Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Reflection on the Season of Advent

“Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”

Earlier this week I traveled to Sofia Bulgaria, which is only a 3.5 hour drive from where we live in Skopje.  There a friend of mine and I were able to visit a refugee camp, refugees were mainly from Syria.  Before our visit I was not aware so many refugees had made it that far into Europe.  The Bulgarian government says that they have registered over 20,000 refugees throughout the country, but experts put that number closer to 2 to 3 times as many.  The refugees at this particular camp are living in an abandoned orphanage.  The Bulgarian government is trying to provide as much aid as they can but it falls far short of the desperate need that these families are facing every day.  They do not have enough food. They lack even the simplest medications.  They only have access to hot meals twice a week.  There are not adequate bathroom facilities.  They are living in some of the most desperate conditions that anyone could live in, and they have been there months, with no end in sight, they have nowhere else to go.  The situation is desperate.  They are captives to the oppression of war. 

During this time of advent we celebrate the coming of Christ.  What affect does the coming of Christ have on humanity?  Jesus came to preach love and peace.  During this time we remember the words that Jesus spoke.  Christ came to set captives free.  The chains of oppression have been broken.  As followers of Christ it is our responsibility to preach love and peace and freedom from oppression. 

What good news do we have to offer?  The world is full of oppression.  Freedom is hard to find at times.  I think too often we forget the needs of people, some of them so prevalent that we cannot help but to notice them, and if we fail to see them we are simply blind to the world around us.  If we neglect the needs of the people then we are becoming the oppressor.  We have a responsibility to speak for those who have been rendered voiceless.  We must protect those who cannot protect themselves.  We must bring the gospel of peace with love.  This is the “gospel” that we should be proclaiming.  Oppression is evil and Christ came to break the bonds of oppression on people.  I continue to be convicted of my call to break those chains, because those who are stuck bondage are my brothers and sisters.  We share in our humanity.  As a follower of Christ it is my responsibility to bring them good news.  For the poor and oppressed that good news comes in the form of food, medicine, clothing, warm shelter; it is the gospel of peace. 

During this Christmas time may we not forget that Jesus came to break the bonds of oppression in love.  May we remember to give love and preach the gospel of peace.  As we encounter the poor, oppressed, and the brokenhearted may we fulfill our responsibility to love people and to preach to them peace.  Peace here and now. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Photo of the Week: Medical Relief Trip

A few weeks ago, Jeff and team of doctors and translators made the trip to a couple of rural mountain villages to provide medical care for the villagers. The clinics lasted longer than they anticipated as the line just kept growing! They saw over 50 families!

This weekend a smaller team traveled to the village to provide follow-up care and return with some supplies the villagers needed. The village will receive it's first snow in a couple of weeks and the village will be cut-off for the winter.

Here are a couple photos from the first trip:

Visiting with the villagers.
Jeff was the translator for the pharmacy!

Thank you for keeping this team in your prayers! We look forward to sharing more about the work in these rural villages!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ministry Opportunity: Childcare Volunteer Needed!

Even Superheros have to walk to dinner sometimes!
Each year our team has a face-to-face meeting somewhere. This year the team meeting was in Albania. You'll remember that Jeff attended the meeting alone because Alicia and Ethan were "banished" to the U.S. awaiting visa paperwork. Next year, our team will have a joint meeting with our colleagues from the Romany team on March 27-31, 2014 in  Palma de Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain.

There are many logistics involved in such a meeting, of course.  But there’s one important question that we, as parents, think of immediately: While the adults meet, what will the kids be doing?  It’s an important question for two reasons. First, the adults will need to give their full attention during the meeting times.  But even more important for us is that this time can be a real ministry to our kids. Seldom do they get to meet and play together, with other kids who can completely understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.

We’re looking for someone to love our children during these days.  It’s an opportunity to minister to these kids and to their parents, as well as a chance to visit a place that (from all we can tell) is absolutely gorgeous!

Think about it.  Pray about it.  Let us know if you’re interested – or if you have an idea of someone else who might be.  See the description below for more information.

Childcare worker needed!

Who: Couple or individual to provide childcare for four children of CBF Field Personnel (one preschooler who loves LEGOs and Superheros, one 2nd grader who loves math, and two 3rd graders who love to chase pigeons)

What: Childcare during team meetings – programming can range from just kind-fun activities to VBS-type ideas. Depending on the volunteer’s comfort level, some sightseeing or museum visiting, etc. with the kids is also possible.

When: March 27-31, 2014 (Actual dates of the meetings)

Where: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Why: To serve God through service to these field personnel families. To have fun with some awesome kids. To learn more about how CBF is serving around the world.

Costs: Because this is a volunteer position, it is necessary that all expenses be provided by the volunteer. (flights, lodging, food, local transportation)

  • Lodging for a couple – $280; includes breakfast and lunch during meetings and 4 nights hotel stay (dinners are not included in this fee)
  • Transportation – flight estimates from DFW to PMI (just to give an idea) are around $1000 per person.
  • Other fees to consider – local transportation during meeting, any activity expenses, other meals, souvenirs, etc.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back2School Bash!

Our final weeks of summer were spent in preparation for the new school year! We had the privilege of celebrating not only the start of the school year but the FIRST YEAR of school for 22 children!

