Saturday, December 31, 2016

Remembering 2016

In the midst of the busy holiday season, I always try to spend some time reflecting on the past year and looking ahead at the new one.  It's a helpful way to remember what God has done, and I think He wants us very much to live a life of remembering what He has done-not just in our own lives, but throughout the generations and the history of mankind. In the book of Joshua 3 and 4, He commanded them to build a memorial for this very purpose!  

Like every year, there have been highs, and there have been lows.  Successes and victories, disappointments and frustrations.  But as I look back, I definitely see God's hand; and this post is to remember and celebrate what God has done this past year.  Actually He's done so much more, but this is mostly focusing on the call I'm responding to.

As an attempt to discern God's will about going full-time with EE, I attended the European Conference in Vienna, Austria.  It was affirming, and I met Helmut, my future boss.

With former 2015 interns Pete and Jasmine at Europe Conference in Vienna

On a phone call with Rod (EE leader), I was invited to a couple of EE events in the upcoming months, one of them mandatory for me to go full-time.  This answered my question about not renewing my contract to teach this year.

Within 24 hours of informing my principal and head of school that I would not be renewing my contract, we received a random email with a qualified replacement!

After several encouragements, I attended the New Wineskins Conference in Asheville, NC.  Not only was so encouraged and affirmed, but I also met SAMS' director and interim director and began to dialogue with them about a partnership.

A huge surprise to run into the Powells from my BFA days (2008-10) at New Wineskins Conference...and they introduced me to SAMS' leaders!

Made my first visit to EE International headquarters in Asheville.  Had a bittersweet finish to three amazing years of teaching amazing students with amazing colleagues at First Baptist.

Traveled to Switzerland to meet the leadership team I would join and get a taste for what is ahead.

Re-connecting in person with long-time friend Gunnhild in her homeland of Norway

Got to re-connect with long-time and newer friends in Europe before heading to Australia and re-uniting with more friends and attend a missions conference at a church I knew from the previous year's internship.

With Aussie friends at FAC's Missions Conference in Wollongong, Australia

First time to Asia (Indonesia) for my first Congress of Nations!  A very sweet, exciting time as I gained a big picture and met the "whole family" as well as the team in Europe I'll be joining.  Also attended Crossroads Conference in Ambridge, PA as a SAMS candidate.

With European team at Congress of Nations in Malang, Indonesia

Found buyers for our condo before it ever went on the market (It's a God story).  Packed and moved before leaving for Fiji at the end of the month.

Joined 21 others from 13 different nations to attend the Leadership Development Training for full-time staff with EE.  Our condo closed while I was there.

At EE's Kennedy Training Center in Fiji for 6-week Leadership Development Training

Had my first opportunity to share about my journey at St. Matthew's Parish in Fort Motte, SC, where I recently learned my grandfather lived during his childhood!  Also, started my first one-on-one XEE training!

XEE training with new friends Dot and Chris...
At our old condo...because they were the buyers (Only the Lord!)

Encouraged and touched by the many people God has put in my life to encourage and support me through the ups and downs of life and especially to spur me on to continue on and embrace the call and vision God has given me.

2016 was a year of risk-taking, 100% yes, and some dreams coming true. It hasn't been easy, but it has been exciting and fulfilling.  I'm thankful that we have a God who is faithful to lead us and love us. Here's to remembering what He has done.  And since I'll be without Internet when the New Year rings in, here's a cheer to the New Year 2017!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ready or Not?!

If you're at all familiar with the church calendar, it's Advent season.  As I shared with the church I visited this past Sunday in Fort Motte, SC, I love this season: not only do we look back in history to when God fulfilled His promise with Jesus coming to earth, but we also look ahead when God will fulfill His promise of Jesus returning to earth.  It's not the festivities and stories I like so much, but the implications behind them: Jesus paid the price no one else can pay so that relationship can be restored both with God Himself and with others! While God offers us SO much here on earth like forgiveness, physical, emotional, and relational healing and reconciliation (to name a few) because of His first coming; He offers us so much more--an eternity of a world where we are whole and no longer in need of healing--through His second coming!

