Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Greatest Gift

It's hard to escape the fact that December, at least in the US and the West, is a time of giving.  We exchange gifts.  Stores ask for donations to spread the cheer.  We give and receive Christmas cards as well as a multitude of end-of-year letters from NGO's and people like me. 😉

I think it's good to have a season of giving especially when our society continues to convince us that we need things that our predecessors happily lived without.  But I'm reminded that as God Himself said in His Word, the greatest gift to give is love.

As I read over its definition in 1 Corinthians 13 for this morning's Bible Study, I was sobered as I am every time I read this passage.  It's not just the fact that I see a lack of these qualities in my own heart and life, but other spiritual merits including generosity, are basically canceled without love at the core.  I think I can sometimes deceive myself that my spiritual gifts, faith, or generosity can override a bit of impatience of irritability, especially toward those who offer the same.  Of course, this is not so, according to the One with the right to judge.

Thank God He is not just a righteous Judge, but also merciful.  He Himself is our source of love, so we can confess our waywardness and selfishness and humbly ask for His love to replace our less-than efforts.

I'm thankful, too, that our God is constantly calling us to His love and in His divine wisdom and power can so arrange that today's lesson in Spirituality of Fundraising would reinforce the call to love as first and foremost.  I'll end with a quote on one of four ways to commit to wholeheartedness.  Perhaps it will encourage you as it has me to be rich in love, both giving and receiving.

Most of us want to give and receive love and to experience joy and peace.  We want to get along with people and to be patient and generous.  We hope to have adventure, quality relationships, and lots of laughter in our lives.  None of these things can be purchased.  Once we have created a personal picture of what wholeheartedness means for us, we can commit to that vision.  When we stray from our vision, we can return to God as the place of our security and the source of love that will fill our heart. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

'Tis the Season to Be Waiting :)

Speaking of waiting, so sorry for the long delay in writing.  I went to SE Asia and was incredibly busy without secure Internet, so chose not to write.  In fact, I will most likely end this blog, but figured I could and should still use it to communicate for now, so I'm back. :)

I'm limited with what I can share and will use this to very briefly catch you up.  The trip was very good, helpful, and informative.  I suppose it's appropriate that Advent began yesterday as I'm very much in a season of waiting.  Waiting on details, waiting on timelines, waiting to go!

I'm reminded that Advent is a time not just to wait with boredom, passivity, distraction, or impatience, but with purpose and preparation.  I'm grateful for a book I recently purchased at the recommendation of the New Wineskins' workshop speaker: Henri Nouwen's A Spirituality of Fundraising.  Raising support (aka finding ministry partners) is also the season that I'm in.  Going through this book is part of my personal preparation to work on my heart and mind during the waiting while transforming me in the process!  I really like his insights, approach, and example of prioritizing loving people over the task (not just of fundraising, but of ministry).  That's a way that you can pray for me. :).  

May all of us guard against the distractions and plain busy-ness of the world's view of Christmas and embrace the sweetness that comes with bringing our unfulfilled desires to the One who will fulfill them with eternity in mind, the One who is the Beginning and the End.  We wait for more than a day on the yearly calendar, but a day unknown to our calendars when our Lord will return and satisfy our longings with Himself.  Happy Advent, y'all!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Time to Rest

My plan was to take two weeks of vacation after Congress before New Wineskins.  That was spoiled when Dorian delayed my return, and I had a series of unpleasant tasks (like insurance issues and credit card disputes) to deal with.  I was so adamant to have a vacation that I was stressing myself out trying to relax!

I finally accepted a week and a half into the two weeks that this simply wasn’t the time to take a vacation.  I had much to do to prep for New Wineskins and the upcoming trip to SE Asia.  While I knew I needed rest, I had peace that the timing was not now and surrendered my need.

As I read one of the questions in the Bible Study I’m attending, it spoke to me in a convicting, yet enlightening and even liberating manner.  It referenced Isaiah 30:15, and the thought that came was that spiritual rest comes through repentance, when I turn my heart away from the things I’ve let it wander to and back to God who deserves my complete affection.  

I started thinking holistically.  Yes, my body is tired, but what if I gave my spirit the same attention I’m desperately trying to give my body and soul?  And interestingly enough, it takes time to really search the heart and go deep with God, which in and of itself is a sanctified sort of rest.  

I haven't arrived yet, but am pondering this and praying that my heart with align more with this truth.  I don't want to just be a hearer of this word, but a doer.  I don't want to idolize rest, but to worship the One true God who gives rest--body, soul, and spirit.  

