Monday, March 19, 2018

Serbian Ladies, Surprise Baptisms, and Special Reunion

I often acutely feel the absence of teammates.  If you know Jim and me well, you know that we thrive in team. God has given us incredible relationships and community here, but I consistently long for team. This was no more keenly felt then when all of the Country Leader Wives (of which I am one) were asked to have a woman's retreat for the JV women in their country. Planning and leading a women's retreat, ah, that is like chocolate to my soul! Bummer, but I don't have any JV women in Germany. Away melts the chocolate dream and my mouth is left watering. But God had another idea. "Don't have women yourself? I'll give you three precious women who have no chance of having a retreat!" Yes, that's right, the Serbian JV country leader is an incredible man, Bojan, but he happens to be single, so there is no Country Leader Wife to lead the women's retreat! So, I was asked to become the "Country Leader Mom"! How cool is that!!!!

Jim and I flew to Serbia (no not Siberia!) February 15th and he spent time with Bojan while I got 3 incredible days with 3 incredible young ladies! Meet Traci, Faith, and Kayla!

 I will admit that life is much harder in Serbia than it is in Germany except for one incredible "Chipotle-like" Mexican restaurant! I wish you could meet each of these young ladies, I think you would love them as much as I do!

God has been doing amazing things here in Leipzig. A few weeks ago our pastor, Thomas, completed his sermon preparation on Friday for service on Sunday, yet he didn't feel a peace about it. So, Saturday morning he scrapped his sermon and asked the Spirit what was going on and what He wanted him to talk about. He felt the strong urge to talk about our identity in Christ and to offer for anyone who felt the Spirit's leading, to come up and be baptized right then and there. This is a pretty vulnerable place for a pastor to stand, in front of his flock, not knowing if anyone will respond and he'll just feel foolish. But God was truly speaking to him and then through him! Six people came to be baptized during the 2 services! One fun thing for me was that one of them was Clara, the high school girl I mentor! So cool!!!!
 As we gear up for camp season, it's fun that we are still having reunions from last camp season. We just had a reunion in Cottbus for the camp with the teens I am able to meet with once a month for leadership training. Cottbus is about 3 1/2 hours away and draws kids from another 3 hours away. It was a great time. Some of the girls and I did some watercolor journal painting!
Meal during Camp Reunion

Cottbus Camp Reunion
As we move ahead, here are some prayer points:

  • Pray for our 5 Summer Interns - Rachel, Tim, Christy, Emily, and Noel - as they raise support for the summer
  • Pray for our 4 camps - Leipzig, Cottbus, Burg, and one in Poland - that each of them will have at least 35 campers and that at least half of those are not yet believers.
  • Pray for all the youth group kids, that they will be bold and invite their friends to camp.
  • Pray for our two Church Teams that are coming to help with camps - one from Washington State and one from California.
  • Continue to pray for team mates to join us in the ministry here, both German and non-German!
Thanks for your continued prayers. We want this to be God's ministry and you are an important part of it!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just a Hair's Breath from Failure!

Do you ever wonder why God chooses to use you for one of His specific purposes? I often wonder this and no time more than this last week. Two large events were coming down on me and I felt such anxiety and defeat that I was sure both of them would totally fail!

This past weekend was a Prayer Weekend at our church. The youth group was in charge of Friday night and I was in charge of the over-all program for that night. The theme was "Prayer Through Celebration."  The young people and I had prepared hand-made instruments to give out to each person as they arrived, we had set up 4 prayer booths around the sanctuary, and the youth band would be leading the worship through the singing time.

Then on Saturday, I would leave at 8 am by train to go to the two student trainings I teach every month. One would be at 10:30 am and the other at 6 pm. Then I would stay the night with the family of one of the teens and visit their church.

Last Tuesday night at our House Group Bible Study I felt attacked and defeated by the enemy. My dear friends gathered around me, laid hands on me, and prayed. I sensed such a releasing from fear and a reliance on the Spirit!

Some of the Home-made Instruments
So, how did it go? The prayer evening was truly a time of celebrating God! We celebrated God as Creator, Savior and Refuge, and Almighty, Eternal King. The youth band was incredible, even doing one song as A Capella! (The "bump, bump", "chit, chit"s and all!) One of the girls plays the violin and it truly added to the feeling of celebration!

Two of the Prayer Booths, to represent the joyous celebration of the Jewish "Feast of Tabernacles"!