When asked which mug I wanted for my tea during St. Matthews' Sunday School, would you believe they had the same exact mugs I always chose in Fiji in their cupboard!?!  With my friend and childhood Sunday School teacher, Janet Echols.

So, back to my original sentiment, that I love this season! least in theory.  The reality is that Advent is a season of waiting and preparation for the "not yet."  And when you figure in the added element of the unknown "when," it can get a bit uncomfortable if we don't heed God's instruction to get ready!  

I can very much relate to this tension in my personal life as it depicts exactly where I am: I have already let go of things here--like my job and condo--and am preparing to move to Europe and join the EE team there; but I have no idea when, other than soon!  I'm in a holding pattern and cannot give the precise date to myself, much less those who ask.  But then again, this position is consistent with God's warning when he tells us to be ready for Him to come like a thief in the night (Matt 24)!  He doesn't say how long, just be ready!

So I guess the next question is "How?"  Well, John the Baptist's job was to "prepare the way" for the Lord's first coming; and his message was to change their thinking about God.  In particular, He announced it was the King who was coming to bring the restoration and hope to their unique, personal situations that all mankind throughout all history has been desperate for. I believe the message is the same this time around.  

If that's the case, a good question is What's in the way?"  What in my/your heart and mind needs to go? For I'll be ready to join the team in Europe? I'll be ready to meet the King when He comes?  When I look at things this way, I see any potential delays or "extra" time as a form of grace to prepare so that I will be ready when the time comes!  So, I'm trying to embrace and accept the unknowns and focus on the goal ahead, with the means to reach it being readiness.  

The signs are all around.  We may not know the "when," but we know the what and the where! Ready or not, He's coming!  Let's be ready!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let's Stay Connected!

Don't feel too bad if you can't keep up with exactly where I am and what I'm doing.  My computer's confused about where I am too! :)  That said, I want to stay connected, so keep reading!

I made it back to Charleston a week ago just in time for the Super Moon, FBS at State Championships, and the holidays!  As we enter Thanksgiving week, I'd say I have a lot to be thankful for.

Thankful to be able to witness and cheer on the FBS Hurricanes as they earned their very first ever state football championship! FBS is my alma mater, where I taught French the last 3 years, and where my niece and nephew go to school.  My nephew, Nicholas, is on the team, #17. :)

Friday night, a friend hosted a party for me to share about what I'll be doing.  It was truly encouraging to share the journey I've been on and to have others who are a part of it with me as I continue on!  One thing I'm aware of is that the upcoming ministry role isn't all about me and how much I do need the support of those around me.

Thankful for friends--new and old--who stayed to listen, ask questions, encourage and pray

When asked how others can support and stay connected with me, I shared these ways and want to share with you:

1.  Stay connected through social media and email.

I plan to regularly post on this very blog.  Each time I post, I post to Facebook and in the future will send the link to anyone on my email list (please contact me if you'd like to be added).

2.  Give to the ministry.

Like all EE staff, I'm responsible to raise my living & ministry expenses.  I need $5000 USD /mo per year.  A monthly or one-time donation of any amount is helpful!

Online giving:  Click here.
Give by check:  Contact me for details.

3.  Pray!

For me, EE Europe, and those who need to hear the Gospel.  I'll be setting up a Facebook group for those who give or wish to pray to regularly share what God is doing and specific prayer requests.  I also plan to send regular newsletters on top of the frequent blogs so that you know how to pray.

Stay tuned for my personal webpage that SAMS is creating.  It will be an all-in-one stop with my bio/pic, link to blog, and link to online giving.  ETA: January.

And while I'm still in the States (at least through the holidays): if our paths haven't crossed, and you want to connect in person, please let me know!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Farewell, Fiji Friends!

Fijian Farewell Song to Internationals 

Coming to Fiji these 6 weeks was a challenge.  At the beginning of September, I needed to sell my condo, raise support, and try to get to Switzerland as soon as possible.  Not only did God provide, protect, and bless the sale of the condo--which closed while I was here--but He also had people approaching me who want to partner with me financially before my support account had even opened--which also happened while I was here.  While I still have a long way to go with that, I actually have a goal of leaving early January.