In returning and rest you shall be saved.  In quietness and trust shall be your strength.  ~Isaiah 30:15

New Wineskins

…is one of my favorite things!  A large part of it is being with so many other like-minded, missions-minded people for the very purpose of informing, exhorting, and encouraging each other in God’s Great Commission to make Him known, but also fellowshipping and worshiping the God we serve.  In the words of one of my pastors I ran into the first night, “these are your people.”  These words echoed my own thoughts hours before “these are my people.”  Like I wrote in my last post, at New Wineskins, I get to be normal for a few days. :)

It’s like a huge family reunion with divine appointments everywhere you turn.  I admit it was exhausting for me, but the joy is more overwhelming than the stress of over-stimulation.  

It was so special to spend time with St. Michael's group (I don't have that group photo) and
 to meet  some old and new faces from St. Andrew's (group shot above).

I’m so grateful for all I was able to meet, including a few from or living in SE Asia.  While I was still serving with EE, I was completely focused on my responsibilities, committed to finishing well.  I didn’t have time to really think much about what’s ahead.  This was a perfect opportunity to start opening my mind and heart more for the upcoming transition.

It was affirming to hear the need for more workers in this area.  Friday was committed to unreached people groups, and many focused on M*slims or Hind*s, but no one on B*ddhists.  It’s not to say that there aren’t people serving them.  I know some!  But there’s a real need.  This need was reiterated by one of the Anglican deans who asked for help.  While the Diocese of Singapore is doing an excellent job from what.I hear and know, they pointed out their tiny population in comparison to the nations they are responsible for.  I felt thankful that SAMS and another Anglican sending agency are actively promoting the needs there.

Hard to believe that I’ll be going in a little over a week!!!!  Just for the placement trip.  Thank you for praying with me to discern God’s leading about the position, location, and timing.  It will be good to be able to share more!

SAMS Retreat

Two weeks ago from Tuesday, my sister and I drove up to Ridgecrest for the SAMS retreat before New Wineskins.  It was special to have her with me, for her to meet everyone, and to participate in the retreat herself.  The theme was lamenting.  If you’re thinking that sounds like a downer, I confess that was my first thought as well.  I’m so very thankful for this topic which is the first ever for me as a retreat (or any Christian function’s) topic.  

The last night of the retreat, I shared how I wasn’t particularly excited about the topic when they announced it, but how thankful I was and how I left thinking very differently about lament than I had before.  Honestly acknowledging pain and bringing it to the Lord isn’t new’ but the process of lament was.  Verbalizing and expressing not just the pain, but the questions that come along with it, especially “How long, O Lord?” Is a starting point.  My favorite part, though, is resolution which helps us move forward. :)

Besides the talks and small group time about lament, I loved being with SAMS’ staff who I rarely get to see, but email or call often.  I got to meet some of the trustees I hadn’t met before and spend some time with cherished supporters/friends.  

I love my life, but I admit that I don’t fit the norm in many or most ways.  At the retreat, though, for these few days, I was in the company of many who have very different location or roles, but very similar lives, having left homeland, families, and friends for foreign lands with foreign customs and languages.  For a few days, I got to be normal. :)

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Goodbye EE and Europe, Hello Charleston...For Now

Finally, back in Charleston!  Wow, what a trip!  The final Thursday night was special as the ELT snuck me away for a final goodbye dinner.  It was lovely and such a gift to exchange loving words of appreciation and blessing before we all part.  

Only sunset I got to see in Albania at my Farewell Dinner

The ELT and a few others shared a very nice Albanian meal together.

I worked all the way up till my flight at the airport last Saturday!  Andreas, one of the ELT members, has assumed responsibility for communication during the interim.  I was so busy during Congress I didn't have time to really spend with our team or meet with him.  I met with him at 11:00 in the lobby before our 12:00 bus departed and then again in the airport to pass on some info and show him some things that will help now that I'm gone.

While everyone else was sad to see taxis and buses leave for the airport, each departing group gave me a sense of relief and accomplishment!  I had assigned a group leader for each departing vehicle to make sure everyone who was supposed to leave was indeed on the bus and naturally was the group leader for the 12:00 bus I was on.  Our 30-seater was one of the larger groups.

My delayed flight to Ljubljana caused no problem, and I sat next to a French couple and had a very interesting discussion.  I was surprised how open the young woman was despite her saying several times that she is atheist.  She seemed interested and listened to what I had to say, and I hope that seeds were planted and/or watered.  By God's grace, I was able to find Helmut whose flight arrived in Zurich about 45 minutes after mine.  His wife picked us both up, and they dropped me off at friends who hosted me.

Thought I would try something Serbian.  It has ham and cheese in the middle.
I ate  all of it. :)

What was special is that this is the same family I stayed with for the 5 weeks in 2016, so it was like my time in Europe was closing full circle.  I was able to meet up with a couple of friends and celebrate with Helmut's family and host friends before leaving.

