Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Story. God’s Story: Part 9

Every Tuesday, I’ve been sharing a new part of Our Story with my regular readers and Jen’s amazing SDG Sisterhood.  Our Calling Story as we prepare to move long-term {back} to Hungary, Central/Eastern Europe.  I would love for you to join us if you haven’t already.  No need to catch up! Just JUMP RIGHT IN!

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  ~ Romans 8 : 24 (ESV)


When I left you last in our story, we were finishing up that life-changing year that began the ministry of presence--ours and more importantly His, in the hands-on work in Hungary.

So far, I’ve shared the journey {briefly} of before my beloved and I met.  How He was aligning our hearts with His and healing us and stirring within us a passion to reach this generation…young people outside of the church without Gospel presence in their lives.

We lived this first {together} through encouraging believers in our local high school and youth group and as I sought to love and teach, in that same high school, the ones given to me.  Then, as our lives became one we got laid off jobs and found new ones to teach about faithfulness in the little things and we experienced delayed elements of grief from my mother’s homegoing.

We had the seed planted for ministry to public high schools and a generation very much outside of the Church in Hungary.  And after close to two years of further living and carrying this in our hearts He took us, miraculously and graciously to this very soil for the school year and summer of 2005-06. (Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 in Hungary) When it was time to come home, we KNEW we wanted to come back to minister long-term, but we also wanted a family.

Rather than getting pregnant and having our first child overseas during a second STINT year {a thought I definitely had}, it was recommended by those we deeply trusted {our leaders Dan and Kelly} that we return to the U.S. join staff, raise support, train for a minimum of two years in a location in the U.S., hopefully begin our family and continue to give the Lord this desire to return and see what He did with it.

Talk about testing a call.  I want everything right away and despite the wisdom He and the sages of my life have sought to ingrain in me, I still GET WAY AHEAD OF GOD.  This all seemed so far away and as we began to walk this journey I just described, it became clear that we could only handle it one step at a time.  This is the lesson of {my} life, but isn’t it of all of ours?  We think we know what’s coming.  We plan and as those self-motivated, pull-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps American people we are, we strive towards THE GOAL. But, He is looking at our hearts and big or small, overseas or domestic, secular or church, He is calling us to walk with Him day by day and so glorify Him in the journey.

Well, this is what the 4.5 years have looked like, between when we returned from that first year in Hungary and now walking decidedly ahead in a long-term call back to this place; fully transitioning to {prayerfully} see that happen in a mere six months.  This will probably take two to three, to who-knows-with-me, more parts to share.Sarcastic smileRolling on the floor laughing

Picture 428

{I had to put this picture in so you could experience the craziness that is me…no digital altering and this was my facebook profile picture when I first joined…generated quite the buzz.

My awesome friend Brenda’s wedding shortly after we got back…which is the only way this fits in this story.Rolling on the floor laughing}


So, we return at the end of July 2006 and reunite for a family vacation at Camp-of-the-Woods in upstate New York.  If you have spent any time in another culture then you know that re-entry and the ensuing culture shock is almost always harder than the initial transition from this culture to the other.

We tell our students on Projects and are told ourselves, as well, that we need to be prepared with a five minute never-do-it-justice-but-is-what-it-is synopsis of our time for most of the people we will talk with and then we pray for those who will really want to listen and hear the story.  {those of you faithfully reading this story are that priceless blessing to me.}  We are grieving the loss of deep relationships and life together and struggle with those we love, our family, who has lived their lives…moving on, and as much as they love us, it is really hard for them--well, impossible really—to jump into our story as if they were actually with us.

So, after this vacation and the sweet yet difficult transition, we moved in with my husband’s parents RIGHT AFTER his older brother, wife and newborn son had moved out.  It was hard for all of us—they have had very short ‘empty nest’ times (even now) although their marriage is one that relishes that and their sons are in their thirtiesConfused smile.  We had been trying to get pregnant—something that didn’t happen until five months after we came home {almost a year of trying, BUT I know very short compared to many}.

My husband was able to get an interim job at the bank where he had worked before we left and I worked part-time as the administrative assistant at our church.  We knew two things.  We wanted to start a family and we wanted to join full-time Staff with Campus Crusade’s student ministry.  The application process was only a little additional work to our STINT application.

We were deciding between college ministry and high school ministry. Dan had suggested our considering college ministry as there are many more options for a really good training environment than with Student Venture.  However, the Student Venture ministry asked us to come to OrlandoSmile for a Vision Trip.  It was my first time in this beautiful place I now call ‘home’. {never went there as a child…never had a vacation until I was a teenager? farming—it’s 24/7, 365 days a year} Well, they won us over and we decided to continue our application for staff through Student Venture.  Before we left that trip, they told us we had been accepted!Open-mouthed smile

3-22-07 062On December 20th, 2006, the fourth anniversary of when my beloved proposed, I found out I was pregnant! All of my sisters found that out BEFORE my hubby, oops…I waited until I picked him up from work and we had a special date at Longwood Gardens.  Then, we held it all five days until Christmas from his family {not easy—we were living with them} and I told them through an epilogue to a digital scrapbook I had made for his parents.

