Trip debrief – finally

So I’m finally able to relax a bit, nothing is planned for tonight and I’ve done enough thinking and processing about our trip that I can finally put most of it into words.  In general I feel good about it, we spent significant time with people, creating new relationships, building up our existing ones, and ministering to our closest friends there.  Overall this was the most exhausting trip for Alexis and I, due to the fact that on most days we got up at 6am and didn’t get to bed until around 10pm.  We were getting up so early because we had about a 45 minute commute (via Bus and Tram) to the language school, which was from 9:30 to 2pm each day.  While we were in school the rest of our team tried to meet up with people (not very successfully), prayed for the city and churches, and explored possible future neighborhoods for us.

Speaking of language school, now that we’ve taken nearly a week break, we know we need to get back to studying – and hopefully, God providing, taking private lessons from the director of the Polish school here in Portland.  The course was very intensive and at times frustrating, however, I think we learned the concepts and with some review, and diligence on our part, God will help us get the fundamentals in our head.

Over the course of our first week we came up against some not so explainable health issues, on the first day Alexis got sick to her stomach on the tram to school, so much so she felt she was going to faint, instead she threw up.  Unfortunately the only thing she had to throw up into was Emma’s blanket, the rest of our fellow tram passengers didn’t offer much help, either because they didn’t know how, or the language barrier froze them, or both.  Eitherway I found myself a bit upset that no one offered any help – all I could do was pray, so that’s what I did.  By the time we were at the school Alexis felt better – one of the most stressful moments of my life I think!

Then on Tuesday (I think) Charis got sick (our friend who came to help watch Emma while we were in school) and threw up all night long.  After some prayer with her home-stay host she was able to sleep in, Aris and Brandon took over Emma duty that day at school and by the afternoon Charis joined us.  By then we knew something wasn’t quite right, because there wasn’t really anyway to explain these mysterious sicknesses.  The saga continues with me getting a very strange cramping in my stomach all day Thursday, Brandon getting a nasty head-cold also on Thursday, me having cramps again on Saturday, Aris with a migraine, and when Corey and Jenise joined us on Saturday, Corey got pretty sick around their second day as well.  Through prayer and endurance we didn’t miss what God called us to do, learn the language and build relationships.

In spite of all the sickness thrown at us, and some communication mishaps, God confirmed over and over and through multiple people that the Polish people, our friends, and those that we hardly know, are encouraged, excited, and ready to have more people in Kraków to work in God’s kingdom.  Our commitment to learn the language in advance of our move has spoken volumes to the Poles – and over and over we heard “the single biggest sign that God is calling you here is that he has opened the door for you to learn Polish and you are doing it” – many other missionaries in times past have not taken this important step.  Not to compare ourselves, but to contrast the difference in preparation that we feel God is very specifically asking us to do.

Enough of me blabbering – Brandon has some great photos up on facebook, below are the public links (you don’t need Facebook to see them).




Nowy Targ

Poland Day 5

Poland Day 2

Poland Day 1

This is the last night.

This is my last night, because God is challenging me to new depths, this is the last night, because God is asking me to take up what I have and do something with it. 

Tonight’s message was thought provoking and Spirit encouraging.  God is in the bussiness of growing us closer to Him.

I’ve been fighting a decent amount of fear, stress, and overall the feeling of “not being understood”.  Nearly all of it relates to my calling, Poland, Pastoring, Mentoring, Speaking, and just about everything in between.

I’m being challenged to “just do it”.  I’m looking for affirmation in all the wrong places, the only place I’ll see it, and I’ve ever had it, is in Jesus.  He’s ordered it, and he will see to it that he gets it.

I hate it.

One thing I have grown to loath is fund raising.  While it’s a pretty needed step in everything God has asked us to do, it isn’t easy.  The feeling I get with each request is that I feel like a beggar.  I hate it.  I know that most people don’t see it as begging, but the feeling doesn’t get better when the responses are either negative or nill.  We have had our share of negative responses from people who apparently do not know exactly what we are doing, and haven’t read the things we have done over the years.   Thankfully these kinds of responses have slowed down, and in fact the past couple of months we haven’t received a single one. 