I visited the airport both days before leaving because of Charleston's evacuation due to Hurricane Dorian.  There was no way to change my ticket since both flights in/out of Europe were on schedule, but I'm so grateful to the Lord's provision.  By the time I landed in Newark, I had already received word that the Charleston airport would be closed Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning. I was grateful to be given free meal vouchers.  Hoping to use my credit card's flight insurance, I was again relieved that I won't have to as the hotel comped my stay since the bath water was brown!   The next morning, my first flight to DC was delayed because of maintenance, causing me to miss my next flight to Columbia, SC.  They again gave me a meal voucher, and alas, I made it to Columbia where my mom and sister had driven to pick me up.  It was over an hour drive to where we were going, but how thankful I was to be on South Carolina soil yet away from the storm.

It was perfect to spend the next couple of days with family in the country with no Internet and catching up, taking walks, fishing, and watching the US Open.  And now it is so nice to be back in Charleston, a bit battered, but having survived yet another storm.  I've got quite a To Do List, but the hope is to have two weeks' vacation before I go to New Wineskins in Asheville at the end of the month.  Am hoping to have time to process and reflect the past three years and pray for the future.  

Thank you for following me and praying for my travels and responsibilities during Congress.  It means the world to me and makes an incredible difference!

Table Legs

August 29, 2019

Many of the Africans remember me from last Congress because I spoke French to them. We always greet each other in French, which makes all of us happy. Yesterday when one of them asked how I was doing, I honestly answered “fatiguée.” He immediately used a metaphor to describe exactly how I feel.  

He said that all of us doing admin are like the legs of a table. As we serve the others, all the weight is put on us, and it holds whatever is on the table. That’s exactly how I felt and I’m sure all the others.  Just the day before, we were saying how heavy we felt, all the while smiling.  That's something else I'm thankful for: good attitudes, smiles, and laughter. 😃  

I can say it was from the fatigue of relentless responsibilities coming nonstop.  I am immensely grateful for those praying for us and for the high fives, hugs, and words of appreciation we’ve gotten.  To keep the metaphor, those who do so strengthen our “legs” so that we are able to hold everything up.  A little affirmation and appreciation go a long way!!!

How Do You Like Your Butter?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

I have to backtrack to last Wednesday. My Swiss colleague and friend Tabea taught me a little trick: if you put the little cold butter packet in your pocket while you get the rest of your food, it will get soft and be ready to spread when you’re back at the table. I like that plan because I like soft butter. Unfortunately, my brain was already in a million directions, and let’s just say I never buttered my bread that morning.

It was later that afternoon as I was greeting friends who were arriving when I remembered the butter! Yep, and I had had my lunch outside in the very hot temperatures! Yuck!

So the next day, I had just showered and was going to put on the same black pants. For my American friends, please don’t think me disgusting. It’s how we do it here in Europe.  Yet, I started to smell something bad and really hoped it wasn’t me.  Not feeling very hopeful, I brought my pants to my nose to confirm that they were indeed the culprit...specifically the left pocket where the butter had been the previous day. 

Thankfully Helmut had found a professional laundry closeby where you can have your clothes washed and pressed for only 300 Lek per kilo ($3/kg).  That’s good news because I packed for 2 1/2 weeks in only a very small carry-on and would need some washing.

No idea what all those words mean, but I understand Laundry.  Communicating was a bit pathetic,
but I managed to drop off my clothes and pick them up at the appropriate time and pay the correct amount. ☺️ 

I was happy to be able to wear my black pants again this morning, but would you know that there’s still a slight smell!  😳 I know that they’re clean, but I’ll be glad when I can put them through an American washer again. I’ve also learned a lesson: from now on, if I want my butter to be soft, I’ll hold it in my hand. No more pants pockets!

Note: I have good news: the American washer did the trick!  Smell is gone! 😅

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Can't see the yellow star, but this is Egypt's flag.  Sadly our 5 delegates
did not make it because of their Visa being denied. :(
We had 4 delegates from Finland!
The bottom is actually yellow: Germany! Andreas (ELT)
attended with his wife.
I end this long day full of emotions.  The stress of arranging 250+ departures two days from now has been replaced with more personal sentiments.  Our European team finally met together tonight.  Helmut announced his resignation along with the entire ELT.  He has decided to step down to take care of his father who has cancer, and the ELT agreed to end together.  

It stirred up questions and discussion as well as thank you’s and appreciation.  Goodbyes are not easy, but I’m so grateful to have been able to express my own thanks to this group of men (and one wife who was present).  I sincerely thanked them for their acceptance.  That even though I’m a female, an American, and had very little experience with EE, from the very beginning, I’ve always felt very welcome and like a part of the team.  I’m touched by their heartfelt thanks and as one man who I only met for the first time here put, “a lot of agape from all of the men.”

We had a new board member join us for Great Britain this year.

Middle is yellow: Team Romania had 4 delegates!

