Jul
14

Mid-Summer Update

Hi Everyone!  This isn’t a proper update, but we wanted to share a bit about what’s been going on with us here in Cork and also what’s up ahead!

We finished school with the boys at the end of May.  We’re always excited for the break, but honestly, this summer has been exceptional!  Before we moved to Ireland, we really had no idea what the weather was going to be like.  We’d done a small bit of research, learning that the climate in Cork is quite mild.  But I don’t think we realized how much rain we’d get!  SO MUCH RAIN!!  For pretty much all of the year, the forecast shows rain to be possible or guaranteed.  All things here are weather dependent, and there are times where the sun may not come out for a week or more (something has keep this Emerald Isle green!)  In the winter, the days are short and the humidity makes them cold.  Nothing like a fire and a hot cup of tea!
In the summer, the days get quite long (which we love!) – like sun up by 4:30am and not down until around 11pm!  Cork would usually get a few days of real sunshine, but no one expects it to be consistent.  But, this summer has been amazing!  We’ve had days and days of real sun – what the boys and I call BEACH WEATHER! – for weeks now!  All of our Sabbaths have been spent discovering new beaches, exploring coves and caves – picnics made on blankets with views of the Atlantic!  The beach guys – it’s definitely my happy place!

The warm, dry weather has also allowed us to host a few events at the new house.  Praying into 2018, Branden and I both felt like the Lord was saying “OUTREACH!”  But what did that mean practically?  The culture here is all about relationships, which means time and hospitality (we’re learning!).  As we were getting settled into the new house after our furlough in March, we were praying about the summer – such a good opportunity to be with people!  We went to work making a list of possible things we could do at the house.  After all, we’d prayed that the Lord would provide a place where we could extend the ministry of the church, and the Lord came through big time!

So far we’ve done an outdoor movie night, which was a blast!  Nothing quite like turning the side of the house into a giant movie screen!  People came early and brought food, ate and hung out.  The kids had an impromptu dance party, and once the sun finally set at around 10:45pm, we covered the lawn with blankets to watch Shaun the Sheep!

We also got to host a big barbecue for Father’s Day.  Lots of people were able to come, and there was so much food!  We invited some neighbors and non-church friends, and it was cool to see some of them come out and enjoy the day with us.

Okay…what’s up next…

Calvary Aurora (our church in Colorado) is sending a missions team here to Cork – they actually arrive in just over a week!  Our church here doesn’t really host many teams, and there hasn’t been one since we moved here, so we are learning so much right now.  While the team is here, we’ll be doing a Holiday Bible Club (what we would call a Vacation Bible School in the States).  Praying about it, we felt like we were actually supposed to write our own – something else we’ve not done before!  The last month+ has been full of research, prayer, writing, and preparation.  So far we have about 50 kids signed up – praise God!  Most of the practical prep will be done once the team is on the ground, but we are plugging away getting the writing and logistics sorted before they arrive.

The Holiday Bible Club is an apologetics science theme – looking at creation and seeing the character, design, and heart of the Creator!  We’re so incredibly excited!  Where truth is twisted and lies are taught so casually, we hope to challenge in grace and knowledge, and to shine a light towards the heart of God – that kids would see that they, and the world around them, are made and with great intention and purpose, out of great love to a great end – relationship with their Creator!

There are a few other plans for the summer, including a back garden (or yard) campout at the end of August – gonna be fun! Branden and I are also hoping to get away for a couple days for our anniversary, and we’re planning to take a little road trip with the boys before school starts up again in September.  Praying the weather stays with us!

We would love if you would pray with us about these needs:

  • Branden and I, along with the boys, as we prepare for the team to come
  • The team as they finish making preparations and travel to Ireland
  • That their time here would be led by the Lord and very fruitful
  • Holiday Bible Club – final prep, for the kids that will come, and that Jesus would be seen in real ways!  Also that relationships would be formed and families and kids would come to know Christ!
  • For our church, Calvary Cork, which is ever changing and growing
  • For our family, that we would be faithful to the Lord and all He is calling us to here.  That the Lord would use us and accomplish all that He purposes, for effective ministry. 

The Holiday Bible Club’s theme verse is Colossians 1:16-17, which says:

“For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …all things have been created through Him and for Him …and in Him all things hold together.”

So grateful we serve a God who literally holds all things together, right now, out of love for us!  And humbled that we get to be not only recipients, but conduits of that love, participating in the Gospel!

Thank you all so much for reading and praying, and for all the practical ways you support our family and the ministry here.  Knowing that you are bringing the needs of our family and the body here before the Lord is such a great encouragement!  I am aware and so thankful, that the work here is much more than us – that many join in, and so many are blessed!  May the Lord richly bless you all!

In Him, Ernie

May
01

Part 5: Looking Forward

Hi guys!  This is the last in a series of five posts!  If you haven’t read the others yet, please do!  You can find them here:

Part 1: First Furlough

Part 2: Arizona

Part 3: Denver

Part 4: Home to Home

…………………………

Coming back to Ireland felt, in a small way, like arriving for the first time all over again.  My head was full of thoughts of family and dear friends, of everything we’d done together over the last month and a half, of yummy food and warm sunshine.  We landed with lots of suitcases, backpacks, and travel tiredness.  

It was the week leading up to Easter when we returned, which meant getting over jet-lag and diving back into preparing for church (Branden would have it no other way!). It meant too, going back to school, getting back into routine, and getting to catch up with people.

