“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Ministry has a lot of workers doing different things. My team, we’re tilling the ground. We’re not planting seeds. As much as I don’t like the gardening metaphor, it works. Most understand it even if you didn’t grow up around agriculture.
My team and I have officially started our ministry this week, and that’s prayer walking and spiritual mapping of the city. I can already tell it’s going to be hard work, but everything has to start with prayer. Dresden needs prayer, too. Today, Jessica and I were prayer walking, and we came across a huge teacher strike. It was almost like a parade except there were police and the strikers jammed up a tram line. I won’t pretend to know what they were striking for or against or where they were going or what they were hoping to get out of it, but I do know this– where are all those children whom they’re supposed to be teaching? Did anyone think about them? That was a big prayer for today: the schools and children in Dresden. There is so much pressure on the children to choose a career path at such an early age.
I want to thank you again for all your prayers. They are greatly appreciated and greatly needed. As you pray for me, please continue to pray for my team, Jessica, Sarah, and Day. Pray that everything we say and do is for the glory of God and nothing less. Pray that we are humble and quite in spirit. Pray that we are true women of the God– princesses to the King.
The four of us have managed to run into a good bit of discouragement since we left Paris for Dresden. It started the day we left Paris with nearly every team running into something weird like lost train tickets, forgotten reservations, or blocks from Immigration. Travel agents seemed to be saying one thing and the people at the airlines or train stations said something else. Immigration has successfully blocked two of our teams from getting in, and they just received their new assignments.
We got to the airport in Paris (which is the most confusing airport ever built) at about 2 and our flight was scheduled to leave at 3:20. That’s pushing it when you have 4 girls, 3 of which have 2 check bags (I only had one bag). We hustled our way from the parking garage to check in our bags. We were all praying SO hard since we had been forewarned that they were only allowing 1 check bag on the flights. We should’ve been allowed 2 because our flight to Dresden was supposedly a continuation of the first flights leaving the States. When we got up to the desk, the woman said the rule was 1 check bag, but after Terry talked to her for a minute, she said she would go talk to her supervisor. We had been praying all morning for a person of good will to help us at the airport so that we could check in 2 bags. When she came back, she told us that only ONE check bag was allowed, no matter our circumstance. So Terry (coordinator for W. Europe) turned around and said, “So, what are we going to do?” Jessica had the most baggage and therefore the biggest problem. We checked all of our luggage as it was at first and after weighing it all, it would have cost 460 Euros for all the extra luggage! The woman who was helping us with our baggage slowly grew nicer and nicer (thanks to all the prayers and God’s heart-warming power!) and finally said we could have 2 bags if the total weight added up to 24 kg. It was lucky that Sarah and Day were only 14 pounds over each. After scrambling, the three girls left various items from pants and PJ’s to shampoo and face wash in Paris. They put all their stuff in boxes provided by us, and Terry is going to leave the boxes at his house for them to get back from him when we return to Paris. Jessica was sadly around 30 lbs over so she had to leave a LOT behind and still had to pay an extra 120 Euros extra because we ran out of time to unload stuff. The line behind us was getting insanely long. The Devil and his advocates were working there hardest to make it difficult for us. We were pushing for time so we all RAN to get our stuff scanned and get on the plane. I, of course, set off the alarm when I walked through the security scanner thing. So, I got a good old fashioned French pat down. Not pleasant. Canadians are a lot less, uhm, violating.
The most amazing thing to watch was how the girl’s (the girl behind the counter) heart progressively softened toward us. I wonder what she saw in us and if it had any kind of lasting impression. We were calm (ish)– not yelling or anything like that. We were kind and not angry. I think we were at different places, but I believe we all had a kind of peace about it.
Then, when we got here, we found out that some of the conveniences we expected wouldn’t be so convenient. Unfortunately, we let that get the better of us the first few days. We realized that we were uneasy and grumpy about it for no good reason. We didn’t come over here to be catered to. Once we realized our selfishness, things got a lot better. It’s amazing what can happen when you think about yourself and wallow in self pity.
I found this to be quite funny, but I can see where it could be discouraging. We pretty much locked ourselves out of our apartment yesterday. If there is a key in the lock on the inside, you can’t use a key on the outside to lock it or unlock it. So, when I tried to lock the door, I realized that we couldn’t turn the key. Our door can only be opened with a key from the outside. As we were trying to figure out what to do, our landlady came out of her apartment and tried to help us. Thankfully, she spoke enough English to get across what she was trying to say and to understand us. I don’t think if any of us knew even a little German, we could have thought enough to use it. She told us that it would be about 1.5 hours before anyone could even come out to try and get out door open. If that didn’t happen, we’d have to call the locksmith and pay 50€ for it. We went on our merry way to do some prayer walking all the while trying to contact our supervisor. To make this story short(er), our supervisor never really got in touch with our landlady for an update. Our landlady finally contacted us and told us we’d have to call the locksmith. We found out that our supervisor and his wife actually did the same thing we did. (Welcome to the ‘We’ve done that!’ club.) Jessica and I were sitting and talking in McDonalds on Prager Strasse (Prague Street) when we got a call from Day and Sarah telling us they’d gotten in! Sarah pretty much batter rammed the door with her person and got the door open. Even though that sounds unsafe, the door would not have flown open if it were deadlocked. So, we’re cool. Sarah saw that as an answer to a prayer, and she was greatly encourage. 🙂
I know these things seem small, but they can really add up or seem larger if you’re in a place you don’t know very well doing something you’ve never really done before. Besides all of this, we’ve had spotted contact with the other teams about where they’re going since the UK is off limits. We found out they’re denying missionary visas. Please pray for that. I don’t know how to ask better, but it’s quite obvious the enemy is attacking hard.
As I mentioned before, two teams were denied entry into the UK. One team is going to Spain and the other is going to Portugal! Isn’t that so cool? On a more selfish note, all of the teams will get to say goodbye together at debriefing! Originally, the two UK teams would debrief in the UK because they were staying longer than the rest of us.
All of this was to say again, please pray for us. Prayer walking is tough stuff. It’s hard to feel accomplished when you may not see anything or when you feel physically exhausted. We know it’s hard and that it has to be done. We want to make sure we’re seeing what needs to been seen and prayed for.
The purpose of us being here is to glorify God.