Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Garden"

How big is your faith?
Is it BIG enough to partner with God to build an ARK?
Do you believe that God's economy has no recession?
What about ... the Greater the need for God to show up the Greater the Miracle?

These are all words meant to encourage me as I stick my neck out in faith to share... a hope, and a vision.

Many of you know that I have had on my heart for a looooong time the desire to open a cafe as a means to reach the community.  It seems that that time has come to step out in boldness.  As most steps of faith it seems a bit crazy and almost premature.  But in this land where pessimism and doubt are around every corner...a miracle has occurred. People who I am in relationship with have come forward with encouragement, optimism, and desire to help in this venture of HOPE.


Why "The Garden"?
The name of the church in Nowy Targ is "Tree of Life". We have felt from the very beginning that we needed to be a place where the fruit of God's character fruit on a tree. As each individual bears the good fruit of the Kingdom it will product a sweet fragrance that will attract others.  A big part of that fruitfulness is service...meeting the needs of others.  Although the actual number of individuals in the church is small, we have been serving children, families, women and youth more and more. We need a place...a GARDEN for our TREE to be planted. Not a place to have church meetings but a place for the CHURCH TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY.

So, here it goes...

I'm asking you to join with us in prayer for the acquisition of a building in Nowy Targ for the purpose of reaching the community with HOPE.

In this unfriendly and sometimes hostile environment toward evangelicals it is difficult to win the right to be heard…or even exist. The small group of young, faithful, believers that I serve have eagerly joined me with a BIG vision to reach our community with hope. We have a desire to create a center of HOPE where the church will serve the community. There are 4 aspects to this center

1.       CafĂ©: Starbuck’s style. To provide legal work & a workplace that respects its workers & the workers work as onto the Lord

2.       After school program for latchkey kids: Most Polish families both parents work long hours & the kids are left on their own as fewer & fewer parents can leave their kids with grandparents. These programs will include:

a.       Study Skills & tutoring help

b.      Sports, crafts & games

c.       Self discovery for the purpose of deciding what to study at university

d.      Community service projects

3.       Workshops & seminars to serve the needs of the community:

a.       Parenting support

b.      Teacher training

c.       Youth programs

d.      Etc.

4.       A place for the church to meet that is public but safe from being evicted.

We have found a building that we are believing for. It is vacant & in a great location for what we would want to do. There is a “strip” park down one side of the building: 2 playgrounds for small children, a basketball court & a skate park.  There are 11 blocks of apartments that are on either side of the building & a technical high school across the street. The estimated cost of the basement, plus 2 floor building, and grounds is $250,000 plus remodel .
If you have any questions, suggestions and even more importantly words of encouragement from the Lord I would love to hear it.

A Special Gift

Being a single person, ministering alone in the mission field, one of my biggest challenges is taking vacation.  For me, it isn't vacation if I do it alone or with a group of strangers. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel many places but a place without meaningful relationships to share it with is just a place.

Eastside gave me a special gift....
They made it possible for me to travel with the team to Budapest, Hungary.  It isn't that far from me...a mere 30 min flight from Krakow but I had never been there before. The time in Budapest was a great opportunity to get to know the people on the team without responsibilities.  I was also able to further develop my relationship with Dave and Mindy Sebens missionaries there. I'm looking forward to working more closely together in the future with my "neighbors".

Fun, Food, and Dance with a Purpose

I returned to Poland after an extended Christmas stay in Seattle the end of February.  It was a bit stressful as my ticket had been changed 3 times by the time I actually boarded the plane home.   Coupled with that my home church was sending the 1st short-term mission team since they became my home church.  From the time I set foot on Polish soil I had 3 weeks until the team of "11.5" arrived.
I have had lots of experience with short-term teams....some good, some not so good and everything in between.  I hate to admit but I have been responsible for teams that cover the whole spectrum.  That being said...
I'm truly blessed to have Eastside Foursquare as my home church.  This team was an amazing blessing and continue to be. They listened to every word of advise and experience I could share.  It is the 1st time in a very long time that I had visitors that everyone who met them eagerly look forward to the next such visit.
Although the team was here only 4 days, everyone of those days was full of preparation, sharing of their lives, prayer walks, encouragement for me and others, ....and.....a BIG St. Patrick's Day Party.

