I write from Batumi, Georgia located just a few miles from the border of Turkey on the Black Sea. Its been a while since we have updated and as you know, we are not in Israel. But this is where we will spend the last 3 weeks of our outreach, just a little over 1 week left now. You may wonder why we are not in Israel if we believed God told us to go there. It is a question our team has wrestled with, but we have some understanding. God's purpose is always bigger than ours, His perfect plan, invisible to us, is always for our good. I have seen that when God speaks, we most obey- fully, faithfully, trusting Him, without argue, doing our best to walk in His will. We learn from mistakes and see more of God's grace. He does not punish. When we found out that the girls visas were not approved in our time frame, the door opened for us in Batumi. It was a great refreshment to be in a new location, especially for Evan and I to be on the sea! There is a beautiful park with walkways along the beach, which is a rock beach! Its so interesting, so many rocks all different colors, shapes, sizes, but all so smooth from the water. Even glass from broken bottles is so smooth. We go there usually everyday to meet new people. We have been able to tell some people about Jesus and start to build relationships with them. We will meet with quite a few people again before we leave so please pray that their hearts would be ready to receive the truth and life through Jesus that we desire to share with them.
We are staying in an apartment office for a student ministry. (No, not ideal living condition but we're not on the floor and we have water!)We are working with their small groups that meet here. The students and leaders desperately need encouragement and Biblical teaching. We have seen here that the evangelical church is very divided, something this group is working to overcome. And the Orthodox traditions are so strong in this country that everyone identifies as a Christian and goes to church. Many are not interested in talking about faith because they believe they know it all. But when you ask them about prayer, Jesus, the Bible, they don't have a clue! It is so interesting to ask to pray for someone, but they believe you can only pray a certain way in the church. They believe books of their saints to be on the same level as God's Word, which most never read anyway. The city is about 40% Muslim being so near Turkey. There is a mosque and also a synagogue.
Please pray for the people we speak with and for open doors, and also for our team. Most days it seems our team is drowning in discouragement, doubt, and tiredness. Evan and I our determined to keep moving forward and finish well, but it is not easy. We need supernatural strength, joy, and energy everyday. This outreach has been very difficult spiritually, but I can say God has taught us so many unexpected valuable lessons. This has not been what we expected, but we have learned a lot about love, humility, and endurance.
On a positive note Evan and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary Monday! We had a night at the Sheraton and we were so very thankful! We could take as many showers as we wanted without thinking the water might run out :) We had cold water to drink from a mini fridge. A comfy big bed and privacy. Internet. Its so crazy that in America the thought about using water never crosses our mind, but most people often run out or have maybe 1 bucket a day, maybe none! Tuesday is Evan's birthday so it will be another good day. Oh yeah, Evan also got to be a best man in a Georgian/Brazilian wedding in Tbilisi! Traditional Georgian costume and all :) We were also blessed with 2 YWAM visitors from the States, Dan & Mark, such an encouragement!
Thank you again for your prayers and support! Some of the team did not have money to cover the costs of school and outreach, and none have support coming in. Because God has provided through you we are able to cover the costs for our last 3 weeks of outreach for the team. We spend about $7 a day to feed 5 of us 3 meals. You guys have such a huge part in this mission! We honestly could not do it without your obedience and faithfulness. We love you all! We will be in Charleston for July. Please let us know if you want to meet up and we would love to share about our experience with any small groups if you would have us. We want to get a calendar going :)
Check out our friends Matt & Tricia's blog www.matthewandtricia.com They are raising money to adopt a baby and the latest fundraiser is raffling an ipad 2! Check out how you can enter to win and support this loving family :)