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Monday, 14 March 2016

Rathbone Spring Update from Germany...

Between crying out to God to ensure moving back to the states and adopting is HIS plan and not OUR plan, sorting through the German paperwork associated with such a move and working with Tyler and Nicole to get their visa's and further integrate them into the German culture and our team, Alan and I have also been busy with many other ministry related opportunities.  This is a short update to keep our faithful and gracious supporters up to date as to how God is using us and your funds to continue the work here in Germany.  From the bottoms of our hearts we thank you for your prayers and for standing with us.

Now for the update...

Tyler, Nicole and Bex all joined us last fall as you know.  Nicole and Tyler (from Maryland and Alabama respectively) came on board full-time and Bex (from England) joined us as an adjunct member until the end of May.  Tyler, applied for and received shortly thereafter a one year language visa to live and study German here until October.  He attends intensive German language school Monday - Friday from 9-1 and then helps do work with refugees and his church at nights and on the weekends. Tyler recently found an apartment near us and is very glad to be setting down some roots. Nicole, already nearly fluent in German, has been granted a temporary visa while her two year visa is under consideration.  Germany is surprisingly not interested in having missionaries or others come to focus on refugee work so we had to minimize that on her application and emphasize her work alongside the local church.  Would you please pray with us that this visa will be granted quickly and for at least two years?  Bex works with us 50% of the time and the remaining 50% she has been working at two different schools in Heidelberg as a teacher.  Bex recently got engaged to a German she met before joining our team and they marry in England in early July.  The whole team hopes to attend the wedding.

This week our team is hosting a short-term missions team through WFBC and the Great Exchange in Georgia.  I have posted another update in our blog about the group and what they have been able to accomplish so I won't expound upon it here but they have been a blessing.  The day they leave Alan and I welcome our hopeful replacement family who are coming to do a survey trip for about 3 weeks. Peter and Tosca are Pioneers workers from Australia, most recently serving in the Philippians for the past 6 years and feel God is calling them and their children to Germany to work with refugees and migrants.  Please pray God would open up doors, build relationships, find schools for their children to attend and give them a real peace and excitement about coming here.  If all goes well, they would move here in August about a month and a half after we depart.

Alan and I have continued to host our Monday night bible study each week which has really grown over the last six months.  We have on average 10-12 young adults that attend and we've been studying I Corinthians together.  Alan spends the remainder of his week either helping out with Chloe or working with refugees.  He helps Tyler twice a week with the children's program at the largest refugee camp, attends a mens refugee night once a week and has also recruited refugees to come to a meal at our church which we cook for and host twice a month.  In addition he is starting this week to help use his extensive construction background to construct a coffee house at our church and he has invited refugee men to come and work alongside him.  I think this is a fantastic way he can use his gifts to also further the kingdom of God by surrounding these refugees with Godly men at our church each week.  Will you pray for boldness for him and the others at the church as they work together?

I spend the majority of my time using my gifts of organization to keep track of my husband and daughter, keep them well fed and in clean clothes and our house not looking like a pit. :)  I like attending MOPS meetings when I can and this month I'm going to be speaking at the group for the Easter meeting on "Hope through the Resurrection of Jesus".  I am also helping with a bake sale to benefit MOPS and our local ProLife organization, participating at a flea market with another MOPS mom and Chloe and I will host our second annual Easter Egg hunt for her kindergarten friends and their mama's.  I am mentoring Nicole as her team leader and working through marriage counseling CD's with Bex each week in anticipation of her upcoming marriage.

Our lives are rich in our every day and in anticipation of whatever God has in store for us next. We are so thankful for God's faithfulness and provision for us.  We are walking in faith that He has the next steps already determined for us and that He will lead us as we trust Him.  We ask for your prayers in this as well.

WFBC Short-Term Missions Team Update

This week Alan and I welcomed four UGA students from Watkinsville First Baptist Church (our sending church in the states) for a week of Great Exchange surveys and refugee work. The team was made up of Lauren Clark, Micah Houghton, McKenna Vick and Catherine Villis.  I have posted some of our updates from the week so you can see what the team was up to and remember to pray for them as they return to their studies in the states.  

Saturday March 5th - Morning
 The Germany missions team from WFBC has arrived in Frankfurt and is on their way to Heidelberg where breakfast is waiting. Please pray for the team this week as they do the Great Exchange Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings and early afternoons. They will also help host a meal for a dozen Syrian and Iraqi refugees Saturday night (tonight!), work with over 100 refugee children Tuesday and Friday nights and minister to refugee men through a game night on Thursday. They join our regular housegroup to share their testimonies with our German/British/American group as well Monday night. It's a very full week. Please pray against too much jet lag and against the spiritual attack that they will certainly feel in this post-Christian country. 

We've been very impressed with the team thus far - they dove straight in after a few hours rest at the hostel talking to refugees tonight and getting to know them better at the dinner we hosted at our church. I think it was interesting for them to hear first hand about why these refugees are here and what they have had to flee and also just to sit, eat a meal, sing around the piano, laugh and pray together. 

The team has been here since Saturday and has done great work as God's ambassadors to Heidelberg. The team spent Sunday with our church, enjoying a pot luck after and then we had a meal and prayer and worship time at our house that evening. Monday we kicked off the Great Exchange with prayer and worship and had dozens of gospel conversations with committed atheists, Muslims and even a few Christians (or they claimed that but didn't have any certainty of what would happen to them after they died). One man we interviewed whose mother was Greek Orthodox Christian and whose father was a committed Muslim said he remained uncommitted to any notion of a God. Monday night the team came to our house and joined with other German believers for a time of testimony sharing, worship, prayer and fellowship. On Tuesday when it was time to go, Alan said every single person was doing a survey and it was hard to get them to stop. Praise God! Tuesday night the team went to the largest refugee camp here (a former military camp) and helped with a children's program hosting around 150 refugee children for soccer and basketball, drawing, doing puzzles and playing with dolls. Today the team has the day off to see Heidelberg and to relax before another two days of surveys and refugee work. We covet your prayers for the team - for boldness in sharing, for favor with the German offficials (we've been stopped doing worship music in the streets already once!) and for many to come to know Christ.

The remainder of the week the team did surveys in the mornings and afternoons after great praise and worship led by Bex, Lauren and Micah and a time of prayer.  Thursday night the team went to a church where refugee men primarily come each week to play games and socialize.  They got into many good conversations and enjoyed getting to know the men better.  Friday night it was back to PHV for the children's program and then to our house for a short debrief and a surprise birthday cake and singing for Micah whose birthday was yesterday.  Saturday it was up early to get to the airport and fortunately all arrived home in Georgia safe and sound Saturday night.

We have truly been blessed by the team and their willingness to jump right in, share their faith and their love for Christ this last week.  We pray God will watch over them as they continue their studies at UGA.