On The Field Update

God Knows What He’s Doing

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22F6570F-B3B7-4E0F-BFF2-3C3CD48EDD90This year’s mission is certainly off to an interesting start with some crazy unexpected twists.  First, we received confirmation last Tuesday that Ben’s passport was not going to arrive in time for our Thursday flight.  The Department of State let us know that processing times had increased and his would still be another week at best (if we paid additional funds to expedite it).  This meant that we had to pay for an additional airfare and quickly change plans.  We’re still waiting to hear if the flight insurance we had purchased will refund the cost of the first ticket, so that’s something you can be praying for!  Ben will now fly on June 20 with my parents and arrive in time for the Ukrainian Teen Camp.  That same day, I fell about 6 feet off a ladder while trying to do a little home improvement to increase the marketability of our listed house.  Instead of getting the window trim painted, I spent the day in the ER.  Although bruised, sprained and strained, I am incredibly happy to report no broken bones and that I was still able to fly out with the kids on Thursday.

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Repurposing the “Wailing Wall” backdrop we made a few years ago for this year’s Egyptian theme.

I’ll be honest, leaving Ben behind for the first week of this trip has been pretty hard on us both.  We are life and ministry partners, and being split up just really stinks.  But we’ve had several confirmations that this wasn’t a fluke or unanswered prayer.  I think it may be one of those instances where God’s answer to our prayers is “no” because He just knows more than we do.  Being home meant that Ben was able to attend an elder’s meeting he would have missed, visit a student in the hospital, get some extra days in at work (which may prove crucial later in the summer), take care of a home repair that may have been quite costly if he hadn’t been there to discover it, and be there for our niece and nephew’s baptisms.  Those are just the things that have become evident so far.  It seems crazy to think that God’s plan would be for Ben to miss a week on the mission field, but then perhaps we need reminders that the mission field isn’t just in other countries.  God knows what He’s doing.

Here in Poland, the kids and I have now spent a day preparing with the rest of the team, have welcomed the Ukrainian kids and completed our first full day with them.  They are so sweet and full of life.  I had the privilege of teaching the first lesson today.  Our theme is Exodus to Freedom, where we are teaching the story of Moses leading the Israelites out slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land and connecting the parallel to our own slavery to sin and the freedom that comes when we let God rescue us.  Even in this short time, there are signs that the Message is resonating with them!  Please keep praying for the Love of God to penetrate their hearts and minds this week.  Several of them have mentioned “The Americans” (which is more than just us, for the record) as one of the things they are excited about or thankful for.  I don’t know why they find us so intriguing, but I have no doubt that God can use that to get their attention for a far greater purpose.

Enjoy today’s camp video and please pray for each of these sweet faces you see – including the adults!

You can find the growing collection of pictures and videos from this week here.

Another Life-Changing Week

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Polish Teen Camp is drawing to a close, and we are packing up to begin our trek home.  If you saw my brief post yesterday, you know that yesterday’s invitation was moving and ended with many decisions.  Tom’s testimony is another powerful example of a life dramatically changed by Christ followed by a tragedy that God used to deepen Tom’s understanding of God’s love and continues to use to grow the Kingdom.  Several of these kids do come from Christian families and are involved in church, but I have no doubt that this week will still serve as a spiritual marker in their lives.  In Bible times, alters would have been built to worship and denote that this was a place where someone experienced God in a significant way.

We’ve held a variety of roles in this week.  I have continued leading crafts and creating the daily picture video.  These are two time-consuming things that keep me from being in all of the group activities, but I was still able to get to know our “Hulk Team”, and spent a lot of time praying for each of them.  I will miss their beautiful faces and hugs.  Ben has continued working on projects around the camp like fixing the floor of the gazebo, build campfires, and lead a baseball workshop that seemed to be a hit (pun completely intended) and help with archery.  Anna helped with the Snack Shack each day, made a lovely string-art salamander to help illustrate the theme for the week (regeneration) and worked with Lydia to decorate the dining hall for the final dinner tonight.  She also participated in the team activities when she was wasn’t doing those other things and when the language barrier would allow.  Ethan has continued to spend time with Ben and Klara and will miss them terribly.

One of the greatest things about coming here is all of the great people we get to minister alongside.  I’ve really enjoyed this team of Polish counselors, some we have worked with before and others we just met.  There have been a lot of laughs, but they are also very deep and committed people who are living and loving in big ways.  One of the hardest things about coming here… having to say goodbye.  That just happened since we are leavin

g camp very early in the morning to make the trip to Warsaw (it is 1 AM here as I post this).  We get a few more hours with Tori, Nathan, Kyle, and Tom before those goodbyes have to be said.   For now, I must get a few hours of sleep before the long journey home begins.   Prayers for safety and unstressful travel appreciated.