It’s a strange feeling to return home after going somewhere else you consider home, and it honestly took me a couple weeks to get my footing back, to feel the normalcy of life on this side of the world again.  I’m thankful for so much – for people who both give you time to rest and also bring biscuits over so your kids can play together and you can chat over tea.  I’m thankful for a church full of people who missed us (and who we’d truly missed!), people who hoped we had a great trip, but were happy to have us home.  I’m grateful for ministry, and that our trip only affirmed that we should be here, right now, doing this work.  And I’m maybe most thankful for our little crew of four, that we are processing together, that we have each other, and that the Lord is with us.

……….

Going into the new year, Branden and I were praying for vision.  What did the Lord have for us?  What did He have for our church and our community?  What is He calling our family to in 2018?  

Well, apparently number one on the list was moving into a new house!  I mentioned before that at the beginning of December, our landlord stopped by and told us he’d sold the house we were living in.  In a way, this came as a big shock to us, since he’d not said anything before then, but Branden and I had also actually been praying and thinking about possibly moving already.  Not in a real, “let’s look at listings” kind of way.  More like a hypothetical, “if we ever” way.  There were things we felt like the Lord was calling us to, to be closer to the city and the people of our church, to have a place that could be used more for ministry.  They seemed like just ideas, things to pray about, until the day our landlord stopped by.  Then moving wasn’t a novel idea anymore, but a necessity, and an urgent one at that!

Finding a house, especially with the things we were praying for, right after Christmas but with time to unpack before our trip seemed like an impossibility.  The housing market in Cork is ridiculous right now, and our budget and being closer to the city were not a match!  But the Lord completely went before us, provided far beyond what we could imagine, and took care of all the little (and big) logistical things that were needed!  

As Branden and I prayed for the new year, we both got this impression that the Lord was calling us to do more with reaching out to the community.  Irish people are very relationship oriented (which is amazing!).  It’s been really refreshing being here.  There’s a slower pace of life (something we’re still getting used to!)  It doesn’t always seem “efficient” to let conversations linger or to stop for a cup of tea and a chat, but maybe it’s the most efficient for building relationships!

I was encouraged this morning, reading in the book of John.  I’m in chapter 19, where it says that Jesus was crucified between two others, criminals.  It specifically says that his cross was the one between each of theirs.  One commentator talked about how this was the life of Christ – he was born, lived and died among us.  God, holy and righteous, came down.  He set aside protocol and place, and even took on our sin. Association was his way because He knew, the door to our hearts was opened only through proximity.

And this is what He calls us to, following Him in all things.  For us as a family, right now living in a different culture, and for all who would follow Him – to be WITH people.  We are praying about what it means to be intentional in that, with our community, to the kids and families around us.  I believe part of that is to use this house!  We want to open it’s doors, to use its rooms and land for being with people.  We have some things in mind for the summer, when the sun shines more and the days are longer!  Please be praying with us as we seek to obey the Lord and live in intentional proximity.

Speaking of prayer, here are a few other needs we have right now:

  • The boys and I as we finish up the school year (only 5 weeks to go!!)
  • Making this house into a home, welcoming and warm (I’m beginning to put pictures up haha!)
  • Branden and I as we seek the Lord about what outreach looks like this year
  • Summer events & how God wants to use the house
  • A missions team that plans to come in July/August (woot! woot!) 
  • Our church, Calvary Cork, and all that the Lord is calling us to as we shine the light of Christ in our city!

Thank you so much for reading these posts and for praying with us over these needs!  As you pray, if you feel led to support the ministry here financially, please click on the “Support Us” button at the top of this page and follow the links to give online.  You can also give via check made out to “Small World Big God” (the name of our non-profit) and mail to PO Box 305, Deer Trail, CO 80105.  All donations are tax-deductible.

We appreciate you all so much!  It’s incredible knowing that we are not alone – that God is with us, and so are you!  Thank you for being a part of what God is doing here in Ireland.  May you be greatly blessed as you follow Jesus!

Xoxo,

Ernie

May
01

Part 4: Home to Home

Hi there!  This is part four of a series of posts.  If you haven’t read the first three, please do that now!  You can find them here:

Part 1: First Furlough

Part 2: Arizona

Part 3: Denver

…………………………

Airports are the worst, honestly.  It’s where you say goodbye, where you sob the ugly tears, where you can’t actually be present.  You have to walk forward while looking backwards, all at the same time.  My parents and sister and nephew brought us to the airport.  Ian’s wife, Katie and their two boys came to see us off as well.  I consider Katie one of the most genuine and kind people I know, and I’m so thankful for her friendship.  She grew up moving from one country to another, their family following her dad’s work, and she also served in Thailand for a few years, ministering to trafficked women. 

When they arrived, Katie handed me a box.  Inside was this decoration for the house that I’d seen and really liked.  She bought it for me and had written a note on the inside of the box lid.  I didn’t read it until we were on the plane (which is probably good), but its message was exactly where I was:

“To have a heart always divided between homes, never fully at rest, at peace, contented…this is the gift that comes with being an expat.  This is a gift, because we have been blessed with an understanding of an eternal truth…this world is not our home.  In truth, we are just passing through, we do not one of us truly belong here.

Some of us know this, we understand it intimately, we are daily faced with the truth that we do not belong.

Sometimes we look like we belong…but our hearts feel out of place.  Sometimes it’s our looks that give us away while our hearts beat in tune with those around us.  But always, we live and breathe and walk through this world knowing we do not belong…and yet at the same time belonging wherever we are.”

I have only lived abroad for a year and a half, and all these words are true to me.  I do not have one home now, but two.  Two places on this earth that claim my heart, that have people I love.  And yet, because of this division, I am forced to, am more able to, look ahead, to know that my heart will not truly be settled until it rests in the place where it never has to say goodbye again.  It seems so far off in the distance, and yet the uncertainty of time pushes us forward, compelling us to do all we can, where we are, for the Kingdom, today.

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