However the lack of giving, and responses is the most de-motivating, and causes us to rethink our strategy, and especially in the hardest moments our calling. We have only had a handful of very large donations from very few people to support us the past five years, this is incredible and God has shown us amazing provision through this.  Yet I still want to believe in Acts, where all the believers shared in everything.  Not to toot our own horn and yet gracefully show a point – Alexis and I tithe to our home church and give offerings to four different missions projects, and soon a fifth.  We hope to always do this and be consistent, in both financial giving, prayers, and talking/encouraging with our friends abroad.
I’m not really sure what this entry is about, I guess it’s venting, I guess I have a small hope that it will motivate more people to give just a little.  It’s difficult to not be a bit discouraged, and believe me, Alexis and I know the truth, and plenty of people love to remind us (the pat statements, you know what I mean)… we know God will provide – it’s just the human factor we’re a bit unsure of right now, both in us, and others.

The waves of life…

So, things have been insane around here lately.  We canceled our Polish dinner/dessert fund raiser, due to a low number of people able to make it and the costs not being worth the potential income…  So instead we are doing a $15 challenge, and will be making a lot of announcements about that until either all the money comes in, or September 15 gets here.

We are in constant prayer over this trip, it seems with all of the life stuff coming along it has been difficult to focus on the fund raising.  It’s almost a full time job in itself.  A lot of the time I just want to give up, it’s stressful and not easy to communicate a need without sounding like we’re begging or whining.  Between working full time and day to day ministry things, the one thing that is our biggest passion is getting the least amount of attention.

In other news, Emma is being dedicated on Saturday, very exciting, I’m also on worship team this weekend, so that’s a double cool thing.  However, the week ahead has a lot, thankfully Friday is free now 🙂  TTFN.

Preasure mounting

All of this ridiculousness going on in our friends lives’ is beginning to drain my energy, the only thing I feel like doing is worshipping with all my heart, screaming out my fears, my sorrow, and my concern for our dear friends.  Right now to find a simple joy would be nice.  We know there are far worse things in the world, and some of our friends are experiencing those things, Alexis and I are humbled by each event, praising God for his goodness and sovereignty.  There isn’t much anyone can say or do in these kinds of circumstances except pray.  My heart is heavy, my soul is anxious, my spirit is thirsty, and my mind is confused.

Intern retreat round 2

[This is a retro-published post, actually posted on Nov 12, 2005 – I wanted these words to be posted into my archives on the right day to line up with my life at that time]
Again we went to the amazing Oregon coast for our intern retreat this year. This time instead of each Intern prophesying over each other a lady named Barb Jackson came, taught, and randomly prophesied. It was amazing, and what God said through her to Alexis and I (we received the word together) is nothing short of amazing – we were crying like babies at the end, because God totally rocked our world. The rest is history:

When we go as full-time over there. That will happen. We are in training, and it’s been rough, the finances haven’t been right, but they will come, we will go, but not before we are sent -don’t go before sent… If we go before we are sent we will come back, bruised as in ACTS 19. The enemy will try to make us think we can’t wait (within 6 months), don’t listen to that voice, remember this WORD. Be faithful in all the training, in the right time, humble ourselves under his hand, and he will exalt us… God will Send us out with ordination and with supporters, commissioning, start with house church, evangelize the area, a few contacts will give us the hands and lift up the resources. God says we will be known in that place as the people with the word of the LORD. It’s not going to be a “regular house church” People will know they can get their needs met, physically, spiritually, word of prophecy over the people, healing, words of knowledge and wisdom, food, the vision will be. Churches will grow fast, split so fast, we will need to split into two… won’t get a building big enough…. Just a handful in each. Churches where his voice will be heard. We will know the time for marriage…. There will be a right time for marriage, God will unite us. Don’t jump ahead. TWO will put ten thousand… God has given us the green light the word for our lives, the time, and method are still yellow lights… caution don’t run ahead. wait until the light is green. Those who are over us in the spirit will tell us the green light at the same time we sense it in our hearts. Be cautious The enemy will try to stop us in our tracks. Just like the enemy tried to tell with Peter told Jesus not to go to Calvary… but the timing was right, the timing will come. We will have that green light. God says there will be nothing at that time he will withhold. John 14:12-13 – Us who believe on him… God will be accelerating our training, we will be stretched, and feel like we don’t have enough time… Burn the oil at midnight if we must. For a time and a season we need to push in… be obedient, obey, obey, obey 3x. God will take us both down to the third obedience, where we will sow our lives for those people. Sow our lives for those people, we will love them to the end. They will know the love… that love will require our lives. That love will go through our whole lives. Our message will be the love of the father’s heart. As we go forward in obedience to him… we will fulfill the father’s heart. He will say “well done, good and faithful servant”.

