We are gearing up for local elections this fall and the campaign signs have been plastered all over town. There are very few wall spaces in public places that do not end up covered in stickers featuring candidate faces and a party identification number. While there are two major parties that generally have power in this government, there are NUMEROUS smaller parties in this system that attempt to gain seats in the parliament. Many of the smaller parties end up forming coalitions to try to build a base of support. Pray that these fall elections would be marked by transparency and honesty – and we will be praying the same for the elections in the US this fall.
We spend many days here trying to figure out a people, a culture and a language that does not make sense to us. This can cause a great deal of internal questioning about whether we are on the right path; does what we are doing make any impact? GOD HELP! And in those moments of asking God for wisdom, we are carried by the reminder in Isaiah 30:21 that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Join us in celebrating a major milestone: two of our team members (Nathan and Liesel) have completed 2 years of formal language study. This is an achievement only made possible by the grace of God sustaining them during what is a very challenging journey. We celebrated during a lunch out and the team presented them with a small framed wooden cutout featuring all the letters of the local alphabet. We are praying that God would continue to give each of our team members ability to speak this language! It is an essential key to unlocking the heart of the people in this context.
The temperatures are dropping… the leaves are falling… and we are starting to see pumpkins, butternut squash, pomegranates, and more at the local markets. As a major time of harvest is celebrated here we clearly see the abundance of God’s blessing. Praying for a harvest of hearts as well and rejoicing in the fact that God has not forsaken this place but continues to bless.
We recently enjoyed a visit from the leaders pictured above. It was a great experience for us to interact with this group of creative thinkers and committed shepherds. We were impressed throughout the week by the idea that even though many of us were meeting for the first time, we are family because of our common Father. What a privilege we have of serving together with our family in various contexts around the world!
When I moved into my flat, I was the first ever tenant. This flat was beautiful, modern and all I could ever hope for. It looked perfect and being the first tenant surely meant that everything should be solid. Fast forward to a few months ago: I noticed a crack in the ceiling of my beloved kitchen. Recently as I sat drinking coffee and looking at that crack, I came to an understanding. I’ve learned a lot about the local people and their attention to aesthetics: all about appearances. Our team uses the phrase, “saving face”, a telling phrase for the people here. This shows up not only in personal beauty, but in buildings and homes. They may be outwardly beautiful, but missing a solid foundation accomplished through committed time and care. These dear people are hiding behind something that is fallible. They are holding onto something that will fail. Our team daily desires to break down these fronts and show them how to have a solid foundation in Christ, the only one who will not break, who will NEVER fail.
Art is so important in this culture, and it is a joy to see all of the different ways that our local friends express themselves. From jewelry making to painting, there is an abundance of creativity and ingenuity here. This leaf painting is by one of our favorite artists, Zaza, and we recently had an opportunity to hear a little about his story. Since teammates first met him over five years ago, he has become well known in other countries too. Zaza shared that he has actually been stopped at borders due to the suspicious amount of leaves in his trunk! Please pray for this talented man to know his Creator, and to find true peace, hope, and healing.
We came across these stairs in the Old City last week; they were perfectly created and many people wanted to walk up and down them, getting pictures as they went. These stairs are such imagery for how a lot of the people live in this context – maybe around the world. Maybe even us sometimes. Being part of the “religious system” here includes doing right, not sinning, praying and giving a certain amount, and always striving to go higher on the staircase towards God. It’s a challenge to find the balance of how to trust and obey, yet live in total freedom! But we do! Today, I am thankful that I don’t have to climb stairs to meet my Savior! Today, I am thankful that I have direct access to My Redeemer!
Looking for the top places to travel this year? Our country has made a lot of recent lists, and people are listening. Tourists are flocking here in increasing numbers, and they are discovering what we already know—this place is amazing! Old meets new, mountains and sea, long-held tradition and modern ingenuity, beauty and decay, past regimes and new-found freedom, and don’t forget the food. We pray that the positives of tourism will outweigh the negatives, and that God will continue to preserve this place for all to enjoy!
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19
Pray for our team to thrive, and for our words to be Spirit-led and bold—always proclaiming the Truth.