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December 2010

Just lost my Kindle. I am so disgusted with myself. I forgot to go through my routine of checking every pocket, under the seat, etc., before debarking the plane.

By the time I realized and went to lost and found, it was gone. Some cleaning person is happy I guess.

I am just so ticked at myself right now though.


Thanksgiving II

It's an early morning in Moldova.  The sky is still pitch black.  The wind in howling outside.  The schnauzer is trying to sneak back up to our room and jump in bed with Nancy (and I keep telling her no).

Yes, it is a perfect morning.

The early morning hours are my time.  I have at least 1 1/2 hours before anyone will be up.  The coffee is near at hand, and my mind can be still and thoughtful.  These hours are my favorite.

My mind is very thankful this morning.  I feel like I am too unappreciative of the things that surround my life, the people that have blessed me.  I wonder what my list could be like if I had the time and opportunity to say thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life?

I'm so thankful for:

  • Karol Pruett; just passed away this week, a premature loss to the world.  She led the first team we ever had in Moldova, a friend, and will be sorely missed.
  • Ron and Sharon Nason, Helena friends that have wired our house, built churches, ministered at Freedom Home, but more than anything, have helped me learn that I can be an imperfect missionary and can still be loved. (and they didn't even realize that they were showing me that).
  • Steve Scrabeck, my pastor from youth (since passed away) that is probably the reason I'm in ministry today.  I remember no sermons, but remember the hours he hauled us youth around.
  • Mom and Dad Horn; for their never-ending support of us in ministry, even when they had different opinions (like getting those grandkids closer!).  I never questioned their love, even if we were disagreeing.  I really miss Mom.
  • Mom and Dad Raatz--my parents, who set a good example for me for work and life, faithfulness in church and high standards in learning.  Mom read thousands of books to me before I was even five years old, and I can easily blame her for my current reading addiciton.
  • George Burgin, then pastor of Laurel Assembly of God, for being my very first church service as a missionary!
  • John and Joann, the coffee they surprise us with in Moldova is nice, but not that important (well, at 5 am, it really IS important).  I am just thankful for people that like us, and believe in us, and care more for us that just a 2-minute missions story. 
  • John Bouchard, who still has to call me "Pastor," even though I'm no longer his pastor.  I'm thankful for the hundreds of hours we bounced in his pickup, hunting coyotes or shed antlers, talking about faith and God.
  • Travis Schuchard, who let me have the courtside seat to the miracle of seeing God change his life, and whose letter to me after I left Harlowton still sits in my office.
  • Jeb Bubb, Peter Hanson, and Matt Nelson, once three 7-grade boys in our youth group.  I got to see them grow from that mental scene to men in ministry, ranging from pastors to Bible school ministry.  Do you how cool it is to be able to see that?  I'm thankful that I could see a tiny little sliver of that miracle.
  • My wife--who someone still likes listening to my sermons, puts up with my faults, and doesn't let my stubborness drive her to insanity.
  • My three beautiful girls, their smiles, their joy, and their love for me, for God, and for Moldova.

I had no idea what I would write when I started listing names.  I forced myself to stop, becuase there are a few hundred other names that could be written, all people that blessed me in some way.  Some of the names are even forgotten, but the person is not.

I guess this Thanksgiving is different for me.  I am not really thanksful for food, or football, or finances, or possessions. 

I am thankful for people.


Our Nation

I just finished reading a very interesting article online, Geopolitical Journey: Moldova (click to go to article).  The history and background of Moldova is so complex.  It is hard at times to get a good feel of which way it leans.  It is even harder to figure out the identity of the country itself.  Is it Moldovan?  Is it Russian?  Is it Romanian?

The author said: 

What is it now? What does it mean to be a Moldovan? On this question I could see no consensus. There are nations that lack a state, like the Kurds. Moldova is a state that lacks a nation.
What IS the national identity here?

It is interesting to understand the history and culture that influences each person we meet.  We do not minister in a vacuum, but there are individual lenses that impact how each person sees the gospel (and us). 

Questions I have:

How can we best pray for this country?
How can we best reach those young women?
How can the Church of Moldova bring deep change?  
Could each church deeply impact their village or town?
What spiritual lies are deeply sown into the heart of this nation?

How can Moldova gain a Moldovan heart?


Thanksgiving

I've always said that the difference between a BIG problem and a SMALL problem is the pronoun.  MY problems are always the most important, and YOUR problems are not quite so big!  

That really is how most of us live our lives.  When a tragedy happens in our life, or in our family, time seems to slow down and we feel the deep hurt.  When it is in someone else's life, (or posted on Facebook!), we are concerned, but not nearly with the same intensity.

But in this Thanksgiving season, I want to give thanks to those that have looked beyond their personal world and blessed us.  I am reminded of people that have taken time to be concerned about our world, our needs.  They have shared our burdens as well as their own.  I am thankful for:

  • The woman in Port Edwards who recently told Nancy that she has been praying for us daily since we shared at the church 8 years ago.
  • The friend who took time with me years ago, letting me absorb his knowledge of photography and guns.
  • People who support us faithfully every month, even through tough economic times.
  • Friends who have our prayer card in this Bible or on the refrigerator, remembering us in prayer.
  • Mary* and Essie* and all the other girls at Freedom Home who have allowed us to be their friends.
  • Daughters that bring their joy for life and for Moldova home each night, making me laugh at their infectious energy.
  • A wife that is a leader in her own right, caring so much for me and the girls.
  • Moldovan pastors that have opened their hearts and are now friends, allowing me to minister alongside them, letting me preach in bad Russian.
  • The friend who routinely sends Caribou coffee, just becauseā€¦.
  • The church that blessed me by blessing my wife with an iPad.
  • Family that put up with the burden of dealing with our junk, our mail, and our absence while we are in Moldova.
  • The wonderful friend who labels and stamps our newsletters, taking that load off of us.
  • The company that prints our newsletters for free, just because they want to bless missions!
  • The cousin who even blessed us with a loaner car the last year we were back in the US.

I know that this list is full of people who have their own troubles and problems.  But I am thankful that they cared enough to make MY burdens THEIR burdens as well.

I am praying for that same heart, to BE a blessing as much as to receive one.