Monday, September 28, 2009


Yes, I know. It is has been ages since I wrote anything here...and I never really wrapped up my trip on here either. I didn't realize everything that I was learning while I was in Macedonia, but since I've been back, I can't seem to get the people or the city of Skopje out of my mind.

This is a request for prayer on the Roma people's behalf. Please pray that their hearts and minds would be open to God's word. It's illegal to tell a child under 18 years of age about God (or about any religion) pray that God would shake and awaken the adults in this city so that they will teach their children about His love. What a terrible thing it is to think that these children will grow up not knowing the Truth because of a law that has bound the tongues of the missionaries in such a way as to say they can't speak the name of the Lord to these children. Please pray that the lives of the missionaries in Macedonia would speak and shout the love of the Lord so loud that these people...these children...would be awestruck by God's work and want to know how to know Him.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

prayers for gusta

Gusta lives with her husband and four young children. They do have two grown children as well as four young children - the three youngest girls being adopted. They were left by their parents because they have some sort of disability or another. Such a neat, neat family. Very welcoming and warm. The smallest girl is just a gem of smiles, giggles, and hugs. Her chubby cheeks and crossed eyes add to the girl's outfit of preciousness.

Gusta's family is devout Jehovah's Witnesses. Her husband spends much time reading and memorizing the Bible. The neat thing, though, is that they read the regular Bible - not a JW one. It's purely God's word, which opens doors for Him to speak to them more than they even realize.

Emily took me to visit with this family last week. Upon arriving, we were served heaping platefuls of food and were adored by the small girls. I, not able to speak Macedonian, entertained the youngest with my light-up watch and lots of smiles. Emily spent most of the time pouring into Gusta once our meal was eaten and the youngest was put down for a nap.

After talking for just short while, it was apparent that Gusta had something on her mind more than what met the eye. Emily spent a good while talking with Gusta and trying to get her to understand God's grace and forgiveness. Gusta, with tears streaming down her face, said she felt guilty over sin from years ago, and it was as if she were still trapped and held bondage by it.

Gusta's husband came home while Emily was talking with her, which caused her to speak in hushed tones as she was ashamed of her husband finding out how she was feeling and thinking.

Please pray for Gusta. We planned on going by so that Emily could talk with her and possibly read the Word with her some today, but when we got there, her husband said that they were just too busy today for that. So, Emily will try again another day. But, in the mean time, please pray that God touches Gusta's heart. It is apparent that something is going on in her heart and her mind, and I earnestly pray that she doesn't block it out. I pray that she opens up to God's forgiveness and grace that is so freely offered in His word. I pray that her husband would see God's truth in His word as he reads and memorizes it. I pray that their family will be transformed by God's word and power in their life.

Will you please pray the same?

igli lessons from our Father

Well, today was the second day of knitting workshops with the ladies. Again, it was done in silence on my part, but it went well. I realized some things about God and His leading today that adds to what I learned the other day.

One lady in particular wasn't here on Tuesday, so it was her first time with knitting. Patience is the key, right? Dah (yes). I worked with her for much longer than any of the other ladies - showing her over and over again how to do the stitches. I would move her hands in the motions that knitting required, I would use my own yarn and needles as examples, and I would study her actions to make sure she was doing it correctly.

Unfortunately, she wasn't. Her child was sitting at the next table over (they do school for the kids while the moms sit together), and she kept glancing over while I was giving her instructions, which of course caused her to miss things and created more confusion. Because she was not receiving all of my instructions, frustration began to overtake her. She would do random things in between stitches, making the concept of knitting null in her actions.

After working with her for quite some time, I finally gave up so that I could move on to help other ladies. I felt terrible - as if I had decided for her that knitting just wasn't her thing. But, I also had to come to the conclusion that if she wasn't willing to work with me and sincerely try, then I needed to spend my time focused on the ladies who were seriously interested in learning how to knit. She would ask me to help her learn, but at the same time, her actions spoke completely different words to me. She sat at the table for the rest of the time merely "casting on" stitches (the first step of knitting, but nothing more than just yarn wrapped around the needle). In her mind, she was being successful in knitting, but in actuality, she was missing the whole concept.

As I moved on to helping other ladies, my mind wandered back to the blog post I made yesterday and the way in which God could teach me through this experience as well. Don't we have times when we want God to teach us, challenge us, and expand our abilities, yet we are so distracted by other things around us that we seem to tune Him out? Just like this lady kept watching her child (which, of course - her child is very important, but also in very capable hands at the time) while I gave instructions and attempt to teach her how to knit, sometimes we take our eyes off of God and put them onto other things instead of fixing them on the task at hand. Then, because we are distracted by other things around us, we begin to "go through the motions," doing what we think is God's will for us, missing what He was really wanting to get across to us.

God takes our lives, moves them in the motions that He has for us. He tells us to fix our eyes on Him - on His word, His face, and His will. Yet, for some reason, other things turn our heads and fix our eyes away from Him. Although I ultimately and regretfully gave up on teaching this particular lady how to knit, God is not so short on patience. His patience is a wide expansion of His love for us. He sits with us, holds our hands, and works with us through our struggles. When we become frustrated with what we're trying to do, He is ever strong for us. He gives us strength to make it.

So, today, please think about what God is patiently teaching you. Maybe He is silent in this lesson, guiding you with His hands on yours and His presence beside you. Maybe He has a friend acting as a translator in order to bring things to your attention that you weren't aware of before. Whatever the lesson may be, fix your eyes on Him, His word, and His will in your life right now. Difficulties come, but God is ever faithful to be patient with us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

igli experiences with elena

"Igli" (ee-glee) in Macedonian means needles, and Elena is my Macedonian name. Yesterday was my first day with the knitting workshop. Oh, what an experience it was!!