A week later, I had just started to feel sickSick smileand we made our first of {now} many trips from Pennsylvanian to Florida.  We stayed at the well-known within Crusade, El Caribe, {pronounced El Car-eeb, not the Spanish pronunciation as I have been told it just doesn’t fit} at Daytona Beach--which almost immediately took on a terrible smell that would cause me to run down the hall coming back from class directly into our suite and its bathroom to throw up {note: this is because of that insane sense of smell that comes with pregnancy…others said they didn’t notice a smell…you can see below, it’s beautiful!}.  I can still smell that place!

NST group 4final

{we’re towards the back…I’ll be flabbergasted if you can find us!}

Aside from being quite pregnancy sick, we absolutely loved our training time.  It is six full-time weeks.  The first two are spent taking classes! Yeah! This was so exciting!  I was able to T.A. for the theology class that I had been exempted from because of my time at seminary.  It was good to be busy.  We also had a Bible Study Methods class that was just so much fun too!  It was fun to compare our grades for this class—never losing my competitive streak, I definitely wanted to get the higher score.  Oh my, seeing as my heart was in exactly the right place, however, it didn’t bug me in the least when he scored higherConfused smile.

We also heard from many of the leaders in all of Campus Crusade’s ministry and went through excellent {I think, the best there is} training in, what others call ‘support raising’ but we call Ministry Partner Development (MPD).  We had our expectations adjusted about EVERYTHING, especially when we received our monthly goal.  We were at 3% towards it through those that remained monthly partners from our STINT time.  But, we were inspired and truly came to see that when we invite others to ‘partner’ with us in the ministry we are called to, we are providing a necessary challenge in the lives of believers and the Church.  God calls RAW_0332everyone to be a part of what He is doing around the world—some going, some sending—ALL playing a part.

So many special friendships happen here—and it is known as your ‘training class’.  We still feel close to many of our friends from there. 

Now, back home.  I am starting to feel a little better as I am 12 weeks along.  I went back to work at our church which was enough to pay the few bills we had while living with my husband’s parents.  And my husband bore the burden of a journey that would test our faith and take us much, much deeper into dependence upon our faithful God.

From the time we began until we finished, our support-raising process took fifteen months. {I realize now, this is relatively short as we were raising for a whole family.  Several of the families that trained with us, didn’t make it to their goal and subsequently left staff.}  We faced times of deep discouragement and feeling like we couldn’t take another step and we flew high on miracles that only He can do.  My husband, who I already loved and respected in so many ways, became my hero.  He faced this great challenge with perseverance and a determination to step out in faith, face many rejections, and all the while be wrapped in the Great Love of God for him {us} as we believed He had called us and He is faithful.

Campus Crusade has no central funding as it is an inter-denominational para-church ministry.  We are often asked why we aren’t doing this ‘through a church’.  Well, we are supported by the Church.   For some in our ministry, they do receive a large amount of support through a home ‘sending’ church.  We have been a part of many churches and the closest we have to a ‘home’ church is small.  We are generously supported by many within the church and loved and prayed for diligently, but our ‘support team’ is made up of many different churches and individuals that we didn’t even know when we began the process! (this is quite common…the head of MPD development that trained us came to Christ from Judaism and he raised support, working from the basement of his parent’s house…they didn’t want any part of this. so pretty much ALL of his supporters were people he didn’t know previously)

Having said all of this, we wouldn’t change or wish for ‘easy’ as far as funding for the ministry goes. We have grown to see that this is truly a ‘refiner’s fire’ that prepares us for the often cutting edge, initiative ministry that we fully immerse in when we report to our assignment.  It might be hard to understand, but it really is a microcosm of our lives as Christ-followers.  The things that challenge our faith are preparing us for the greater blessing of more of Him and the life we have in Him; ultimately Heaven and LIFE FOREVER FACE-TO-FACE.Party smile

Well, I will close this portion with the glorious arrival of our firstborn, a son, right in the middle of this MPD faith journey.  He was named for his father and grandfather and was {in my unbiased opinion} the most beautiful baby ever born. 

BabyJJ 016BabyJJ 018

OH HAPPY DAY!!!!!!!!!!                  My twin…she’s pregnant (and sick) here with her twins!

BabyJJ 035BabyJJ 041BabyJJ 060

Stay tuned next week for our first return to Hungary since we left STINT before we moved to Florida.  Our first year of ministry in Florida and probably more sickness and our second child.


and joining Laura’s really fun meme: Playdates with God



1 comment:

  1. Abby, I am just now starting to catch up with your posts! Had to take a break, of sorts, for our trip to TX. I loved reading this! And also I loved your positive attitude and comments about MPD. And I pray that things are going well for you and Jared now, as you are focusing on this aspect of ministry again, in preparation for moving back overseas!


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