Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wilkins in 4:24

Our family has had the PRIVILEGE of visiting with some really neat people these last few years as we've pursued overseas ministry. Over and over, we've been asked to share our journey.
The Lord did some hardcore work in our lives to refine and prepare us for this new season of life, and we'll most definitely take the time to write it all down. Today, however, isn't that day! We're running around like crazy people as we near the time to leave for pre-field training. 5 weeks...YIKES & YIPPEE!!
Here are a few pictures to tell a bit of the story and get you caught up to where we are today.

Sort of like "All You Need To Know About LOST in 4:24" (Shout out to the Flos!)

September 2009
The 6 of us go to China to see first hand a ministry that was going to be replicated in Central America.

The Lord, who is ever faithful, confirmed in us His desire to use our family in full-time ministry. We thought He was directing us to Costa Rica to work alongside precious friends of ours. As the days went by, God clearly closed the door to work in Central America. Our hearts were sad for a day or two but we KNEW our prayers were being answered. Throughout this journey, we've BEGGED the Lord to make it crystal clear where He wants us to be. WE WANT TO BE IN LINE WITH HIS PLAN...NOT OURS!!!! As dreams of working beside dear friends faded we began our prayers anew. "If not Costa Rica, Lord, then where?"

Within days, we received a phone call. There was an opportunity with United World Mission in Budapest, Hungary. First things first...."I needs me a map so I can find where on earth Budapest IS!!!!
Ok, check. Eastern Europe.
For the record, Philip knew where it was...smarty pants!
The next few months we had meetings, Skype calls, and countless e-mails.
All lights were green.
Enter a peek at the absolute AWESOMENESS of the God we serve.
The guy on the other end of the line the day we got the call regarding Budapest was none other than our close family friend, Keith Keller. Not only was Budapest an option for our family but for his as well!
"Lord, do we even DARE to hope that you just might have us serve alongside friends after all?"

April 2010
Keith and Rachel (Keller) and Philip and I head to Budapest.
Mt. Eyjafjallajokull erupts in Iceland. Mass chaos.
Our flights get pushed back a week.
In the end, we made it to Hungary in one piece. I'll admit, there were a few times when we hit turbulence that my sweat glands (and my imagination) kicked into overdrive. " Was volcanic ash clogging the engines as we sat helpless over the open sea?? Would we crash on an island inhabited by polar bears and 'the others'???"
Obviously, none of that occurred, and we found ourselves flying over the red rooftops of Budapest. I've never flown into a city before with the knowledge that it could soon become my home. It was very bizarre.

The need for Christ, for love, for hope, for joy, for SALVATION was so evident. What was just as clear was that the majority of people in Europe don't even know what they're missing. They're sad, lonely, angry, and hopeless. Which, in truth, describes everyone who hasn't experienced the transforming power of the love of God. What's heartbreaking is that, even if they had the desire to seek out answers to spiritual questions, they most likely would have NO ONE who could help them find the TRUE answers.
We left with a burden for the people of Europe.
We left with a fire in our bellies (that could have been the goulash as well!) and a vision bigger than the four of us dared to dream.

Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees;
then I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding, and I will keep your law
and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart towards your statutes
and not towards selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to
your Word.
Psalm 119:33-37

The vision had been cast.
The net captured far more than just Hungary.
Europe is in desperate need of the gospel.
"Europe? The place that has SENT countless numbers of missionaries to OTHER countries?"
YES!!! THAT Europe!!!!

We were given the challenge to find what country (in Europe) would be the most strategic place for ministry. Budapest was still on the table.
However, five months of prayer, meetings, research, e-mails, Skype calls and phone calls found Philip and Keith on a plane to Prague, Czech Republic. They would spend half of their trip in Prague and the other half in Dublin, Ireland. The last two countries standing at the end of those 5 months.

September 2010
Philip leaves for Prague.

