Tuesday, December 7, 2010

His Body

As I was having my devotions the other day, I came across these words from St. Theresa of Avila:

"Christ has
No body now on earth but yours;
No hands but yours;
No feet but your yours;
Yours are the eyes
Through which is to look out 
Christ's compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet
With which he is to go about 
Doing good;
Yours are the hands
With which he is to bless now."

What a powerful picture of what it means for us to truly be the body of Christ. This challenges me to see all that I do as a testimony of my Lord Jesus Christ. How might we change the way we live if we really thought that we were the only representatives of Christ here on earth to the people with whom we come in contact? If I was the one and only display of Jesus to someone, how might I be more intentional about the way I live? We have all been given quite a responsibility as Christ's body.

However, we are inadequate. I am reminded of my inadequacy pretty much everyday. I realize that I can't do this. There's no way I can be here in Croatia attempting to represent the Savior of the world- Who am I?...But God reassures me. He reminds me to recognize my inadequacy as an opportunity to lean all the more on Him, to trust Him in everything. He reminds me that it is through my weakness that He displays His strength.

I thank God for allowing me to be part of this journey and I continually ask Him to better equip me to be His hands and feet in a world that is hurting to know Him more. 

Thank you for following along with us and for every prayer that you have lifted up. We so much appreciate all your love and support. 

May we all seek to discover the ways in which our Father can use us to be His love, wherever in the world we may be. 


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still Students

This week we have a huge project due for the class we're taking from NTS.  We have visited museums this week to help us along in the process of finishing it.  I think its been a great thing since often times to understand who we are now, we must look back to who we were and what has shaped us.  Of course looking at old artifacts and reading descriptions of history dating back to the 12th century to present can be a lot, it helps to see broad strokes of the complex history that has shaped present day Croatia.  It helps me to remember there is a greater picture than what is right in front of me.  Cultures, towns, people--all have been shaped by different things.  Who is this other person? 

Its been interesting to hear different perspectives from people we've talked to.  Emily and I talked with a "priest of students" on Wednesday morning.  He is a passionate man ready to stand for the truth.  Another man at one of the museums who worked there saw us examining a picture of Ban Jelačič's wife in which he began a long explanation of their marriage.  You could hear in his voice the great interest he had in the subject.  I think he may have felt like he took too much time when he finished because he said, "Sorry to keep you."  It wasn't keeping us at all!  It was great.  Another guy who I play frisbee with teaches here in Zagreb at the university level (he actually lived in Seattle for a long  time--you wouldn't guess he's Croatian by his American English accent) has written a lot about topics of Croatian issues.  In fact he told me he was invited to a party with the president last week.  He laughed and said, "There was the president, about 300 or so famous people....and me."  I can tell in his attitude when I begin to ask him questions, or say things like "I have to sit down and just listen to you sometime" that his apprecation for a shared interest comes out. 

I say all of this to say simply that Croatia is a small country, but there is such diversity of where people are at, what they are passionate about and how that shapes a greater community.  We have only begun scratching the surfaces of the rich diversity of Croatia.  It is our honor to continue to interact within this history presently.  We tread gently as we hope to continue to learn what it means to be God's people here within this broader scope.  Thanks to all for your prayers and support, and I ask that you would continue to come along side us on this exciting adventure.  Have a great day!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dan Zahvalnosti (A Day of Thanksgiving)

 I am writing this to you guys on a train, as our team makes its way back to Zagreb tonight. We took a train earlier this week across Eastern Europe to Sofia, Bulgaria. We were able to spend the holiday week there with the Sunbergs, their family, and the rest of their team there in Sofia. It was a great time of rest and recuperation, new cultural experiences (mostly from the train ride, of course), of friendship and good company. We enjoyed lots of food, played games, rested, shared a meal with the church there, got to see and learn about some of the city and history of Sofia, were able to see and hear about what the church is doing there, and really just got to enjoy being together.

Before arriving in Sofia, there had been moments where the four of us and the Sunbergs had said how good it would be to be able to be in the same place at the same time and really get to spend time together and get to know one another better.  And this week was a great time to be able to do that. During our time there I found myself being incredibly thankful for community, and for getting to be a part of the faith community that I am surrounded by. It is awesome to feel the love and support of those who are serving the church in other parts of the world, and to be able to love and support them in return. There is a mutual bond that brings us together because we are serving together. And even though there are countries and many miles between us it is affirming to know that although we serve in different places, we serve together as the body of Christ.

Last time we blogged, Emily wrote to you about being thankful to be a part of the many things that God is doing.  I think our visit to Sofia was an awesome way for us to see what God is doing in other parts of Europe and how, even just in our love and support of those serving in these other areas, we also get to be a part of how God is moving and working in these different places.

And this of course leads me to once again thank each of you for your love, prayers, and support. For being a part of this with us, as we serve the church together in different parts of the world. So thanks. Your prayers, love, and support are vital to what we doing here and to how God is moving and working here.

