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Page 28

What a year 2016 has been! It has been filled with many joys and many tears, as I most definitely exceeded my once-a-year allotment of crying. But when I look back on this year, the word that continually comes to mind is: Grateful. I am so grateful for what God has done this year. A lot has happened. And a lot of changes have taken place. For those of you who have done Missions Training International, you know the phrase, “pair of ducks”, or paradox – seemingly contradictory statements that are both true. I think this pretty accurately describes my year. I have seen and done incredible things this year (going to Israel, turning 30, seeing the growth of ministries, seeing the “Poster Child of Greece”: Santorini, being with family) AND it has been an incredibly hard year (leaving Slovenia, turning 30, returning to America with unknown plans, loss of close community). The first half of the year was filled with trips, ministry, camp planning and packing to move continents. The second half has been almost the complete opposite, having time to rest, process and transition. I am so grateful for the way that the Lord has provided during both of these times.

Even before returning to the States, the question of what was next in life has been looming over me. Since late last winter, when I made the decision to leave Slovenia, I have worried about what is next. While I did not think I would be in Slovenia for more than a couple years, I definitely anticipated and hoped to live in Europe much longer. But God made it clear, that I am supposed to be in America, at least for now. Since being back in the States I have been desperately seeking God, trying to figure out what is next for my life. I started making plans, looking and praying about different career options.

But by November, any thought of decision-making turned into a physical tightening in my chest. Then I began to realize that gripping inside me was not only fear and anxiety, but also grief. In his book A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis writes, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” Both are a part of my life at the moment. Not only is this a time of looking forward to the next chapter in life, it is also the closing of the previous one. This is the first time in 7 years that, as I look forward to the next year, living in Europe is not my goal. I no longer need to pray if this is the right decision to go, no longer need to support raise and no longer have to figure out life in another culture. Europe is no longer the goal. And now, God has something different for this next season. This is hard, especially to someone so adverse to change. (For example, I hate updating my phone because I like everything on it to look and stay the same). I know that life is full of transitions, and there will be times like this repeatedly throughout life. And I am trying to figure out how to do this one well, leaning on Christ and what He has to teach me through this.

I had the opportunity this fall to join BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) again. This year we are studying the Gospel of John. A few weeks ago we were in John 7, where Jesus’ brothers tell Him to go down to Jerusalem, to the Feast of Booths, to do more miracles for all the people. But Jesus responds by saying, “My time is not yet here.” But then Jesus heads down to Jerusalem and teaches at the feast. What struck me as I read this chapter is Jesus’ intentional listening and obedience to the Father’s timing. It was not based on others’ opinions and expectations, but on the Father. How often I am in a rush for God to show up and show me what is next, to have some sort of security of a plan and not patiently waiting for His timing. Throughout Scripture we see that God’s timing is not usually conducive to our timing. It often seems that He shows up much later than expected. But the truth is that He does show up. And it is always perfect. I pray that I wait for God’s leading and timing, and then go forward in full obedience.

As I step forward into this next page of life, I am still a little anxious, but confident in what God is doing. I pray that in the upcoming year, I am able to make decisions based on hope, and not fear. I’m excited to look back at the end of 2017 and marvel at what the Lord has done, how He has provided and how He has changed me and others to be more like Christ. I am under no assumption that this is going to be an easy process. It never is. But Oh! It will be worth it. And I feel something about the upcoming year that I have not felt for a very long time, and that is hopeful.

Cheers to you all and a very happiest of New Years to you. Here’s to page 29.

 

For the Lord IS good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

-Psalm One Hundred-

 

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Northern Ireland, Czech and Rend Collective

A few weeks back I had the incredible opportunity to go to Northern Ireland (I definitely Googled Northern Ireland to see if it is a separate country from Ireland. It is. So glad I did that before I went). Even how I got to go is a testimony to God and His ability to work things for good. This past August I got to go back to America to visit my family. I originally planned to go in early August, but since I did not get my visa for Slovenia in time, I had to cancel the trip last minute. I was able to get airline credit for the cancellation and when I rebooked the flights for three weeks later, the new tickets were quite a bit less, and I then had money to use on a future ticket. So even though it was a huge hassle in August and I’m pretty sure I made family members cry when I told them I had to come later than expected, this situation ended up being and even bigger blessing than I ever thought.

