Friends! November was FULL and ran straight into December without hesitation! Rude. It feels like months should give us a few days to catch up between ending and beginning. I don’t know who to call about that – also I don’t have a time machine to have a talk with this Gregorian Calendar guy… but I digress. lol
Most of our November revolved around the prayer team coming from our Fremont Campus in Nebraska. What God did in that week is worth its own entire post, so I’ll save some for that, but suffice to say it was a much needed and perfectly timed breath of fresh air and a total delight.
We traveled to all three Serbian campuses and even took a trip to Skopje, Macedonia. We spent significant time putting together a visual prayer walk, which we are very excited to share with you all, soon! It was so meaningful to have “Papa Robert” and “Mama Joyce” in our Serbian home with our Serbian family. Our hearts are so connected to both the Fremont and Serbian campuses, to have those worlds intersect was beyond words. We felt uplifted and affirmed in this calling God has invited us into, and we were filled up and fueled for the road ahead. We are so grateful.
We’ve had several musical opportunities, from leading at our campuses (sometimes in Serbian!) to singing a few songs at a Teen Challenge Serbia drug-awareness evening. And, we are still trying to get a Wagoner Worship Wednesdays post up every week. It’s still amazing to me that God lets us use something we love so much – playing and singing music – as a ministry tool. He never puts anything ill-fitting on us, and He always invites us into places we could never have foreseen or imagined. God’s so faithful like that. 🙂
In our “off” time, we took the little girls to the Nutcracker ballet, hosted a “Friendsgiving” of sorts and celebrated Annabelle’s 17th!!!! birthday with Starbucks and IKEA in Belgrade. We even watched a few of the World Cup games, including a match between USA and Iran with our American, Iranian, and Serbian friends. It was definitely an exciting cultural experience. lol
Thanks to IKEA and our sweet friend, Aleksandra, we were able to get some Christmas decorations up in our apartment, and it feels so nice and cozy and familiar.
I’ve told a couple of people, but being in Serbia during these fall months has been like being dropped into a parallel universe. No one celebrates Halloween (no trick or treating), and of course Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, but Christmas is also very different in Serbia. Living in a post-communist country where religious public holidays were basically removed from the calendar is a surreal experience. Even those who consider themselves “Orthodox Christians” don’t celebrate their Christmas until January, and there is only a hint towards the western commercialism that is all-consuming in America this time of year. Most Serbs aren’t familiar with Christmas songs we would consider to be “classic,” and even gift-giving is more typically reserved for New Years rather than Christmas. Of course, Lifegate culture is different from mainstream Serbian culture, so we’re celebrating with a Christmas Concert on December 22nd, presenting the story of Jesus, and handing out gift boxes to all of the children that attend. And our family will continue in its traditions, though they will definitely be adapted to our present time and place. Wild, right? I’m constantly learning new things about this place I love so much.
Beyond all of that, our Serbian lessons continue, and we are gradually improving in comprehension and speaking aloud. It’s a complex and beautiful language that will take years to fully master, but we are getting more and more comfortable with maneuvering through basic interactions in stores and restaurants. We still need to get the little girls into their lessons, but they’ll catch up and lap us in no time.
Sometime, I’ll write a whole blog about the Serbian language, because it really is unique and interesting and special. December is a month of momentum, it feels like. Lots of youth events, outreach opportunities, and of course anticipating the return of sunlight (the sun sets at 4pm) and celebrating the birth of the Light of the world.
Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and support. We really do feel you are part of this journey with us. A few prayer points right now:
- Pray for safe travels for our sons as Isaac returns to Omaha for Christmas and Alex travels here in January. Traveling this time of year is chaotic, so prayers for smooth transitions and traveling mercies are so needed.
- Pray for our Belgrade Campus as we look for our permanent home. Pray for wisdom and opportunity, provision and favor in this very heightened market.
- Pray for the seeds that were sown and watered by the prayer team to continue to grow and blossom into whatever the Lord has in mind. Pray for the hearts and minds of our team here, for health, and for unity and an even deeper sense of community as we fight this good fight together.
- Continue to pray for Anorah’s mental health. She is doing SO much better, thank Jesus! I think some of the culture shock is wearing off, but we can always use extra grace and patience in this constant, ongoing adjustment.
We love you and are so grateful for you!
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Hvala vam puno! Volimo vas sve!