(this month we kick-started our club ‘Taste and See’, we decided that adhoc events weren’t working, so we thought making a club might make our events easier to engage with. Ljubljana University doesn’t have clubs and societies like other universities, so we’re curious to see how this goes. The ‘Taste’ part is mainly our Tuesday night ‘dinner and discussion’ nights which aim to provoke conversation around significant issues and prayerfully, move students closer to Bible study. ‘See’ is more fun with events based around exploring Slovenia and enjoying Ljubljana and is to help us meet students, build community and encourage them towards more meaningful events. This will also have some nights of more meaningful content. Please pray for it with us!)
27th February – 5th March
This week I got to go to Germany to visit Gabe and meet his family. It was such a blessing, especially because it was so uncertain, given my knee-induced immobility. The week was so lovely, everyone was so welcoming and accommodating, especially given I could hardly walk and hardly talk. I speak minimal German, and zero Schwäbisch, so Gabe, again very patiently, translated everything for me. His family are fun, and excellent cooks (such a delicious week!), they were so generous and I so appreciated all their efforts to speak in English. Overall, it was a very relaxed few days. A couple of days before I left were spent at a staff retreat and we had been looking at Psalm 23. Those days in Germany felt like being led beside quiet waters. I’ve been rather frustrated by my knee, and I think life is about to get very busy, so it’s a remarkable and well-timed blessing.
Psalm 23:1-3 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
6th – 12th March
This week was so exciting! We properly kicked off our events for semester, so it was mildly overwhelmingly busy, but God is gracious! I started training our three student leaders (praise God for His generosity in them) and then we had our new weekly ‘dinner and discussion night’, we also ran a ‘Welcome to Slovenia’ event for new Erasmus students and had about 60 students come (we were expecting about 20), there were so many students there that others came, saw it was too full, and left. What an amazing problem to have! Please pray we can follow them all up well and develop some deep and meaningful friendships with them.
I also had a really great Skype call with my family and friends back home as I joined in for ‘dinner, dessert and devotions’ (a loosely-held family tradition). We looked at Psalm 27. I sort of feel like last semester God was teaching us that this is His mission field and He is at work here, and we are just His instruments, so His will is done, even when we feel like things are slow and our plans are all a flop. This week then, seeing God so at work and generously using us, made me feel like God was fulfilling His promise of showing us His goodness. It is a reminder to wait for Him, trust in Him, and know that God is always good, and eagerly expect to see His majesty, ultimately in heaven, but glimpses of it here too.
Psalm 27:13-14 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
13th – 19th March
There’s no such thing really as an ordinary week, we had an amazing Tuesday night dinner and discussion on satisfaction and identity for the ‘Taste’ part of ‘Taste and See’, but then the rhythm was interrupted. We went to Maribor (one of the other cities in Ljubljana) on Wednesday and Thursday for admin training with some people from AFES. It was lovely to see them and despite my lack of love for admin, it was a really fun couple of days hanging out with the whole team. It was an incredible blessing and reminder of the way God provides as we were able to go away for two days and entrust an event to one of our students leaders. It was timely given when I came home, my MRI results had arrived and we battled through translating them from Slovene. I’ve fully torn my ACL and now need to decide when and where to have the operation (prayer for wisdom please). However, God’s blessings continued to rain down on Saturday, we explored Ptuj (another beautiful city) and the wine region of Slovenia. I hobbled around the castle and the grape vines praising God for such a gorgeous day.
I guess this week I’ve been reminded of the harvest passage again. We looked at that all together as a team and I read it in one of my devotions. Seeing God at work here across Slovenia and hearing about all that He is doing through His people, it is such a reminder of how huge the harvest is, it can feel so daunting and overwhelming, but it’s not us at work. It’s the Lord, and it’s certainly not huge to Him. So let’s pray and entrust this work to our God and praise Him for all that we have already seen Him do!
Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
20th – 26th March
This week we had a conference in Maribor (a city north-east of Ljubljana) which brought together different churches and Christian organisations across Slovenia. It was amazing, given their history of tension and disunity. There were 185 people there, which is approximately 15% of the evangelical Christians in the country. It was so encouraging seeing so many Slovenes there, all praising God together! We arrived at 7:30am, but the day officially started at 9am and went till 9pm. The theme was ‘Reset your heart’ and focussed on coming back to Jesus and sharing Him with others, as well as other great seminars and sessions.
It was all in Slovene so we had translation, but given our lack of sleep (we slept on a church floor) and the language difficulty, I didn’t really get too much theologically out of it (though what I heard, was great!). The thing I got most out of it instead was the excitement and seeing how God was so at work in the youth and young adults of Slovenia (it was for people aged 16 to 26). There were so many people there who were so keen to live for Jesus and share Him with their friends, so many people who had decided they loved Jesus despite family, society and peer pressure. So encouraging!
I recently read how David danced before the Ark of the Covenant as it was brought into Jerusalem and the way that the people celebrated with music and dancing and rejoicing before the Lord. Being there with all those people, so many having come from small and struggling towns, it felt like that, everyone rejoicing before the Lord. As we all praised God together I had a beautiful thought of how people across the world and throughout history have sung to the Lord in joyful praise.
1 Chronicles 15:25-28 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the musicians, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.
27th March – 2nd April
This week I got a couple of days off in lieu and so I went to visit my boyfriend in Germany. That was super lovely and I thank God every time I get to see him, but one of the other most encouraging things was going to his new church. He’s just moved to Munich to study for a semester so we got to discover his church for the first time together. We went in the morning and the evening, and despite the fact that I battled to understand what was going on (it was Nahum, not the easiest book of the Bible for someone with rubbish German to try and follow), just being there was a blessing.
I had a moment when everyone was taking communion, the plate and the cup were passed along the lines, each person passing the blessing on to the next person as they offered it. Sitting there and listening to everyone just filled me with this incredible joy. Here were a couple of hundred people (that would be mammoth in Slovenia) reminding each other of the blessing of the Lord’s supper, coming before Christ and remembering Him in repentance and forgiveness and love and thankfulness. And this is what people have been doing for 2000 years all over the world. I think it was the fact that I couldn’t understand the words that did it, but how wonderful a thought! And it points forward to the day when one day, we’ll all eat together with Christ and all people from all nations and we’ll even understand each other!
Luke 22:15-20 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.