Hello from Novi Sad!
We made it! 3 flights, 5 kids, 6 checked bags, 11 hours in the air, 20 hours of traveling, and we made it. There were only a couple of moments of exasperation and one desperate half hour of Oh God, get us on the ground safely NOW.
(I had to add the “safely” part, because at first my prayer was GET US ON THE GROUND NOW. I know God knew what I meant, but I just wanted to be clear.)
We had an amazing group come see us off and pray for us in the airport. It was such a sweet time.
All in all, we safely made all of our connections with all of our bags, and that is something I will never take for granted.
Thank you for your prayers!
We arrived at our house around 2pm on Sunday, delirious and relieved. Our friends had prepared lunch and were graciously waiting for us to join them. We quickly cleaned up, had lunch, and got ready to go to the Sunday night church service.
It was so amazing to show up at Lifegate Novi Sad and feel 100% at home. We got a chance to see friends and enjoy an amazing service. At one point, Pastor Darijo was leading “Hosanna” in Serbian, and Kurt and I were singing along in English, and my heart exploded into a million tiny pieces because I became aware of how HUGE our God is that He has united the hearts of His people five thousand miles apart – worshiping the same King with the same words in different languages in the same Spirit and truth. *bawl*
Not going to lie, the jet lag with an almost-two-year-old has been pretty brutal. I mean, Daylight Saving time screws us up for weeks, and that is moving our schedule by one hour. Here, our schedules have been displaced by a seven hour time difference, and Vienna has been super confused about day versus night. The other kids have done really well in general, but all of our bodies and emotions are feeling the shift.
Last night, we were finally able to get Vienna back to sleep after her 3:30am wakeup call, instead of just having to call that “good morning” for the day. So, that’s a huge answer to prayer! We’re hopeful.
Amber has been an amazing blessing, handling the kiddos so I can get a nap and run to the grocery store without losing my mind.
Speaking of the grocery store, I went with Aleksandra, and she showed me the ropes. If you know me well, you know going to my West Omaha Target gives me anxiety, so stepping into a language vacuum, trying to recognize food items by the pictures on the boxes, dealing with currency conversion in my brain… and don’t get me started on how in the world I am ever going to be able to communicate with the deli workers…
Aleksandra – How many grams of the Ber#)$&Fvg do you want? [She didn’t swear, but that’s about as much sense as the word made in my brain]
Me – Uhhhhh
Aleksandra – Oh yes, you use pounds?
Me – Yeah… I can’t even begin to guess…. Seven? Nine hundred? Eighty-Seven Thousand? Just get me whatever you get.
After the fact, we managed to look up a conversion chart on her phone (because I can only use my phone on wireless) and realized that 400g was around .88 lbs, which was perfect. Flipping U.S. Customary Units. DUMB.
But I did make my very first full family meal in Serbia, and that felt like a huge feat… like I’m capable of doing “life” things here, instead of relying on the graciousness of friends.
(And please don’t get me wrong, we are so grateful! They sure do abound in graciousness! We just don’t ever want to be a burden.)
So, basically, these first few days have been about acclimation and introducing our kids to the city and to friends.
It’s hard to not feel the pressure to “perform,” because we want so desperately to be good stewards of our time and the resources given to us. But we know that even the most “productive” ministries are not easily quantifiable. Sometimes, churches are able to look at metrics or are able to count the numbers of wells built, etc., but the vast majority of ministry happens in the long-term unseen realms. That is where faith and obedience comes in.
So, as we look ahead, we see tangible areas to serve as well as space to obey in ways that may not feel productive or spectacular right now. And that’s life. And it’s beautiful and amazing.
This Friday, we’re going to participate in an “Agape” dinner at the property where the new Lifegate Novi Sad building will be built, and Saturday, we’ll lead worship with the Serbian team at our campus in Belgrade. Next weekend, we’ll head to Macedonia to worship in Skopje with Pastor Kiki’s team there! Lots of exciting things on the horizon.
Apart from serving, much of what we are asking God for is clarity and affirmation in our hearts and in the hearts of our kids. He is pioneering something in this area and has asked us to be part of it, so we just want to know that that looks like to Him!
We look forward to our team coming at the end of the month for Open Days and Rock and Roll camp, and will be working hard on the front end to prepare of those events. And beyond that, we’ll see!
Thanks so much for supporting us and loving us through this journey. If you’re inclined to pray, we ask for prayer for health, for energy and speedy recovery from jet lag, for grace and favor for us and for every single person ministering to this area, for provision for us and for the teams here on the ground in the Balkans, and for divine appointments, influence, and grace for our kiddos to sense their purpose here as well.
We love you all! 🙂 Check back for many more updates to come!
Kurt, Emily, Alex, Isaac, Anna, Anorah, and Vienna