Team Switzerland had 2 delegates, plus the 3 ELT members who are Swiss.
The tears are welling, and I’m choking up as I face the facts that this is the end.  How grateful I am for the past three + years serving these nations with the ELT.   It’s been full of challenges at times, but worth any stress or pain along the way.  It's also been full of joy and purpose.  As the EuroMENA nations were announced at last night’s opening ceremony, I felt like a proud mom, grinning as I stood to take a picture of each flag representing each nation.

Yay, Austria!  Walter represented this nation.

Our newest Multiplying Nation: Czech Republic
brought two delegates!
I wish you could meet these leaders whose hearts burn with passion for Jesus and who long to multiply disciples in Europe.  Each one endures much opposition through their dedication and trust in the Lord.  Let’s give thanks and pray for each one.

Middle is yellow: Hungary.

Bottom is yellow.  Ukraine brought two delegates.

One Week Down, One Week To Go!

Note: The next few posts are backlogged.  I somehow found time to write, but was unable to post till today, finally back in Charleston!

August 24, 2018

Did you know that Tirana Airport is named after
Mother Theresa who was Albanian?

So many times the past few days, I wanted to blog. I could’ve written so many stories, but time and brainpower are in low supply.  I have been given the role of transportation coordinator, which has proven to be quite involved and extremely stressful. Let’s just say that I will think twice before filling out any transportation logistics for future conferences.  

I went to the airport the first day to scout things out and was able to rely on two of
our Swiss members to greet for the rest of the Congress.

One little typo has huge implications.  We had a very busy staff person go to the airport at 2:40 AM for a no-show because someone had written the wrong date!  Not to mention the work of ordering and canceling taxis every time someone’s flight changes or decides to leave earlier or later which involves a lot of arithmetic and communicating with multiple people.  This is my life right now: nonstop and never-ending.  

Still, it’s a blessing and honor to get to serve such amazing people for an organization that does such important gospel work. I’m also privileged to have wonderful colleagues who are a tremendous support. Tabea and Michel stepped up and covered all airport shifts between the two of them which freed me to do all of the coordinating with taxi service, hotel, payments, etc.  Helmut even went to the airport one night to pick up the 2:40 group so that our leader didn’t have to go back again and miss another night of sleep.  The team from Asheville are great and are working relentlessly.

The Amazing Michel (left) and Tabea (right) with
one of the hotel shuttle drivers.

It’s hard to imagine continuing at this pace, but we’re all taking one day at a time. I keep returning to the prayer that came to me as I wrestled with feelings of incapability the first night.  It was actually John the Baptist ‘s prayer: more of Him, less of me.  Somehow, the letting go has allowed me to embrace His strength in my weakness.  As I often feel, I truly believe the prayers of others are helping to sustain us.  Thank you!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Congress Around the Corner

In a little over two days, I'll be on my way to Albania for the third time in the past year and a half.  I'm thankful that it's become a familiar, even comfortable place to me as I brace myself for the two weeks of intensity.  At least four of the international staff members arrived at the beginning of the week to start on-site preparations.  Today, one man has re-applied for Visas for our 5 Egyptian delegates who are some of many who are still waiting on theirs!  (They aren't scheduled to arrive till a week after me, so there's time, but not much!).  I'm glad that there's still hope as I heard from a dear Fijian friend that she will not be able to come as her Visa was denied.  That is so sad to me and a reality of international travel, whose Visa requirements are heightened in Europe because of the refugee crisis the past few years.

In the meantime, you've probably heard about the protests at the Hong Kong airport, which caused flight cancellations for two days this past week.  Thankfully, it seems like that's settled down.  Then there's British Airways who planned to strike in August, but we're hoping and praying they won't.  I am flying through London, though not on BA.  😅These are one of many issues that are outside of our control, but directly affect our 200-300 people flying as well as the airport pick-ups, hotel check-ins, etc.  

It's good at times like these to keep our hearts and minds free of worry and connected to the love and power of a good Heavenly Father.  He's the One with ultimate control over every circumstance and the One that we can pray to for our needs, fears, and things outside of ourselves.  I'll have to remind myself of this in the next few weeks, ha!

I am unsure if I'll be able to post while there, but please do pray that this would be a joyous, fruitful time as nearly 80 nations will join together.  Please also pray for safety and health for all of us and our loved ones as we travel.  Lastly, (it seems surreal to write, but) please pray that I will finish well.  Thank you!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What Next?

As I've written in previous blogs and my newsletter update, I'm in my final days with EE, which is bittersweet.  The sad part is leaving a group of people who I love and am attached to.  I've had great joy serving my European brothers and sisters. Thanks to their incredibly warm welcome, I have always felt like a part of the team from Day One.  It's a loss to leave this team.  The happy part is being in step with the Lord and preparing myself for what He has next so that His purposes and plans can be fulfilled through my life.  

As I mentioned in my latest newsletter, I believe that the Lord is calling me to serve in Southeast Asia.  That's about as much detail as I can give for now, but I'll give some backdrop in case you're interested in how it's all come about.

