Back home a few days ago from my trip. Thank you to those who prayed. Although I was gone for close to a month, I would have to say that I could imagined that things could have gone better.
First of all, I mentioned last time that I was going to present a proposal from our team in Georgia to PBT's Board of Directors for them to become Eurasia Area's first Branch. Approved! One of the leaders from that team was there as well, and after I discussed the proposal itself, he took a couple minutes to explain the growth they expected by becoming a Branch and the other languages they could serve in the region. The approval was a big step for them after all their early struggles to remain a team, and gives them even more direction and purpose. It was a really emotional moment, for sure. Praising the Lord for His faithfulness!
Earlier in my two weeks in Dallas, we had the new Director of our new "Deaf Group" attend our annual Directors' Forum for the first time. Mark Lowenstein is a deaf pastor from Arizona, and joined PBT several months ago in order to mobilize the American deaf Church to serve the deaf Bibleless around the world. He gave a moving talk about the needs of the deaf at our recruitment event as well. Exciting stuff! We have at least four different opportunities in Eurasia, including Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, and Azeri sign languages, and I had the chance to speak with Mark during our meetings about possible future collaboration. Looking forward to seeing how these potential ministries might develop in the next couple years.
Lots of other meetings in Dallas as well, but worthy of note was my time with a number of recruits and inquirers who are or could be headed to our fields. One couple and a single girl in particular are already committed to serving in Eurasia and will be in Moscow this fall and next spring, respectively, with plans to serve in the Russia side of the Caucasus region, a very hard-access area. Lots of continuing talks with them about arriving on the field. Planning to see the family on the field when I'm in Moscow this November for our annual Partnership meetings. In addition, I spoke with several others who expressed a real interest in serving with us, more both in number and in sincerity than we've had in the past, especially in terms of joining with the team in Georgia. Praying that the Lord would continue to increase our number so we can serve that many more.
Backing up a bit, the other major component of my trip was meeting at the end of May with our Roma team in western Ukraine. As beautiful as I'd always heard, we drove four hours SW from Lviv after I flew in, past Uzhgorod (mentioned last month) and just into the Carpathian mountains to a small town called Perechin where workers from all four dialects gathered for further training and work together on the book of Luke. This was my first time at one of their quarterly meetings, and though I knew from my Skype calls with the team leaders that things were going well, I was pleasantly surprised to see for myself how well they are really going. It was a delight to see them comparing notes on how their dialect expressed certain Biblical terms or concepts, and to see light bulbs go on as they learn to better use the translation program that they struggled with so much last year when it was introduced to them. Lots of gypsy song and meals together as well. We also visited and preached at several small gypsy Churches in the evenings and on Sunday while we were there. An amazing time to see with gratitude the work God is doing in our project for the Roma people. Thank you for praying!
One final note for this month. Forging ahead, please pray for our family's upcoming trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. We'll be gone July 18-28, and I'll be joined by Shelby, Keegan, and Korah as they are planning to do a program for our Siberia workers' kids while their parents enjoy a time of fellowship, encouragement, and meetings. Unlike the Georgia team, which has been together since they formed, our Siberia workers have hit the field piecemeal, arriving at different times and heading to different cities. There are even a couple who've never met before face-to-face! With our growth in numbers and the isolation that each family faces, we felt it was important to get them together to share stories, talk strategy, and to worship and hear from God's Word as a group, a kind of team-building. Super excited to be joined by Greg and Traci Steere as well, who've been serving our families as Caregivers for over a year from the States. They've been working to get to see our people on the field in each of their contexts as well, so this will be a great opportunity for them to meet everyone face-to-face. Please pray that this will be the time of refreshment and encouragement that we mean it to be, that all the logistics and planning will come together so as not to be a distraction from the purpose of our meeting, and for Keegan and Korah as they re-enter Russia for the first time in 5 1/2 years. Likely to be an emotional time for them, and possibly some culture shock as they reengage somewhat the country where they spent their early childhood.
Enough for now. I expect you'll hear from me again after we return from Russia. I hope you have a blessed month. We sure are enjoying Michigan's mild and beautiful summer. :-)
Thank you for your prayers.
PS - a continued prayer and request for new financial support relationships. Please let us know if you are interested in supporting us monthly, if you know or are a part of a small group or Sunday school class that might be interested in supporting us together, or if you know people or Churches we should contact individually. Thanks!
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