So I figured going to Northern Ireland was a great way to use the airline credit. I stayed with a dear friend, Rachael, who serves with Josiah Venture in the Czech Republic. She is from this magical land and was there on home assignment. Arriving in Northern Ireland, my only concept for this part of the world was through the lenses of BBC shows and Pride & Prejudice. This place is incredible! Oh. My. Goodness. Rachael took time from her busy schedule and took me to see some amazing places there, including: Giant’s Causeway, The Dark Hedges and Belfast. I kept seeing various members of the band Rend Collective while there. It was so nice of Rachael to invite them on my vacation! I only was able to snap one quick picture without being obvious. I had a perfect opportunity the first time we saw them, but I was too busy looking at her shoes to notice them. Here is a small peak at my time there.

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After flying back from Northern Ireland, I headed up to the Czech Republic to stay at Selah, a place that Josiah Venture has built for rest, refreshment and relaxation. I even made it up one morning for the sunrise! I had a great time staying up there and was able to see some friends who live nearby. I really am so thankful for the doors that God opened up for me to be able to relax and rest from the craziness of life here in Slovenia and to come back refreshed and ready to serve this next year here in Slovenia.

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God Is For Us

I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds.

I can hardly believe that this summer is almost over. It has been a wonderful, but very busy summer. With back to back camps, then heading up to Križ to study the Bible and theology with college students, it is amazing to look back and see the way that God faithfully and abundantly provided the energy to do all this. And to even finish these camps with energy!

Well, the Lord’s faithfulness does not end when camps are over. This last week I had a very tangible reminder of God’s perfect timing, faithfulness and love He extends towards us. For any of you who have had to get a visa or temporary permit to live in another country, you know how much of a hassle it is. For those of you who don’t, be thankful. In May my visa expired and I began the process of applying for a temporary resident permit to continue living here in Slovenia. Insert important note: My car registration is tied to my visa date. So when the visa expired in May, even though I was in the process of getting a new one, I could not drive my car. This process involved many trips to the Občina (government offices), fingerprints, FBI background check, and documents expedited to and from America. With a lot of help from many dear friends, I was able to get everything submitted and turned in. And on Monday I was finally able to go pick it the temporary resident permit and was able to go register my car.

To help me with this, my friend Denis went with me to translate for me as I picked up my permit and to register my car. I showed him a letter I had gotten about my car back in June, which I thought was just telling me I couldn’t drive my car. Well, no worries, I thought. I already know that! But what I didn’t read/understand was that I was supposed to unregister my car or the police would physically come and take the license plates and I could be fined. With this new information we went to the Slovene DMV, but were unsure what this meant for registering the car. But the process was actually really smooth and I wasn’t fined! Praise Jesus, I thought I was going to have to pay that fine when I re-registered it! Story over? Nope.

Monday evening I was hanging out in my apartment watching Jimmy Fallon clips when the doorbell rang. It was the police and they said they need to talk to me. As I was descending the apartment stairs my heart was racing, I was fervently praying, and was wondering what I possibly did to have the police show up at my home at 9:00 pm. Thankfully one of the policemen spoke English, so I was able to clearly find out why they were there. It turned out they were there to take my license plates for not having a registered car. I’m not sure what else would have happened, and thankfully I did not find out, because I was able to show them that a mere 9 hours before I had gone and registered my car. I showed them all the documents proving it and they said everything was okay. As I walked back up to my apartment I was flooded with not only praise to God that I was not going to jail and/or had incurred a major fine, but also with the goodness and provision in His timing–that that day I had taken care of all the paperwork.

Moral of the story: Jesus is awesome. And don’t make assumptions about letters you can’t read thoroughly.

Have a great day!!