This past February, as I learned about needs on the mission field for language and culture coaches, I felt hope, excitement, and passion all pump into my heart at once.  I didn't want to get too excited even though I'd been praying for over a year about the long-term.  I decided to take one step at a time, the first being to inquire about more information.

As I learned and dialogued more, I offered three locations that interest me: Europe, New Caledonia, and Southeast that order.  No needs in Europe for this position.  Impressed that I knew of New Caledonia, but no current needs.  Many needs in Southeast Asia.  As I continued to knock on doors with weekly conversations, I thought back to my prayer map on the wall at the condo years ago and how three SE Asian countries were among five countries I used to pray for regularly.  Looking back, it was a bit strange.  I think I hoped to possibly visit these places one day, though I feel fairly sure that I never intended to move to any of them!  

I admit that it's a stretch for me--very different cultures than I've ever lived in before and will require me to learn a new language (and culture)!  I'm so thankful for my trip to this part of the world in April 2018 so that I at least have an idea of what I'm praying about, though the placement trip in the fall will do a better job.  Not only will I visit locations I (mostly) haven't yet, but I'll have the lens and filter of living here long-term.

What's also significant to me is how God uses His Word to guide and speak.  I mentioned New Caledonia as a place I was interested in.  You may know that this is a place of particular interest to me and one that I believe God had placed on my heart some time ago.  Not to mention, it just makes sense being a French-speaking island, and islands=warm weather, my preferred climate. :)

Right around the time as I was inquiring and exploring options, the Bible Study I attended was studying the life of David, specifically his desire to build a temple for the Lord.  I don't think I'm only speaking for myself when I say that this story is not new to me.  Still, the Lord has a way of speaking to our spirits with His Word, which is alive.  One of my fellow group members reminded us that sometimes God puts desires on our hearts which are actually not for us to fulfill, but perhaps our children or the next generation.  As she spoke, it was as though the Lord Himself were speaking to my own heart's desire to go to New Caledonia.  I'm not saying I will never go there, but at that moment, I was released from needing to make it happen and freed to go to the location where the doors are opening and how I'm being led: Southeast Asia.

I've been dialoguing with several in that part of the world and have planned a trip there mid-October for two and a half weeks.  Until then, I'll be busy with Congress and New Wineskins; so it's nice to see how things are coming together.  I so appreciate your prayers in this transition time.  Will keep you posted along the way!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Please Pray For MENA's needs

Things are and continue to be intense as we approach Congress.  My leave date is less than three weeks away, and I'm feeling it!  So much going on as we prep and also as I have been working on an application and preparing for my next (placement) trip this fall.  I also had the opportunity to visit a home fellowship who supports me last week.

That is always so special to have people locally who know who I am and affirm their partnership with me by having me visit.  As I shared hi lights and challenges of this past year as well as the upcoming transition, I was blessed at everyone's questions and insights, especially the children's!  During the prayer time at the end that consisted of everyone's prayer needs, I shared one I'd just learned of the day before: that our 5 delegates from MENA (M. East, N. Africa) still hadn't received their Visas after months of failed attempts and rejections both in-person and online!

How special to pray for this together and start seeing evidence of answered prayer the very next day when we discovered that they needed another letter.  I'm not sure if this has been the hold-up or not, but it certainly seems promising that there was something else we could offer to assist them in this process.  I'd ask you to please join us in praying for this very practical need.  Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Transition Time

Things have been busy!  To catch you up, when I left France, I had lots of questions whirling around in my mind.  Would I return to France?  Would I continue with the French translation work?  How long would I stay with EE?

To answer the last question first, this is something I have been praying about for a while.  I sensed that this is not what the Lord has for me long-term a year and a half ago.  I believe He started revealing the next steps to me back in February of this year, though I was still unsure of the "when" or the details.  I had purposed to remain with EE until the Congress next month, but was open to staying longer.  

Even when I left, I was thinking I may stay through December, especially if I could get the French translation complete.  My last week in France, I learned two significant pieces of information.  First, I was nearly out of support.  Second, as I mentioned in my last newsletter, 1/2 of the pages were missing from the Canadian materials and had never even been translated!  On top of that, the revised translation needs more revision and just wasn't acceptable to French youth.  It was like going back to Square One.

Being a "glass is half full" kind of a gal with a God who thrives on impossibility, I wasn't too fazed.  These were real issues, but I did not jump to any conclusions based on either.  I was thankful to have a two-week period I was house/dog-sitting early to mid-June to hopefully process and pray through everything.  

As things turned out, these two weeks ended up being incredibly stressful with multiple emergencies within the ministry, the home, and the dog.  Let's just say it was highly unconducive to gathering one's thoughts or decision-making.  At least, I should say, on a natural level, because the Lord managed to bring me to a place of clarity, direction, and complete peace within those two exasperating weeks.  In fact, He spoke to each of my questions in a way that helped me arrive at my answer.  

