New Plans and an Update

With everything that has been going on, it seems ’bout time we posted an update.

First, we have some new plans. Beginning July 24, we will be driving the old Toyota cross country to Thunder Bay. This will give us an opportunity to spend some time with my parents before we leave, as well as a chance to speak to more people about our plans and how they (or you, depending on who is reading this) can be a part of our support team. We hope to speak at a few churches along the way, so if you live anywhere along this route and would be open to us dropping in, please let us know at bradandjulia@gmail.com.

But of course we haven’t been idle while here in Port Alberni.

Just this last Friday we had the opportunity to take a step forward with an Italian dinner, attended by 90+ people. It seems to have been a really good time for everyone, and an excellent one for us. A large part of the evening was spent sharing our vision for Trieste, what we will be up to, and how to support this ministry. It was extra special for us simply because we had a dedicated time to talk about what we will be doing. It seems that most conversations about Italy happen in small chunks where we can describe part of what we are thinking, but rarely can we give the whole spiel, beginning to end. We’re beginning to appreciate how important this is because the idea of Italy needing missionaries isn’t obvious to many people. Rather than just talking about what we hope to do, we need start with why something needs to be done at all, and come to think of it, we should put this in a blog post soon.

Anyway, we provided the opportunity for people to contribute to the mission at the end of the evening, and although we didn’t get quite as many monthly donors as we had hoped, we had significantly more donated to our moving costs. We are incredibly grateful for everyone who donated (and not just those who donated at the dinner-we are thankful for everyone who is playing a part in making this possible for us).

So where are we now? We have 75-80% of our moving costs already (and way earlier than we could have dreamed!) and 40% of our monthly needs.

Although we have a ways to go, we are pretty happy with how things are going so far, and how it is coming together so quickly. Next we have to get our house sold and find a Saturday with decent weather to sell as much of our stuff as we can.

Thanks for your continued interest and prayers!

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Spring Cleaning

With the obsession of this world to be organized, I am sure all of us have read more than our fare share of magazine articles about de-cluttering. Usually, it starts by describing the mess that your house or closet have become, then they bring in a Martha Stewart type expert to teach us how to make our life more orderly. It all comes down to one thing, which is to get three boxes labeled- KEEP, DONATE, THROW AWAY and start sorting. The results are always gratifying and enlightening. Have you ever felt that your own head is so crowded with thoughts, ideas, plans and fears of every shape and colour that it’s running out room? Then you know that it’s time for de-cluttering!

It’s easy enough to realize but it could be a daunting task, especially for someone like me, who is not very organized and likes to keep many things available! Right now I am in serious need of sorting my head out. It’s overflowing with so much information, that I feel like I need to take some time and get myself physically removed from everybody else in order to clear my head. The only problem is where to get the wisdom to know what to keep, what to toss and what to donate. I just recently had my wisdom teeth removed, so I am enduring a lot of jokes of how I got no wisdom left. I guess it’s a blessing because now I am going to look to the Father to guide me through the process :-)What a relief that is! In this time of transition for our family our heads are swimming with so many schemes of how to organize the fundraising, how to finish all the work on our house and then most profitably sell it, how to spend a lot of quality time with our dear friends and family during our last months in Canada while stay spiritually alert and sensitive to the Spirit of God. Oh yeah, one more thing-be good parents to our kids! It’s no wonder I am starting to think that something has got to go. So…here it goes

1. I am releasing my house to the Lord… It’s going to be listed in whatever condition it is, and  then we are going to trust our generous and loving Father with the outcome.

2. I am going to share the fundraising efforts with our very capable and loving friends, and once again trust God to perform a miracle.

3. And I think I am going to keep the rest!

What do you think Martha Stewart?

Painfully Honest

After we returned from our trip to Italy and Slovenia, we were encouraged to keep this blog current partly to help everyone stay informed as to where we are on our journey, but also to be a resource to others who may be considering or working their way through something similar. In order for this resource to be of any benefit whatsoever, I think it requires a certain authenticity and vulnerability about both the good and the bad. I mention this because not everything is going to be super cheerful, but please don’t take this to mean that we are in some sort of black space. We are simply communicating both the ups and downs along the way. When a downer post appears, I’m sure it will be more than balanced out by a positive one.

Anyway, this post, or at least what follows, is something Julia wrote for our church newsletter, describing some of what is going on in her right now…

…One morning a few days ago while continuing the process of getting ready for my life as an
overseas missionary, I picked up my Bible and began reading from Matthew 10, where Jesus gives
his final instructions to the twelve disciples before he sends them out. The words were very familiar,
I had read them so many times before. Nothing was striking me as I was lazily taking them in along
with my morning coffee, until I got to vs.38, which pierced my heart like a sword. “And anyone who
does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”, said Jesus.

Sometime ago when I said “yes” to this life of ministry, I assumed that I had already done
that, but why then was I feeling such turmoil inside of me, as if Jesus was speaking directly to me?
What other crosses was I supposed to pick up? Wasn’t I done already?

