Monday, August 27, 2007


Today is my 11th anniversary of living in Poland. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. Sometimes the changes that I have seen are difficult to fathom. And now I find myself feeling more at home here than anywhere else. Oh sure, there are times that I get frustrated with various systems and red tape or I have concerns that are unique to here but in the day to day living I'm at home.

PS. If you would like to see a video of our new church facility go to Poland Missions or

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Doctor's Update

Yesterday I had an appointment with a doctor in Krakow. He did an ultra sound of my ankle. Let's just say that I'm not pleased with the news. From what I understood there is a significant amount of scar tissue that is not breaking down. And that means....that if physical therapy isn't able to break it down I will have to have another surgery (arthroscopic). I have 19 days before I leave for 7 weeks in the US. I don't know how much progress can be made in that time so I have scheduled 3 PT appointments a week instead of 2 until I leave. Some prayer requests:
1. That the PT would make progress
2. That the stiffness would dissapate
3. That during my time in the US my foot wouldn't get worse.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lawn mowing ministry

I live in a condo complex that was completed just after the fall of communism. It is a very nice complex with a much more of a community feel. Normally the condo association takes care of the exerior of the building and the grounds surrounding the building. The new found freedoms of that time showed themeselves in how the families in each condo building choose to deal with the community spaces.

In my building they decided that the communual grass cutting responsibilities should be divided as follows: There are 4 stairwells in my building and each stairwell is responsible to cut the grass in front of their building. Like many such plans they start off great and then over time they fall apart. So, by the time I moved in 7 years ago the grass cutting look something like a bad hair cut. One stairwell would cut "their part" and the other 3 would or wouldn't for who knows how long. Keep in mind that this lawn is a large piece of continuous grass right in front of my building. In the beginning I didn't have a lawn mower so I tried to pretend that it didn't bother me. Then about 3 years ago I couldn't stand it any more and I bought a lawn mower.

This was the beginning of the Lawn Mowing Ministry. For the last 3 years I have been mowing the grass (all of the grass) without saying a word. My original intend was to be a blessing and to deal with my own need to not look like I live in a slum. The 2+ hours of mowing turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought. I found myself grumbling in my head: "Why doesn't anyone show appreciation?" "Why can't they be gratful?" "Why doesn't anyone offer to pay for the gas?" and on and on. Sometimes my thoughts were even worse. On a good day I would catch myself and begin to pray for my neighbors and bless them. But nothing seem to change.

This summer was a particular challenge as at the beginning I was unable to do anything about the grass because of my leg. And the grass grew. And grew. And grew. And no one did anything. Then the bad hair cut lawn mowing technique began to surface again. And I grumbled.

Today I cut the grass and I started off grumbling. Then something amazing happened. One neighbor offered to give me money for gas. Though she didn't have change. I thought Oh, well. But she returned from the store in a little while with 20 zoltys, twice what I would have expected. Then I ran out of gas. I really didn't want to go all the way in the house to get my purse and keys and then drive to the gas station (the closest station is closed for remodeling). So, I decided to ask a different neighbor if he had any gas that I could have to finish the job. He said "Sure!" He gave me the gas, a new pair of gardening gloves and thanked me for cutting the grass (quite unusual). A different neighbor empathized with the large size of the task. Another neighbor came out to sweep the walk and keep me company. Another neighbor commented on how great it look. And probably the most encouraging was a neighbor who seldom says "Hello" (which is very rude in Polish culture) went out of her way to get my attention and say "Hello"

So what did I learn? A few things.
1. That I am continually fighting against my human nature that so easily can grumble and complain.
2. That obedience to the Lord's voice is always the best way to touch others hearts. In this case, simply to serve the people in my building by cutting the grass.
3. That humble service always brings about positive results. Maybe not as quickly as we would like but it does bring results.

Please pray that this service will open doors to the hearts of my neighbors to hear about a personal relationship with Jesus.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Experiencing Jesus’ Care through Adversary