We rented a large hall in the local culture house and invited everyone we could think of... As a result my little fellowship of 4 adults and one child drew a crowd of 85+ people. Most of whom are newcomers to a personal relationship with Jesus and a life that can be both fun and devoted to God.

We had lots of, punch, clothes, decorations....

The team came prepared to put on an event...
It was like having an event in a box...
It really was an encouragement to the church as it wasn't "WORK", rather a fun time, with the message of hope being shared and a great time to build relationships.

Thank you EASTSIDE

Creating a New Culture of Service

In the US we have survived on a culture of giving and serving others.  Random Acts of Kindness ... and Adopt a Road programs are common place. But in other parts of the world those are the responsibility or have been the responsibility of the government.  The current world financial crisis has strained those resources that once paid individuals to "care" for the environment and the individual needs of the most needy. Resulting in unmet needs and societies that have little or no experience with volunteerism.
Natalia, my intern, has formed an association that is dedicated to meeting some of those needs in their villages. They have organized workshops for children, youth, women, and whole family.  One such activity was to clean up around Lake Czorstyn. These amazing young adults: solicited funds, prizes, advertising, community partnership, and participates from all age groups.
It was truly a proud moment for the whole community when they counted the more than 200 bags of trash that were collected.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

I'm often asked what I do exactly in Poland or what does a "normal" day look like for me. I realize that they are just trying to get a picture of my life as a missionary.  Sometimes it is difficult to describe because I don't live in a jungle or work in an orphanage. My days vary so much that it is difficult for me to find a rythym. But the best answer I can give is that I do whatever my hand finds to do that extends the love of Jesus and brings hope into the community.
I have always been a "want-a-be" athlete.  I played some sports in school...but I was more of the encourager than the "star".  Like most of us, we have grown up with at the very least a pick-up game of baseball in the neighborhood or that occassional trip to Safeco field to root for the home team.
Over the past few months I have been invited 3 times to teach the teens and children of Maniowy to play baseball. It is amazing how challenging it can be to explain a game that "no one" has ever seen played. Especially in a foriegn language.
Yet, the minute the equipment comes out young and old are drawn like to a magnet. I am always moved by the awe on each face when they hit the ball for the very 1st time or the mystery of a mitt and that it is worn on the left hand.
Some might ask what does baseball have to do with extending the Gospel? HOPE....
Hope that you can do anything...
Hope that people will care about others even if they aren't paid...
Hope that regardless of your size or shape you can be part of something special...
Hope that every child has a good side...

Today about 50 kids have a desire to play baseball and the principal of the junior high is looking to acquire baseball equipment for the school. And those same junior high kids are looking for a team to play against. 

Who will teach them?
Who will invest in them....hope?
...hope for a good future?
It doesn't take much...but it does require openness and faithful obedience to do whatever your hand finds to do.

Thanks to Pastor Grant Esborg, who GAVE what he had during a time in life's "desert", I'm equiped with everything to teach baseball.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Time Flies......

We all have those moments when we look back and wonder where the time went.  How did I get all those grey hairs? Why don't my legs move as quickly as they used to? Or when you look at those kids you used to babysit (or maybe your own kids) and you realize that they are no longer children but ADULTS. 
How does that happen?
There is another great indicator of the passing of time....
When your appliances "give up the ghost" and go to that great paradise in the sky where all places of technology go that have served their owner well...and some of them who have not served so well. 
I have come to that moment in time when those "faithful servants" have exhausted their time & have begun to retire.

Well....I suppose it is time....I have been in Poland now 16 years!
Who would have thought?

2011 was the year of the cleaning servants:
  • Washing machine in Poland
  • Vacuum in Poland
  • Washer & Dryer in Kirkland
2012 is the year of...hmm....
  • Dishwasher in Poland
  • Dishwasher in Kirkland
  • Coffee maker
  • Laptop
  • Furnace/hot water tank
  • The 3 wheel lawn mower
  • Pealing paint
I am so grateful that Jesus always makes away. Last year Jordan came through to cover the cost of the new laundry "servants".
I've figured out how to continue the lawn mowing ministry with 3 wheels. Washing dishes by hand is not so bad as long as hot water tank is working at that moment. I'm winning the battle with the pealing paint one room at a time.
I will have to replace the furnace soon ... going showerless is not a very good witness...and winter is coming. I don't think I would last very long with no heat :/ The great part about new furnace is I can fix my bathroom so I can have a fan :)

But as you can see there is some progress being made...step by step.

Electronic giving: