Friday, July 31, 2009


The Eagle (the butterfly?) has landed!
It's 5:01 am and August in Slovakia, but here it's 10 pm on the same day we departed from Vienna. Long day! But a very good travel day all around.
And now it's time to take a tub. =)
Busy day tomorrow: we have to buy a car to drive to Philly for my approval interview on August 6. My dad has been doing research, so we're hopeful for a good/relatively painless day of shopping tomorrow.
Thanks for the "safe travels" prayers!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"You can do this!"

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:16-20
Daniel, a Slovak pastor and member of my internship committee, recently invited me to preach at his dad’s congregation in Háj, a small village in central Slovakia. The assigned preaching text for the day was Matthew 28:16-20: the Great Commission. As I prepared my sermon, I imagined that the disciples’ doubts that day on the mountain in Galilee were similar to my doubts at the missionary sending service in Kenosha, Wisconsin: what if I’m not good enough? Will my friends and family ever understand why I’m doing this? Am I up to this task?The great thing about this story is that Jesus sends the disciples out—Jesus sends us out—anyway. He doesn’t wait for us to be certain, doubt-free, or perfect. We are sent out, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what God has done: loved us, forgiven us, and empowered us to do things we could never do on our own. During the second service in Háj, my eyes kept going back to a woman in a beautiful white suit. As I preached, she smiled. “Keep going!” she seemed to be saying, “You can do this!” Daniel told me later that Anna is the president of the congregation, and that her granddaughter attends seminary in Bratislava, but is currently serving as a summer intern at Dr. Martin Luther Evangelical Church in Muskegon, Michigan. I realized that, on the same Sunday morning that Anna was encouraging me, someone in Michigan was probably looking at her granddaughter and smiling, letting her know “You can do this!,” even in the midst of any doubts she has. Jesus meets us, and sends us out, in the midst of our doubts and imperfections. That’s good news for missionaries, and for the people we minister with, too.

This post appeared on Hand in Hand, ELCA Global Mission's blog digest with contributions from missionaries all over the world. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I never thought I would ...

... hike these ridiculous cliffs in Greece and, once up there, hike some more: monastery-hopping
... get a very thorough scrub down from a Turkish grandma--with Elly
... learn a little German via Austrian TV. Thank you ORF, and your constant Simpsons reruns
... film an homage to the "Czech brothers" SNL sketch with a bunch of wild and crazy missionaries
... attempt to teach the Trinity in the last five minutes of class, only to have my students call me on it with fantastic questions, like: "If Jesus is part of God and God is one, why does Jesus say, "My God, why have you forsaken me?"

... meet a wonderful family from Ecuador at a bus stop in Assisi, and end up spending a good part of the day with them in Florence.
... fall in love with the heart of Europe
... take Auds and Curt to the finest gluten-free pizza restaurant in Bratislava
... chaperone a youth trip to a conference in the Hague and end up keeping (and now, packing) my notes from the sermons--seriously good theology
... preside at communion for the first time from an ironing board in eastern Slovakia
... laugh so much with my internship committee and my supervisor
... preach a bilingual sermon on the Great Commission in the village of Háj
... face some of my worst fears--ones I didn't even know I had--realize how much I need God's help, and the help of the Body of Christ ... and come out OK

I think Sean and I both knew we were in for an adventure a year ago, getting antsy at the Summer Missionary Conference ... both ready to go and not at all ready to go. We guessed that we would come to love Slovakia and the people we work with, here. Ultimately, we were always just long-term visitors here: called to be partners, but also to remain outsiders. And yet ... we've become more invested than the average visitor, more at home than the word "outsider" implies.

Sunday will be my last service at BIC--David and Carla left for the US this morning, and I woke up with a strong sense of loss (and then went back to bed.) We are packing and getting ready to go, but not in a particularly stressed out way. Keep us, and the many, many missionaries in transition right now, in your prayers.