We can hardly believe that our family has been in Croatia for six months already! In that time we have had some wonderful blessings and also some difficult challenges but God has sustained us through it all. Here is a brief recap by month:
- We arrived in December 2014 right before Christmas. It was a Christmas to remember with a tiny little string of Christmas lights that resembled a tree, hotdogs for our Christmas meal, and little gifts for each of our kids.
- Apartment shopping between Christmas and New Year's was definitely a challenge but we found something to live in for a few months.
- We purchased a car. I wrote about this entire process in a separate post, and it boy was it a lengthy process.
- Kids started school in a foreign language. I can't say enough about these kids they are incredible.
- Applied for residency. A process that took months to get done but we started it right away.
- We began language classes. Not for the faint of heart as they like to call on you at any moment.
- More apartment shopping because the first one we could only stay for a short time. God provided an incredible place for us.
- Visited a number of churches and met with pastors. We dedicated ourselves to being students of the culture and status of the church in Split. An interesting piece of information that has been ringing in my ears is that prior to 1992 there was no evangelical church in Split, Croatia for hundreds of years. My jaw dropped when one of the pastors told me this.
- Had our first visitor arrive. Amber's mom, Theresa, came and was a huge help to us in these early times.
- She was especially helpful since we had kids get sick all month long. It was rough.
- Amber got to be part of a women's conference specifically targeted to those who are pioneering new areas. She was encouraged and built some great friendships.
- Amber and I had the honor of attending an international youth worker conference in Israel. We studied the life of Christ and how he made disciples. It was a great launching point for us as we hope to see a disciple making movement amongst the youth of Croatia.
- We developed a plan and strategy for building a team and initiating ministry in Croatia.
- Our whole family attended Josiah Venture's spring conference. The spring conference is a time for all the JV missionaries to come together and be encouraged. Together from 14 different countries over Central & Eastern Europe we learned about family's on mission. Bottom line: a healthy family is one of the most effective tools for the gospel.
- Had a young couple visit from the States that is potentially interested in joining the work here in Croatia. It gave us a great opportunity to think through what we are looking for in teammates and what it would look like to have people on our team.
- Shortly after they left we had our future teammates Mladen & Judita join us for a time. They will be joining us in September and we took some time to pray and dream of what God will do in Split, Croatia.
- We had the opportunity to be part of a combined youth event that was intended to encourage the young believers in the church.
- God keeps bringing more individuals to us that are interested in joining our team in Croatia. It has been an amazing thing to see how God is drawing laborers to the Harvest. He is at work!
- I had the chance to do some training with young Croatians who are looking to lead a youth ministry in their church.
- We got our residency approved! We can live and work here in Croatia.
- Our kids finished school and get to move on to the next grades. This is a really big deal because usually they keep the kids back if they aren't fluent yet but the school has been great and is willing to work with them more this fall.
- Also our kids have found an incredible community of friends on our new street. They play until the sun goes down and they have great opportunities to be an example of Christ's love.
- Amber has been diving more into language this summer with a one on one tutor and is pretty much a pro at navigating the grocery store and fresh markets. I am so proud of her!
- My parents visited and it was a blast because the kids loved every minute of it. I was able to spend Father's Day with my dad for the first time in over a decade which was great. Our parents have been supportive throughout this journey and we are so thankful.
- We just said goodbye to the Bieber's who came and visited. They have been huge advocates for us and so supportive of us being here. It was a special time because we got to a part of their vow renewal ceremony as they celebrated 25 years of marriage.
We are excited about the months ahead because we will be making a decision about what church we will be partnering with in the next few weeks. This is a big deal since that will be where our ministry will be based out of and where we hope to see everything begin to grow out of. For those of you who aren't aware, our ministry is about making the church successful at reaching and discipling young people. That's why we have taken our time to find the right partner and why we are excited because it will allow us to begin ministry this fall.
We have Mladen & Judita joining us in September as our first teammates. We are thrilled to have them be a part of what God is going to do here and they will be an immediate help to us as they are nationals who can speak the language and have an understanding of the culture. They still need to raise around $800/month by September so please be praying for them as raising funds in Eastern Europe is a challenge. If you feel led to support them you can do so by clicking here.
As I mentioned earlier we have a great open door in our neighborhood with an amazing group of kids that play every night. Amber and I have had the chance to meet the parents of these young ones and I can't help but think that this is the youth group in a couple years. Please pray for these families and for our kids to bold with their faith.
Thank you for partnering with us and praying for us. We could not do this without you.