And now we headed back to Zagreb. And we are all looking forward to going back and to seeing how God is going to continue to work and move among us, and to see how he uses us, as just a small part of the many things he is doing among His church and His people.

That is all for now. I hope each of you, likewise, enjoyed your holiday, finding yourself cared for in community.


Monday, November 22, 2010


Thanksgiving time already? Crazy. I'm sure those of you back in the States feel similar to us. We can hardly believe that we've been here for almost 3 months already. We've even gotten a little nostalgic this past week. Sometimes we look around and remind each other of the first time we saw the city, the main square, all the times we got lost or went the wrong way and how we swore we'd never learn to get around. But here we are, having to remind ourselves of those moments we were in awe and for the most part we've stopped getting lost. 

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. This past week we started the process to officially have our visa for the next year. We were connected with an American missionary family who had an organization that would be able to invite us as volunteers and so we are pursuing that and should have our visas sometime next month. Thank you to all of you that have been praying with us for this to work out. It's a huge step and things are looking really positive. This visa procedure has also allowed us to become better connected with the missionary community here in Zagreb and for that we are most thankful. They have truly shown us God's community here as they have taken us in and gone above and beyond to be helpful. 

We also got the opportunity to spend time with some of our Croatian friends this past week too. Jerry's spent a lot of time with his frisbee team and gotten to build relationships there. We spent Friday evening at Jadranka and Vito's for my birthday and it was a great birthday. She made me some Spanish inspired food and it was a great night of awesome food, time with friends and our Croatian parents that we love so much for taking care of us those first few weeks. We also had our first big gathering at our apartment so we could get some help with the 2 cakes I got for my birthday. We also made salsa and queso for them and it was a hit. Overall, we have just really begun to feel a little more at home, like this is where we are and live. And that is something we are beyond thankful for. 

In talking with Vito and Jandranka this past weekend Vito mentioned something that has stuck with me. We were having our nostalgic moment( I told you we were having them a lot), remembering our first night in Zagreb when Vito took us for chevapi and ice cream in the Centar and just telling them for the thousandth time how much we appreciated them taking care of us and he shared with us again the story of how we came to stay with them. For those of you who don't know it was pretty last minute and their son had just left for London to study hours before. Yeah, they are completely amazing for taking us in.  They said how they liked having us because the house could be full again even though they were missing their son. Then Vito said "I think God does that. He often does not just one thing but more than one that work together good: like our son leaving and you coming. We both needed that." 

So this Thanksgiving I'm thankful to be apart of the many things God is doing. Grateful to be serving a God that weaves many things together for good and humbled to be learning from the amazing people he has given us as friends here in Croatia. Happy Thanksgiving Week! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Learning Process

I have found that moving to a new culture where so much is unknown sometimes feels like starting from square one. Obviously the language barrier is a challenge. Those 16 verb types and 7 different cases in which different words must be formed depending on what part of the sentence they are can be pretty intimidating. However, when successful communication is made in Croatian, you better believe we are pumped! I mean, where's the challenge unless you are learning a language that some say is harder than Mandarin Chinese? :) We've decided it's even more of a victory when we get phrases down. 

Sometimes it's easy to catch a distant vibe from Croatians, even feeling discouraged when your smile or friendly greeting is met with a blank stare. We've discovered that though Croatians may appear standoffish from a first impression, once you get past the initial meeting, a whole new world is opened up. Our experience has been that generally Croatians are very open once you start to get to know them. We've found that our Croatian friends are more than willing to help in whatever way possible and would do anything for us. We couldn't have made it without those who have welcomed us in since we've been here. 

We've also learned things like the fact that Croatians don't believe in street signs. Well, not like those we have in the States. How do we get around? you may be asking…Very carefully…also by looking at buildings located on corners for the names of streets posted on them. It just makes finding things more of an adventure, one could say. Also, while learning the ropes of public transportation, we've learned essential things like you better get out of the way of the tram doors if they are closing, because there are no motion sensors keeping those guys from closing right in on ya. 

These are just glimpses of the learning process of which we are now a part. On a more serious note, through this journey of learning day to day things, I find myself asking so many questions and wanting to know the answers now. I desire to know what that next step looks like or what direction in which to go. During a time where there is much unknown and many circumstances out of my control, God is teaching me to wait and to learn to relinquish control. He is teaching me to be patient and to trust in His timing. 

As I found myself asking the tough questions, I am challenged by the words of Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest: "God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God is bringing you into places and among people and into conditions in order that the intercession of the Spirit in you may take a particular line. Never put your hand in front of the circumstances and say - I am going to be my own providence here, I must watch this, and guard that. All your circumstances are in the hand of God, therefore never think it strange concerning the circumstances you are in."

May our Heavenly Father continue to guide us here each day. May we be patient as we learn our role here and be faithful to join Him in what He is already doing. We pray that when we feel as if we have no idea what we are doing, He would lead us even still in the unknown circumstances and that we would trust that His hand is in it all. We pray that His greatness would somehow be displayed through our inadequacy as He continues to teach us what it means to be His people. 


