- June 25 we head to Bulgaria, where we (mostly Rich) will facilitate a strategic planning process for the board and staff of the IFES work there. We loved being with them for their fall retreat in October, and sense a lot of strength in their movement. Rich has led processes like this for teams in the US on numerous occasions, and it draws on many of his talents as a thinker and a collaborative leader. It was fun for him to be back in the mix when he did this in Ukraine, and the feedback was that his leadership was very helpful. It’s not my favorite thing, but I work hard to listen and participate.
- June 29 we fly to Lviv, Ukraine, where we will help to staff an evangelistic English Camp. In several countries we have met staff and highly committed adults in churches who have testified that they became Christians at an English Camp. These were a hugely effective tool when the Soviet Union first collapsed and there was an intense eagerness to learn English and a great curiosity about the gospel as well. Both those hungers have subsided some, but English camps continue to be an effective strategy, as well as great leadership setting for the Christian students who come to lead small conversation groups, games, talent nights, and in other ways serve those who come without a faith background. I will give the opening talk and will lead a track called “Skills for Everyone,” with interactive sessions on effective communication for starting a friendship, conflict resolution, goal setting, decision making, and time management. Rich will lead a track on leadership of individuals, teams, and oneself. We enjoy the Ukrainian staff who will be at the camp, and look forward to the time there very much.
- July 12 we will staff an English Camp in Romania. The Romanian IFES movement is also dear to us, and we especially enjoy our friendship with AlexIlie, the pastor and former IFES staff who will direct this camp. We have stayed in his home with his delightful family three times on this journey, so we are happy to end our year with a last visit to his city, Pitesti, and to the beautiful mountains where the camp will be.
Please pray that our stamina and motivation to serve students and staff would remain strong for this final stretch. We feel so grateful for this few days in a restful town here in Greece; after recovering from the crazy bus ride we feel rested and energized for these last three stops. Pray that we would connect well with the non-Christian students at the English camps, and that they would take steps toward following Jesus.
Please pray for our transition to Southern California. We return with no cars, and you who live in LA know that it is sadly not an easy city to navigate without a car. We are grateful for the loaners that are beginning to come into place and the possibility of one longer-term. Anyone looking to sell a used car at a good price is encouraged to contact us! Our housing is another challenge, but we see God’s provision there as well. We will stay in the missionary housing of the Presbyterian Church, House of Rest, in Pasadena for our first three months back, and look forward very much to returning to our home in November.
Pray as well for our return to work: Rich will begin work right away at Tanner, and I will have one course to teach at Fuller each quarter. I will be recertified to host a person with disabilities again in our home and to tutor. I continue to hope to be in pastoral ministry, and applied to another church this morning, but search processes are slow and jobs scarce, so I will do the work that I can do in the meantime. We also are quite excited to have both our children in Pasadena with us for ten days (Mark) and three weeks (Becca) before Becca heads off for a semester abroad in Pune, India and Mark returns to London. Pray that in the midst of all the details of renewing expired driver’s licenses, renegotiating our insurance, and remembering how to cook food, we would have time to process all that we have learned and experienced this year. We continue to be so, so grateful for the gift and opportunity it has been, and so thankful to you who have given and prayed along the way!