This is family. I was not alone in my mission to Slovenia. Grace Bible Church of Bend, Oregon gathered the 6 that God called and commissioned them to serve in Slovenia. Days before we were set to leave my sweet sister in Christ, Kristina (the solo picture above) found out she was unable to go. We were all devestated by this news. She has the gift of music and she is a real live teacher! I think we all had a little panic set in when we heard the news. I, for one, was looking forward to collaborating our teaching and learning from her. She was the one team member I knew well, we have done life together, BUT GOD had other plans and as you know…If God allows it, so be it, lets do it!
I’ve been a part of teams before, sports teams, work teams, study teams, community group teams, camp staff teams but never a mission team. IT IS DIFFERENT. We did some prep together and then we went away to a foriegn land for 2 weeks. Typically, the teams I’ve been on have been longer in duration. Plenty of time for relationships to be built, trust to be established and comradery to be had! I actually went into this mission thinking it would be a blip in time, sure I’d make friends and have some good conversation but it probably wouldn’t look or feel the same of other teams. I actually felt, in some ways, that I was going solo and my introverted side would just soak up the alone time. Ya I know I was going to a camp, there were going to be people, I was not going to be alone but because my team was made up of acquaintances and it was such a short trip, I prepared myself to be okay navigating things on my own.
Well, my mind was blown by this team. They are my people now. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live but Christ lives in me” Galatians 2:20. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born in the manger, died on the cross and rose from the dead. His Spirit is now in the soul of every Christian believer and because of that we are all “In Christ”. It was amazing to see this “In Christ” work itself out amongst us!
The first leg of the trip I sat next to Rachel. She’s been around a while, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation. Well, she surprised me right away and chatted my ear off the whole way! What a sweet young woman. She is full of energy….undying energy! She never stopped a moment on our trip, she gave everything she had to the young Slovene’s and left them in tears as part of her heart was left behind. She feels called to missions and I tell you what World, she’s coming for you!
How did the “In Christ” part of our team support me? I have arthritis in my low back and it flared up after the long plane ride and the sitting in unconventional seats during orientation for two days. When I realized I didn’t have any ibuprofen (added that to my list next time I travel, duh?!). I went on the search and Curt came through. He handed me his WHOLE bottle. Then, Dave offered me his TENS unit and for that I will be forever grateful (I ordered one right away and it was delivered to my home the day I returned). After a couple days I was back (no pun intended) on track. The Body of Christ at work.
How many American’s does it take to make Cotton Candy? One night at camp we were charged with making cotton candy. So funny….cotton candy in the hills of Slovenia, something we never thought we’d be doing. We laughed hard! It wasn’t pretty but I guess the kids loved it, HAHA!
Oh, The gal on the left is the missionary we support in Slovenia through Josiah Venture. She and her husband lived in bend until about 3 1/2 years ago, we’ve done bible study together and now they have a cozy little flat in Ljubljana. It was a pleasure to serve with her.
This blog is now becoming my diary, so welcome to my memories….
So, Kristina, our teacher didn’t make the trip. But Christine, my camp spouse, saved the day! She was my co-teacher in class, the second half of my brain, my sunglass getter, water reminder, probiotic and zinc vendor and overall best pal! God really delivered with her! It didn’t take long before we realized that we had missed out on friendship in Bend and really should make plans when we get back. But our shenanigans and plans started a little early.
One of our sweet students family has a 5 star restaurant, Linhart Hotel and Bistro, in Radovljica, the little town where we picked up the kids and returned them after camp. HMMMM…..
Chris is a foodie through and through. I don’t mind a good glass of wine. So once camp ended and the kids were on their way home with their parents we asked to slip away to get an appetizer at Ema’s family restaurant. They gave us 45 minutes, so we fast walked into town, enduring all the stares because we were dressed the same in our bright camp shirts and with our faces all aglow, asked for a seat at the restaurant. The hostess looked at us a little sideways but offered us a table inside. It was BEAUTIFUL.
Our plan was to have a small glass of wine and an appetizer. Turns out they do 5, 7, 9 course meals. We didn’t have time for that so they offered to bring us dessert and we promissed to sceem our way back for a meal.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor” Ecclesiastes 4:9
It takes the Body of Christ to serve the Kingdom. I had no idea what these people would mean to me after all was said and done. I woke up the morning after coming home, praying for them, thinking about them, messaging them and missing them! We shared something life changing together. We saw sides of each other we probably would never see at church (Elder Curt!) and we became family.
*not shown here: the Slovene leaders….more to come on that!
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