I have had the unique experience of having surgery in 3 different hospitals in 3 different countries. Anyone who has had surgery of any kind knows the fear and lack of peace that can so easily flood into ones heart. It doesn’t matter the hospital or the country. I don’t think anyone is thrilled to find themselves “under the knife”.
My 1st surgery was more than 20 years ago in Seattle for the repair of a heart defect. At first it was such a shock. Then the reality of having a faulty heart followed by the making the necessary plans to schedule the surgery at the most convenient time made seem like just the next step in the plans of my life.
However the necessary for recovery was particularly important in my relationship with Jesus. He spoke to me that He wanted to heal my spiritual/emotional heart through this experience. It was during the recovery that I learned how much of my identity had been connected to my ability to “DO”. So, my complete dependence on people over those 6 weeks revealed God’s unconditional love and care of me through His church. I was loved because I was.
This last February I fell and broke both bones in my leg just above the ankle. At 1st I was overwhelmed with all kinds of feelings: fear, isolation, regret, abandonment, helplessness. Then the adrenaline kicked in and I just wanted it fixed. Jesus was so faithful to be with me. There were people who could come and help me navigate the Polish health system. I was able to communicate directly with those who treated me in Polish. I was able to experience health care the way my friends do. But through it all Jesus showed me His face as He brought friendly faces to help. Sometimes it was a neighbor, a stranger or an acquaintance. Once He even prepared the water therapy in advance. There were many days that I would wait for hours and then one day I arrived to find the therapist filling the tub with water. When I asked if it was available she said yes. Jesus is faithful.
In June I was invited to Switzerland for a Women’s Retreat. As I was packing I felt prompted to bring my x-rays with me and consult with a doctor in the church there. My thought was that he could explain to me why my recovery seemed to be taking so long. To make a long story short, this doctor was able to arrange for me to have surgery (and not miss the retreat) immediately to remove the screws that had been put in to make my bones heal straight. The care and support I received in Switzerland was a great gift. I felt like I had stayed in a “5 star” hospital. Then I had 4 days of recovery in the home of friends with no expectations or any “shoulds” hanging over my head. Jesus let me just rest and do puzzles. I even had the added bonus of four days of physical therapy with a therapist who spoke English and explained everything I had experienced and what I could expect. He even said I could go skiing this winter.

Jesus is truly my Good Shepherd in whom I can trust completely.

Your Partner in Christ’s Service,
News Briefs

Since breaking my leg in February I have had 2 surgeries and I can’t remember how many hours of physical therapy. My leg continues to improve though the mobility is still limited. I have physical therapy 2x a week in Krakow. I’m very gratefully for finding a very competent therapist.

Digging Deeper:
The Winter camp in February went off without a hitch though I was home in bed with my leg in the air. There were between 20-30 people who participated from Poland, the Netherlands, USA, and Romania. It was a great time of deepening relationships with one another and the Lord.

New Church Facility:
In April our church was evicted from our meeting place. The Lord laid on my heart that we needed to pray for a place that was at least 2x the square meters at half the price per square meter (22sqmeters @ 33 zloty/meter). Everyone was sure I had lost my mind as the place we had been in was a “steal” of a deal. To make a long story short…God did a miracle. We found a place that is 100 sq meters @ 15 zloty/sq meter. Of course this is quite a step of faith for this little fellowship but God is faithful. The middle of August we had a grand opening with friends from Switzerland and USA.

Uturn France:
Once again I took a group of young people to the Foursquare Europe Youth conference. It was a very special group. All of them have completed their Master’s degrees and are on their way to establish themselves as adults. It took us 2 days to get to & from the camp in the French Alp region. It was a great opportunity to build relationships (especially during those moments of confusion while lost in a foreign city). The group really deepened their relationships with one another and the Lord while getting connected with other believing young people in Europe.

Many of you have had the opportunity to meet Sabina either here in Poland or while she has been traveling with me or Carol in the States. She has grown so much in her relationship with the Lord. She has decided that it is a good time for her to really concentrate on her relationship with Jesus and participate in a church internship in California. She has been accepted but she needs to raise $3600 in the next 3 weeks. Please pray for God’s provision. If you would like to help financially let me know.

Visiting the USA:
I will be traveling to the US between September 13, 2007 – October 25, 2007; for the purpose of spending time with you. I will be in CA 9/13-21 and in OR 9/21- 10/1 and 10/1-25 in Seattle. If you have time to get together please contact me so that we can schedule time. I have a special gift. An Experienced Missionary couple will come and stay in my home and take care of my church during my furlough.

Current Financial & Other Needs:
I will need a cell phone for the time I’m in the US as well as a car, particularly while in the Seattle/Portland areas. I was unable to make this trip in March as planned; the result is ticket costs of an additional $400. I will also need about $400 for the plan travel between states.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and support, Denise

Contact Information
Denise C. Johnson
Os. Witosa 4/8, 34-400 Nowy Targ, POLAND
Phone: 48-18-2665899

Financial Information Contributions:
Denise Johnson

c/o Mission Dispatch, Inc. 21911 76th Ave W., Suite 211Edmonds, WA 98026

Change in procedures: Please make your financial contributions to Mission Dispatch.

Please attach a note with my full name: Denise Johnson.