Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Looking Ahead

The month in Brussels was challenging, stimulating, and very helpful. We have returned home to begin final preparations for moving to the Czech Republic. The work that we need to do in the next two months looks like a tall mountain, but we believe God is going with us over the top.

We need you to pray specifically that:

• 100% of our monthly support will be pledged to MTW by the end of February. We have received many gracious promises which, when they are all fulfilled, will complete our monthly support needs. We are so thankful for your generosity!

• We will be able to finalize our moving plans, including what we should take, how we should dispose of the things we leave behind, and what we should plan to buy once we arrive.

• We will be able to wrap up our Financial Peace Seminar and preparations for Presbytery exams.

• We will be able to say goodbye to family and friends.

• We will be able to handle the myriad of details surrounding the move.

• Give thanks with us that our language training situation is established.

• Give thanks that we have been invited to participate in two missions conferences in February.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial gifts. May the Lord give to you as you have given to us, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

One year ago, we had completed our initial evaluation with MTW and were headed into a year full of unknowns. We were told during the evaluation week that MTW was not certain they wanted us to go to the Czech Republic, so we didn’t know if we would really end up in the country we felt strongly called to serve; we didn’t know if we would be fully and finally accepted as missionaries with MTW; we didn’t know what the training under MTW would look like; we didn’t know what it would feel like to quit our comfortable jobs and start raising funds to support our new work; we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

Quite honestly, the situation is little changed today. Yes, we know the answers to and outcomes of much that was unknown this time last year, but today there are new questions, different unknowns, more stuff that is out of our control, and so, more stuff for which we really need to trust God. In this aspect changing careers and moving to a foreign country mirrors ordinary life. How so? Well, our lives are always full of unknown things that are beyond our ability to control. Our lives are always full of things that invite us to depend entirely upon God and his wise providence. But we are experts at glossing over these things in favor of an illusion that appears to give us power and control. So long as we can maintain our busy schedules and keep our comfortable routines in place, we feel that we are OK and really don’t need God’s help all that much. When a crisis arises, the thin gloss of our illusion is stripped away and we are required to face the monolithic reality that we can’t really do much, and so, we are truly dependent on God. Although we wouldn’t describe our circumstances as a crisis, they do tend to keep the “I’m-in-control-here” illusion suppressed.

During our month of training in Brussels, one of our teachers remarked to me that she thinks missionaries are such special people. I have a response to that thought; I’m pretty sure it is true in my case, but not sure yet that it is universally true. I think this missionary is special in the sense that he could not learn to trust and depend on God as he should in any other way. So, God has arranged for these special lessons for him.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Church and a Little Language

First I feel like we should apologize for not posting this past week. So please forgive us. We really want to keep you updated on the situation here, but time and tiredness seem to have ruled the week.

This past Sunday was a full day for us as we began our day with worship at Saint Andrews, the church we were assigned to work with when we first arrived. It has been a real joy to be with the pastor, Andrew Gardner and the congregation. They are so very warm and welcoming. We feel like we have made many new friends from all over the world here. The worship at St Andrews is very traditional, but not staid. There seems to be a sense of joie de vivre riding just under the surface. We have loved our time with this warm and welcoming body.

The Church of Saint Andrews

We stayed in Brussels after worshiping with St Andrews to go to yet another service. This one meets in the downstairs hall gathering of Saint Andrews and has an all together different tone. The Ghanaian church is made up of people, as you would expect, from Ghana. This service was also traditional, but not as we would know it, it was traditional Ghanaian. The service was lively, loud, and Worshipful - Rejoicing in our great and glorious God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thought we might be in trouble early in the service when one of the Elders stood up and invited the congregation to dance like David did, until his clothes fell off! Fortunately, all stayed on the clothing, and all the dancing was honoring, just another way of worshiping the Lord.

Dancing Before the Lord at the Ghanaian Chruch

I did find that Ghanaians are a lot like Alabamians in their love of and support for their football team. Their service was over early (it lasted from 2:30-5:00) so the members could go home early and watch The Game.

On Friday we finished our week or language learning techniques. It was a full, busy, brain stretching, yet extremely encouraging week. We were given many ways of learning languages and even spent two mornings practicing the techniques in Farsi (the language spoken in Iran). We were blessed to have two Iranian Christians come work with us. It was such a joy to meet them.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us.