! :D

 

Special encounters:

After a concert in Texas a distinguished looking businessman in his fifties came to us with tears in his eyes and told us that he never had understood the love of God until he heard “I Love You Anyway” and the story behind its writing. 

The church elder in California that approached Matt and shared that he had become a drug addict just a couple of months before and nobody knew about it. He said that our vulnerability made him feel he could share his battle. He told Matt that what we had shared about the love of God for messed up and broken people had deeply touched his heart and brought repentance. He asked Matt if he would pray for him.

Another experience in California was with a man who had not been to church in fifteen years. He came to our concert because he had heard us sing before a sermon on YouTube. God spoke to his heart though our music and testimonies. His wife sent us a note several months later to let us know that he had been faithfully attending church with her since that day. 

The older man (70-80s) who was almost dancing with excitement after a concert in Australia. He said that it was the most beautiful picture of God that he had heard described in a very long time. He wanted us to come back so he could invite all his friend and the area churches.

The note we got from a mother in Australia whose little six year old boy went to sleep singing that God wanted him for a sunbeam.

The non-Christian Indian man (complete with turban) that told us with a thick accent and glowing face that he struggle with a lot of anxiety but peace had flooded his heart during the concert. He said that though English was not his first language, he understood every word we had spoken and sung and they had gone straight to his heart and brought relief.

The young woman that slipped up to me (Josie) after a concert and told me, with tears in her eyes, how God had personally communicated to her heart through the music and stories. She truly believes that God is calling her to a new life and she is actively seeking for ways to follow His calling.

The numerous young people we met in Europe that shared stories of how God had used our music to get them though very difficult times of loss, depression, and pain. We’re not sure how they found our music; but we praise God that they did and that He ministered to them though it.

The pastor in Ireland who told us to never stop following this call because God is using our music to make a difference in people’s lives. He shared how he played one of our CDs almost constantly for a year while he was going through a really dark period of time when he lost his health, his job, and then his fiancé. He said that it gave him a ray of hope that he clung to when he didn’t think he could make it.

2016 has opened with abundant evidence that God is going before us opening the doors. We look forward to watching as He unfolds our story and weaves it into the lives of others, and we look forward to singing His praises and sharing His goodness in the months ahead.

 

Wishing you all God’s sweetest blessing in this New Year!

Matt & Josie

 

Posted on December 31, 2015 .

Ludwigsburg Germany

We had a fun time in Ludwigsburg. We rented a paddle boat and had a blast exploring the lake around a mansion. Spent some time walking though the grounds of a castle built in 1717. Were serenaded by all sorts of little birds. Hike up into the hills among the vineyards overlooking the gorgeous Ludwigsburg valley and looked for parking and food until Matt lost his sense of humor. :) 

Posted on April 12, 2015 .

Darmstadt and Offenburg Germany

We have truly enjoyed the beauty and architecture of Germany. From the castles and old walled cities, to the quiet Bavarian villages.  We've also enjoyed the simple and delicious food, especially the crusty wood-fire oven baked bread. But most of all we have enjoyed all the lovely people who have made us feel so welcomed and loved. It has been quite the experience being here and we are truly thankful!

Posted on April 12, 2015 .

Heidelberg Germany

While in the Mannheim area, we went to visit the beautiful village of Heidelberg. It was our first sight-seeing experience and we fell in love with the culture and history. 

Posted on April 12, 2015 .

First Days in Deutschland (Germany)

We arrived safe and sound in Mannheim, Germany on Thursday afternoon after 22 hours of travel. Other than a small delay, and our bottoms being weary of all the sitting, we had a great travel experience. 

We met up with our Swiss friend and cellist, Matthias Aeschbacher,  on Friday morning and began our fast and furious practice for the concert that evening at Youth in Mission Congress (YiMC). 

Amir dropped us off at the airport in Eugene with our heap of stuff. 

Matt and Matthias tearing it up!

We had been praying that God would inspire Matthias with good cello parts to enhance our songs. When we heard them for the first time (five hours before sound check) it was very evident that God had answered our prayers! It was a natural and incredibly beautiful fit. We praise Him!

Over 1800 young people (average age of 24) from all over Europe gathered for this special weekend. 

Some of our ARISE student family!

Our adopted little sister :)

We are so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be here in Germany and to share with these lovely people. As we have time we will post more of our adventures. 

Blessings!

Matt & Josie

 

Posted on April 4, 2015 .