Gef (the missionary who was translating for me) said she didn't want to try to knit - she would just translate. However, I had different plans. lol I made her at least TRY - and she did...but then the quit right after starting to try. So, we went to me explaining it and her translating, which didn't work out very well either. In the end, I went around the group and worked with one or two ladies (while the others patiently waited their turn).

I silently showed them how to knit.

Wow. Have you ever had to explain something very complex and tedious to someone without using words at all? Okay, so I did use "dah" (yes), "ney" (no), "dobra" (great), and "cecha" (wait) while I worked with them. But, for the most part, it was me either using my own yard and needles to show them the steps in knitting or me actually taking their hands and going through the movements with them. What an amazing experience! I was a little iffy about actually moving their hands for them, and it took a minute or two for them to loosen up and allow me to move their hands in fluid motions. However, the best way to learn this skill is to actually feel the movements that are involved in knitting, and it went very well. Some of the ladies would get frustrated, but rarely did they give up. They kept plugging alone. One lady, who got pretty irritated and frustrated with the process, ended up doing some of the most beautiful knitting. I was so incredibly proud of her.

By the end of the session, many of the ladies would call out, "Elena! Help me!" This always made me smile because it let me know that they were warming up to me and having fun with the process. It became more personal for them than something an outsider was trying to explain.

After thinking about my igli experience, I began to realize that sometimes this process is the same that we have with God. I'm not sure about you, but sometimes I feel as if God is being silent with me. I know that He shows Himself in many ways, but there are times I feel that He isn't speaking and I'm not able to see His hand or His face.

During these silent times, God takes my hands, my feet, my mind, and He moves them in the way that they should move. He helps me to feel the movements that are associated with living in His will. I may not feel like I can see His hand in my life, but if I become still and rest in Him, I realize that I can feel His hand in my life - much more than I ever realized.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

wedding, anyone?

Since arriving in Macedonia on Wednesday, I've seen two weddings - a Roma wedding and a Macedonian wedding. They were such great fun!!!! I love how they make a BIG deal out of weddings here. Here are a few pictures from the Roma wedding...

Here are the ladies celebrating the wedding!

I like to think of this as the "bridal shower." They start out with just a stick that the guy is holding up, and then as they walk along, people put things (jackets, blankets, etc.) over it for the bride. Neat, eh? Unless you're the guy carrying the stick - I bet it's heavy heavy!

And now for the Macedonian Wedding:
(Let me say that I was taking a nap when this wedding came into our area. It woke me up because apparently they blow their car horn the entire way to wherever it is they're going for a particular part of the wedding. So, after I woke up to blaring horns, I disorientedly listened to a brass band play. lol)

See the bride standing there? See the trumpet in front of her face? lol They have a band, just like the Roma, and they play and play and play. As they play....

The people dance! They get in a circle and hold hands. Then, they do this little step dance thing in a circle until it's time to leave while the band continues to play in the middle. Looks fun!!

Well, I'll post more in a bit. Running to the store! :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


God, I thank you for the amazing things You are doing in Macedonia. Please touch the people here and give them an urge to hear Your name, learn Your word, and speak Your praises. I love You. Amen.

Friday, July 3, 2009

it could be worse...

As I was sat while Betty (a missionary here) talked with several people in Macedonian, I started to think about how my trip has gone so far. God really has taught me so much in such a little time already. For instance...

By now, I'm sure you know that I have completely lost my camera. I left it on the international flight I took into Germany, and have since been told that it hasn't been/won't be found. I was pretty upset about this, and still am in some regards, but God is working on that with me. While I was walking through the streets where the Roma live today, I wanted so bad to have my camera to pull out and take pictures of different things that I saw. Then, I started thinking. I did not come to Macedonia to take pictures - I came to serve Him and share His love with these people. Of course, it's great to have pictures as a memory, but it doesn't look like that's a complete possibility, which I'm starting to become okay with. As much as I long to capture each moment in a picture, I long even more for God to move in this city.

I get homesick pretty easily, and night times are always the worst for me. I'm up and down trying to get some sleep, but not succeeding until the early morning hours. This is so exhausting! Although I haven't completely figured out how to overcome this, I've decided to spend my sleepless evenings digging into God's word. Not that it's supposed to make me go to sleep, but instead, put my heart and mind at ease.

Although I have no clue how to speak Macedonian (outside of hello, goodbye, thank you, and mouth *usta!*), God is still able to use me here while I go places with Emily. We visited a family very dear to her today - they are Jehovah's Witnesses, but God seems to be working in their hearts, the wife's especially. Emily sat and talked with her for quite awhile today. Although I'm not able to participate in this in the sense of offering support for the woman in a forward way, I can pray for God to move even more in her heart and for Emily to have the words to say. Prayer is powerful and extremely important - something I'm learning all over again. Even if it seems that my job is to sit quietly while Emily ministers, I will be praying for God's leading and direction.

And one last thing, which is something that has come up several times since the start of my trip. --It could be worse.-- From the minute that I lost my camera, I had a sense of peace that at least it wasn't my Passport. Yes, I was frantic in wanting to find it, but my heart kept going back to the ultimate smallness of the situation. Then, today, while Emily and I went on our extremely long bike ride, I complained the whole time...with a laugh, of course. lol It's just my way of letting some of the pain out of my body, I reckon. Anyhoo - so I was complaining about how dumb bicycle seats are in their design. Just take a second to think about it........ Okay, so right as I made another comment about it, a guy pushing a bike, about ready to hop on it, passed us. Nothing unusual, right? Well, right when he passed, his bicycle seat fell off. haha - yeah. He just picked it back up and plopped it back on the bike. It kind of took both Emily and me back for a second, then she just turned to me and said, "It could be worse."

So, yes. It could be worse.