Here are some specifics about our week coming up and how you can pray for us.
MondayWe begin week 3 of language class. Pray that we will learn new concepts/words quickly...for patience...and good study habits!1:30 PM (9:30 AM EST) - Bill, Cami and Ben meet with administrator and teachers at a school we hope they can attend in the fall (Háteigsskóli - How-taygs-skoaley)
TuesdayNational holiday - May Day (like Labor Day), so no language classBen's first guitar lesson since our arrivalBill continues training 'behind the scenes' at Lindin Radio for the weekly international program. (Special guests this week are Kim & Andy Bohon, newly arrived missionaries and daughter of the Fitzgeralds who started the station - 5-7 PM EST www.lindin.is)
WednesdayLanguage classBill attends prayer meeting
ThursdayLanguage classCindy has lunch plans with a young lady from our language class.
FridayLadies Bible study - Cindy helps co-lead. Bill's sermon preparation with Helgi (who translates into Icelandic during the worship service)Have a blessed week. Thank you for your prayers!
This week is a blur in many ways. It is hard to believe how quickly it has passed but I would like to share a few highlights.
On Sunday we had a send off lunch for our friends and co-laborers. Andy and Stevi Hansen and their daughter, Signy, have served in Iceland since 2004. They are moving to Staunton, Virginia, to take care of Stevi’s mother. Forty-eight people gathered for worship and the Hansen luncheon. Bill taught from Romans 1:8-16. We were delighted to welcome to the church new guests, Leenerd and Alise. Leenerd is from the Netherlands and was in Iceland for business. Alise is an exchange student from Latvia who is here on a work exchange program. Alise will be in Reykjavik for six more weeks.
Monday started our second week of language school. We continue to discover both the beauty and challenges of the Icelandic language. We are blessed that our sending church and organization are so supportive of our language learning. Two new friends came for a short but delightful visit (see previous post). We look forward to an ongoing relationship that we pray brings them to Iceland for a longer period of time to work with us.
Tuesday was a beautiful day in Iceland. The sun was shining, the wind almost nonexistent and the temperature was 12 degrees Celsius. Bill, Cami and Ben took a trip to the pool where Ben got a little sun on his legs! We had a great time doing some laps and then relaxing in the whirlpools. http://www.visitreykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-177/406_read-1469.
Bill was a bit under the weather on Wednesday, but we pressed through our toughest day so far in language school. Bill attended a weekly prayer meeting. A group of about 20 people have faithfully prayed for God to move and bring a great revival in Iceland for the last four years. Bill was warmly received when he joined this group.
Thursday we awoke to snow falling. It was not much to talk about in the city but the outskirts got about six inches of new snow. Cindy’s highlight was when our language teacher talked to her after class and complimented her on her progress. Bill was not a part of that conversation for obvious reasons.
Friday gave us the chance to visit with new friends who just arrived in Iceland to live for the next two years. Andy, Kim and Luke (age 4) Bohon moved to Reykjavik from Texas and will be working alongside Mike and Sheila Fitzgerald, some of our dearest friends in Iceland. This is no surprise since Kim is Mike and Sheila’s daughter. Kim first moved to Iceland when she was 14 when Mike and Sheila answered God’s call to serve here. Now Kim and her family are joining the work once again to labor for our Lord in Iceland. Please pray for the Bohons as they make all the necessary adjustments to living here.
Please pray for:
Last week began our new adventure of language class. Although many people have tried to prepare us for this formal training, you really have to experience it personally to fully appreciate it. It is much like having a baby, the experience is necessary to identify with others who have had the same. Some describe language learning as going back to kindergarten. To me, it felt more like the first day of high school when as an incoming freshman you feel intimidated, overwhelmed and cannot wait till the day is over.
Since our first week of class has ended and we are already into the second, I honestly look forward to going to class. I realize most of my classmates are just as confused as I am and are learning about as fast, or slow. There are some exceptions: the Dane who has lived in Iceland for three years, and the Pole who has been here for four. They both already know a lot of conversational Icelandic. There is one very studious learner, my wife I am proud to say, whose study habits are to be envied and whose pronunciation is amazing.
We had a delightful visit from our friend and cluster supervisor this past week. Mikko and his five year old son, Timothy, live in Finland and came to Reykjavik for a couple of days. We enjoyed some good times together that included a run and trip to a city pool. I later heard that the trip to the pool was one of the highlights for Timothy.
Earlier today I welcomed in two new friends who had a layover in Iceland on their way to England for an Acts 29 Conference (www.acts29network.org), Tim Abbott and Chris Attwell. Tim owns one of the Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Stafford, Virginia, and brought us a suitcase full of goodies from the States. Can anyone say Chick-Fil-A sauce? Prior to Tim’s ownership of Chick-fil-a, he served in various churches as a student pastor and associate pastor.
Tim’s pastor is Dee Whitten. Dee was the lead pastor at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Stafford for almost 15 years. He was the first pastor to welcome me to Stafford in 2000. I have always appreciated Dee and his leadership. Today he serves as lead pastor of Fairview at River Club (www.fairviewatriverclub.org).
Chris Attwell serves as lead pastor for PORTICO Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is the Mid Atlantic leader for Acts 29. I had not met Chris until today, but I have been praying for PORTICO Church since its beginning in 2004 (www.porticocville.org). In November 2011, I attended a service at PORTICO but had to leave soon after the service ended, so it delighted me to have a chance to officially meet a brother who I have prayed for for so long.
A big thank you to all our prayer partners and supporters. We serve together to reach the northernmost capital in the world with the grace and power of Jesus Christ.