Here is a little glimpse of my summer:

Fusion Concert

Gwynne, Doroteja, Me

Larry

Pirate NightBand

Guitar workshop

Florida Team Vintgar

Interns Bled

English camp 2015

Castle 2

Brads Bushkas

Can Can

Castle Lake

Kriz Seaside

A Year in Slovenia

I find it hard to believe that 365 days have already passed since I held up the security check line while crying and saying goodbye to my family, boarded the plane(s) and set off for Slovenia. In 1 Chronicles 16:12, David writes, “Remember the wondrous works that He [God] has done.” As I reflect on this last year, I am remembering the many things that God has taught me, and the wondrous work that He has done during my time thus far in Slovenia. And so I will share a few of these lessons here:

I have learned to ask for help. This is huge for me. Let’s be honest though, I am still working on this one. I do not like to ask for help. I like to say I have accomplished things on my own and be self-sufficient. But God has not called us to live and work and serve in isolation. God, and others too, have continually reminded me that it is okay to ask for help. This last year has forced me to ask. Help with language, translation, finding an apartment and car, and recipe substitutions, is only a fraction of the ways that I have needed and relied on others. But God has placed me amongst an amazing team and church here in Slovenia that has been so incredibly helpful. He has taught me the blessing and the need of living in community with others.

On a practical note, I have learned to cook. A pretty simple, but necessary life skill to have. And I actually like it…that is the real miracle! I probably should have known how to cook before living on my own, but this has forced me not to rely on cereal and sandwiches as main staples of my diet. Believe me, I tried it last winter. After a few months I actually wanted to eat some vegetables. I was so happy in March to finally get an oven. Now my cooking skills and variety have gone to a whole new level! (Like from spaghetti level to chicken and potatoes level).

Probably the most significant lesson that I have been learning this past year is that CHRIST IS ENOUGH. I think that God is always teaching this, but in the last year I have experienced this truth in a new and amazing ways. I specifically remember last summer praying and crying out to God, feeling utterly alone and wondering what the heck I got myself in to here in Slovenia. And God’s reply to this cry was this, “Yes, I know you are lonely. And you are going to be lonely. But you are learning that I am enough.” He did not promise that I would never feel alone, but that He Himself is sufficient. When I am lonely, frustrated at the lack of understanding language or just plain tired, Christ continues to speak in to my life that He is more than enough.

I am so thankful for the many ways that God has been teaching, stretching and growing me this last year. I am also so grateful for this time I have had in Slovenia and I am so glad to be here! I am looking forward to the wondrous works that God will accomplish this next year!!

Yuletide Happenings.

I am thoroughly enjoying winter here in Slovenia. While I do miss snow, I am loving the warmer temps of this winter here in Slovenia. I see Facebook posts of family and friends back in MN about the -40 degree temps and really, I truly am thankful, that my snot does not freeze in my nose every time I go outside this year. (Gross…I know, but a real struggle for those accustomed to winters on the tundra). Well besides enjoying an Indian Winter, if that is such a thing, there has been plenty of lovely times that have been had in this neck of the woods. Here is a quick glimpse of that past couple of months of life here in Slovenia.

In December I traveled up to the Czech Republic to enjoy some much need vacation and rest time with my friend and teammate Gwynne Gardner. We spent time at Selah, a place Josiah Venture has created to rest, relax and be renewed, and went to Prague to see and experience the city at Christmastime. It was a great time of being refreshed, seeing friends, and drinking plenty of Starbucks (a luxury not afforded to us here in Slovenia).

Lovely vacation time spent in Czech with my dear friend Gwynne Gardner.

In Prague!

Upon returning to Slovenia, my team here in Maribor and I celebrated Christmas with our students! This was a great evening of hanging out, having a decorating contest and White Elephant gift exchange.

Christmas house creation! (Reminds me a little of Buddy's breakfast in "Elf")

Christmas house creation! (Reminds me a little of Buddy’s breakfast in “Elf”)

Christmas Party Shenanigans.

Christmas Party Shenanigans.

While Christmas was definitely different for me this year, I had a great time here in Slovenia celebrating with dear friends and teammates. Not going “home” for Christmas was hard, but this helped me to became more aware of what Christ did for us that first Christmas. Jesus Christ left His heavenly home to be born in the filth of a stable, so that 33 years later He would die and be raised to life so that we could spend eternity with Him. I am grateful for this incredible truth and reminder this Christmas!

