|A 2009-2010 Januflection
"January" comes from Roman mythology's Janus, who was the god of doorways--beginnings and endings.
Traditionally, our January naSlovensko editions are a time for us to look back at the year behind us and ahead to the year in front of us. But January 2010 is not just a january month for us, it's the beginning of a janus year. This will be a whole year of doorways; of endings and beginnings--a threshhold year.
This year (according to plan), we'll sort through all our belongings, sift through books, abandon some toys, prioritize family keepsakes, and sell furniture. What remains will be packed and shipped to Slovakia and we will live as sojourners from suitcases for two months of liminality.
This year (according to plan), I will finish my dissertation and start new ministry in Slovakia. Jana will finish teaching Music Together in the States and start a new Music Together ministry in Slovakia. Elisabeth and Max will finish Bannockburn elementary school and begin Narnia Elementary school with new friends, new teachers, and a new way of doing school in Banská Bystrica.
This year (according to plan), we will complete our fifteen year journey of 3-4 year stints in Slovakia alternating with theological training at TEDS and begin a new journey of long-term ministry in Banská Bystrica.
According to plan? "Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).
Indeed we are mist. And these our sojournings remind us that sojourners we will be, living between two places, no matter how permanently we make our residence.
There are a good many uncertainties in front of us. The greatest of which is whether or not any of this will happen this year. We have a lot of financial support to raise before we can go to Slovakia and the economic situation is making that very difficult. That affects all our other plans so that we may end up having a long period of time after the old things have ended and new things begin.
Fortunately there is another image that is evoked when we think about transitions and that is the eben-ezer or "stone of help" image from the book of Samuel.
After years of relying on their own machinations to throw off the oppression of the Philistines, and failing miserably, Samuel urged the Israelites to trust in the Lord. They did, and won the battle described in 1 Sam 7. To commemorate the victory and solidify the resolve of the Israelites to follow the Lord, Samuel set up the memorial stone he called eben-ezer saying, "Till now the Lord has helped us."
Facing the uncertainties of the future and with resolve to be faithful to the Lord, we look back to this past year and see God's faithfulness in order to remind ourselves that God's faithfulness is unwavering and what we have seen in the past will continue in the future.
Elisabeth and Max
This past year both Elisabeth and Max took an important step of faith by making a public profession of their trust in Jesus. Max's white rose came just this past Sunday. We're grateful that God has helped them at least begin to understand the saving faith in Jesus and we hope this will continue to take root in their hearts and minds.
Jana is in her third session of teaching Music Together at Trinity and so far she considers it a success. She's gotten plenty of positive feedback from the parents but the best reward is seeing the smiles on the children's (and parents') faces as they learn to express themselves through song and movement.
In addition to the classes she teaches here on campus, the Music Institute of Chicago has invited Jana to teach a Music Together class to 4-6 year olds. This is another learning opportunity as she works with a new age level and gets additional mentoring from other teachers. This class may also get her to 100 hours of teaching in time to earn Level I certification before leaving for Slovakia. Also, we're hoping she'll be able to attend a director's training weekend in NJ this May.
I've already written plenty about my milestones from this year but I am still rejoicing in having passed my comprehensive exams and my proposal hearing. Now I'm researching and writing for my dissertation and the goal is to finish before we leave for Slovakia. So far, the process has taken much longer than I'd hoped so I'm behind schedule, but the research itself has been fruitful. If you're interested, some of the gleanings from my research show up in theological musings that I post on our web page.
This semester I hope will be my last semester of teaching my courses online to students on another continent. Oh, how I hope. I'm really looking forward to working with the students on a personal level.
Some Recent Blog Posts
Late last year I received some theological questions from a pastor friend and decided to post my reflections to our blog. As it turned out, they received a fairly positive reception and I decided to continue writing additional posts on theology. I finished one series of posts on Genesis 22 and am in the middle of a second series on Gen 1:1-2:3. Below are the links to the first posts in the series. From there you will find a menu to navigate to the other posts. To find all of my theological entries, click on the muse category in the right sidebar of our blog. Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your feedback.
Series 1: This is a Test. This is Only a Test.
Series 2: Genesis and the Big Gnab Theory
We'll still continue to post entries about our ministry and family, like this recent post on Jana's progress where you can view a very short clip from one of her classes:
Music Together at Trinity 2010
Thank You for Your Support
Thank you very much for your prayers for us and our ministry in Slovakia. As we near the end of this five year period in the States we have much to be thankful for in terms of answered prayer. If you pray regularly for our ministry events, you might find it helpful to refer to the calendar on our web site.
Here are the main ways to pray for us at this time:
- Support Team Building-- we have a lot of support to raise in order to return to Slovakia on time.
- My dissertation progress. I would really like to finish before we leave for Slovakia and right now I'm behind schedule.
- Please prayer for Elisabeth's and Max's transition from the States to Slovakia.
Vol. XIX, no. 1, Jan. 25, 2010 Thank you for your support!
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