A prophetic exercise

[This post was actually posted on Nov 12, 2005, but to make more sense I have retro-published it to fit in with when the actual event happened]
This past weekend was our intern retreat out on the beautiful Oregon Coast. It was an amazing time, great worship, great prayer, and God was there. Something which I had never experienced before was “prophecy”, and this past weekend we did a prophetic exercise. Now, before you go off thinking I’ve joined a cult or something, hear me out. No one forced us to speak, and no one was yelling, screaming, or making any other kind of strange body spasm, we simply laid our hands on each person and listened to what God was speaking to each of our fellow brothers and sisters. These are the words which came for me:

SPONGE: You are a sponge the yellow-green kind with lots of yuck inside. God is squeezing you, doing whatever HE can to clean you. It hurts. He will clean/fill you with His Holy water. His living water will wash you out. Decay needs to be uprooted. Dirty job but necessary.

BOAT: from Venice. Big staff in water you are holding staff.
Fisherman: This year the year to walk on water. Don’t look around or get frustrated. Cry out your fears, out loud.

WALKING ON WATER, IN POLAND: You were walking on water in Poland. Then you went down and Jesus picked you up. You were the only disciple in Poland. You’re now back in the boat with God in the storm, but God has quieted the storm. God wants to bless you. You are a foundational/pioneering person and God gave you this gift. God wants to heal you from mental and spiritual abuse, or any other. Enjoy the calm that God has made through the storm. The storm is not over. Endure the upcoming test. Be encouraged, you have the heart of Peter, so strong. Peter denied Christ three times, yet the church was built upon Peter.

LIGHTHOUSE: with stairs around the outside of building. Raining, thunder, but you keep climbing to the light. The light house is to warm ships of things coming. You’re wearing a black rain coat, God is that covering, he is with you. God’s given you persistence stronger than others. Because your faith is so strong in God you will press on.

HEBREWS 11:8-10: It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called on him to leave home and go to another land that god would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

GOD EAGER TO USE YOU: God is sitting with eager expectation you are willing to serve and that gives God a great anticipation. Tender heart, a servant’s heart. God excited to work in you because you are so open he can do such great things in you and through you.

God is walking with you. You’ve gone through a lot and are being healed. God is with you and your strong faith. God will heal you.

You are a man of integrity. Strong in God. He is walking with you.

Your heart for God is awesome, seeking his face.

PIONEER/CONSTRUCTION: While walking the enemy tried to distract you. God will build foundation, and you will build a house and roof. He has plans of construction with you. You dig very consciencly. You rebuild. You know when they fit. You are a pioneer. Storm come and ruins inside house. So we do the immediate – restore inside. Then storm comes again and ruins inside. God is building the roof so the other work will last. Plan of construction before you.

Technical. You dig stuff out and put together useful pieces. Spiritual mechanic and make things useful. Pioneer.

Up in tree you are a strategist. “Traveling Travis”, missionary, ambassador, you’ll be like Joshua. You will tell people as Joshua did.

DELIVERANCE: Each step of lighthouse is new stage of deliverance. Some steps may seem to go off cliff. You may want to curl up on some steps, NO. Don’t be afraid. But God says “no my son, get up, stand up” You will pastor people. Pastor’s mantle. Open minded. As lighthouse light shines North, South, East, West, God will give you direction to those places. No matter how difficult it is, God has your hand, He is prompting you to GO.

He is your focus. Trust the Lord and run the race. The Lord is your fortress, strength, and shield.

CLEANLINESS: Deut 23:9-14 When you look at refuse you think that stinks. God doesn’t reject you. He sees the garbage and embraces you. God will cover the refuse and get rid of it. God doesn’t see you as unclean. He will not turn away from you.
When you go to war with your enemies, stay away from everything impure. Any man who becomes ceremonially defiled because of a nocturnal emission must leave the camp and stay away all day. Toward evening he must bathe himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp. Mark off an area outside the camp for a latrine. Each of you must have a spade as part of your equipment. Whenever you relieve yourself, you must dig a hole with the spade and cover the excrement. The camp must be holy, for the LORD your God moves around in your camp to protect you and to defeat your enemies. He must not see any shameful things among you, or he might turn away from you.

BROKENNESS by the Lord, so he can deliver you. You need to be broken before God can heal you. Get to rock bottom so He can build you up.

You will be Bold. You are a cool surfer that is steady from God, Karate Man. Surfing on a wave with glasses, coolness. Steady, firm, chilling on wave. Intimidate the Enemy. Like a gangster knife fight you scare opponent. You go ahead.

You have an Axe – chanting around a fire like an Indian. “you are a warrior”

PSALM 84:5-12
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. O God, look with favor upon the king, our protector! Have mercy on the one you have anointed. A single day in your courts, is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right. O Lord almighty, happy are those who trust in you.