Friday, November 12, 2010


It has been such a blessing having chances to get to know people.  I went to dinner Monday night with a friend I had met at the beginning of our time here for the first time.  Marko is 32 years old, is married and has a baby girl.  We met nearby the church he goes to and went for pizza at a local restaurant.  There wasn't much time spent on formalities.  We were both truly interested in the other person.  He asked me things like, "How are you really doing here in Croatia?" and "What do you want to do with your life?"  I asked how life had been for him.  We also got into a discussion about historical and current nationalism, the current political scene in Croatia (more specifically the Prime Minister and President--they have a Parlimentary style government), and what He thinks God is doing right now (confessing to not have the whole picture).  All this happening as we took turns not eating our pizza to speak. 

Afterwards, he invited me over his house for tea.  We picked up his little girl from her grandparent's house, and went to his home.  It was there I got to share with him more about things close to my heart.  He did the same thing, and it was beautiful to see.  It was at some point he mentioned he had been wanting to spend time with me for a while.  He said there was just something about me that he liked.  It made me turn to a point of thankfulness. 

Why would God love me in this way?  How is that God is so present in the simplest of things?  It makes me sometimes tread in "fear and trembling" as Paul puts it because God--holy and awesome--chooses to inhabit and work through such fragile things as human beings.  Its such a freeing thing when I realize I don't have to force anything.  God is working in, through and around a cup of tea/coffee with a friend, throwing a frisbee around, quiet prayer alone, corporate worship, the sound of the trees dancing to the wind, a soft tear of joy or sorrow, laughter--pretty much anything.  It hits me at a different level of freedom when I recognize God isn't asking for what I can do for Him, but who I can be for Him.  All of life becomes an opportunity to experience and share the beauty of God.  I think a scary word "secular" comes to mind.  It actually just means "ordinary."  The secular, or ordinary, things become a means for the grace of God.  Praise be to God.

Now on a totally different note--a couple funny things I have taken note of.  1) A lady walking with their version of crutches slowly cutting me off on the sidewalk while staring over her shoulder at me.  2) An older man covering his head with his hand while its raining as if saying to the world, "Yes, I think this protects me from the rain."  3)  Since the trams are a great place of awkwardness I decided to "model" all the way down it.  I hope you can enjoy just a little of what I did experiencing these awesome things.  :)


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hello, November

This last week has been a very full and very busy week, but it has also been a very good week. The week began as Monday was All Saints Day, a national holiday here in Croatia. On this day not only does the entire city of Zagreb shut down, but many Croatians take time that day to remember and reverence the lives of loved ones, leaders, saints, and martyrs who have passed on. Several of us were able to observe this tradition as we visited the major cemetery in the city. The number of people present, candles lit, and flowers put out on the graves of loved ones, throughout the cemetery was astounding. The candles that had been set up around the crucifix in the middle of the cemetery, making a cross shape, feeling the space where the shadow of the cross would usually fall was overwhelming to see. It was interesting to be able to observe first hand this tradition that has played a role in Croatian culture for centuries and to see how the memory of the lives of those who have passed on is valued, remembered, and held sacred by the people here.

Crucifix surrounded by candles.

President's grave

The week continued, being filled with spending time connecting to new friends that we have and are making here. We did this through coffee dates, lunches, playing soccer, Frisbee, bowling, and dinners. It is exciting and encouraging to be building friendships and to be learning about how we can get connected and best be a part of the community.

As the week came to a close, Hillsong London, an internationally known praise band, was leading a worship service here in Zagreb. We were excited about it and really looking forward to it. We have all been missing our home churches and missing singing worship songs in English, just missing what is familiar to us. And we knew going to Hillsong would be an awesome dose of that for us. And it was all of those things and it was refreshing for all of us. But the coolest and unexpected part of the night was that since we went with some of our friends from Zagreb it ended up being a really cool time of getting to worship with them in a setting that is very familiar to us. Along with this, as the worship band led us in the song “How Great is Our God”, at the close of the song the congregation kind of took over the song, singing it in Croatian. It was a cool moment of seeing a room full of Croatians, our age, taking on worship, praise, and their faith for themselves. And it was ironic that as much as we had been excited about being there for the familiar, in the end we were left realizing that this is why we are here and being aware of the blessing it was to worship with them and to be a part of that moment with them.