Christmas dinner with Johnny, Brooke and Kinsley Stevens, Gwynne Gardner and Urh Kolar!

Christmas dinner with Johnny, Brooke and Kinsley Stevens, Gwynne Gardner and Urh Kolar!

Family Christmas Photo this year!

Family Christmas Photo this year!

I have never been in a band. But this was the year I finally became “cool enough” to be in a band. I had the privilege of playing with my friends Maruša, Andrej and Robi. Maruša has written over 50 songs, and we had a concert and got to perform just a fraction of them with her!

Maruša & Friends.

Maruša & Friends.

A little over a week ago a group of us from 4 different JV countries met in Vienna with the grand hopes of ice skating. Ice skating was closed, but nonetheless we had a great time hanging out in the city and feasting on hamburgers (a rare treat…no, that was not intended as a pun).

There will always be next year to try ice skating again.

There will always be next year to try ice skating again.

 

God has truly blessed me with seeing and being a part of some amazing things this last year and I am looking forward to what He is going to do this year! Grace and peace in Jesus Christ to you all.

SCREČNO NOVO LETO!

             Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. What can be better than food and football!? Along with family and naps, of course. Well, this year I got to celebrate it twice! The first round of thankfulness began with a delicious Turkey dinner (with all the fixings) with our students. I volunteered to make the pies for the event, which proved to be quite different from making pies in America. American’s have come up with a delightful little creation that has put pumpkin in a can. But, as I discovered, it is possible to make pumpkin pie from real pumpkins! (Who would have thought?) The pies turned out fantastic and not to boast, were probably the best pumpkin pies I have ever eaten…probably something to do with fresh pumpkins. It was a wonderful night of sharing American traditions with Slovenes.

The day of Thanksgiving, our team in Slovenia gathered for the annual Thanksgiving Conference. We gathered together near Bled, a beautiful place in the Slovene Alps. Once again, I got to celebrate with another amazing Thanksgiving Dinner. We enjoyed drinking a lot of coffee together (thanks Gwynne Gardner for the Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend!), a great walk to Lake Bled, and an extended time of fellowship with one another. It was hard being away from my family, but God is teaching me and showing me that I have family on this side of the world as well.

Ladies

                All of us ladies at the Thanksgiving Conference!

 

Blessings to you all during this wonderful season!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. -1 Chronicles 16:8-9

Where God Intended.

Since it has been quite a while since my last post, I thought it might be good idea to give a quick update on what has been happening thus far this year. The never-ending winter/spring was filled with the finishing up of support raising and the lengthy process of obtaining a visa to stay in Slovenia. After many trips to the jail (for fingerprinting…obviously), receiving the necessary background checks and documentation for the Slovene embassy, I received my visa at the end of April. Then on May 13th, I got the official okay to purchase a one-way ticket to Slovenia and exactly one week later I was on the plane(s), headed for Slovenia.

And what a crazy couple of months it has been here!! The month of June was full of camp promotion and presentations in schools, and then planning and preparing for English camp (Wow! I apologize for packing that sentence full of “p” words). July began with our team from Maribor, along with 20 Slovene students and 9 Americans from Florida headed to a castle in Millstatt, Austria for a week of English awesomeness. The week was incredible. It was such a blast spending the week with the students and getting to know them better. I’ve attached a video that our amazing intern Micah did to give you all a glimpse into the week.

Since returning from camp, I have been able to further develop friendships with the students and continue the process of transitioning and adjusting to a new culture. I am currently looking for an apartment, which makes me feel like I am on House Hunters International. And soon I will dive in to learning Slovene. This upcoming fall promises to be busy as our team starts the music ministry Fusion back up again, and the English program begins as well.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” –Douglas Adams

I saw this quote a while back and believe it accurately describes my current position in life. While, I may not have envisioned living in Slovenia when I first began the journey of moving overseas and working with Josiah Venture, I remain confident that I am exactly where God intended me to be.

Grace be with you all.

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth. –Psalm 86:11