The next few days were spent trying to see from His perspective-not always the easiest thing
to do. When God gives me a vision, or should I say a dream, He always shows me the final
destination where He is taking me. As a diligent student, I immediately visualize the route from point
A to point B and come up with a feasible plan how to breach the distance. Isn’t that what we were
taught starting from elementary school? The faster the better, the winner gets the prize. Alas, if I
learned anything from my own journey with the Father it is that He does not value efficiency as
much we do. He is very fond of detours, and I have been sent on many of them in my life already.
They are often confusing, discouraging and even painful. I always get very upset and I always learn
something valuable in the end.

Phillip Yancey wrote a brilliant book called “Where is God When It Hurts?” He studied the
subject in detail, and gave a very eloquent answer. I in turn, studied his findings and found them
impressive. However, they didn’t speak to me except on an intellectual level until I was literally in
pain. I couldn’t understand what it was really all about until I faced my own pain and discovered
Jesus at work for myself.

Pain is often associated with something very negative like a disease or a natural disaster of
sorts. Very rarely do we think that pain can come from anything constructive. In this world our goal is
to eliminate pain, make it more like heaven. And why wouldn’t we want to achieve this? After all,
Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, so naturally we try to avoid pain and
discomfort.

A very different thought occurred to me four years ago while I was at the hospital waiting for
the arrival of Vika. There I was, experiencing the most intense pain of my adult life to the point
where my mind was playing tricks on me trying to convince me that I was dying…but it wasn’t the
case, I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t even sick. The pain that caused me to lose my mind was the result of
one of the most natural things in the world-childbirth! This is when I realized that God is not afraid of
pain. He doesn’t always shield us from it like we do with our own kids. He is a much wiser parent. In
fact, He often uses it to bring something absolutely wonderful and worth suffering for into the world.

You might start wondering at this point why I am talking about pain and carrying my cross so
much? After all, I am moving to Italy, one of the most beautiful countries in the world with arguably,
the best food in the world. Yes, it is my destination with so many possibilities and opportunities,
which makes my heart swell with anticipation and excitement, but the road to get there has been a
bit rough and bumpy.

We have been overwhelmed with busyness and anxiety trying to get our house on the
market, raising support, living our everyday life and so on. Then some devastating news about the
possible value of our house in today’s market scared us straight and brought us back to where we
started –the heart of the Father. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Is it possible that although Jesus is calling us to take up our crosses, He is also promising to
provide a way for us to carry them without feeling all bandaged and bruised? Or that pain is just a
part of life and we need to know how to embrace it and learn from it? Or both? Truth be told, I don’t
have all the answers. One thing I do know – I have learned my most valuable and memorable
lessons in the midst of pain and confusion.

About a year ago Janice Seney said to me that God is not so concerned with what I do, but
rather with who I am. A difficult word to process…especially when I am so focused on the
destination that I am more than willing to skip the stage “in-between”. Jesus is, on the contrary,
savoring the journey and teaching me along the way, testing my character, lovingly adding the
finishing touches- He can’t help it, he is an artist. He is creating in me something beautiful or rather,
uncovering the original beauty he had put in me.

A belated update

It’s been way to long since the last entry to this blog-the product of a crazy spell where we had a lot happening quickly, without much of an opportunity to sit back and reflect on what it all means.

A big part of this crazy spell has been spent working on our house in an attempt to get it ready for sale. Although there has been a lot of work to do to get it in a sellable condition, we are fortunate to have had some help from those who are pretty good at this sort of thing. Now that we are ready to sell, the house is finally looking like a place we would like to live in, but I guess that’s how it works. At this moment, we are waiting very anxiously for a call from a realtor with the results of an assessment performed yesterday.

The next project is an Italian dinner we are hosting to give us a forum to describe what we are hoping to do, and how we are hoping to do it (on Friday, May 28th at Cherry Creek Hall, if you are interested in coming out-just let us know!). I say we are hosting it, but that’s only partly true. In actuality, the heavy lifting in preparing for the dinner is being done by some of the many people who are really coming through for us at this time. The challenge before us is to get the word out to as many people as we can. It would be amazing to be able to pack the place out.

Here’s the invitation we have been sending out: May 28th Dinner Invitation.

And of course fund-raising is an ongoing challenge. We are beginning to get some pledges for support coming in, which is incredibly gratifying. After we sent the first batch of letters out, there was a bit of a delay in getting any replies, which we have to expect but don’t have to enjoy. Finally, at my breaking point, I began the day with a prayer for a response, feeling like if we didn’t hear something soon I wouldn’t be able to handle the tension. And of course, in the mail that morning, was the first response. In the bigger picture of what we need to survive in Italy it may not have been much, but I felt like it was more than just money-it was a little bit of affirmation from Jesus that he would take care of things.

We are working to get more of these letters out, so there is a pretty good chance that if you are reading this blog one will be in your mailbox or email inbox soon. But since it is a bit of a process to send them out, I will also post it here, and welcome you to check it out. And of course, if you do choose to support us, we very, very much appreciate it!

Brad and Julia’s Letter