    See the rainbow? Two days in a row!

The Leadership Development Training has been a very significant step to prepare me for my upcoming role.  The content has given me a better understanding of the structure and tools within the ministry.  The workshops brought fresh encouragement as we were able to share and train locals with the Gospel while also learning different styles and techniques from others.  The atmosphere including time set apart for personal and corporate prayer, Word, and worship has nurtured my relationship with God and been conducive to hearing from Him.  The unity of worshiping, living, and learning among a variety of diverse cultures and denominations has enriched the experience not just personally, but also because it is a tangible expression of EE’s vision of “every nation equipping every people group and every age group to witness to every person.”

    Group at Graduation With Certificates

Planning and goal-setting can theoretically be done anywhere in the world, but my experience here where all of these conditions that I mentioned co-exist has been ideal for the Holy Spirit to inspire me and shape the process in a way I’m not sure could’ve happened at a desk or coffee shop back in my busy hometown--at least not in the same way.

          Sunrise from Training Center

As we conclude the final week here, I feel strengthened in vision, affirmed in the call, and prepared to take the next step: to move to Switzerland and join the team in Europe to carry out God’s command and EE’s mission: to glorify God by equipping believers to multiply in and through local churches in Europe "and surrounding areas"--for friendship, evangelism, discipleship, and healthy growth.”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Planting and Watering

planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6

    Our "back yard" of sugar cane fields 

I saw this verse in action this past week at the XEE workshops.  In case you're wondering what XEE is, it's a tool to share the Gospel with Generation X, who prefers talking about life rather than death and having a conversation than being preached at.

We spent the mornings in the classroom training and the afternoons out in the neighborhood putting what we learned into practice.

My group was able to pray with a couple of Fijians the first day and share the Gospel the next. The third day I felt so discouraged when they were unavailable to follow up.  But when we reached the church our fellow trainer Mei exclaimed with joy how they had met that couple who today were now ready to accept Christ!!  With that news, my sadness turned to relief and joy!!

       My group meeting with a local 

Then the last day we came across a guy whose 2 uncles were pastors, knew about a personal relationship with Christ and whose life has been radically transformed even!  But he, like many I've met, sadly are not sure they're going to heaven!!  That breaks my heart yet gives me great privilege to proclaim the truth that anyone whose trust is in Jesus alone and not our own efforts--even good things like going to church, reading the Bible, and praying--have power to save us.  What good news!!!

        Last day of XEE workshops!!

Thank you so much for your prayers for this past week.  We all have different parts to play in God's plan of salvation.  None of us can do it alone. Your prayers are a major part of the work! Vinaka!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Clinic Time!

The last week was full!  We had our Hope For Kids workshop where we were able to train 10 locals and 23 internationals.  The last day we shared the Gospel with 11 children.  I loved learning from Rusila, my friend and roommate these 6 weeks!

Then Sunday I actually got to visit her church.  We were finishing the worship time when they announced that their "sister from Switzerland" would share her testimony. Good thing our motto during last year's internship was "I was born ready!" 

 It was actually really special to be in this small village church surrounded by sugar cane fields which reminded me of my own home having grown up with tomato fields in the "back yard."

Today was a prep day for the XEE workshops which begin tomorrow. Thanks so much for your prayers. We've been reminded of our need for them . Please pray for good health, unity, and protection and for open hearts as we train and share.  More later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Take two!

"You are part of a group who was never supposed to exist." 

Joana's words pierced the air in the training center last Saturday.  She had arrived from Australia to teach us communications. As if to drive the point even further that God has chosen us, she informed us of the bigger picture:

Eight years ago, a donor had provided funding for a project called Implementation Field Worker (IFW) Training.  Not only did the funding run out last year, but sadly the man who had run the program recently passed away from cancer. This meant no money and no leader.

But God had a different plan: someone provided funding, and Rod (VP of EE Internstional) pooled together people to teach and lead another training!  Take two!