We  had a blast pushing our cart through the store to find all the required school supplies...pens, pencils, sharpener, eraser, rulers, composition notebooks, math notebooks, drawing paper, a backpack and more! Generous giving made it possible for us to purchase a new set of clothes for each child! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


"Are you homesick yet?" "Are you ready to come back?" "When are you coming back?"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Photo of the Week: August 17th

Many parts of the city of Skopje have been "under construction" as the government has been giving the city a "classical makeover." With over 40 new statues planned as part of the grand Skopje 2014 project, Skopje may soon be known as "the city of statues."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Photo of the Week: August 10th

This week we went on a little adventure to explore southeastern Macedonia, specifically around Lake Ohrid. What a beautiful place!! Ohrid is protected by UNESCO as a natural and cultural heritage site. The UNESCO website says this about Ohrid:
Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the town of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, it has the oldest Slav monastery (St Pantelejmon) and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. After those of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow, this is considered to be the most important collection of icons in the world.

Colorful boats in the harbor

Peacocks roam the grounds near the Monastery of Saint Naum

Church St. Naum

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Photo of the Week: August 2nd

The Orthodox churches throughout Macedonia are adorned with icons painted on walls, ceilings, pillars, doors, and towers. Many of the beautiful works of art are painted in the fresco-technique and date back to the 11th - 16th centuries.
Top to bottom: The dome of the church, prayer candles, the iconostasis, and the bell tower and church.
During our travels to various parts of Macedonia we always make time to stop at an orthodox church to view these works of spiritual art. These photos do not do their beauty justice! You'll just have to come to Macedonia to see them yourself! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Where Does Your Garden Grow?

Walking through the "green markets" in Macedonia you wouldn't think that families struggle to provide nutritious meals for their children. Stall after stall is filled with beautiful, colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables and for most, the cost is reasonable. 

But there are too many families that can't afford a balanced and nutritious diet. We are grateful to have a grant to provide emergency food assistance to families that aren't able to provide food for their children, period.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Photo of the Week: July 27th

This week's photo highlights the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims all around the world are fasting and devoting their time to prayer and the study of scripture. This is the scene in front of a mosque in Стара Чаршија or Çarshia e Vjetër (old bazaar, in Macedonian and Albanian respectively).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Photo of the Week - July 20th

Let's not talk about the fact that "Photo of the Week" took a year-long sabbatical...instead, let's just focus on the beautiful faces below (and hope we do better this year!)!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Language Learning... 4 year-old style!

Back in the fall, while exploring our city we wandered into a bookstore and found some great language learning tools for kids (who are we kidding, we needed them too!) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Can you believe it?!? One Year in Macedonia!

One of the first questions locals ask us when we meet them for the first time is "so, how long are you staying in Macedonia?"  Usually they expect us to say that we are just visiting or that we are only planning to live here for a year.  On more than one occasion we have had people say to us in hush tones "if someone is keeping you here against your will, just tell me and I will call the police." After assuring them that we are here by our own free will we explain that we desire to stay for as long as we can, that we want to learn their languages and their culture, to raise our son really live life here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cross-Cultural Adaptation

For the first 30 years of my life I have lived in a specific cultural setting.  Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to visit and experience other cultures on a short term basis, and I have gained a wealth of knowledge from those experiences.  Living in a different culture allows you to experience many new things.  Our family is coming up on a full year of living in Macedonia and we have had the opportunity to learn many things about life. We have learned that there are multiple ways of doing things.  In the same way that we have to learn to speak different languages, we also need to learn new ways to act in a new culture.  As “visitors” in this new culture we have to learn how to interact with people around us, and do so without making it harder to build meaningful relationships.  Living in Macedonia we have learned that just because things are done differently does not make one way of life better or worse than the other, they are just different.  Some things ultimately do not translate from one culture to the other, but having compassion for each other does translate.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Places of Worship

On a recent visa-trip across the Kosovo border we stopped along the way in a couple of very small towns. We took a few pictures of the places of worship in those villages (we would have liked to take more but we wanted to be respectful of the people that were there to worship). We wanted to share a few of the sites with you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Reflection of 2012

One year ago, this very week, Jeff was undergoing multiple medical procedures in preparation for brain surgery. The days following the surgery were fraught with physical pain, frustration, and uncertainty. Yet, despite the gravity of the circumstances, there was joy, hope, and triumph. We were surrounded with your prayers, encouragement, love, and overwhelming support. We are forever grateful and words will never adequately convey our hearts.

After our commissioning in June 2011 Thessalonians 5:24 was etched on our hearts. In the midst of Jeff's health crisis, our move to Macedonia a short five months away, and nearly half of our budget to raise Thessalonians 5:24 became our mantra. "Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass."  With a full recovery and after being in our new home of Macedonia for seven months, we continue to stand in awe of God's faithfulness.

Looking back at 2012, it isn't hard to see the hand of God in our lives. Strength. Comforter. Healer. Life-giver. Hope. Song. Joy.  For all that 2013 will hold, we stand firm knowing that our God supplies all of our needs according to his glorious riches.

Blessings upon your New Year,
Jeff, Alicia, and Ethan