We used them to pray for "Ourselves", "Others", "Our Church", and "The World."

And the trainings had 7 teenagers from 6 different towns and 7 different churches, and with only 1 or 2 of those churches having pastors! Every month we are studying a different "Foundation" for running a youth group and a "Tool" to help them run it. Last month was Prayer and How to Ask Good Questions. This month was God's Word and How to Use the "COMA" Bible Study Method. These kids are so incredible and are excited to learn how they can be used of God to lead their youth group! The first group came up with the title for the first chapter of Philippians of "Just Pray and DO IT!" Wow! We could all use that encouragement sometimes!
Jona is leading his youth group in Guben. He gave his testimony at the church service I attended on Sunday and will be getting baptized on March 25! Pray for him as he continues to be bold for Jesus! 

Erik is attending the trainings and has a desire to help lead his youth group in Zeesan. Tabea is one of the University age German girls who got this all started. See this blog post for more of that story. 

Melli (also in the blog post) and Steffan cleaning up after dinner at one of the trainings.

Louisa, Anton, and Jona after a training. Louisa's testimony at camp is what God used to speak to me about doing these trainings!
Please, pray for these young people as they learn to stand boldly for Christ as possibly the only Christian among their atheistic peers!

Also, to get our latest prayer requests, go to the JV online Prayer Room! There you can sign up and be lead through an incredible hour of prayer for JV Germany and Josiah Venture as a whole! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Day Graduation!!!!

After 4 years of hard work (for BOTH Jim and me) I graduated with my MA in Member Care on Thanksgiving Day!

Jim and I flew to London, England on Wednesday, then drove to Gloucester on Thursday for the graduation. It was great to see my fellow-students and incredible professors!
All decked out for the ceremony!

I've always wanted one of these cool looking "hoods"!

I never would have been able to do it without the help of this incredible man!!
Now it's on to the next thing. In a few weeks I will be starting a monthly leadership training course with 13 students in the Brandenburg area. These are student that came to one of our camps this summer, but most of them have no youth workers in their churches. The training will be to help them lead their own youth groups! The first 2 trainings are December 15 and 16. This has been a passion of Tabea and Melli, two of the University students from that area.  I am very excited about this. Please pray for God to use this to reach this area of Germany!

Tabea, Me, and Melli
It will be exciting to be working with these two precious German girls. I know God will do mighty things!

Have a wonderful season as you prepare for the remembrance of Jesus' birth.

Monday, November 13, 2017

JV Germany Feature!

This month, the JV Blog features our ministry here in Leipzig with JV Germany! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy reading it!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

English Camp - Double the Size, Double the Fun!!!!!

What happens when you take some amazing youth group kids, mix in some totally awsome new teens, add a few extraordinary refugees and drop them into a camp led by an excited team from a Colorado church, some passionate German staff, three totally serving interns, a middle-aged missionary couple and most importantly, the Spirit of God? INCREDIBLENESS!!!!! (By the way, this is a totally American description of the camp with all the superlatives!)

We had an incredible week at our Ring Cafe English camp! The pictures will attest to the FUN, but what can't be shown is the work God did in hearts! Two campers came to Christ, while others made strong movement in their Christian lives!

Here's a small glimpse into the week!

Frisbee time!

A few of the girls! Even more beautiful than the scenery!
This is a "normal" picture of an English camp. Yes, Levi (in the back row) is normally that way!

OK, never mind, this is normal!!!!!

Time to eat!

The dining room was pretty full!

So, what's Benni doing with the balloon?

BBQ night with Jim and Craig at the BBQ!

I'm not sure if this was BEFORE or AFTER the climbing wall!
Thank you so much for your partnership! We head to our last camp in Cottbus, Germany next week (our first camp was in Ukraine). Please, continue to pray that God will use these camps! And, consider joining us next year! :0)

Friday, May 26, 2017

2:30am Phone Call with Aaron and Hur!

We were woken up at 2:30 Monday morning by a phone call. Through the haze of my sleep I heard Nate's voice, "Alpha has been in a bad ATV accident and Emily is trying to call you!"  We quickly called Emily and found out the details.  She was in the ambulance with Alpha. He had been driving an ATV around their new home in the Colorado mountains when he hit some rocks and was flipped from the ATV. "The EMT said he might have a concussion and broken pelvis. We are still 1 hour away from the hospital!"

