12.14.2007

Moving right along...

We made it through French class! Thank goodness we were allowed to audit, though. French is tough! What made it harder was that we didn’t have a lot of time to devote to studying. It was a successful semester. The fact that we know ANY French at all is a huge jump from where we were a few months ago.

Good news on the support: we’re at 11% of our monthly support pledges and about 25% for our outgoing expenses! God has really been gracious this past week. As a slight discouragement, though, our monthly support requirements went up to $5,000/month. Not only is cost of living going up in Europe, but the dollar is pretty weak against the euro, making things a little more costly.

This support raising has been a neat time for us. It’s made us realize that we are in a position of complete dependence upon the Lord and other people to make this work. It’s tough, but a great place to be. PLEASE be praying for us in this time.

On another note, we’re excited about an upcoming opportunity – we’ll get to visit our team in Belgium for a few days in March. What makes it cooler is that Matt, our missions pastor here at WBC, will be able to meet us there and see our future team and ministry. From there, we’ll be traveling on to Poland and Hungary to visit some of WBC’s missionaries for a few days and video their ministry. It’ll be a great opportunity to bring back their stories to share with the WBC body. It’s great, too, that Megan and I get to do this together. And to add to that, Neil, my brother, will be joining us. The three of us have a great time together, and it’ll be a great opportunity for him to see missions and ministry in a variety of cultures. In addition to all that, he’s great with a video camera, so it’ll be great to have him along to help shoot.

A lot going on right now. Thanks for the prayers, support, and encouragement.

11.22.2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I realize it’ been a LONG time since we’ve written. There hasn’t been a lot to report recently. We sent out a few letters here in Austin and have had a great response. When we got our first response card returned, it hit me that there is NO WAY we could do what we’re going to do without the support of our friends and family. It’s really cool that it’s a collaborative, group effort like this. We have no option but to be dependent upon the Lord and others.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share something I read recently. The paragraph below is from City of God by Augustine. Of everything we have to be thankful for, a list that could go on and on and on, this takes the cake:

“We can never sufficiently thank Him for the gifts of nature: that we exist and are alive, that we can enjoy the sight of earth and sky, that we have a reasoning mind by which we can seek Him who has made all these things. Yet, for the greater gifts of grace there are not hearts enough or tongues enough in all the world even to try to thank Him. For, when we were burdened and broken by our sins, and our minds were turned from His light and blinded by the love of the darkness of iniquity, He did not leave us to ourselves, but sent to us His Word, who is His only Son, so that, by His birth and passion in the flesh He assumed for our salvation, we might learn how highly God esteemed our human nature, and that we might be cleansed from all our sins by His unique Sacrifice and, by His Spirit, have Love poured into our hearts, so that, with all our warring over, we might come to everlasting rest in the supreme blessedness of gazing on His face.”

Wow.

Have a thankful day.

9.10.2007

le fran├žais et plus (French, and more)

We’re now embarking on our third week of French class at Austin Community College. It’s pretty tough, but it’s been good. It seems like the pronunciation is going to be the most difficult hill to climb. We’re both so used to Spanish where everything is phonetic – not so in French. It’s quite amazing how the French language can take somewhere around 25 letters and reduce it to one syllable. OK, maybe that’s a little extreme, but not too far off. We’re auditing a night class twice a week. It’s great because we can learn and participate in as much as we want, but come test time, there’s no pressure! Talk about relief! It’s actually a pretty good way to take a language class – our primary goal is learning the language, not making a grade. It’s been fun so far. We have to be realistic with our expectations and not be discouraged if we don’t come out of the class with perfect French-speaking abilities (which we wont, we’re sure). The goal is to get oriented with French, learn some basic vocabulary, and get a good understanding of the pronunciation. We’ve already seen this to be the case in just the first few weeks, so it should be a good semester.

In other news, we’re getting close to sending out our first prayer/news letter, which will get the ball rolling on support raising. We met with Matt, the missions pastor here at WBC, a few weeks ago to confirm that WBC stands behind what we’ll be doing. We left the meeting feeling really encouraged. Matt agreed to write a letter endorsing us and saying that Westlake Bible is excited to send us out for these few years to serve with United World Mission. It’s great to see churches and mission organizations truly seeking a partnership in these kind of situations. After all, the goal of local churches and mission organizations are (or at least should be) one in the same – to effectively use the resources God has given them to bring more souls into a saving, worshipping relationship with Him. John Piper begins his book Let the Nations Be Glad with this simple yet profound statement: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Throughout scripture God calls for unity among believers. Its encouraging to see churches and organizations across the world work take this mandate seriously and work toward one common goal of glorifying God by drawing worshipers to him from all corners of the globe.