Here is a link to the part of the service described above:

Saturday, October 30, 2010


First, I want to thank everyone for your prayers and support. Sharing this new adventure and experience of life with Jerry, Emily, Brittany, and Hope has been a blessing to my life beyond words. The friends I’ve made since my time in this country will not easily be forgotten, as the time we’ve spent together has left an incredible imprint on my life. In the recent weeks, I've been faced with a very crucial decision; that being, whether or not I should continue on with this adventure. During my time here, it became evident to me that I was being led to follow another path. The team and I prayed extensively about it, and we decided that it would be best for me to come back home. I want to assure everyone that everything is okay, nothing bad happened to initiate this decision, I just believe that I am being led elsewhereLeaving the country of Croatia, the team, and the amazing people of this country was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’ll never forget this experience for as long as I live. Again, I thank all of you for your prayers and support, and will now join with you as we continue our support for the Croatia team.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Learning Togetherness

First, let me apologize for the delay in this blog post. It's been almost a week and we are sorry to have not kept all of you that are involved in what's happening here in the loop of things lately. We appreciate your support, prayers and general interest in our lives and will try and be better about keeping you informed. In saying all that, I tell you that the past week or so has been a crazy one, but full of graciousness and God's presence as well. So while this post might not give the best insight into all the tasks or events we have had, it's our explanation of our hearts and minds right now after coming through what could be considered the hardest but best week here.

When we came here we knew we were in for a lot of new. New culture, new language, new friends, new just about everything. So in knowing that, we braced ourselves for some serious learning, and learning is what we've done. We've learned so much in the past 2 months, from books to conversations to simple observation. Things like: tram systems, shopping or ordering food, kunas and lipas (currency), how to conjugate two of the sixteen verb types, Croatian hospitality, a little Croatian grammar, plenty of Croatian words, cultural norms and customs, a city with streets and squares and everything in between, (overwhelmed?) and we know we have a great amount left to learn. We're excited about it, despite being a lot, it really is fascinating and we love the learning.

In the midst of all these lessons, some of which just started this past week, we also learned one of the most invaluable things to all of us: the gift of each other. Throughout all this learning we've obviously had success, failed miserably, laughed and even cried. And all of that would be really overwhelming if it wasn't for the reality of togetherness. In the midst of knowing our need for God, we didn't fully recognize our need for each other, our community. Sometimes it takes tough decisions, hard choices and a sense of loss or brokenness to learn the incredible value of your community. No matter how messy or how great things get, we see God teaching us what it really means to do this together, with the support and love that comes from being apart of the people of God. Real community or togetherness is complex and hard to really get, it's honestly just uncomfortable. But in being able to face some real challenges this week we redefined for ourselves what it means to really love one another as members of God's people in the day to day. And as we learn that we are so excited to see how that helps us be better bearers of that love to the people of Croatia.

We are encouraged by statements such as this one:

'In community we are no longer a mass of helpless individuals, but are transformed into one people of God. In community, our fears and anger are transformed by God's unconditional love, and we become gentle manifestation of God's boundless compassion. In community, our lives become compassionate lives because in the way we live and work together. God's compassion becomes present in the midst of a broken world.'  -(from Nouwen, McNeill and Morrison's book Compassion) 

We hope this is true of us as we continue to seek to really be a community of faith here. So we ask that you pray for us as we let God teach us in the midst of all our other learning. And we pray that wherever you are and whatever community you find yourself in this week, you seek the joy and peace that comes from doing life together and allow that to be the manifestation of God's love and work where you are as well.

Thanks for keeping up with us.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Plitvička Jezera

So we decided to go for an adventure and get out of the city on Saturday.  We got up early and left our apartment about 7:30 in the morning to go to the bus station and get a ticket. We forgot that the trams don't run as often on Saturday, so we got to the station just in time to try and decipher the signs of this unknown language we are surrounded by and get tickets. Not to worry, we got there with enough time to get something from "American Donut." We couldn't help but laugh. After a little over two hours on a bus riding into the countryside, we found ourselves at Plitvička Jezera National Park. We got off the bus only to be greeted by no sunshine in sight, misty rain falling, and temperatures in the 40s. Once again, we had to laugh that we chose a day like that to take our adventure. We grabbed some lunch at a nice restaurant there that had translated things on the menu like "potatoes cooked under a bell." Still not sure exactly what that means, but the food was delicious.

Despite the weather and lack of sunshine, the breathtaking beauty we discovered at this park made it all worth it.  We hiked through some mountains and took in the beautiful waterfalls and leaves changing colors that reminded us that it was autumn. We rode a boat that took us to the other side of the park and took several pictures. It was definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.How thankful we were to have this time to share together and soak in the beauty of God's creation. Saturday, God reminded me to just stop and be in awe of Him and to remember all that He provides.Sometimes in the chaos of life, we just need to take the time to step back  and rest in the fact that our Heavenly Father is in control.

Thanks for reading :)


Saturday, October 9, 2010

On a more personal note

I think for this blog I (Jerry) will take you down a more personal path.  I hope that's okay with everyone :).

This past Thursday marked the 2nd month since my dad passed away.  He was 43 when he passed away from a mixture of car accident, stroke and loss of oxygen to the brain.  Images flashed through my mind as I watched the clock turn that day remembering what was happening exactly 2 months prior--sitting next to my dad as he was slowly passing away.  I woke up that morning feeling that weight coupled along with still just feeling foreign here.  I decided to take a trip up to some mountains that are nearby.  I told Mike what I was doing, hopped on a tram and I was off.