Prague, CZ

Philip and Keith's soon to be released album cover.
Just kidding! This is what two grown men do while they wait for the train in an almost deserted village on their way back into city centre.
Keith, Kevin Mason (UWM Area Director), Chad Hollowell (UWM Area Director & Philip's long lost twin brother), and Philip.
We LOVE these next two pictures.

The Old.
The Young.

They all need the opportunity to hear about the life changing reality of Jesus Christ.

During the guy's time in Prague, the Lord confirmed over and over the need for ministry. The Czech Republic is a dark, dark place.
As the day neared for them to leave the CZ for Ireland, Philip and Keith sent word home asking for prayer. They were scheduled to visit Dublin as well, but the more time they spent in Prague the more their Spirits felt confident Prague was where the Lord was leading. They decided to cancel their trip to Ireland.
The guys returned home and shared with UWM what they'd learned and experienced.
May God be glorified beyond all comprehension!!

October 2010
Philip and I travel to South Carolina for orientation and to be affirmed by UWM.
This time, no volcanoes.
Instead, Philip passed out on the plane.
After being met on the tarmac by a variety of emergency vehicles, and escorted off the plane first (that was our angle all along!), we enjoyed our first view of Charlotte through the windows of an ambulance.
Philip checked out fine.
Turns out you shouldn't travel without a neck pillow.
If ya fall asleep just so, you can cut off the circulation to your brain.

After that excitement, the rest of the week was a piece of cake.
UWM determined we weren't crazy, and we have the paperwork to prove it!
Philip & I were invited to join their organization
We signed on the dotted line......deep breaths!!!

Look who just 'happened" to be there the same time as us!!

This is Clay and Megan Sandoz.
They also grew up at TBC (Tomball Bible Church).
And, wait for it.......
They're going with us to Prague!!
Is God good or WHAT?!?!
I told you!! His plan is WAY bigger than we EVER would have dreamed!!!!
Oh how I love Him!!!!

So let's tally up.
Our team consists of Keith & Rachel Keller along with their 3 boys: Eli, Zeke & Luke,

Clay and Megan Sandoz,
and Philip & I and our 4 kiddos: Ethan Peyton, Morgan & Owen.
Here we are.

I literally timed myself as I read through this post.
I'm at 5min 7sec.
So, I'm already over my time limit by about 30sec.
Plus, I'm ready for bed!!
Tomorrow, I'll write about where we stand today and what the next few months entail.
Goodnight all!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

By Faith

I've sat at my computer, staring at this same blank blog screen, more times than I'd like to admit.
The blinking cursor just daring me to type something.
Each time, in defeat, I've walked away.
The screen still empty.

It hit me this morning what was truly happening. Why I was paralyzed.
I mean COME ON! It's a blog......NOT the Declaration of Independence!!

Isn't it just like Satan to make you feel like whatever you do, you won't be good enough?
THAT is what was truly going on.
It's an age old trap that I've succumbed to plenty of times in my life.
Every time I've bought into that lie, I've stolen God's opportunity to use me.

The past few months, when I dive into the Word, I find myself reading about Abraham or Moses.
That's NO coincidence!
Me and Moses....well, we're tight.
I feel his pain.
"God, I'm NOT well spoken enough to go and speak to Pharaoh. Can't you just use Aaron instead?"
Yep, been there. Done that.
God still commanded Moses (and Aaron) to go. We know how that story ended. In His weakness, God showed up BIG TIME & Moses was used mightily by God!

Abraham, on the other hand, reminds me of Philip.
God told Abraham to pack up his family and his belongings and go.
That's it.
No "googling" his new country. No Skype calls with those already there. WOW!
BY FAITH, he obeyed.

Like Moses, we sometimes speak with "faltering lips"
Our family has a special story to tell.
We want to share our journey with others so that the Lord is GLORIFIED!

BY FAITH, we will sell our home.
BY FAITH, we will move to the Czech Republic
BY FAITH, God will use us in our weakness to draw his children to HIM.

I'm glad you all are along for this journey!

PS I dedicate this entry to my sweet sis Amy who basically said, "Just write something already!"
I love you :-)

Oh man! Now I'm crying!