    Practicing dramas: God is both 
                  loving and just 

Apparently it's been a bit different than normal; but I have a feeling it's just what it's supposed to be for this time.

Back to Joanna: she taught us a lot about how to communicate effectively, and today we had to perform dramas we learned last night in front of the class while getting critiqued!  Then take two as we re-performed trying to improve.  I'm not gonna lie. It was scary!  But good.  And really funny.  

  Hope 4 Kids skit: Heaven is a free gift 

The skits were prep for the Hope 4 Kids (H4K) and XEE workshops we're running later this week and next. It's quite a challenge as some of us, like me, have never learned H4K before, but we're up for the challenge!  

Giving demo: Jesus paid our debt and     
    restored our relationship with God

Still, please be praying for us!  We'd really, really appreciate it!

Friday, October 14, 2016

What's in your way?

 For me this morning, it was a goat. This one actually, who was standing between me and the path back to a shower and breakfast:

 I had just descended the hill from my morning walk when I came across quite a lot of goats! But this particular one was right there in front of me, blocking my path back to the center.

Could I just slide past him, politely excusing myself?  Despite the fact I'm a farmer's daughter, I'm not up on goat etiquette and went with my gut which said to find another way. So I ducked left over a bush, into a ditch, and across a few meters of a field to respect the animal known for butting anyone that gets in its way!

It got me thinking about how sometimes things get in our way to keep us from moving forward, at least according to the path we had planned to take.  In our training here, we devoted the entire week's sessions and homework to Master Planning, an exercise designed to create a plan that states your purpose, needs, areas of life/ministry, etc. in order to create goals.  One column in the plan is called roadblocks and actually considers those things that keep us from advancing.

       EE's purpose/mission statement 

Then I "happened to" read Acts 16 this morning, where I was reminded that sometimes the seeming roadblocks are the Lord Himself!!  In the passage, Paul wanted and planned to go to Asia to share the Gospel. Sounds like a good, God-approved plan, right?  But scripture says twice that the Lord kept them from going!!!  And if we read on, we find out that they were led by God to Europe, (Yay!) where many who were crying out to God needed to hear the Gospel not only heard, but believed. (And in case you're wondering, Paul actually would go later to Asia.) But the point is that God Himself "got in the way."  

        my purpose/mission statement 

So maybe next time there's a goat in the road, and we're forced to take a different path we weren't planning on taking, it's worth checking in with God to see if His Spirit is the "culprit" because He has a different plan than we expected.

And just as each of us here who have created Master Plans for ministry will submit them to those in authority over us, may we submit the "Master Plans" of our lives to our Lord who has the perspective we lack and knows how to refine our purpose statements, goals and plans to be all that God created us to be.

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

All for One and One for all

This week our focus is spiritual growth,  goal-setting, and communication.  In the book we're going through for spiritual growth, Green, Archbishop Harry Goodhew speaks of the past, present, and future blessings we have in Christ: we're already chosen, in His family, and will be unified along with other believers with the Lord.  I could spend hours contemplating all this!

But just to consider our future promise, it also creates an amazing effect on earth: unity.  This is what I want to focus on in this post.  This group here with me is a living example of that as we are from 13 countries, many languages, and a variety of denominations.  We are quite different from each other! And yet we are all in God's family with one goal and able to live and learn together despite the real differences!

Each night, like a camp would, we have kitchen duty.  Sunday night is a volunteer night.  Instead of having to search for helpers, here is what happened: a kitchen packed with smiling, laughing bodies ready to go! Now that's unity!

Kitchen Duty

"How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Then yesterday after dinner, everyone gathered together to celebrate Fiji's Independence Day.  The Fijians shared the national anthem, its history, and a couple of songs. We had so much fun laughing and dancing together!!  It was a great way to end a long day, and it was a another beautiful picture of the unity that we have in Christ.  

"All the nations You have made will come and worship before You, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name." Psalm 86:9

Saturday, October 8, 2016

One Week Down, Five More To Go!

