Netherlands, Bosnia, Hungary – September 2009

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

The contacts made during this combination trip were many and varied. It was an extended time of changing environments and multiple needs for which only the Lord knows the eternal impact.

Sandra’s time in The Netherlands was rich and wonderful. she was able to spend quality time with each of the core families who coordinated the BHC09 conference in May. The Lord allowed her to deliver educational materials, encouragement and support, as well as remembrance gifts to the children.

The meaningful fellowship of this portion of her journey was topped off with a day-long ladies retreat. The mothers gathered in a comfortable and inviting Dutch living room for an adaptation of the Purim celebration from Esther 9. The focus of the event was to consider the personal application of the biblical view of authority.

The day was a blessed sharing of fellowship, good food, and serious discussion around God’s Word. Each lady was challenged to bring her own life and home in line with scriptural standards. God poured His love over the gathering in many ways, not the least of which was through songs of praise offered up simultaneously in English and Dutch.

Sandra’s stop in Bosnia was a whirlwind. Each day was made up of several appointments and had her going from morning until evening. She was privileged to deliver curriculum to a family of seven followed by a testing consult and lunch. This family’s home is several stories high in an apartment building almost identical to one the Lovelaces visited in Lithuania in 2005. Evidence remains of the major impact Communism had all across Europe.

There were also informal consulting appointments over dinner in the city, lunch at a brand new mall, and tea amidst a trip to the grocery store. The needs of those living and serving in this area are many, varied and deep. The spiritual battle is heating up and violence in the streets is increasing. We are thankful for God’s provision and protection for Sandra during her time in Sarajevo.

Returning to Hungary was almost like returning home. The setting was familiar, transportation was convenient, and the fellowship was sweet. Sandra stepped off the airport shuttle right into a time of connecting with friends and meeting new contacts. She was welcomed into the home of some long-time friends and encouragers where a long-time prayer partner surprised her by coming by for a cup of tea. God is so good to give us tastes of the perfect continuity of our relationship with Him through our earthly relationships.

Sandra spent the next day delivering curriculum and other items as she held a meeting with mothers to review test results. The time together turned into a strategy session for the current academic year. When lunch was finished, she delivered her gifts to the children and spent some enjoyable time playing games with them.

The next day was spent meeting in Budapest with a mother who’d been sick the day before and unable to join the meeting. An outdoor Turkish restaurant was a great location to discuss test scores over lunch. There was plenty of space and comfortable seating for the children to relax while the ladies talked. Then everyone headed for GGIS, the Christian school that offers an umbrella program.

Sandra introduced the family to Jim Schirmer, the administrative contact for homeschoolers. He met the new student who is entering the first grade and her registration process was completed. Then Jim and Sandra met to put the final touches on the new Homeschool Umbrella Program (HUP) Guidelines. The document is now in place for the foreseeable future. Praise God!

From the school Sandra went to the newest aspect of this portion of the trip – a mini-retreat for ladies held at the Budapest Christian Library. God arranged Friday evening and Saturday morning sessions to which He brought several nationals and expatriates. The combination was dynamic and it was hard to end the lunchtime conversations to gather again for the closing presentation. It was an incredible time of fellowship and learning built on God’s Word.

Sandra spent her final afternoon with dear American friends settling back into life in Hungary. She was delighted to hear about the progress they’ve been making on their “Books for Reading Centers” ministry. Of course another highlight of their visit was enjoying ice cream together in the form of Magnum bars, one of Sandra’s favorite treats. :-) The Lord certainly provides blessings for those who follow His call.

Two notes we’ve received as follow up to this adventure:
“I am eternally grateful to have you as a friend. You are so much more to me, a mentor, a counselor, prayer warrior, sister in the Lord … Your kindness and sincere care for the big work of teaching our children never ceases to amaze me. You have a very special place in my heart. Thank you again so very much!” mother of five

“I just wanted to let you know we are praying for you. As a family who has been inspired and challenged by you and your ministry, we value greatly what you do and your sacrifice of time and traveling.” family of four

There were trials along the way, such as
discovering at the last minute that the weight and baggage count limits had changed,
spending more than 30 minutes at a bank to change a few euros into forint,
getting off the bus on stop too soon and having to walk past a bar after dark, and more that don’t need to be mentioned.

Some of the blessed highlights were:
experiencing no jet lag symptoms,
witnessing the sounds of delight as items were delivered, and
being sustained in God’s hands every step of the way.
There’s no better place to be and God gets all the glory, honor and praise for another journey undertaken at His bidding.

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