Dear Prayer Partners,
Suzie and I made it home to Athens safely last Wednesday after a long, multi-legged but uneventful flight. Our time in California was truly one of the best and most refreshing we’ve had since our service as missionaries began in 2004 (we can’t believe we are entering our 9th year on the field!). Although it was physically exhausting from the near non-stop pace we kept, we returned to Greece spiritually and emotionally charged, and ready to continue on the path that God has set us on. Our plan for this update is to give a pictorial overview of our six-week stateside venture, and to ask prayer for the various ministry activities we are stepping back into.
PLEASE NOTE: We also posted slidshows at the end of every section to put faces with names and events!
December 13-January 3: Bakersfield
As most of you know, our reason for taking this unscheduled trip was primarily due to Suzie’s dad’s thyroid cancer diagnosis. In light of that difficult situation we spent the first half of our trip with her family in Bakersfield, California.
We have to note that we had our first official breakfast out in 2 ½ years with our friends Jeff & Teresa Gipe before heading down to Bakersfield. It was so good to see them when we landed and eat breakfast in an actual diner 🙂
So on to Suzie’s family…. our time with them was filled by simply enjoying one another’s company, celebrating Christmas together, upholding the family tradition of playing games, and visiting with Suzie’s brother Jeremy who made his way down from Oregon. We also got incredibly spoiled by her sister Sandy and her husband Clint. They blessed our socks off by taking us to several tasty eateries, which included two outstanding sushi joints. Frank had a fun evening on a police ride-along with our brother-in-law Clint, an 18-year veteran of the Bakersfield PD.
In the middle of all of that we were able to enjoy several times of worship at CC Westbrook, visit Frank’s nephew Daniel and his family, and see a wonderful Christian couple, Ron & Tawana Johnson. We met Tawana in Greece in 2011 and discovered she was from Bakersfield and the church where Suzie got saved in (Valley Bible Christian Fellowship).
Our time with Suzie’s family ended with her dad George’s surgery in Hollywood on January 3, that was very successful. The surgeons removed most of the cancer, though he still has a long road of treatments to get rid of the rest of the remaining cancer. Thanking you for praying for him, please continue to do so.
January 4-11: CCCM Missions Day & Murrieta Missions 2013 Conference
From Bakersfield we journeyed south to Orange County and stayed with our friends Jeff & Teresa Gipe for a weekend of fellowship and LOTS OF EATING before the missions conference on the following Monday. Jeff is the pastor of one of our supporting churches, Newport Coast Lighthouse (NCL) and we have known him and Teresa for years. We were so encouraged with many times of fellowship with them throughout our furlough!
On Sunday January 6, we were blessed to represent our ministry in Greece at the CC Costa Mesa Missions Day, where we occupied a small booth and handed out literature, tasty Greek treats, and answered questions asked by many inquisitive body members. This year was the first time it was scheduled for Sunday which kept it very busy but fruitful all day long!
The conference in Murrieta Hot Springs began on Monday afternoon and was a week chalk full of solid and relevant teaching focused on church planting and raising up the next generation, encouragement, refreshment and fellowship with many of our missionary colleagues/friends from around the world. We were also among 25 missionaries asked to do a video interview that will be shown at the Wednesday night Bible study at CCCM as well as other venues at the church and it’s website. It was an unexpected blessing to be asked and a great experience to share about what God is doing in Athens, Greece.
January 12-29: Final Two Weeks in South Bay & Orange County
Our final two weeks were a jam-packed whirlwind of connecting with friends, visiting Frank’s family, and ministry meetings with supporting churches. We literally had every single day booked with multiple meetings or activities.
It all started with a wonderful weekend at our friends Mark & Mary Pero’s home. Shortly after we were blessed with free entrance to Disneyland with our friend’s Jennifer and Felice. For our anniversary on the 26th we were given tickets to Sea World and enjoyed celebrating our 11th together in a memorable way.
Frank was also asked to share and give a ministry update at CC South Bay’s missions board meeting and at the church’s mid-week study. We also had the privilege of sharing with the body at NCL at one of their Sunday services.
The last Sunday before we returned to Greece was a final finale of prayer at CC Costa Mesa’s missions prayer and at NCL’s monthly prayer meeting at the Gipe’s home. In both places the groups prayed over our ministry and us… you can NEVER have too much prayer! It was a wonderful way to end our trip, in prayer with the family of God!
We want to give a special thank you specifically to those who opened their homes and provided for many of our needs! Thank you, Blackburns, Garsts, Gipes, Schorrs, Peros and Klobuchars (for the use of one of their cars the whole 6 weeks we were there, talk about giving God your best!) Ultimately we want to thank the Lord for leading so many hearts to be so giving (you know who you are & more importantly God knows) and for HIS blessing that was above and beyond all we could ask or think!
Onto Our Prayer Needs…
1) Spiritual Walks: That our lives would be filled with the Spirit and His fruit, and that we would know and walk in the love of Christ in an increasing way!
2) Health: The battle against sickness is continuing. Suzie “seemingly” got past her sinus infection but is now in bed with a bad chest cold. She really hasn’t been “illness free” since November. Please pray for this to end and for the Lord to keep Frank from catching this or any other bugs. Many in Athens are fighting colds and flues currently.
3) Weekly Ministries: God’s blessing on… the Seeker’s class for Muslims and meal outreaches at Helping Hands Refugee Ministry; the food outreach for the poor at 2nd Evangelical church, Bible studies (CC Hellas Upcoming Study, & Suzie’s CBSI Women’s Bible Study)
4) Projects: Completion of the recording of the Greek version of “How Can A Man Be Born Again” and Scott Cunningham’s worship songs, translation of “Why Grace Changes Everything” we are considering taking the translation in a different direction. We are excited to see what God will do with these tools once they are finished!
5) New Part-Time /Temporary Worker: We have a new missionary joining our ministry on a part-time/temporary basis. Her name is Pamela Shattuck from Calvary Chapel Vista. She has formerly served in Israel in several capacities and is coming to Athens on March 5. She will be helping out in various ministries that we are involved in, and will be rotating in and out of Greece to other locations over the next several months. Initially she will be here for about two months. Please pray for the Lord to provide her housing and to use her while she is here!
6) Greek Language: Please pray for our Greek studies that we would continue to learn and grow in understanding and speaking. We have a private teacher but Frank is praying about taking formal classes at a school as well.
7) Possible Fall Children’s Ministry & Inductive Bible Study Training Seminars: We feel strongly that part of our reason for being in Greece is to help equip other churches for ministry in order to help them do what they are doing more effectively. Two noted areas of need are children’s ministry and personal Bible study. With that we are exploring the possibility of organizing two sets of seminars in the Fall of this year, one to train and equip children’s ministry workers and the other to introduce and train in the inductive Bible study method of studying the scriptures. We are currently working and discussing this with two separate Calvary Chapel training teams from the States and multiple foreign and Greek churches in Athens to explore these possibilities. Things are in motion but we’ll keep you posted. Please pray for Frank’s upcoming meetings with different pastors and missionaries, that those who should be involved would be, that the Holy Spirit would lead at every point, and for the Lord to open the door for these trainings if they are His will.
8) Physical Needs: We still need a new car and know God can and will provide in His timing and way, a new apartment by the end of April, general provisions for our daily and monthly financial needs.
Thanks for taking the time to stand in the gap with us thru prayer! God is Good!
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Frank & Suzie