     My group: Robert from Romania & 
           Maxwell from Zimbabwe 

We spent last week learning in the classroom.  Then yesterday we went out in groups of 3 to share the Gospel.  My group met many people and were able to present the Gospel to five people, all of whom wanted to receive God's gift of life now and forever.  Just like my own culture, many people here in Fiji believe they will go to heaven, but cannot answer why. Or at least the why doesn't match up with God's plan of salvation: a free gift that cannot be earned, but must be received through saving faith or trusting in Jesus alone as the One who pays the price of our sin. 

 It's always amazing to watch someone who understands for the first time and truly has Hope, not having to rely on good behavior or Godly practices, but through God Himself who has accomplished what we cannot.

    Tala Tala encouraging us with sermon  

This morning we had a worship service here at the center.  Tala Tala (Pastor) Nakiti reminded us that we are each a unique child of God, chosen by Him for this very special time in history.  He chose Daniel and Elijah for an earlier time in history, but we were made for now to accomplish His work right here and now, at such a time as this.  Our calling and appointments aren't dependent on how we feel about ourselves or our abilities, but on what God has decided.  

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you." John 15:16

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Who turned off the lights?

And the water, the fans, and the Internet?  Apparently the Fijian government!  To provide a very large hotel that is under construction and requiring extra power, they are cutting power in other parts (ours) on a daily basis lately.

On the one hand, we adjust and make the best of it, like having class outside!  (It's actually cooler because of the breeze and shaded burré, i.e. canopy structure.  On the other hand, it causes real issues like not being able to flush toilets, wash hands, or keep the refrigerator cold.  Or use the Internet, which restricts learning resources as well as communication (So sorry if I haven't replied to you.  I want to!).

We have much to be thankful for, and we even have a generator to rely on a bit, but it can't support all of our needs and was down yesterday all day.  We would appreciate prayers for good health, good attitudes (which have been so far!), and ability to accomplish everything we need however God chooses to do that, electricity or not. Vinaka!!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bula from Fiji...again!

If you've been following me, you may be thinking Fiji?! What are you doing in Fiji? I thought you were going to Switzerland!  Well, I am.  So, let me explain...

Reuniting with some of our lovely Fijian ladies

After a short, medium, and super long flight starting Wednesday early afternoon, I arrived at the Nadi Airport super early Friday morning.  It's always strange just losing an entire day coming to this side of the world, but it's not like it was a surprise. When I left Fiji last time, I had a sneaky suspicion that I'd return one day; but I didn't know that it would be for another 6 weeks of training!  That is what has brought me back here.  This time is Leadership Development Training for those going into full-time service with EE.  I'll try to fill you in along the way on what types of things I'm learning and experiencing, but for the past 48 hours, it's mostly been reuniting, resting, and prepping for the conference. 

I may or may not have spent some time here this Sunday afternoon. :)

I'm thankful to have had a couple of days to get over jet lag before we start full-force. We'd all appreciate prayers for health and grace as we embark on 6 weeks of close quarters with 22 people from 12 different nations.  Vinaka! (Thanks!)

Where I'll be spending a LOT of time the next 6 weeks

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Nothing Too Great, Nothing Too Small

One thing I love about the Lord is that He is macro and micro.  He's the Lord of the universe, but He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  There is nothing too great that He cannot do and nothing too small that He isn't concerned about.  He has the long-range plan--for humanity as well as our individual lives--yet also directs each step on the paths that we're on.  When we know and accept this and engage with God personally as a God who cares and is able to act on our behalf, we encounter the beauty of His majesty and the wonder of His love.

This has been true in my own life, and yet despite a lifetime of evidence of His faithfulness, each new season places before me a fresh opportunity and really a choice of whether I will act in faith or unbelief.

As I prepare for some major life changes, this is the case.  I have witnessed God's extraordinary accuracy to detail in His provision, blessings, and timing.  This leads me to a high of amazement, adoration, and praise.  On the other hand, human nature has a way of magnifying setbacks and distorting truth to where we can lose our steam before we even get to the starting line!

I'm very thankful for the reminder of the power we have through Jesus Himself over difficult circumstances, fears, or lies.  The truth is that nothing can separate us from our God of love who not only created the universe, but created me and you!  Whose love is so authentic that He put it into action, not just words or feelings: He gave up His rights as God, subjected Himself to human conditions and even suffered a brutal death, all so that all persons could live...and not just now but forever!