The house where I stayed has hundreds of books, not to mention I was already in the middle of a novel I was enjoying.  "Something" (the Holy Spirit) guided me to pick up a book by Elisabeth Elliott called These Strange Ashes.  This is not a book I normally would've been drawn to for multiple reasons, but now I know it was the Lord's doing.  Spoiler alert: I even knew about Elisabeth Elliott's experience, but reading the story of her first year as a missionary was a more vivid context to learn that after her arduous work--much more than anything I gave--all of her completed translation work was stolen and to this day has never been recovered!  Not only could I identify with her feelings, but the Lord used it to help me get to a place of acceptance that the time, energy, and work invested in the French translation was lost; and I am free to move on even though it's sad and disappointing.

Going back to the financial situation, I wasn't afraid or nervous; to me, this was confirmation that my time at EE is ending, and sooner than later.  Conversations with SAMS and EE helped bring me to a place of acceptance and realization that now (at the end of Congress) is the time to finish rather than staying longer.  And don't worry, true to His character, the Lord is providing for my needs, even through some of you, without even knowing my situation.

I won't share every little detail, but I'm still amazed and grateful at how the Lord was able to speak and get through to me at such a seemingly inopportune time using a variety of circumstances and testimonies.  I'm impressed how He can take natural circumstances or stories and infuse them with the Holy Spirit's touch to translate into specific, pertinent messages for our individual personal lives.  

I'm only now starting to share with others about the news and will, of course, share in my next newsletter.  It's still too early to give more information about location or assignment,  but I do plan to stay long-term with SAMS who is discerning this with me.  Thank you so much for sticking with me through the thick and the thin.  

Please continue to pray for Congress prep and Congress itself.  Please also pray for the interviews, decisions, and planning about the future.  Finally I give thanks for the Lord's financial provision and encouragement and pray for the finances needed for where He's leading me next.  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Congress is Coming Up!

Ready or not, the long-awaited Congress of Nations 2019 is just around the corner.  At this morning's online Congress Planning meeting, we were reminded of how much there is to still do!  On the other hand, it's amazing at all of the progress the teams have made so far.

If you've ever helped plan a large event, you can probably relate to all the "unexpected" and details that require time and attention.  Thankfully I'm detail-oriented, which has helped at the tasks that require precision.  I usually avoid getting into the nitty-gritty so I don't bore you, but it's a large part of what I'm doing these days.  

To give an example, last week I was re-reading a document with passport information that a hotel had written so that our delegates could get Visas.  I noticed that one of the numbers and a birth date were inaccurate even though I had entered it correctly on the original document I'd sent the hotel.  Not that I don't make mistakes because I'm very capable!  And that's just it: there are so many details that, if missed, could cost a delegate their right to enter the host country!  

We're so blessed that our leader, Tony, who is bearing the bulk of the responsibility leads us in humility and dependence on the Lord as he prays for us all in these meetings.  Would you please join us in prayer?   We'd be so grateful!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

From Lux to Charleston

My final days in Lux were filled with fun and of course packing and goodbye's including a Going Away Party.  It was nice to get to visit with friends as well as some local areas I hadn't yet seen.  I left not knowing if I'll return or not.  The invitation is open, but it will depend on several factors and next steps with ministry goals and how to best meet them.

Group went to see La Voix du Pardon (I Can Only Imagine) at the cinema.
Got to try a Burgundy dish (oeufs meurettes) with Sara

Going Away Party Potluck

Pétanque: Based on the pictures I saw, I use improper form,
but I managed to win us some points. 😉

Philippe and Raphaël praying for me
The transition back has been very nice, though I came back to a lot with 4 major events over the weekend alone!  Even though I do miss a lot when I'm away and I admit that the travel can be taxing; I'm amazed how God has graced me with the privilege to be in Charleston for important moments like my nephew's graduation party and niece's birthday.  

Nephew graduated!
I'm also grateful to have used vacation days upon my return.  Wow, this helped so much.  I'm usually a bit stressed when I jump back into work when I'm tired and also trying to see family and friends.  This time, I could relax and give myself permission to do just that.

With family and friends celebrating my niece's birthday

Back to work today (Wednesday).  We continue to prep for the Congress of Nations in August.  That's an ongoing prayer request as it requires a tremendous effort from many especially at EEI, but also the European team and the VP's.  May we not underestimate the power of prayer!  I also need wisdom and guidance regarding the French materials and our goals for France in general.

Will keep you posted!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Last Week in Lux!

Wow, it's hard to believe that 3 days from now I will leave my home for the past 3 months.  The last couple of weeks have been incredibly full with many meetings, projects, and planning, including the  XEE development.