It was a slow tram ride there.  I got to a stopping point, and I could either take another tram or a bus.  Being totally uncertain I took a tram that had a small route according to the map.  I got to the end of that short adventure, asked a guy where I was at and took the tram right back to that stopping point.  Haha another reminder I am still learning.  I got on the bus, and I ended up in the middle of a cozy community.  Since I had no idea where the other bus would take me I decided to not attempt to travel further up the mountain on this day.  I had my backpack with me, and I had all intention to read, journal and just pray.  I noticed a small Catholic church and decided to check it out.  I'm a sucker for architecture, and I love some of the images in places like Catholic churches.  I walked into the courtyard, and there was a man getting a drink of water from a fountain.  I asked him if the church was open, and if it would be possible to walk around.  He replied, "No it isn't open, but come inside."  I followed him in, and he and another man were working on a broken organ inside.  We struck up a conversation as he took a break while rolling up a cigarette.  He was a man with many opinions about our current political battles in America, and with his own views about Croatian government.  I found it a very interesting conversation.  We walked outside, so he could enjoy his freshly rolled cigarette as we continued to talk.  Here is the part where I see God in days like this one.

Before I was leaving the man said, "Go get you some fruit.  You won't find that in America!  No GMOs! (GMO is a genetically modified organism.)"  We walked to the back to find a pear and apple orchard.  We continued to talk as both the men picked apples and pears for me to put in my bag.  We laughed for a little while about some of the politics and just general life before I left the grounds.  You may be asking, "What's the point?"

There are days when death in any sense of the word whether its rememberance, sin, brokenness--you name it--are very real, but a God of life is still present.  It happens in the exchange of hospitality between strangers.  It happens as you share life and the sustaining of life--food.  Who was that man?  I don't know his history, I think his name was Davor and he had many opinions on politics and life.  I experienced the grace of God through this man.  That's why we're here.  To recognize God, to point to Him, to be His sacrament to the world and to simply share Life as we invite others into that reality.  Praise God He seeks us where we are.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Dances with Bankers

Well, we’ve been here for just over a month now, and we feel that we’re getting more accustomed to how life operates here in Croatia. Taking daily rides on the tram has made us more comfortable with the different routes (though, not completely by any means), the grocery store is looking less like a maze and more like… a grocery store (especially the dairy section; refer to my previous entry, titled “’Jogurt’ is Croatian for ‘Yogurt’”), and we’re more prepared to answer “yes” or “no” after ordering a glass of water (they’ll ask you if you want bubbles or not). Today we were reminded of our status as foreigners while doing something that was once simple back home.

I’m not sure if an everyday visit to the bank is supposed to be enjoyable; in fact, I’d put money-on it generally being a much-loathed experience. So, speaking of our banking experiences as somewhat stressful might not be a surprise to anyone; but, throw-in a language barrier and unfamiliar procedures, and you’ve got yourself a whole-nother level of enjoyment (yeah, I said “whole-nother.” I’m from Georgia. I’m allowed to). We went to the bank today to get our bank cards, which act as debit cards like in the States, making possible ATM transactions, everyday purchases, etc. In general, learning to live within a new system of life has been incredibly stretching and exhausting. Today, we were introduced to an aspect of life in Croatia, receiving a Croatian debit card, which once again left us exhausted and mentally stretched.

So, we’re here in the bank, which is overall, a somewhat stressful place. The lights are turned off in a room filled with bankers, staring at computer screens, and answering calls concerning the payment of debts and people’s life-savings. We enter the room and speak to one of the secretaries, telling her the reason for our visit. She leads us to the back room where a banker is enclosed in a glass cubicle behind a locked door (man, I’m making this sound way too dramatic, but just go with it).  This is the man that receives our pin numbers, confirms our identity and account information so as to give us our bankcards. We come to this room already somewhat exhausted from the experience, but upon our arrival, he seems to get somewhat overwhelmed with the prospect of assisting five foreigners who barely speak his language: totally understandable.

Hope and I were the last to go through the process, and I sense this guy’s need for a lunch break once we leave his office. We talk for a little while, he asks us some questions, it gets quiet… and then it happened! In the background I hear a most pleasant rhythm, and sense this inescapable urge within me to keep the beat with my shoulders. Of course, my head and arms follow suit, and soon enough, I’m dancing without shame in the chair before him. My movements caught his peripheral, and upon making eye contact with me, he began to laugh. Then, he began to join me! Sitting in his chair behind the glass cubicle of his office, located in the backroom of a bank, this man began to bob his head to the music, and we all laughed together.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Month Anniversary

We are quickly approaching the one month mark since the five of us have arrived here in Croatia. So of course we have an anniversary party planned for Saturday, to celebrate our first month here in Croatia, complete with cake and dancing! It is hard to believe that we have already been here for a month. In just a few weeks we have met many people, been shown amazing hospitality, are finally beginning to feel settled in our new homes, gotten internet in both apartments (this is our most recent success), have learned how to depend on the people around us here, have somewhat figured out our way around the city and grown to love humorous moments that public transit provides us each day, started learning the language and about the culture here, and yet at the same time,have realized how much we have left to learn. There have been moments throughout the month where being here is so new, that it has been really difficult. And yet there have been many moments when one of us catches ourselves saying that we can't believe we get to be here and that we feel so blessed to get to be a part of what is happening here.

