Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Same kind of warm as Dad

Josh's brother Dave is our boss and the president of JV.  He writes a letter every month and sends it out to the folks who give and pray for the different ministries around Eastern Europe.  It's a great letter and if you are interested in receiving it let me know and I'll get you on the list.  When I read them I always get a sense of the genuiness of real people, following the Lord on His agenda. 

This month he wrote this letter.  I just had to copy it here on our blog for you all to read. I can't wait for Luke to get home from school this afternoon to read it to him! 
Dear Friends,
One of the challenges of living overseas is that family is often very far away.   Our parents live across an ocean, and now so do two of our kids, studying at college in the States.  So it is a special treat for me to have my brother Josh on the Josiah Venture team, leading our ministry in Slovenia. 
I was with him last week and enjoyed a wonderful evening being family and talking about what God is doing in Slovenia.  Relating to his delightful children was a special joy for me.
As I was on my way home to Czech, Josh’s wife, Kristi , sent me a text message with a  quote from their six year old son Luke.  “I miss Uncle Dave”, he said.  “He’s the same kind of warm as my dad.”
Way to make your uncle’s day, Luke!  I had a long drive to smile about that one. 
But then I started looking at the towns and villages I was passing through.  So few of the people who live there know Jesus.  Because of that, they are far, very far away from God’s family.  
What could possibility reach them?  For most, God is either a relic from the past, or an icon from the old, empty stone church in the center of town. 
Luke’s comment tapped into the dream I have for the Josiah Venture team.  That we would be the “same kind of warm” as our Dad, to these people. That our presence would bring the Father near to everyone we meet.  
In the middle of September our entire team gathers together for the JV Fall training conference.  Our theme is the lost, and how we can reach more of them with the good news of Jesus.
Thanks for helping us bring Him near,
Dave Patty
President, Josiah Venture

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

My Fazana!

Rebecca after her first day of school
This isn't the normal picture I've seen moms posting on Facebook for the first day of school.  But out of all the pictures we took on Monday, this just seemed to be the one that said it all!  It's the annual tradition here that the upperclassmen get to write the letter F all over the new Fazani (Freshmen) and they got Rebecca good!  But as you can see, she's loving every minute of it!

You might remember that there were some tense days for us regarding school this spring.  In April it was time to turn in high school applications.  We prayed about it, listened for the Lord's leading and Rebecca felt led to Gimnazia Poljane and specifically to the Classical Program which has a strong emphasis on languages including Latin.  Josh and I both agreed with her and so she put in her application.

During that waiting period we really felt the truth that faith is a muscle; the more you use it the more it grows!  We started to hear rumors about the point system and how high it was at Poljane.  Then we heard that all the kids who applied to Blake's school made it because they had extra space.  We began to doubt if she should have applied there.  Even some kids from school started giving her a hard time and telling her that Poljane wasn't for her and she'd never make it in.

One day she came home and told us about how she had told classmates that she felt like this was where God was leading her.  But she was beginning to get nervous.  What if she didn't make it in and He looked bad or she looked like a lunatic?  We remembered the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how they had said, "We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Dan. 3:17-18

Rebecca joined them in saying, I know you've led me here God.  You do what you think is best.  I'm not holding you to a place where you have to do this for me.  I still trust You.
Rebecca and Josh at the Croatian coast
While we were still waiting to hear if Rebecca had been accepted she told this story and told the people at our church retreat that she wanted to mark this waiting period with an act of obedience.  So in May Josh baptised her in the Adriatic Sea and we waited on the Lord.  

The next week she met with a woman to test her to see if she should receive an exception for school entrance because it appeared she wouldn't have quite enough points for acceptance.  Rebecca said it was such a delightful experience.  This woman said she could see that despite the challenge of language that Rebecca seemed just the sort of person who would do well in high school.  And with a little bit of help from tutors she expected she would do quite well. On that day Rebecca received an exception and Poljane has accepted her.  

She started on Monday and is loving every minute of it already!  She still has to study hard and prove that she's earned this exception but our girl is growing into a young woman who is trusting the Lord with all the unknowns and believing He can rescue her at any moment and in the way that He thinks best.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcoming the Werdebaugh Family

Yesterday our new teammates, Shawn and Christena Werdebaugh arrived in Slovenia!  We are delighted to have them and their 4 sweetie pie kids stay with us during this next transition to their new home.   At dinner tonight I got a hint of the amazing story the Lord has woven to direct them here.  It just reminds me that when we obey He takes care of how it will all come about! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

I found a letter

I found a letter in a pile last week.  
We have lots of letters in lots of piles to tell you the truth. But this one was one that would change my life.  
Only I didn't know it at the time.  
On February 27,1988 some of us youth group kids gathered at the Norquist's house in the basement.   The Norquist's basement was sort of sacred ground for our church.  Many things found their starting point at that home. 

 This particular evening Randy Alcorn was sharing. He talked about being a missionary in whatever context the Lord calls you.  He told stories about people who served sacrificially at home and abroad.   Several things stand out to me from that time but none of them more than this.  

Randy asked us, "If you would be willing to go if the Lord sends you to another country, then I'd like you to write your name on this list and we will ask the elders to pray for you regularly." 