I hope that wherever you life's circumstances find you--whether you're on a high, low, or in between--that you can know the joy and security of the life that is connected to the love of a God who cares deeply for you and can do something about your needs, no matter their size! 

     "Is anything too difficult or too wonderful for the Lord?" ~Genesis 18:14 AMP*

* 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who, What, When...?

I've had a lot of questions about what I'm doing, where I'm going, when, and how people can help me.  So being the language teacher that I am, I thought I'd answer the "5 Wh questions" (and How :).

Who:  I'm going to be serving full-time with Evangelism Explosion (EE) who equips local churches with a variety of tools to share the Gospel in their local communities.

        National leaders from Europe 

What:  I will join the team in Europe as assistant to the Vice President (of Europe), Helmut Kuhn who I will help equip, support, and direct the national leaders within the various nations of Europe and Middle East as they train locals to share the Gospel.

When:  The goal is to get to Europe as soon as possible after the New Year 2017.  It depends on a variety of factors such as financial support and visa.

Where:  I'll be based outside of Zurich, Switzerland since this is where Helmut resides and works.  I'll also be traveling a lot within Europe and potentially other parts of the world.

           City of Zurich on June visit 
1.  God has commanded believers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19).

2.  EE's vision statement (Every nation equipping every people group and every age group to witness to every person.) matches my own mission statement.

    Vision statement with Inggried in Indo

3.  I believe that God has purposes and plans for each of us. As I get to know Him more (in His Word, prayer, fellowship, etc.), I have a clearer picture of who I am and how to follow Him; and this lines up with the vision, desires, and purpose He has put in my heart.

How:  At the risk of sounding super spiritual, all by the grace of God!  Practically speaking, like all EE staff, I will raise support to earn my salary and all associated expenses.  SAMS (the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) is my sending agency.  If you would like to support me financially, click here or write a check to SAMS, PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003 with "preference Anne Schaffer" in memo line.  I'll write future blogs about the How and What. 😊 

Hope that gives a bit of a picture of what's ahead long-term.  Short-term, I'm headed to Fiji for 6 weeks of training and will return to Charleston, SC mid-November till I head off to Switzerland.

When in Charleston...

When I returned to Charleston a month ago, I had a few goals before I leave again for a final round of training next week: visit friends and family, raise support, and start packing and moving. 

          Sis time in Jacksonville

Less than a week after my return, I hopped yet another plane to Pittsburgh for training with SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders).  Since I am going as a missionary, I've been counseled to go through a sending organization, and if you haven't heard the amazing story of how I learned about them, it's worth asking me sometime! Definitely an answer to prayer.  And to answer the question many of you keep asking, once I have an account to start raising support, I'll post and let you know! (Thank you!!)

It's taken a while, and I've had to be very intentional to see friends and family, but I've gotten to connect with many of you.  It's not that I don't want to or love everyone so much, but life can seem like a rat race; and I forget how busy we Americans always are!  I've been really blessed to catch up with new and old friends, and there's still a week+ to go if we haven't caught up yet!

                    Niece time!

    Schaffer girls cheering on nephew

One reason for the busy-ness is that my sister and I decided to sell our condo.  Within a week of us inquiring of the process and before it ever went on the market, the Lord provided buyers!  I won't get into all the details, but it has been a joyful, mouth-dropping experience as both ends have seen God's hand in every step of the way blessing the process and especially with the timing for everyone involved.  Another story to ask about some time.  It's also sad as this has been my home for the past 5 years. and it makes my decision to leave much more real as I won't have my place to come back to when I get "home."

                Goodbye, condo!

    A favorite spot in my beighborhood

So, next stop is Fiji for training (No, I won't be sipping pina coladas at a resort if that's what you're thinking!)  I'll be inland at the training center with people from around the world who are also getting trained attending talks and meetings as well as outreaches.  I'll try to keep up with my blog while I'm there to keep you informed!  I truly appreciate your prayers, interest, and support and look forward to catching up again when I return!  On that note, if you or anyone (church, small group, individual) you know wants to hear more about what God is doing in Europe and surrounding areas, please contact me. I'd love to share in person!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dream Big!