For those who wish to pray, please pray 1) that our French class would be profitable and help build a foundation for learning the language in the future, and 2) that we would operate with diligence in the support raising stage and trust the Lord to provide what we need when we need it.

Thanks!

8.07.2007

Not-So-Critical Update


We figured it's about time to answer the question that's been on everyone's mind: "What would Clay and Megan look like as Simpsons characters?” Well, the day has come. Here is a picture of what we would look like if we were ever able to take that vacation to Springfield we’ve been talking about for so long. Thanks to simpsonizeme.com, you too can see what you would look like if you appeared on an episode of The Simpsons. Check it out. It’s fun.

7.17.2007

Decided

Well, it’s decided: Belgium it is!

We’re excited to nail down one more specific. When we’re not visiting some of UWM’s other teams, we’ll be working along side their team in Belgium. It seems like it’ll be a great fit on a lot of levels. We were able to do a conference call with Daniel, the team leader for the group in Huy (pronounced "wee"), and we’ve heard nothing but great things about him and his team. There will also be opportunities for Megan to use her Spanish skills. Who knew we’d go to Belgium and use Spanish? God is so good – to the point where it’s funny sometimes.

In other news, we’re writing this from the Dominican Republic. We’re on the family trip with WBC here in the DR working with MAKARiOS, an organization that promotes physical and spiritual growth through education and economic relief. We’ve been doing VBS for a few days in local villages and had to opportunity to bring physical aid as well as a clear presentation of the Gospel. It’s quite different than any place we’ve been before. Home life for these kids is pretty sad. When we drive up, the first thing they want is to be picked up. After 5 busy days, we’re going to the beach tomorrow. The beach is supposed to be pretty nice. Should be a good day to unwind and reflect on the week.

Sometimes it really is a small world. One of the MAKARiOS interns is best friends with one of the girls who’s about to join the Belgium team. Very cool. We also found out yesterday that one of the WBC families on this trip used to be in a small group at a church with a family that has been sent out with UWM. Before this couple went to India, they had a video made for their sending church to tell the story of God leading them to this point. That video has mobilized COUNTLESS people into the field with a number of organizations and was one of the key factors that prompted UWM to want to do this sort of project with us. Very small world indeed. (To see the video, go here and choose the top video.)

Thanks for prayers for the location decision. Now the work begins…

6.23.2007

Appointed

Well, it's official. As of June 22, 2007 we're United World Mission Appointees!

We had a great week in Charlotte, NC and really enjoyed getting to know all the UWM staff and other appointees. Including us, there were 6 appointees – all with very different areas of concentration but with a common desire to serve the Lord overseas.

We’re really excited to be joining the UWM team. This week was a great look into the inner-workings of the organization to see what it’s all about. The more we found out, the more we liked it. UWM’s desire is “to see the nations saturated with worshipping, serving, disciple-making churches that reproduce themselves and transform their societies for God’s glory”. We can’t wait to be a part of it!

Some of the details are still a little unclear, but most of the basics have been clarified. We’ll be able to spend the next few years producing high impact video resources to help connect churches in America to what God is doing around the world. In addition to that, we’ll be able to observe ministry in a number of cultural settings to see if one is a potential fit for us in the future.

We’re excited to see what the Lord has in store for the next few years. We’ll finish up at Westlake Bible Church some time during the summer of 2008, go to training at the Center for Intercultural Training (CIT) in the fall, spend Christmas in Tomball, then head out early in 2009. As of now, we’re not certain where we’ll be living, but it looks like it will either be Huy, Belgium or Essex, England.

We ask for your prayers as we move forward into a new chapter in our life. Pray that that Lord would give us peace as a lot of uncertainty is thrown our way. Pray that the Lord would provide as we move forward with raising support. Pray that we would put our full trust in the Lord as we move into this new stage of life.

Check back for more info. We’ll keep you posted as things develop!

-Clay and Megan