Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Week at Work Camp!

Greetings to any and all who might read this!

The last week (July 22-28) has been a full one, and now we get to settle back into a bit of a routine. I spent the week as the keynote speaker at Pennsylvania Christian Endeavor's work camp in Mahanoy City, PA, about an hour north of Myerstown (check out www.pachristianendeavor.org). It was a ton of fun getting to know and hanging out with the 90 or so teens and youth leaders, as well as getting to share in ministry with them. Most of the residents on whose houses our crews worked were so grateful, and one woman even remarked that our teenage work crew was far more efficient than a contractor who had worked on her job. So it was a great week for me, and for the teens, too, I think. They seemed to be greatly encouraged and challenged by the talks (or, at least, they said so), as the theme was "Just One Makes the Difference." So I filled in the blank after "One" each night, with just one "Hope," "Love," "Person," "Prayer," "Decision," and "Drink of the Living Water" makes the difference. God really met us during our worship times, not only during the messages, but also as a youth worship team from Finland Mennonite Church led us in musical worship--they rocked us into the presence of God!

While I was away having fun, Rachel was home doing the daily grind of work without me. So even though I had a blast, it's good to be back together and sleeping in the same bed--our own bed. Now that I'm settling back in, I'm working on setting up some missions stuff like sending out our first support letter and scripting our video. We're praying that all this groundwork will pay off later as we begin to build our support team and prepare to go to Spain!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back Home!

Well, our Spain-Italy vacation has come to an end, and we're now faced with the cruel reality of jetlag and work. Our second week of vacation was spent in Spain, and though we were a bit hampered by some sort of virus, we didn't let it keep us from enjoying Spain and seeing some sites. We went into Madrid a couple times, with the picture above being taken in El Retiro, Madrid's equivalent of New York's Central Park. We visited Chinchon, a quaint little Spanish town outside of Madrid, as well as Alcala, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quixote. It was a great way to enjoy our vacation, but the reality that we will be living there in the next year and a half or so really began to sink in. We took some footage hopefully that will result in a promotional video for our support raising, and we were also able to speak with the ECMI field director of Spain, Francis Arjona, who was very encouraging towards us. So, in a way, Spain lost a bit of its fun vacation glimmer for us, since we are already beginning the transition of making it our home.
So, those of you who read this, please pray for us. We are now beginning the process of becoming missionaries to Spain, and while we know it is God's leading, all the details of what needs to happen can be a bit daunting. We are beginning to raise a team of supporters to undergird us with prayer, encouragement, and finances as we step into this next chapter of our lives. We're thrilled about what God's doing, and we're trusting Him all the way here. Good night, and may God be with you.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Italy Retreat & Venice

Greetings, Everyone!

We spent Monday through Wednesday in Desanzano, Italy at an ECMI retreat for the missionaries in Italy. It was a good time of getting to know those missionaries and hopefully encouraging them as B.J. shared a meditation on Tuesday morning and Rachel and her mother led some team building exercises for the ECMI Italy team. We had lots of pasta and pizza, and, as you can see above, we made sure to experience Italian gelato.

Wednesday to Friday were spent being tourists in Venice, the city of canals, boats, and gondolas. The four of us (Rachel's parents and us) were able to walk and ride around most of the city, navigating the narrow streets and the water transportation system, as well as wearing out our feet and sense of balance (at times we still feel like we're on a boat). We had the opportunity to share about why Jesus is the Messiah with a group of young Jews who were in turn trying to convince us that an old Jewish rabbi is the Messiah. Aside from the overall ambiance of the city with all of its anicent cathedrals, Jewish witnesses, and Italian food, perhaps the most unique experience for us taking a 30 minute water taxi ride from our hotel to the airport.

We're looking forward to enjoying the rest of our vacation (until July 14) here in Spain. The reality of us moving here within the next year and a half is settling in a bit more, so please pray for us as we continue through this time of great transition. While we know that God is leading us here to serve Him, we also realize that hundreds of details are involved in our transition. So please pray that we'll trust God with each details step by step--we're learning a lot about faith these days. Hasta luego!