Over the past several weeks, we have started seeking out ways that we can begin to connect with people, the community, and to life here in Zagreb. We are taking time to meet and learn about what churches around the city are doing, how they do it, and why they do it, so that we can begin to learn what the faith community looks like here and how we can be apart of that. We have started looking for ways to connect with and serve with local organizations that already have a presence in the community here so that we can learn about the needs of the community here and how these needs are already being met through different organizations. Michael has joined a baseball team, Jerry an ultimate frisbee team, and Brittany has gotten to play soccer with a few friends we have made, which has been a really cool way for them to meet some people in our community.

Our prayer, question, and desire over the past few weeks, and as we continue on into our second month here, is that we would seek and begin to learn what God would have for us and for the people here, that we can begin to figure out what it means to be the church here and to be people of love and grace here. As we have been praying this we have been learning that this starts with us loving each other and the people around us, and that it means being patient learners, who are constantly seeking to understand the people and the culture around us. The other day, the five of us prayed the prayer of St. Francis together and the closing lines have stayed with me for several days:

"Awesome God, Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we recieve, it is in pardoning we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

And may this be your prayer for and with us over the weeks ahead.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


Well, as much as we try to just give you a picture into our daily lives by our posts, we realize that actual pictures would probably be helpful. So at the request of several people, (especially you Dad ) we have taken a few pictures and will try to start incorporating more into the blog. Things have been good and people are still being great and incredibly helpful. Please keep praying that God continues to be at the center of what we are doing and that we helps us know what steps to take. Loving you all and we hope you enjoy these few pictures.

Just around the city 

 These are some of the pictures from Brittany's birthday dinner and the cake Jadranka made. 

Yeah...the boys apartment is the bright spot in our days...literally. Notice the yellow and red combo. 

Us girls took some pictures when the sun finally came out!

And finally a look into what why we love Croatia..the ice cream :) 
Just kidding...kinda. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gypsies, Shower Curtains, and a Soccer Ball

After several days of cold rain, we have been soaking in the sunshine and its warm rays this week. On Tuesday morning, the five of us had a nice time of sharing, devotions, and prayer. I’ve found that this time of sharing what’s on our hearts, what we feel like God is teaching us, and the struggles we are facing to be such an important part of our week. It’s enriching to hear each of us express what we got out of a situation, because often each of us may see or get something different out of things we experience. On the other hand, the five of us can take away five different interpretations from what a Croatian told us, which can be quite entertaining as well. haha.

Wednesday, we went with our friend to a gypsy village hidden in a rural area. No one in the village really spoke English. They have their own language, which we obviously don’t know either, but we tried to interact with what little Croatian we do know. We brought bread and juice to share with them and they served us coffee. One woman showed us her home, which had holes all in the roof, no door, and busted out glass for a window. We played with the precious children and interacted a little bit with some different members of the community. This could be one area where we could get involved. We are praying for God to direct us and show us how He can use us. 

On the way back to town, we talked with a few kids going home from school. They were excited to practice their English, and anxious to hear our Croatian- or maybe just laugh at our pronunciation.

Today, Hope, Emily, and I went to town to get a few things. This included a shower curtain, since the one we had before required that we strategically hold the showerhead in order not to get the whole bathroom wet. haha. Needless to say, we were pretty pleased to put it up. However, I think I’d have to say my favorite buy was the soccer ball I found. I’d been trying to get one for a while, so I was pretty pumped to find one in a sports outlet store for a good price (especially for less than 1/5 of what someone told me a good ball would cost here). I’m excited to put it to use and to meet some more people through that. Also today I talked to our Croatian mom, Jadranka (the woman Emily, Hope, and I stayed with the first 2 weeks we were here), who is an amazing cook, and she invited us to her house for dinner Saturday. This news definitely put a smile on our faces.

We are thankful for the moments God shows up in small and big ways. Each day is a special part of this journey we are on. In the words of Charles R. Swindoll, “Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it will never be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours between now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities.” May we allow God to open our eyes to see these opportunities and let Him work in and through us as we live to serve Him .