Sounds a bit cliche, but this has been a message for me this year.  It was on the sign that my sister gave me for Christmas.  It was covering an entire wall at the Vienna Airport as I left the conference with the direction to potentially join the team in Europe.  It was on a pillow at the home where I stayed the night before going to Indonesia.

Wall at Vienna Airport

As I've stepped out into what I believe God is calling me to, it's bigger than I would have chosen and even feel comfortable with.  At the same time, it's as though my dreams are coming true--and some of them I wasn't even aware that I had!

The first night I arrived in Malang, Indonesia, I felt such a thrill and joy to be surrounded by people of different nations and cultures as well as reuniting with those I've met within the last year from all over the world. It was quite surreal as we began 2+ weeks of meetings and EE's 3rd Congress of Nations.  As I sat with the team from Europe, I felt such a sense of belonging and being in my element. It's quite humbling really as I'm not European and have such little experience, but this was another level of affirmation.

Team Europe at Nation Building Specialist meetings in Indonesia

It was awe-inspiring and an honor to be present as 86 nations gathered together.  We were able to meet as a continent but also have many meetings with other countries and continents to see how to work together in the coming months and years to build up the ministry in Europe and throughout the rest of the world.  

Team Europe at Congress of Nations
 It's amazing to see God's hand choosing and placing people in positions at this time as 5 of the 6 Vice Presidents are "passing the baton" to someone new.  The timing of joining Europe is significant as there is much reform ahead!  I'll keep you posted in the future as to what those are, but I'm personally excited about the planning stages of getting things going in France.  Another task is that Europe has been assigned the next Congress of Nations in 2019!!!  

Former VP George has passed the baton to Helmut
As I have returned to my hometown to begin support-raising and prepping to return to Switzerland, I'm so amazed at our Lord of the Universe.  His heart for all to know Him is evident by the ways that He is at work!  I love how He inspires us and stirs our hearts to desire what will carry out His plan for our lives and for the world that He loves.  I'm finding it takes an open heart to "dream big," and as I am realizing the dreams He's placed within me, it causes a deep sense of awe, gratitude, and even worship.  

I hope that you will dream big too, the kind that screams,"Yes, this is what I was made for!"  The kind that is rooted in the One who created you and connects you to Him.  The kind that can and do come true. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Open Doors

We hear the expression of "open" and "closed" doors a lot, or at least I do.  In the Bible, God acknowledges that He has placed an open door that no one can shut.  I think the context here is more of a spiritual/heavenly nature, but I also agree that life presents itself with "open" and "closed" doors.  

Doors in Luzern, Switzerland

I'm going to focus on the open doors in this post, though I believe that God can and does direct us through closed doors as much as He does the open ones.  I'm finding I sometimes expect "open doors" to be effortless and obvious. This summer (winter), I've been humbly reminded that this is not always the case.  

My first day in Switzerland, I encountered three doors that were "open"--or at least able to be opened, if only I could figure them out!  I should've remembered the locks in Europe are opposite and a bit more involved than those in the US, but it's been a while!  Needless to say, lefty loosy, righty tighty doesn't work there!  So, as I fumbled my way spinning and pulling, I had to accept that I didn't know how to open the door! 

When something in the natural happens three times in one day, it catches my attention; and I start considering spiritual lessons.  I think there is one.  Each of those physical doors that day--and repeatedly throughout the past couple months--were for me to go through, but I just didn't know how to open them! 

I don't think God teases us, but I do think He likes when we approach Him with our questions and ask for help!  So, as I am in a transition stage with some doors that need opening, my prayer is for help to know how and not give up at the first ..or third...sign of frustration and even incompetence.

Psalm 24 also reminds us of our part in a broader sense to open the doors and gates of our lives for God Himself as King to come in and bring His reign.  Yes to open doors--to Him and through Him!

Open gate in Asia