My thought was how could I say I wasn't willing if God sent me? Of course I would.  But He wasn't going to send me.  I'm not so good with new or unfamiliar things.  My mom says she once had to carry me out of the shoe store because I refused to walk in the new shoes she'd bought me.  I drive the same way all the time because it's the way I know.    I can eat the same thing every day!  It's familiar. But, I wrote my name on that paper fairly confident that I wouldn't be one of the ones being sent.  

Two weeks later Randy had sent the letter I mentioned.  
It starts off, "Dear Kristi, Hi!  I'm sending this letter to all the people who said, "Yes, I want my church leaders' prayer and assistance as I consider whether God would have me serve Him in another country."  He goes on to suggest some books we could read and also tell about a trip his family was taking to visit missionaries our church supported. I think my favorite line was, " "Maybe ten years from now we'll be visiting you on the mission field!" 

Just a few weeks later I had met Josh and turned in my application to attend Multnomah Bible College. 

10 years later  Josh and I had served in England and at that time we were in Germany leading youth groups for military kids. We already had two children and were on the verge of our move to Slovenia just 2 years later!

I love being a missionary and feel so blessed by the life we've lead, though I never would have guessed it! And I love being from Good Shepherd! I love that I grew up in a safe and nurturing home church as I kept taking small steps along the path that the Lord was lighting for me. I'm grateful for wise leadership that knew how to strengthen and encourage growth.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rebecca's high school search

Rebecca this summer
Well, it's Rebecca's turn now to choose a high school.  As you may know from when we were going through the process with Blake, students apply to get into one of many high schools here in Ljubljana.  Based on the number of applicants and the number of points you've gotten from your grades over the past three years you are either accepted or sent to another school for the second round. 
Most schools hold out 10% of their spots for this second round.  So it's a tighter squeeze to get into your second choice. 

It's a very strenuous process for everyone involved.  We spent a couple of days this month visiting high schools and listening to all the details about why their school is best.  It really reminds me of what I went through at the college level!  While Rebecca has had a bit more success in primary school than Blake had it's still questionable if she'll have enough points for some of the schools she's looking at. 

Those were the thoughts I was turning over and over in my head as I was headed home the other day.  Suddenly I stopped and told the Lord, "I am sorry."  You would think I would have learned!  Look what He's done for Blake!  The many doors the Lord opened to put him not only in the right school but in the right class!  The guy is growing by leaps and bounds!  He's always been a great kid but he's showing initiative and responsibility to higher levels than we've ever seen.  He's got a positive feeling about school like he never had AND his grades have radically improved!

I completely understand why the Lord had the Israelites rehearse the good works He had done in their lives.  It's so easy to forget.  Or to explain it away.  To think this time it'll be different and the Lord won't show up. 

I know that He has a plan for Rebecca.  That He loves her and is thinking about her as much as he does about Blake.  That he also has a specific task for her at her high school.  And that if He wants her in one school in particular then nothing will keep her out.  But if he chooses to use a lack of points to give her direction that is His business and I don't want our girl anywhere other than where the Lord wants her!  And the really delightful part is that's what she wants too!  We've raised a girl who is trusting the Lord to lead her and willing to go where He sends.  What more could I ask for?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Girls Eye View of London

Kendra and Rebecca in front of Big Ben
The girls and I had an opportunity to go to London a couple of months ago.  This is a trip I've dreamed of taking them on for a long time.  Josh and I lived in England near Oxford for the first 2 years of our marriage and that country has such sweet memories for us.  It was a delight to take them to all the sites and sounds that I have loved so dearly!

We called our friends Zack and Jennifer Brown and asked them if their offer to visit still stood.  They welcomed us to Bedford with open arms and even gave up their own beds for us to sleep in!  

A bit tired but still having fun on the tube!
Jennifer and I worked on a little itinerary for our couple of days there.  She mentioned that the John Bunyan museum was nearby.  I told her that I thought John Bunyan had been an American legend.  After a couple of emails back and forth I realized my mistake!  I was thinking of PAUL Bunyan and his big blue ox Babe! Unfortunately it was closed for the winter at the end of October. As Jennifer said, " Bummer.  I was really looking forward to seeing how he carried the blue ox out of the City of Destruction up to the Celestial City." 

Lydsay and Jennifer Brown
It was Lyndsay's 13th birthday one of the two days we spent in London itself.  She was such a trooper despite coming down with the flu that evening.

I can't begin to tell you all the moments we had on this trip.  The girls developed a loved for London theatre and are now known to burst into song spontaneously.  Well, I guess they were known for that before.  But now they burst into songs from Les Miserables!  :) 

Also, each girl prepared a personal tour of one of the main attractions.  (that was before Zack went out and treated us to the London pass so we could actually get into the attractions rather than just stand outside and gaze longingly! ) 

Lyndsay's portrayal of the Crown Jewels and London tower was every bit as informative as Peter the Beefeater's rendition!  Kendra had us laughing hysterically over Big Ben being created by a man named Ben who was so big he couldn't see the time on his tiny little wrist watch so he drew up plans for the giant clock tower.  And Rebecca informed us that there is actually a statue of our own George Washington in Trafalgar Square standing on soil sent over from the US since he'd claimed to never be on British soil again!  

We left feeling very loved by the Brown family, encouraged by the rare opportunity to travel together just us Patty girls and refreshed as we headed into the winter semester!  Unforgettable!