Monday, September 20, 2010

friendships and connections; rain and sun

okay, so the past few days have been lots of rain that brought in chilly days that seem to be way too early for this time of year.  its that feeling that makes you drag because you can't really get out to do much, and especially in this strange place its hard to know even how to get out!  i remember looking out the window a few days ago, and the spirit of god coming to me to whisper to me "let the world inside the window and outside interact in beauty...and dont worry ill be the love in between."  sometimes i'd like to say things like "but god its a rainy day, and i dont really know what to do right now."  i love how god just calls us to be faithful for today...everyday. 

friday night mike and i had a couple friends we had made over for dinner as well as the girls.  it was a fun night of laughter and joy.  these people have so much to give, and i'm so thankful they choose to share life with us.  both of the people that came over are actually in a christian punk band called 108i, and mike and i have seen them in concert already.  we are going to go see them again in october...maybe on the coast?  each of us got our croatian names as well!  i'll have to change my typing to croatian to put it in...mine is Đuro.  its an older name that people dont really have anymore haha.  you pronounce it with a quick dj sound...djooro.  haha it was amusing to our friends for us to try saying our different names.  sharing life with people daily.  what a gift.  what an honor.  what a calling. 

saturday was a slow day with the rain, but that night we went to church.  all the elders of this church were on a retreat, so our friend darko preached.  while we were singing i didnt understand what i was singing, but i heard in the depths of my heart the hearts of the croatian people.  a passion overwhelmed me as my heart broke open for these wonderful people.  god is doing amazing things, and we are so thankful to even see that happening.  after church we went to dinner with some people from the church.  a man sitting next to me said he just felt in his heart to say that he feels like it is a very good thing we are here, and that he feels we are family.  its amazing how god works when you dont even expect it.  im thankful he calls us to be faithful today with his kingdom in mind.  tomorrow has enough.

sunday we went to another church which we will be regularly going to--church of christ.  its amazing because they have headphones where you can listen to a translation!  who knew?  i think a man was trying to offer me that last week, but i definitely didnt get what he was trying to offer so all five of us sat through the sermon not having a clue haha.  this time was a little better.  we also met a lady after church that is so willing to help us with just little things.  she is bringing some pots and pans over for us today.  so far we've had to manage with sharing two :)  its been great.  there might also be an avenue through her to get involved with some youth from here.  i love how god is just bringing things before us daily.  even last night a lady we had met invited us over for dinner out of the blue.  it was a great time of fellowship and encouragement.  a man named alan who was helping us with our internet also came, and he looked at us and said "god is going to use you here.  i feel it."  im glad god is our shepherd.  he takes care of his sheep.

in the mean time we are still stumbling over our croatian and trying to figure out what it looks like to live in croatia!  in fact, alan was laughing at us at how amused we were trying to say simple phrases he probably learned when he was 3.  its great :).  i dont mind being a little kid again haha.  im just glad it makes people laugh.  also, today the sun has come out.  there is a light breeze.  both are inviting us into a world of interaction and life.  praise god he brings the sun after the rain.

thanks for reading. blessings

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Jogurt" is Croatian for "Yogurt"

Ever since we've been here in Croatia, God has blessed us with gracious hosts who have given us shelter, food, and above all else, their friendship. Vito and Jadranka opened their home to the girls, while me and Jerry spent a week with Croatia's finest, haha; Zeljko, Marko, and Darko. We are all forever grateful for the kindness and generosity shown us from these amazing people.

Now, as of a few days ago, we have moved into apartments of our own, and we're slowly getting more settled in this country. Our apartments are in a little community located in the southwest corner of the city, within walking distance of a beautiful park around the lake called Jarun. We're also within walking distance of this huge market, which we were able to visit the other day for groceries, and is also the place where I most recently made a huge fool of myself.

If there was ever a time that I've felt like a helpless child, it was in this market. I found myself staring at food labels for what seemed like hours, hopelessly trying to decode the unfamiliar mixture of letters, spending ten minutes in the dairy section trying to decide which was the yogurt (yeah, i know, it's spelled "jogurt," and not "kiselo vrhnje"). Anyways, though this country is still incredibly unfamiliar, it's slowly starting to grow on me.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthdays & Umbrellas

It has been a crazy week of bank acccounts, government offices, getting the right paperwork, but there have been some awesome highlights as well.

We celebrated Brittany’s birthday on Saturday. The family we are staying with did an awesome job of celebrating with us and of loving and caring about Brittany on her birthday. Jedranka made her a huge cake, that she decorated beautifully. It was awesome for Brittany to feel so loved and cared for on a day when she was not able to be with her family and friends from home.

Then Jay Sunberg came to town to be with us for a few days but we lost him in our attempt to get to and from the airport to meet him. Then we all got lost on our way to church yesterday (public transportation can be tricky) and arrived late. Following the service, which was entirely in Croatian, a girl came up to introduce herself to us and asked if we spoke Croatian or English. When we answered English she laughed and asked why we did not use the headsets that translate the service to English for us. We had sat through the entire service barely understand a word, when the translation was right beside us.

On our way home from church, Brittany, Emily, and I were waiting for the bus and it started to rain. While we stood in the rain, this little old lady who was also waiting from the bus came over and put her umbrella over our heads. She spoke to us in Croatian and we said say we do not understand Croatian but thank you. She just smiled and patted Brittany’s arm and then huddled under the umbrella with us until the bus came. And the three of us just took a deep breath and thought everything is okay.

