We’ve enjoyed catching up with old friends and new friends during our time in the U.S.! So far, we’ve spent almost five of our total 10 weeks, visiting with family and friends, and speaking in several places – telling the story of what God’s doing in Slovakia. We wish we could tell you all the stories we’ve heard and the encouragement we’ve received as we’ve gone from place to place!
First Baptist Church, London, Ky. (Sunday, July 26)
Sadly, we didn’t get any pictures from our London visit (we’re trying to be better about that). We first spoke at FBC almost four years ago, and the church family has been supporting us in many ways ever since. It was a joy to be back with them, and then to share lunch with some people who have a special interest in what God’s doing in Slovakia. We thank God for our friends and partners in London, and are very thankful for pastor Terry Lester, who allowed us to come and share in worship.
Phos Community Church, Crestwood, Ky. (Sunday, August 2)
On Sunday, August 2 we were privileged to share with our friends at Phos Community Church in Crestwood, Ky. Phos is a vibrant and active community of faith, and we have many long-time friends there. We shared in both morning worship services, and had some very engaging conversations with people who had questions about the Roma. We’re so thankful for our friends at Phos, and very thankful to pastor Jeff Fuson for allowing us to share.
Redstone Village, Huntsville, Al. (Thursday, August 6)
On Thursday, August 6 we were invited to speak twice at the Redstone Village complex in Huntsville, where Jon’s parents live. In the morning we spoke in the Assisted Living section, and in the evening for the Independent Living residents. Both times were informal, and very encouraging – so many people were engaged and thankful, and we had lots of engaging discussions.
Crosscreek Baptist Church, Pelham, Al. (Sunday, August 9)
We’ve been looking forward to our visit to Crosscreek, which we consider one of our “home” churches. We served at Crosscreek in our first years of marriage after college – Jon as minister of music and associate pastor, and Tanya as youth minister. We still have so many good friends there, and Sunday morning worship and potluck meal were filled with hugs, deep conversations, and lots of laughter. We’re thankful for our deep partnership with Crosscreek, and grateful to Patsy and Wes Jeffcoat for graciously hosting us (and watching our girls), and to pastor Brandon Hudson for allowing us so much time to share in worship.
Crosscreek also has an important annual tradition, the “Blessing of the Backpacks” for the students and educators starting school. Our girls got to participate, and even had their new backpacks blessed!
CBF Offices, Decatur, Ga. (Wednesday, August 12)
As part of our time in the U.S., we were able to spend a few days in the CBF national offices in Decatur, Georgia. There we met lots of new staff people, got caught up on important changes, and found lots of encouragement and new ideas. On Wednesday morning, all the field personnel in our group were asked to share about our families and ministries during an all-staff meeting. Afterwards, we received so much encouraging feedback from the staff… it is such a joy to work alongside these people who make it possible for us to serve in Slovakia. CBF is an incredible organization, and God is doing great things among CBF people!
First Baptist Church, Rome, Ga. (Thursday, August 13)
Once again we failed to take pictures at this encouraging event, where we spoke for a group of church members after a potluck meal. FBC Rome made our time in the U.S. much less financially stressful, thanks to their Doris White Grant for field personnel on off-field assignment. So many people asked questions, during the meal and during our informal presentation, that made us realize that some people are more attuned to the Roma situation than we would have guessed. We’re thankful for FBC Rome and for Tamara Smathers, who arranged our time there.
Fellowship Baptist Church, Fitzgerald, Ga. (Sunday, August 16)
Almost four years ago, before we first left for Slovakia, we made a trip to a town in south-central Georgia that we’d never heard of before. Fitzgerald is a unique town, founded in 1895 for Civil War veterans from BOTH armies, as an example of how reconciliation and harmony can look. The dear congregation of Fellowship Baptist, whom we met through a long-time family friend, has been a financial and prayer partner with us since the beginning of our ministry in Slovakia. We had a delightful breakfast and worship service with the Fellowship family, and left feeling refreshed and encouraged. We’re thankful for our partnership with Fellowship Baptist, and for pastor Robert Couey, who helped arrange our visit there!
More reports to come soon…