Maryse gave me the materials back at church on Sunday, and we agreed to meet Tuesday afternoon before the meeting I had with EEI.  I used much of Monday evening to skim over her corrections in the 76-page handbook and read through the 29-page DVD script.  I'm so incredibly thankful for Maryse's help who volunteered her time completely to do this time-consuming work.  I thanked her with some European chocolates and a "Thank You" card.  When she followed suit and thanked me, I was wondering why; but I realised that she is truly appreciative to have someone who is working on bringing this evangelistic tool to France and the French people.  Moments that touch like that on a heart level make what I do worth all of the challenges that come along with it.

That afternoon's meeting I was able to ask for the English script as I wanted to compare the two.  As I began comparing the next day, I learned the hard truth: the French translation I received is missing 29 pages (half of its content)! What a setback! 😢  Yet, God is still on the throne and saw this as no surprise.  That said, this poses several dilemmas.  I'll spare you the details, but would you please pray for wisdom and strategy as how to best proceed?  

The more I compared the two translations, the more I realised there is more work to do in the revision process.  What started as me asking a few questions turned into over two hours with French friends Sara and Clara hashing out the nit-picky nuances and cliches to improve some of the translation.  I'm well-acquainted with the tedious, even taxing mental exercises translating requires and am super blessed that these two would give their time at the end of a long day to help the dialogue sound more suitable for French youth who will be using the materials.  

I was tempted to be discouraged that it gives even more work ahead since we only covered a portion of it, but I'm mostly thankful to have had a couple of hours with the closest thing to a team on the XEE project I've had so far.  

Please thank the Lord with me for all of these French women who have helped advance the XEE project.  Please continue to pray for guidance, provision, and protection over the process.  It might be a while before you hear from me again via the blog. :)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Another Step Forward!

printed XEE materials
I've been waiting to get these for a month now.  There were a few reasons for the holdup, including some miscommunication, but today was the day!  

A big thank you to all who have been praying for the French XEE materials.  It is a large project with many decisions and pieces.  It's quite challenging since I've never done this before and don't have a team to work with.  I've learned the value of teamwork through the ELT and am thankful to serve together in that role, but when it comes to the French XEE ministry, I'm a Lone Ranger and not by choice!  I'm encouraged, though, to have possibilities of others to help with the planning and incredibly grateful for the provision of Maryse, who will be revising the materials.  I'll hand them off to her Wednesday evening.  Would you please pray for her?  For protection, wisdom, accuracy and insight?  It would be wonderful to have these completed by the time I depart two weeks from today.

In the meantime, I'm corresponding with the Swiss team as well as EE International about the film portion and printing.  In particular, I have an important meeting next Tuesday with someone at EEI.  These are major decisions, and I ask for your prayers for each one.

I am sincerely thankful for the partnership of those who pray with and for me and the ministry here as well as those who have given financially or encouraging words along the way.  These really do make the difference.   Thank you!  Each step forward is worth celebrating: yay!  Thanks for rejoicing with me.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

It's a Small World

We had a full table at the 8:15 prayer meeting this morning.  There are normally 5 of us, but this morning there were 12!  This is a blessing in itself because the additional people are volunteers, which is a huge answer to prayer.  (Thank you for praying and please keep them coming!)

It was on my heart to pray for the couple I've mentioned in previous blogs who run the ministry called Espoir et Vie in Alsace, so I prayed for them by name.  It was my only prayer this morning.  One of the visiting men sitting all the way across the table asked the name of the young woman in the red coat (me).  He asked about the couple I had prayed for and told me he is Jérémie's father!  We were all silent with surprise.  

"How do you know them?"  I explained how I'd met them in November the week after I'd left here.  He was visibly touched and encouraged to hear us praying for them, and I was full of thanks to the Holy Spirit for having prompted me to the same morning that his father was present without me even knowing it.  We all agreed what a small world it is!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ze Rencontre

Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into.  I had that thought/feeling as Friday approached last week, the day Ze Rencontre would begin.  It's a play on words (Ze="the" with a French pronunciation 😂 encounter).  A nonstop weekend with 2,000 French youth is a major stretch already, but following 8 days of conferences in Holland and the extras in between?  

But what a weekend it was!  I actually missed Friday's service because of a mixup in the transportation, which I counted as a blessing in disguise since it got me to bed much earlier than I would've otherwise.  I met the group who was staying in the same town as me early Saturday morning, and we rode in, not returning till 11:30 or so.  That was a long day.  I took a break Sunday afternoon to celebrate Easter with my friend's family after the morning service, but participated that evening.  

So much I could write, but I was so honoured to be among this group of French youth praising God, being fed the Word in a direct, powerful way.  I was thankful to join the prayers of those who were being moved and worked on to go deeper, to be set free, to step into the life that Jesus offers them.