So the whole weekend became a reminder of our inadequacy here with not knowing the language, an awareness of how much we are dependent on the people around us for help, even with even simple tasks, and how much we have been cared for by the people here since we arrived.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Dobro Večer. The past few days have been a whirlwind of figuring things out, and thinking we've figured things out and being totally wrong...aka getting lost A LOT on the tram. Good news though we made it back tonight from our new apartment to the place we have been staying, no problems! Yeah, that's right we have apartments! We are so excited to have found apartments and  very close to one another. We should be able to move in soon. All of us girls have realized we have gotten a little spoiled living here with what we like to call our Croatian parents, Jadranka and Vito. They definitely spoil us with food and teaching us lots of Hrvatski (Croatian). Jadranka has become more and more like our mother here, today she told us to learn at least 10 new words before she came home and then she would check us on them,  which she of course did! 

I don't think we can stress the patience and good naturedness of the people here enough. We are very much like little children and taking 3 to 5 little kids with you everywhere is never easy. But, everyone has been wonderful and so encouraging. At first everyone told us that Hrvatski is so difficult and we should just help them practice English and speak that, but we have been as persistent as possible and they now love to hear our attempts and are so encouraging. Don't worry, we're still pretty terrible but we are improving day by day. Our newest find as you will see below is a picture dictionary and a children's book in Croatian and English so we can practice and learn new words. Yes, this involved strange looks and lots of laughs from our new friends when we asked to visit the library and headed straight for the children's section. 

So..we are learning. We are getting better and through the process we are making great friends and are thankful for every minute. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

dobar dan (good day)

we have been here for only a short time, and we are feeling the hospitality of our new friends so deeply.  they are welcoming and inviting.  they are patient with our attempts at croatian.  the patience is often coupled with laughter, but it a welcomed laughter.  we can simply laugh along with them at ourselves since we are 21-24, and we sound like babies.  a woman told me yesterday i should talk with her 5 year old daughter because she is beginning to learn english, and we have about the same amount of vocabulary.

we walk through the city, and there is so much life happening.  we see people stopping to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.  they don't even have starbucks here.  it won't work here with its to go cups.  people go to main square simply to stand and talk with others especially during the night time.  they seem to be a people that really values being able to stop and enjoy company.  i think we can learn from them.  we are very interested in getting to learn more and more about these people.  our hearts are falling in love.  we went to church saturday night, and we are beginning to see the passion of the christians here.  they break so deeply for their fellow croatians.  god is doing great things here already, and we are so excited to keep learning about how we can be a part.

we have been living with people from that church for now, and we will soon be moving into our own apartments.  michael and i will look at one today, and the girls will look at one tomorrow.  sasa, one of the elders from the church, is helping us with all of this.  we are extremely grateful.

that is all for now.  we are so thankful for the prayers of our family and friends.  we feel them everyday.  we see them mixing with the prayers of the people here.  god is moving.  a simple prayer in croatian is.  "sveti bog.  hvala ti."  holy god.  thank you.  hvala ti is used for friends.  when you spend just a half day with someone in would be an insult to use the respectful version of thank you--hvala vam.  again.  hvala ti.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Waking up in Zagreb

It took me a few seconds to realize just where I was when I woke up this morning- what-Zagreb, Croatia!? We arrived here safely yesterday afternoon around 4:30. Thank the Lord. We had no issues whatsoever coming into the airport and going through customs. Actually, all we had to do was hand over our passport for a few seconds before they let us pass through. Everything went so smoothly and our new friends Vito and Marko picked us up and took us to Vito`s house for some juice and coke. Then Hope, Emily, and I got settled at Vito and Jadranka`s while Marko took Jerry and Michael to stay with two other Croatians. Vito took us out for dinner and ice cream and we walked around the city square. Itś beautiful here. We`re just trying to soak it all in. It feels so nice outside. It`s in the 70s with no humidity and a slight breeze.

Now we are getting ready to go out and discover some more. Thanks everyone for all your prayers and for keeping up with us! We love you all and are looking forward to having you on this journey with us!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And We're Off

Well, just a little over 4 hours and we'll all be heading out from Nashville. It's crazy how fast it has approached and at the same time I think we all feel anxious to just be there already. The past week has been a blur of last minute trips to the store, packing, goodbyes and lots of time spent with friends and family. I don't think it's possible right at this moment to define just how excited/nervous we all are but just know its a crazy mix of emotions and thoughts right now. One thing we can define right at this moment is not one of us are feeling unsupported. The support and love that we have been shown by our families, friends, Trevecca community, churches and even people we don't know well has been overwhelming and a great blessing. One thing we know for sure is that when we get on that plane in about 4 hours we don't go alone. We love all of you and can't wait to start sharing our lives in Croatia with you, even if it is from afar. The goodbyes have been rough and the nerves are probably at an all time high, but we know God is with us, before us, and behind us with all our families and friends. So in that, we all can find a little peace this morning.

Croatia, See you in about 26 hours! We can't wait.