We started calling family to get them to pray. About 2 hours later Emily called with the incredible news that there was nothing broken, he was just badly bruised and they would be heading back up the mountain to go home.
Alpha with my mom in Loveland, Co a week ago Sunday on their way moving to Westcliffe.

Jim and I have felt very attacked by the enemy in regards to our children lately, so much so that Sunday morning at church I felt compelled to go in front of the church and ask for prayer for our children. I truly believe that it was because of the prayer surrounding Alpha that day and right after the accident that he was protected!

I know for me that the easiest way for Satan to distract me from the work God has call us to is to flood my mind with anxiety about our children. I am asking you to be like Aaron and Hur as they held up Moses' arms during the battle against the Amalekites, and hold up our children before the Lord for Jim and me. I realized this morning in my devotional time that too much of my time has been stolen from the ministry here by the anxiety I have had lately over my children.

Let me give you a glimpse into why this is so important and what God is doing here:

We are entering camp season! Sunday our first intern, Emily, arrives here in Leipzig. We  leave for Intern Training and the Amazing Race on Tuesday where we, along with our German intern, Steffen, with meet our other US intern, Brittany.

This year's camp logo

We believe God has great things for this summer!  We will be helping with an English Camp in Ukraine June 28 - July 9. The English Camp with our local church, Ring Cafe, is July 15 - 27, then we have an English Camp with a church about 2 hours away in Cottbus August 12 - 19.

Things to pray for:
  1. We have a Muslim refugee family that their teenage kids come to our youth group at times. Their son would really like to come to camp. We were able to have the family over to our house on Sunday for dinner. We love this precious family! Pray that the son, and maybe even some of the daughters will be able to come to camp!
  2. Pray for our interns, Steffen, Emily, and Brittany, that God would use them in an incredible way in the lives of teens here in Germany and Ukraine and that he would also use this as a life-changing experience for them to his glory!
  3. Pray for more kids to sign up for each of our camps!  We would love to have 30-50 at each camp and over half of those to be non-believers.
  4. Pray for the planning for each camp, that we will follow the leading of the Spirit in all we do!
  5. Pray that Satan will not be able to distract us from the work God has for us here. That God would protect our children and that we (especially I) would trust him fully with the care of each of them.
Thank you! Each of you are a vital part of this ministry! Please, continue to pray! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Believers, Jesus House and Interns

I want to start out with an exciting update from my last post.  Two of the girls from our Girls' Weekend have become believers!  This is so exciting, as we and you have been praying for them!  Please, continue to pray that they will grow and reach out to tell their friends about Jesus!

We are doing something called, "Jesus House" this whole week at church (March 21-25).  It is coordinated with other youth groups here in the city and is an outreach for the teens to invite friends.  Last night we had over 100 people there.  Pray that more teens will come and hear the good news of Jesus.  Here are a few pictures from the last two nights! 

View of the Stage

Round-Robin Ping-Pong -- Our kids' favorite game!!!

Hawaii Bread - A piece of bread with ketchsup, ham, pineapple, cheese, then toasted.  Quite tastey!

We sit around tables and on couches.  Notice me in the background, at the back with the glasses on! :0)

The first night was a short talk about Jesus coming to earth, then a time for questions and answers. Here are kids lighting candles around a crèche (manger).

Teens putting their names on a cross.

A great, comfortable atmosphere, as our sanctuary was changed into a "livingroom"!

We are so excited to see what God will do through this week of outreach!  Please, pray as our kids invite their friends!

We are also so excited about our 4 summer interns!  Please pray for each of them as they raise their support and prepare for coming this summer!
Steffen Kellner from Leipzig

Emily Sherek from Michigan

Brittany Hoogstraal from Florida

Sam Meisenhelder from Oregon

Also, please pray for us as we need to make a short, unexpected trip to the US April 15 - 30 to take care of our house. Pray that God will give us wisdom as to if we need to sell it or to continue renting it out. Pray that as we make repairs and updates that all will go smoothly and as inexpensively as possible. Thank God for our friends in the area that are willing to help us out, as well as Emily and Alpha, as they are now living in the house and Nate and Raine, as they plan to fly out from Colorado to help us get things done and go through our stored belongings. 

Lots of things to pray for this time!  Just to recap the prayer requests:
  • Pray for the two girls who have become believers
  • Pray for our trip back to the States and wisdom about selling or renting out our house
  • Pray for "Jesus House" outreach
  • Pray for our four interns