I was impressed with the organization.  Both afternoons offered a variety of activities: 7 or so sports, 4-5 outreach opportunities, and about 20 workshops on everything from the occult to science and faith to authority and submission and so on.

As I rode back to Lux in one of two full cars, we talked for the entire 2.5-3 hours of how everyone was encouraged or inspired and of possible ways to take action.  The first fruit, at least as a group, has already happened: a small group of us met to pray and fast last night.  It was a rich time.  Thank you, Lord!!!!

Please pray for the 2,000 youth/leaders who attended Ze Rencontre to continue to encounter the Lord and to walk in His Spirit and for us at the P.O. de Lux to continue to do the same as we seek His heart for the community here.


Note: This post is a bit delayed.

I was quite exhausted after I returned to France.  I had to be very disciplined to protect Wednesday as my Sabbath as I hadn't had one since before I'd left France.  I did meet a French couple I'd met in November who has a ministry called Espoir et Vie.  It was relaxing, though, as we walked down the street to a nearby park.  Otherwise, it was praying, a walk, some nice meals, rest, and a movie with my friend.

Please, please pray for this family as they need more resources (people, finances, and a
 building) to advance in the vision they have. 

It was a good move because Thursday was full.  The plan was to meet some of the Swiss team in Basel which is just over the border.  I'd remembered how easy it was to take the train into Basel from the town I was staying.  What I didn't realise is that the church where we were meeting was next to the German rail station, not the Swiss one.  

To make matters worse, the tram is under construction.  I found the bus, but the wrong direction, so I returned to the station to buy a train ticket.  The machine wouldn't take my credit cards, which was a blessing because I heard over the loud speaker that it had been canceled!  Back outside, I asked around and had to walk a few blocks to find another tram.  They wouldn't take Euros, and I no longer have Swiss francs, but thankfully the machine did take some Euros.  Finally, I arrived a few minutes later than planned, but in tact!  

It was nice to catch up with a couple of colleagues and to get caught up on some work!  It's been years since I was in Basel, so that was nice too...until time to go home.  Almost a repeat of failed attempts to purchase tickets.  As time ticked away, my stress level increased as I had agreed to lead a French Bible Study that evening and had a little more preparing to do as well as eat.  Thankfully my colleague agreed to drive me, which I was so grateful for!

That evening I used one of the passages that had really spoken to me during the Weavers training the week before: John 11.  Actually, if you follow my blog, this isn't the first time I've been touched by this story; but this time for a different reason.

The evening was more of a "partage" (me sharing) than teaching.  I had everyone listen to me re-tell the story and then asked a few questions before I gave everyone some time with the Lord as I posed some questions, with an instrumental song playing in the background.  We had to consider who/what is our Lazare (Lazarus)?  The thing where we may feel like the Lord didn't listen or care when we brought our deepest need to him because he was away/distant while we were in Bethany (so to speak)?  And what is our stone if there is one, something that the Lord wants us to do so that any obstacles blocking his desire to meet our needs even miraculously, would be removed?  And what are our arguments or hold-ups that could cause us to question our obedience?  Finally Jesus' question: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

I think a couple of people would've preferred the regular dialogue (the French love to discuss!), but one young man expressed how much he appreciated the time with the Lord to bring the questions to Him.  The pastor also was very affirming and encouraging and even open to share with the others what he received.  We ended in prayer.

To be honest, I left relieved that it was over; and the next day would begin the youth weekend!  Not exactly TGIF, ha ha!

Friday, April 19, 2019

To Holland and Back

Tuesday I returned back to France after spending over a week in Holland at a conference.  There were over 600 people from 78 countries and 210 organisations represented!  For someone who doesn't like the nonstop flood of information and activities inherent to conferences, this stretched me.  I wish I had had time to write posts throughout the week as there were many stories to share, but I was just thankful to make it through the intensity in good health, praise God!

I didn't get to sightsee or visit any of the renowned Keukenhof,
but here are some tulips from the flowerbed where we stayed. :)

I was also thankful to just be there.  I had been dealing with fatigue as I left France and arrived in Holland, but that felt like nothing when I heard the stories of other attendees who never made it to the conference.  There were many whose Visas were denied, and the two plenary speakers had to cancel at the last minute, one because of the loss of his wife the week before; the other diagnosed with a fatal disease about the same time.  Wow.  It made me consider how special it was to be there.

The hilight for me was all the people I met and connections I made.  The Weavers training (an EE tool that focuses on weaving Gospel conversations into normal conversations) was the reason I went and very valuable.  It was so rich to have a variety of languages and cultures represented as we learned from each other.

Group who completed the Weavers Training
That's all I can really share about the conference on this platform, but it was a rich time, not just by the diversity of cultures and languages represented, but also the gifts and talents that each one brought.  The man who put it together left us with a very powerful challenge: "No one is able to do as well as you are at what God has asked you to do.  Do it."