There is a lot of information in this update, though parts of it you may already know. A few items are being shared again for the benefit of our newest Prayer Team members. For those who have been with us from the beginning (and wait ever so patiently for another update) and for those who are new --- THANK YOU for your faithful prayers for us. We could not be here without them.
Bill is teaching every Sunday at noon at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Garðabær. Average attendance is 25. Most are believers from other countries, though at least 3 are unsaved and Icelandic. Two families drive a very long distance to get to the church. One family from the south drives an hour and fifteen minutes; the other couple (she is a believer, he is not) from the north drives 45 minutes. These could be two possible preaching points for future outreach. We are prayerfully giving leadership, training and direction as needed.
Cindy will assume leadership of a Women’s Bible study that already meets on Friday nights, with the intention to train one of the other ladies to lead it.
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Europe is planning to send a Bible study to every home in Iceland beginning October 2012, starting in Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. Their director has asked for our help in providing support for new church plants as they reach into the homes of Icelanders.
Mike Fitzgerald/Lindin Radio wants to train Bill on the recording equipment so he can fill in if needed during the weekly International program. You can listen online at www.lindin.is every Tuesday 9:00-11:00 PM Icelandic time, 5:00-7:00 PM EST.
We will be starting a Bible study for university students in our home. A cookout and Bible Study will take place once a month through the summer. In September we will host “Bible Study & Brownies” every week.
We have visited SALT Church twice on Sunday evenings. It is a God-centered Lutheran churche in the country. Iceland Project missionaries have invested much time and effort into this church over the years. We plan to have more involvement here in the coming months.
Bill has coffee on a regular basis at one of the cafes. Pray for the staff of four that he is getting to know, and that he will be able to share the gospel with them.
We have exchanged pleasantries with most of our neighbors and have a few names but have not had a significant spiritual conversation with them. Pray for us that we will be very intentional to reach out to them.
The greatest bakery and pizza place are in the same building and within walking distance of our current home. The bakery opened about 30 years ago by German immigrants. They use only whole grain and natural ingredients. Their date and spice bread is amazing. We may need a line item in our budget called "Bread for Bread.”
We secured long-term housing in a strategic area of Reykjavík; we move in early June. After a unique application process we were chosen out of at least 18 other families who also applied to rent the home. Bill signed the lease with the owner’s father, Ingi. He is not a believer but said he was very excited for the work we were doing in Iceland, trying to start Baptist churches. Bill wondered how he knew what we were doing but was thankful for the warm welcome. Ingi said Iceland needs to return to the teachings of Jesus. Bill agreed and invited him to a Bible study. We later discovered that Tómas, the owner of the home, found an IMB video that was made while we were at the ILC in Richmond for training. Tómas and his wife watched the video and were grateful for the work we are doing. It is amazing how our God uses so many different things to bring His will to purpose.
There are two great options of schools for Cami and Ben near our next home. They will both attend whichever school we choose, as both schools go to age 16. One is within a literal minute walk of our new home. We have heard from Icelanders that it is a great school and it would be with kids in our neighborhood.
Current prayer requests
Kennitala and Residency Permits to be granted by Icelandic Immigration, ASAP
Friendships for Cami, Ben, and Alli
To be an enemy of the cross is to set ourselves against its purposes. Self-righteousness (instead of looking to the cross for justification), Self Indulgence (instead of taking up the cross to follow Christ), Self-advertisement (instead of preaching Christ crucified) and Self-glorification (instead of glorying in the cross) – these are the distortions which make us “enemies”of Christ’s Cross.
Three Lessons I've learned from the cross:
First, that my sin is foul beyond words. If there were no way for our sins to be cleansed and forgiven but that the Son of God should die for them, then our sins must be sinful indeed.
Secondly, I learn that God’s love is great beyond all understanding. He could have abandoned us to our just fate and left us to perish in our sins. But he did not. He loved us, and he pursued us even to the desolate agony of the cross.
Thirdly, I learn that salvation is a free gift. I do not deserve it. I cannot earn it. I do not need to attempt to procure it by my own merit or effort. Jesus Christ on the cross had done everything that is necessary for us to be forgiven. He has borne our sin and curse.
What, then, must we do? Nothing! Nothing but fall on our knees in penitence and faith, and stretch out an open, empty hand to receive salvation as a gift that is entirely free.
May our hearts be stirred as we understand more fully that "Christ who knew no sin became sin for us, that the righteousness of God may be inputed onto our lives. We live and Die, He Died that We may Live
This is a week filled with reflection, weeping and celebration. Few weeks are as meaningful and filled with emotion for a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Passion week stirs me like no other week of the year. The following thoughts have captured my mind's attention and my heart's affection. I hope they will be an encouragement to you.
"The Cross is a blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for
its sparks to fall on us." John Stott
The incarnation of The Lord Jesus was the supreme act of humility and self giving. The reality of God taking on human flesh and becoming the God/man is almost incomprehensible to the human mind. Yet it was in this supreme act of humility of becoming humanity that God could reconcile sinful man to himself.
The sinless life of the Lord Jesus validates a perfect sacrifice. Though tempted in every way, our Lord could not and did not sin.
The death of the Lord Jesus Christ provides substitutionary atonement for the sinner. Christ who knew no sin became sin for us so that the righteousness of God may be transposed on our life.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme testimony of honor and validation. All that Jesus said of himself is true, the "only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth."
The ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ enables us to fulfill His commission and command. He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us and, He has sent the Holy Spirit who indwells us and gives us all things for life and godliness.
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ is the witness of His triumph. What has already been accomplished is yet to be validated. Death still reigns in our mortal bodies, the earth still groans for her day of redemption. When our Lord returns "all things will be made new." His kingdom to come is a certainty, the time of its coming is known only by The Father, the joy of His coming will be ours.